Dark nights and northern lights: A boat trip to remember

In February the very nice Þurý from Special Tours invited Craig and myself along for one of their Northern Lights tours. I feel like I should make it very clear, because I’m always talking about them, that this blog is not in any way sponsored by Special Tours. They’ve just been super nice and accommodating in inviting me along on their tours and of course I’m not going to say no to that! Would you?

Like I’ve mentioned once or twice before I have a bit of a thing for the sea so when I first heard they were offering Northern Lights tours on a boat I was super intrigued. To make a long story short, the tour didn’t disappoint.

Image: Craig Downing - craigdowning@gmail.com

Image: Craig Downing – craigdowning@gmail.com

The forecast was looking particularly good that day but since I wrote the ultimate guide to the northern lights the Icelandic Meteorology office has added a  very handy aurora forecast to their website where you can see the Northern Lights activity level and the cloud forecast for the whole country. Not only was the aurora forecast looking good but the weather was also supposed to be very still which is always favorable when one embarks on a journey at sea.

The great thing about going aurora hunting by boat is the fact that you don’t have to go very far out to get out of the light pollution at land. Sitting in the darkness and looking up at the stars was almost surreal because you never see them that bright from the city. We had faint northern lights almost the whole trip and it seemed like the guests on the boat were very happy. Apart from one German guy who shushed at Craig and I for talking too much.

The details and some words of advice

Image: Craig Downing - craigdowning@gmail.com

Image: Craig Downing – craigdowning@gmail.com

Going out at sea at night in winter is cold but if you didn’t bring the right gear with you you can borrow some warm overalls from crew. Another thing that was particularly nice, after hanging outside for a couple of hours in sub-zero temperatures, were free hot beverages for all along with some cookies. Craig got another bad look from the German when he took the last cookie but I escaped the wrath of the German by sticking to hot cocoa only.

Now for the advice. Taking photos of the Northern Lights from a boat is very very difficult. Northern Lights photography relies on long exposure which doesn’t really go hand in hand with a wobbly boat – no matter how still the sea is. Therefore, this tour is not ideal if your sole purpose is to photograph the aurora. You can get decent photos, as the photo above shows, but steady land will definitely give you better results. However, if you want to just enjoy the northern lights in amazing environment and the crisp sea air – this is your tour. Oh and bring mittens – you won’t regret it!

Book this tour here!

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Disclaimer: I receive a small commission if you book this tour through my blog. The commission helps me with the costs of running the blog but of course I wouldn’t do this if I hadn’t really enjoyed the tour or I couldn’t recommend Special Tours  as a company. The price is the same whether you book it here or directly with them. 

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2 thoughts on “Dark nights and northern lights: A boat trip to remember”

  1. John says:

    Very well written, I thoroughly enjoyed reading this article. Very tangible, very clear and very concise. Great images too.

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