The Reykjanes Peninsula is located in the south-western corner of Iceland and is home to Keflavik International Airport and The Blue Lagoon. The peninsula is right on the Mid Atlantic Ridge and in fact The Bridge Between Continents was built out on the edge of it as a symbol of the connection between North America and Europe. This is where the tectonic plates are slowly drifting apart and the area has gone through serious volcanic activity in the past leaving rugged lava fields and steaming hot springs all over. Some of the landscape here looks like straight out of a sci-fi story. When the first astronauts were going to the moon NASA decided to send them here to practice and test equipment . Also some of the films that have been shot in Iceland have used this area as a backdrop for a different planet or some post apocalyptic world.
Keflavik International Airport is situated out on the tip of Reykjanes and was built by the US Air Force during WW2 and the airbase here was operational until 2006 and there is in fact recent talk that it might reopen. The airport has been growing rapidly in the last few years and it is conveniently situated only 45 minutes drive from Reykjavik City. There are quite a few scenic spots here and Lake Kleifarvatn is the largest lake on the Reykjanes peninsula, only a short drive from Reykjavik, and a few minutes from there is Grænavatn Lake as well as the geothermal area Seltún. The steaming vents of this geothermal field smell strongly of the sulfur deposits found all around and in fact due to the geothermal activity which is of course a result of the volcanic activity underground.
The Blue Lagoon is out on the peninsula and is probably the most visited destination in Iceland and for a good reason. The geothermal spa has an earth sea flowing through filled with white silica mud which has been proven to have restorative and healing properties for human skin. Various treatments are also available at The Blue Lagoon depending on what you are interested in and to which level you want to take your visit. The Lava Restaurant and The Moss restaurant are both top end restaurants and cater to individuals and groups alike. The surroundings of The Blue Lagoon are also amazing as they decided to leave a large portion of the 700 year old lava field around it undisturbed and let it become a part of the award winning design of the place.
The Reykjanes Peninsula is also an area frequently used for Northern Lights Tours. The lights occur around a 100 km above ground so a tour is all about finding a clear sky in a dark place and then wait and hope. There are a few good places out here but in order to be on the safe side it is a good idea to travel with experienced drivers and guides which know the good places and understand both the cloud forecast as well as the activity forecast.
Þingvellir National Park is a true natural gem and one of the most visited destinations in Iceland. Known for its breathtaking landscape, geological curiosities and important part in Iceland's history. Usually taken as the first or last stop on the classic Golden Circle.
This is where the tectonic plate boundaries can be clearly seen. The North American plate and The Eurasian plate are drifting apart about 2-3 cm per year and the continental crust is about as thin as it gets. Most of the rest of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge is below sea level where the volcanoes rise from the Atlantic ocean floor. Here, however, the skyline is jagged with volcanoes and craters and the earth's surface is torn apart by the movement of the tectonics. Some of those fissures are quite wide and water runs through them towards Thingvallavatn Lake, one of the biggest lakes in Iceland and home to the local arctic char. The source of the water is mostly Langjökull Glacier to the north-east and it takes around thirty years for the water to seep through the lava and then emerge crystal clear. The water in Silfra fissure is a popular dive site famous for the absolute clarity of its waters. An amazing experience despite the cold, just make sure you are wearing a dry suit. There's also a theory stating that right here between the two major plates is a minor plate or a piece that has broken off and that is the reason for how many volcanoes can be found in the area.
This is also where the vikings formed their national council here in 930 and thus created the oldest ongoing parliament in the world. This was based on a tribal system which was common in scandinavia and northern Europe at the time, but evolved separately in Iceland and is referred to as Althingi. Thingvellir actually means The Fields of the Parliament. This is were most major decisions in the history of Iceland have been taken from the decision to become a christian nation in 1000 ad up until the declaration of independence from Denmark in 1944. Also, one of Iceland ́s foremost painters in the 20th century Mr. Johannes Kjarval turned the combination of lava, moss and birch into his own school of abstract painting greatly admired and loved both domestically and abroad.
In recent years the area has entered popular culture as the backdrop for some scenes in the very successful TV series Game of Thrones. And right where we usually stop at Hakid might be where some of the inspiration for the look of the great wall in the series comes from.
The Northern Lights can be seen in Iceland throughout the winter and although they can be seen from just about anywhere should they appear and the idea of a private tour for a small group is a great option to maximize your possibilities.
First of all just getting out of the city and away from any light pollution enhances the chances a lot and an experienced tour guide will know where to go on any given night for a clear sky or a rift in the clouds and will help you spot the first signs of activity. When going aurora viewing which is on the bucket list of so many it is really worth going all in.
Heading out to hunt for the lights with your own driver, guide and vehicle is a great option, enjoying the lights in a more private atmosphere.
The Northern Lights - Aurora Borealis
The Northern Lights are an amazing natural phenomenon. Colours and shapes moving in the darkened sky brightening up the arctic night. Like magic dancing somewhere between the earth and the stars.
High above any weather systems the aurora belt stretches like a giant rubber band around the polar regions and the lights are ignited when hit by solar winds caused by solar flares on the surface of the sun. All relative to solar cycles and sunspot activity. They appear in the northern hemisphere as well as the southern hemisphere, there referred to as southern lights or aurora australis.
The difference between Iceland and northern Norway and Canada for example is that Iceland is considerably warmer in winter and it often takes only 30 minutes or so to drive out to the next national park from Reykjavik free of any light pollution and still have a radius of at least 60 miles to move around.
Myth, folklore and reality
People have been gazing at the northern lights since the beginning of time they are mentioned in ancient chinese and greek texts and feature strongly in folklore and mythology around the polar regions.
Known as the paths of the valkyries in parts of Scandinavia, as the weapons of the gods among tribes in Siberia and as the souls of dead hunters in parts of Greenland and northern Canada. A curious belief from Japan and northern China says that if you conceive a child under the northern lights it will be blessed with great luck.
Galileo Galilei gave the northern lights the latin name Aurora Borealis referring to the roman goddess of the dawn. To this day people still gaze at auroral display those flickering shades of green, purple and orange moving across the sky pulsing in silence flaring up and down, no two nights ever the same, lasting either a minute or an hour, notoriously hard to predict but when those dancing lights grace us with their presence high up in the starry dome they invariably leave us with a feeling of having been touched by something divine.
Please note that we cannot guarantee the sightings. If chances are bad or zero on your booked date we will try to find a better day to take you on the tour.