Understanding how to read Northern light forecasts by Kaspars Dzenis

‘Hunting for northern lights’’ is a phrase you hear a lot, but I doubt that most of the people understand exactly what is meant by that. It might seem that the ‘‘hunter’’ need to possess specific tracking skills to catch the elusive ‘‘aurora’’. It´s actually not that difficult and I will explain how to use the available information on the internet to go out and ‘‘hunt’’ yourself.

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Some of the best landscapes in and around Reykjavik by Kaspars Dzenis

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Right, so you are in Reykjavik and would like to see some of that landscape beauty of Iceland, but don't have enough time, money or means of transportation to go anywhere far. Not surprisingly, you don't have to go anywhere far to reach some great nature spots, especially for photography. Yes, of course, they might not be grandeur in terms of attractiveness, especially compared to some of the most iconic landmarks in Iceland. However, I believe that these places are highly underrated and deserve much higher attention. Here are just few of my favorite places of nature, that I like to go photograph on a beautiful day, but especially in the mornings and evenings. 

Lets begin with what's closest to downtown Reykjavik. If you have researched anything about Reykjavik, Perlan probably came up as a place to visit, just to see Reykjavik from above. Well, Perlan is situated on top of Öskjuhlíð and around this hill there are many paths through rather thick forest with few nice spots that look like it could be somewhere deep in the forest.


Seltjarnarnes is a peninsula just West of downtown Reykjavik. It has open access to an ocean with a beautiful lighthouse at the very end of it. Great for sunrise and sunset pictures. It's also one of the closest and popular places to get out of city lights and shoot Auroras.  



There are number of forested areas around Reykjavik and one of the nicest ones, in my opinion of course, is Elliðaárdalur. This valley has a river (Elliðaá) cutting through it and you can find couple of waterfalls in the heart of it. Sure, there are more impressive waterfalls in Iceland, but I love that it only takes minutes from downtown Reykjavik to reach a little seclusion and ponder about life while sitting by a waterfall.



Heiðmörk is another forested area around Reykjavik and it's one of the biggest ones. I generally just like to walk through some of its paths, especially in the autumn. However, I'm sure that you will be able to find something interesting regardless of the season. There are also few lakes around the area, which are great for Northern light photography.



Now, this is a bit of a reach as this place is located little bit outside of Reykjavik, close to Mosfellsbær. However, I love this area and even though it's just short of half an hour drive, it has an aura of a remote and wild place. Intrigued? You should be! It's called Tröllafoss. A waterfall, surrounded by a beautiful canyon and I would recommend to just walk around the canyon on both sides, up and down. I can guarantee, you will get some great pictures there. 



Finally, I would like to mention Hvaleyri. This rocky beach is located in Hafnarfjörður, at the very edge of the town, on the way to Keflavik. During low tide, sea exposes moss covered rocks that look amazing during sunrises and sunsets. Just make sure weather is good enough as it can be quite dangerous in a stormy weather or when rocks are covered in ice.

Walking inside a ''beautiful nothing'' by Kaspars Dzenis

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   Kálfafellsdalur is a long glacier valley located south east of Vatnajökull. Valley is scared with streams collectively called Miðvötn or Landkvísl and at the very end of the valley you can find steep glacier tongue called Brókarjökull (Breaches glacier). This is another place, where you can not find any signs and is rather difficult to hike in. However it´s a perfect place to disconnect from the outer world and marvel the ''beautiful nothingness'' of Icelandic nature.


   Valley is easily spotted from the ring road. Entrance is located near Kálfafellsstaður farm and it´s possible to drive inside the valley until Kaldá river. To venture further, there is no other way but to cross the river. I´ve not tried to do it with a car, and I would not recommend it, unless you have a monster truck.


From there you can venture further inside the valley. Landscape changes rapidly, from rock covered sands with steep mountain slopes, to green meadows, full of birds and grazing reindeer.


End of the valley splits into two, with glacier tongues at the end of each. Brókarjökull is a very steep glacier tongue that divides around the rock Brók. On the west side glacier forms lagoon. Nearby you can also find number of kettles - shallow ponds formed by retreating glacier. On the east side you can find a small valley called Vatnsdalur. There glacier literally hangs of the mountain. It´s a thrilling, yet a scary feeling to stand close to it. 


   It takes pretty much the whole day to explore the valley and it´s a demanding hike. But if you are looking for that feeling of peaceful desolation, it´s a perfect place to be in.