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Northern Lights in Alftavatn, Iceland

Alftavatn, Laugavegur Trail, Iceland.

Northern Lights in Alftavatn on the Laugavegur Trail in Iceland.


“Ellen! Wake up! I think it started already!” Koen said while poking on my sleeping bag. “Hmmm...” I answered. “Are you sure?” “Yeah, get dressed, I’m going back outside.” Koen said while he grabbed the camera. “It’s on the other side of the building.” He added while leaving the tiny room. Reluctantly I got out of my sleeping bag, however nice the reason, getting out of a comfortable sleep can be challenging. I had been vast asleep already, the advantage of fresh air and a day full of walking. After putting on an odd combination of pyjamas and hiking clothes, I stumbled down the stairs of the mountain cabin, put on my boots, fumbled the laces in my shoes in stead of tying them and headed outside.

My breath mingled with the moon lit air, shaping elusive clouds that drifted towards lake Alftavatn. “It’s already fading again.” Koen said when I stood next to him. I saw what looked like green smoke, far away lingering between the stars. The northern light not making its mind up yet. “The moon is quite bright as well.” I added. Five minutes later it’s almost unnoticeable. “Let’s go back to sleep.” I said. “Yeah...” Koen answered while peering into the sky. We headed back to our tiny room. The mountain cabin was made up out of a large common room with long tables and kitchen equipment, a few downstairs and upstairs rooms with bunk beds and one tiny room with to single beds under the roof. We had been assigned that one, lucky us! I got back into my sleeping bag and slept almost immediately.

00u56 “Ellen!” “Hmm what...?” I mumbled. “I hear some commotion downstairs, maybe it’s for real now.” Koen whispered. Indeed, I heard people stumbling about downstairs. “Maybe you go and check.” I proposed. “Come and get me!” I said while Koen was already in the hallway. I could trust completely in his inability to sleep sound in a strange bed, waking me up when needed. I snoozed away, only to wake up slightly when he got back into his sleeping bag. Apparently the commotion was a rather random stampede downstairs.

02u17 “Ellen...? Come and look out of the window. “Koen whispered. I got half up out of my sleeping bag while Koen completely opened the window. Our room was on the other side of the building then where the moon was currently shining, making it darker and the stars brighter. And right under those stars the northern lights unfolded itself at full force. We cuddled ourselves up in our sleeping bags on one bed and watched from our tiny room at Alftavatn. It was pure magic.

Northern Lights in Alftavatn on the Laugavegur Trail in Iceland.


I been privileged to have seen the northern lights on multiple occasions. Now I can tell you how it looks like, or you can look at some photo’s. Flowing waves of light, dancing under the stars in green and purple colours. You can also look up the science behind it, if you wish, for as far humanity has figured it out.

But has anyone described you how they feel of how they sound like?

When the lights dance above you, ever flowing, it’s a truly unique experience. Not only is it amazingly beautiful, it has a surreal feeling about it. Like being a visitor, witnessing something out of this world. It has a slight aching feeling to it, like an itch inside you that you just can’t scratch. A pulling force, vibration all around you. Music you almost can hear, but just can’t get a hold of. All the science in the world can’t shake of the magic of it and maybe it’s meant this way. Demanding respect for the spiritual, for all yet unknown. Maybe some day, we will will be able to hear its music and dance to it. If we’re open to it.



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