Tryst with the Northern Lights

Photographer Pooja Chordia, her sister and brother landed in the capital city of Iceland, just after a really bad storm. And then began a five-day adventure

Update: 2016-10-15 19:14 GMT
Pooja (center) with her siblings

Photographer Pooja Chordia, her sister and brother landed in the capital city of Iceland, just after a really bad storm. And then began a five-day adventure

Iceland has always been on my bucket list. Being a photographer, it was my dream to capture the beautiful locales of the country. Of course, I didn’t expect to be there during the winter since I always assumed it would be way too cold. When we landed in Reykjavik, the capital city of Iceland, a storm had just passed by — and we knew that exciting days lay ahead of us!

Being vegetarians, we didn’t expect too many options. But we were in for a pleasant surprise when we found a nice pure-vegetarian restaurant close to where we stayed. There are quite a few pubs and cafes with good options for food and drinks as well. Iceland is expensive, so shopping at supermarkets is a prudent option for longer stays.

Daylight during winter is only between 10 am and about 3 pm. So, all winter tours (except the Northern Lights tours) are planned in a way where a majority of the drive happens while it is still dark, so more time can be spent by daylight at the destination.

I strongly recommend the free walking tour starting from downtown Reykjavik, to get acquainted with the area quickly. Gulfoss waterfall, Geysir hot springs, waterfalls en route the Black Beach, and the tour around the Snaefellsnes Peninsula, are must-dos if you wish to witness the beauty of the country. We were even lucky enough to spot a male orca from a new roadway bridge near Grundarfjör ur! The Northern Lights are a fantastic sight to watch, but one has to be patient.

The locals are friendly and passionate about their country. Since the tourism industry in Iceland has grown exponentially in the past few years, many locals are tour operators or guides.

Slippery roads, winds strong enough to push a person over, and face-numbing experiences were some of our memorable moments. We had a great time going on our Super Jeep tours. Iceland has a remarkable geography and every area you visit has something spectacular to offer. And not to forget — the Aurora Borealis (The Northern Lights). For me, it was a dream come true!

If you travel around January, make sure you carry warm clothes in multiple layers and sturdy boots, since a lot of the ground is iced over! A camera with a tripod is a must for photography enthusiasts to get fantastic shots of the colourful skies. Stay within walking distance of the Hallgrímskirkja and you will not miss a thing. It truly is an experience of a lifetime.

Unfortunately, some Icelandic restaurants still serve whale and puffin meat as tourist attractions. An active lobby exists to protect and conserve these magnificent animals and it is every tourist’s responsibility to do their part in supporting the cause.

My future plans include a photo exhibition in Chennai in March 2017, in support of wildlife and nature conservation, from my travels around the world. I plan to make my second visit to South Africa, in 2017 to volunteer for conservation of elephants and lions.

(As told to Kaavya Pillai)

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