I could of been in sunny Thailand but I decided to go beyond the wall and it was next level cold, but worth it.
What better way to start off a year of traveling with one of my favorite countries!? And yes, I did see the northern lights in full effect!
The last big trip I did was July of last year to Iceland and it was honestly so good I had to come back for winter. The big motivator was the northern lights, which delivered times a million.
The winter time is everything I imagined and then some. Cold, snowy, frozen waterfalls and epic night skies. One thing I wasn’t expecting was how insanely windy it was. One night it was 120km (75mph) winds, I thought it was literally going to blow the house away. If you go during the winter time expect those conditions, its also a wet cold so 32 degrees feels like 15. Pack warm and really good gloves (especially if you’re a photographer).
The biggest difference between summer and winter are how much access you have to getting around, both on the freeway and to sights. I was supposed to go to Westfjords one night but had to cancel it and stay in the Snæfellsnes Peninsulaa a second night because of the road and weather conditions. During summer you can get around pretty easy without such harsh conditions, with the exception of rain.
I went to almost all the same places as my last trip, except I did the ice cave tour this time which I HIGHLY recommend! Literally drove on top of a glacier then went inside it, like how cool is that?! The Snæfellsnes Peninsula is amazing in the winter time, especially if you have a drone. So many aerial photo/video opportunities! The mountains perfectly carve the side of the ocean.
If you’re planning your trip around the northern lights or just to see them I’d partially advise against it. Out of the 7 days I was there I had 2 or 3 good nights of weather and the lights were definitely active but you’ll be chasing them around the country hoping to see them. In Iceland the weather can change instantly, there’s no predicting it. I did get extremely lucky one of the nights and got to see it right over Skogafoss in full effect, which was absolutely amazing. Apparently it’s super rare it was that active and bright and doesn’t get any better than how I saw them. Spirals in the sky and everything, mother natures light show! I used this website to check roughly where the clouds were the nights I saw them. Also the lights are usually stronger in the north more so than the south.
Maybe this is just news to me but I rented a Defender and it’s totally not a winter car, only rent it in the summer. That thing didn’t retain any heat in the winter, I ended up exchanging it for a normal 4×4 vehicle 15 minutes after driving away from the airport. Which brings me to this: You 100% need a 4×4 vehicle in the winter time, I almost sunk and flipped my car a few times and the only way out was with 4WD. Trust me it’s worth it.
Summer or Winter?
As a photographer, I could go either way but I think I prefer summer even though the northern lights were amazing. It’s just so much easier to get around and you have almost 24 hours of daylight with 3-5 hours of magic hour to shoot. Its also tourist free from 10pm-8am in most parts of the country at the major sights. You’ll be able to see a lot more and get more for your money in the summer.
Since I’ve been there twice, would I go back to Iceland? Hell yeah, no questions asked. It’s one of my favorite places on earth. Either season I’m always down to go. Everyone is super nice and helpful, epic landscape, really safe and clean, you can’t go wrong. Everyone should experience that place at least once, it’ll change your perception on life. It’s just magical in every way!
Also here’s the drone video I shot while I was there:
- Canon 5DS-R
- Canon 5D Mark IV
- Phantom 4 Pro+
- Rokinon 14mm F/2.8
- Canon 16-35mm F/2.8L III
- Canon 24-70mm F/2.8L II
- Canon 100-400 F4-5.6L II
- MindShift Gear FirstLight 40L
- Really Right Stuff TVC-34L
- Really Right Stuff BH-55
- Formatt Hitech 100mm Aluminum Filter Holder
- Formatt Hitech Firecrest 100mm 3 Stop ND
- Formatt Hitech Firecrest 100mm 6 Stop ND
- Formatt Hitech Firecrest 100mm 10 Stop ND
- Formatt Hitech Firecrest 100mm 3 Stop Graduated ND
- Formatt Hitech Firecrest 100mm 5 Stop Graduated ND
- Formatt Hitech Firecrest 105mm Circular Polarizer
Most photos from this post are available to print on my website.
If you have any questions or comments leave one below.
Thanks for reading!
Follow me on social media: