Monday, March 14, 2016

Chasing auroras in Iceland..what an amazing experience!

Chasing auroras has been one of the items in my bucket list since last year. Been waiting for quite a while to finally get this opportunity to fly to Iceland and see the Northern Lights or Aurora Borealis for myself.

I went solo on this one & met a group of Malaysians there in Reykjavik, under Sedunia Travel's "Iceland Winter Adventure" package for 6D5N. Sedunia offered quite a good deal on the ground package, which includes airport transfer, hotel, transport, entrance fees as well as food (breakfast at hotel, dinner at restaurant/hotel everyday except the last day) at a very reasonable price.

My journey started on 3rd March 2016. I flew with Malaysia Airlines from Kuala Lumpur to London and from London to Keflavik (Iceland) by British Airways. There's quite a lot of options for flights to Iceland, most of the tour group members came to Iceland via Amsterdam by Icelandair or WOW Airlines too.

Throughout the 6 days trip, I was able to catch the auroras twice. Ohh...I felt so blessed :) First sighting on 6th March 2016 was the best, the auroras danced with strong shades of green & purple. The sky was clear with some stars. We were just standing outside, in the compounds of Stracta Hotel in Hella. The auroras came out around 9pm.

1st sighting of aurora borealis on 6th March 2016 @Stracta Hotel, Hella
The second sighting was on 8th March 2016, just in the outskirts of Reykjavik (apologies, I didn't remember the name of that place). The sky was clear full of stars, but the aurora was not as active as the first sighting. This time the aurora came out quite late, around 10pm. Still enjoyed it nonetheless!

2nd sighting of aurora borealis on 8th March 2016 outside of Reykjavik city
If you're a nature lover, you would definitely loveeeee Iceland :) beautiful waterfalls, glaciers, mountains and the unique black sand beach. Throughout my stay in Iceland, below are the places that I visited:

Reykjavik City Center
Visited The Perlan & enjoyed the beautiful view of Reykjavik city and the Hallgrimskirkja.

Beautiful view of Reykjavik city from The Perlan

Breathtaking...isn't it? :)

One of the unique architectures in Reykjavik - the Hallgrimskirkja
Blue Lagoon
Enjoyed a dip in the famous Blue Lagoon, which is situated in the Reykjanes peninsula, not far from Keflavik International Airport. The water is nice & warm, you can enjoy the white silica mask or the algae face mask which takes yearsss of your face (so they claim :p).

Blue Lagoon

Pingvellir National Park
This park is where the world's oldest parliament met for centuries on the shores of Iceland's largest lake. The panoramic view is breathtaking...

Gullfoss Waterfall
This is one of the magnificent waterfalls in Iceland. It looks perfectly white in winter.

Iceland has a lot of geothermally active areas. The geysir is one of the famous spots for visitors to see the high spouting hot water (Strokkur). Though the geysir is a spectacular view, you'd have to stand the strong stenge of sulphur :p

This is the little geysir
Laugarvatn Fontana
You can experience geothermal bakery first hand and dig up the bread that has been cooked underground here. You get to sample the delicious bread too, served with yummy Icelandic butter!

The geothermal area

That's how the bread looks like & the recipe if you'd like to try
Seljalandsfoss & Skogafoss Waterfall
These waterfalls are where they shot the Gerua song scene in the Hindi movie Dilwale starring Shah Rukh Khan & Kajol :) During spring/summer time, you can walk behind the Seljalandsfoss romantic! Skogafoss waterfall would look spectacular in spring/summer I think, where you can see the rainbow across the waterfall like in the movie. Since it's winter, no re-enactment of Gerua music video scenes by me here..haha.

Seljalandsfoss from a distance

Skogafoss in winter - no rainbow there!
Jokulsarlon Glacial Lagoon
Another spot where the Gerua song from Hindi movie Dilwale was shot :p It was snowing when we were there, saw some sea lions too.


Go wild selfie with my fun & beautiful roomate :)

Black sand beach (Reynisfjara)
Yet another spot where the Gerua song was shot..haha...mad about Dilwale! Reynisfjara truly is a unique beach. Actually, the beach is covered with black pebbles and black sand. The waves are very big, strong & unpredictable. If you visit Reynisfjara, please keep a safe distance from the shore. You may get hit & sucked in by the strong waves.

black pebbles from Reynisfjara
panoramic view of the black sand beach (Reynisfjara)
Visited the Eyjafjallajokull (it's a mouthful to pronounce!) Volcano Visitor Center. In 2010, the Eyjafjallajokull erupted and caused a massive volcano ash pollution in the air which stranded a lot of flights in Europe. Watched a video from the affected family's private collection when the eruption happened & how the farmer family rallied thru and rebuilt their farm after the effect. Salute!

The Eyjafjallajokull Visitor Center

Eyjafjallajokull in the background

Some tips that I would like to share:

1. If you're buying separate airline tickets like me (flights are non-connecting), upon arrival of the 1st flight you need to go through immigration and take your luggage then check-in (or just drop baggage if you've already checked in online) and then go thru immigration & security checks at the airport again for the next flight. Bear in mind that your flights may be arriving/departing from different terminals. Please allow yourself enough time to go thru all these processes, especially if you're transitting at big airports such as London Heathrow. Doing some research beforehand about the airport helps too, speeds up things as you already have an idea which way to go and how to get from one point to another within the airport.

2. Iceland uses Icelandic Krona as the currency. You won't get this currency in Malaysia, so you'll have to exchange it either at the Keflavik International Airport in Iceland or in London/Amsterdam depends on where you're coming from duing the transit. You can bring either euro, british pound or USD to exchange to Krona.

3. Things are quite pricey in Iceland, so make sure you have enough money or bring your credit card with you for larger amount purchases. Food, drinks & souvenirs are expensive too. To give you an idea of how expensive it is, one bottle of mineral water (500ml) would cost you ISK300+ which is roughly RM10+. If you're having lunch/dinner at restaurants, it could easily cost you RM200-RM300 per meal! And a fridge magnet would also cost you around ISK890 to ISK1190 per piece, that's at least RM30!

4. As Muslim travellers, I'm pretty sure most of you are quite concerned about Halal food options. It's not easy to find them in Iceland, I survived only on seafood when dining at restaurants. For lunch breaks, I brought the ever trusted Brahim's packed Nasi Goreng as well as Nasi Lemak. Must save cost whenever/wherever possible..hehe.

5. People of Iceland can speak English well, so no communication woes there :)

6. If you're travelling by yourself in Iceland (not taking a full tour package like I did), you have options of taking day trips or tours provided by local operators in Iceland such as Reykjavik Excursions ( They offer a lot of day trips such as tour to Ice Tunnel, Blue Lagoon, whale watching, chasing the northern lights, etc. You can ask for help from most hotel receptions to make the arrangements for you, the hotel receptions in Iceland are very friendly (from my personal experience), they can even advice you on aurora activity readings too! so that you'll know which days are good for hunting auroras.

7. If you wish to soak yourself in the most wonderful geothermal hotspring @Blue Lagoon, please make sure you make a reservation before going. Blue Lagoon is a very famous destination in Iceland and sometimes you may not get in just by "walk-in" as they might be fully booked. Blue Lagoon is not far from the Keflavik International Airport, some people like to make a detour there before catching a flight home. If you're planning to do this, please make sure you have buffered enough time to get to the airport and check-ins.

8. When travelling in Iceland, always be prepared for sudden weather changes. It can be sunny at one time and raining or snowing suddenly. Like the Icelanders say, when you're in Iceland..if you don't like the weather, wait for 5 minutes..haha. that's how sudden the weather can change there.

9. When travelling in Iceland, please make sure you wear comfortable and waterproof hiking or walking shoes epecially during winter season and you should wear crampons on your shoes as the icy walk paths can be very slippery. The crampons will provide better grip for you to walk on ice.

10. If your main goal of visiting Iceland is to see the aurora borealis, you will need to monitor the aurora activity and keep an eye on the Kp value which indicates acitivity of the aurora. To learn more about monitoring the aurora activity, you can use this website: Make sure you set your cameras to proper manual settings to photograph the aurora & use a tripod for stability. You can refer to the below example of camera settings as guideline (courtesy of the Northern Lights Centre in Reykjavik) :

After 6 wonderful days in Iceland, I went home with a heavy heart but filled with so much joy and blissfulness. I shall forever dream about the beautiful auroras :)

Special thanks goes to my roomie Aisyah for being such a fun travelling partner, Mr & Mrs Tan Check Hong for being like our parents throughout the trip, we're honored to have known such well travelled couple like yourselves and thank you for taking care of us like your daughters. And thanks to Kak Yatie, Mr & Mrs Ho, Wai Yee (our Tour Leader), Gulla (our Icelandic guide) and all the members of the tour group for making it such a fun experience for me. I really enjoyed getting to know all of you & may our paths cross again some day.

Well, I hope you guys enjoyed reading my experience in Iceland and find the tips useful. If you have any feedback or questions, feel free to leave me a message in the comments section or email me at :)

I'm also on Instagram, feel free to follow me @ainie_saufi (my IG is private, do request to follow ya). Til the next journey, take care everyone!


  1. Awww what an honour to meet and travel with you as well. Thank you so much for everything again. Indeed it's a very beautiful country with amazing scenic views that you could not get anywhere. I will not forget how we were in a seperated room for the first day and wondering where were we are hehe! What a memorable experience in Iceland!

  2. Awww what an honour to meet and travel with you as well. Thank you so much for everything again. Indeed it's a very beautiful country with amazing scenic views that you could not get anywhere. I will not forget how we were in a seperated room for the first day and wondering where were we are hehe! What a memorable experience in Iceland!

  3. @Aisyah: hahaha...yeah, I will remember the 1st day too :)

  4. bestnya kakk... semoga syu dapat pegi...

  5. Inshaa Allah Syu....kalau nak pergi, boleh la menyimpan dr skrg :) all the best!

  6. Hi, nice to read your blog. Am going to Amsterdam and Iceland in May 😊

    1. Thanks Juliana :) Hope you'll have a wonderful time during you trip to Amsterdam & Iceland. Amsterdam is one of my favourite cities. If you're visiting in May...try to check the date if Keukenhof Garden is still open. It's a really beautiful garden filled with millions of colourful tulips, which opens only in spring (usually mid March to mid May).

  7. Good Artical ya :) thumb up haha.
    I do remember too ya.. you make me can not sleep well leee.. haha I thought some one are missing :( Lucky all are well arrive. haha.

    You guys are really awesome :)

    1. Hi Wai Yee! :) thanks for leaving me a comment here. aww...sorry I made you cannot sleep on first day. I also couldn't sleep well, wondering why my roomate not yet arrive..hahaha.

  8. Hi Kak Noraini, my name is Sophia, I just read ur blog. It's very nice. Coming September I got a trip with Sedunia to Iceland also.
    As what I know, the food in Iceland very pricey, ah kak do u any guidance/ recommendation on the food / restaurant over there with reasonable/ better price?

    1. Hi Sophia, thank you for reading my blog :) Yes, the food is pricey there. I actually brought some food (mostly instant noodle & Brahim's instant nasi goreng and nasi lemak) from Malaysia. That helps to save $$ hehe. In terms of restaurant, I'm not sure which is the cheapest or reasonable price as I traveled by Sedunia's package which covered for the food (dinner) at restaurants.
      If you're going with Sedunia, I believe your package includes the dinner too like mine? I have few acquaintances who recently went to Iceland too by themselves, let me try ask them & get back to you if they know any restaurant with reasonably priced food :)

    2. This comment has been removed by the author.