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“It's a natural phenomenon - you take your chance”

Reykjavik Excursions Northern Lights Tour
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USD 62.00*
and up
Northern Lights Tour from Reykjavik
Ranked #67 of 338 Tours in Reykjavik
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Owner description: The Northern Lights, also known as the Aurora Borealis are a spectacular natural phenomenon, often seen dancing around in fantastic colours across the Icelandic Arctic sky. The Northern lights are caused by the interaction of particles from the sun with the upper atmosphere near the North Pole. That creates this wonderful light effect, known as the Aurora Borealis.The locations visited are different every tour since we go where it’s most likely to see the Northern Lights each day. This tour is dependant on weather and sightings are not guaranteed. Refreshments not included.
Durham, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
96 reviews
41 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 96 helpful votes
“It's a natural phenomenon - you take your chance”
Reviewed 25 January 2012

Booked it through Nordic Visitor who use the Iceland Excursions tour so I was picked up from my hotel and taken to their travel office to collect my ticket and join the tour bus. Have nothing against the organization of the tour but unfortunately I saw very little of the northern lights.

We drove for about an hour out of Reykjavik to the Reykanes Peninsula making a short stop at the airport along the way for toilets/food. The chosen viewing location struck me as being particularly odd for an event where it helps to have dark skies - so where did we pull up? - right next to a lighthouse! We did have a clear view over the sea towards the northern horizon, which helps - but with the light scanning across the sky every second. The site is obviously preferred by many of the tours as buses from other operators were also there. Some of them left after a while in search of alternative sites. The sea breeze is chilly so you need to be well wrapped up for standing outside for 2 hours. It was about 2am by the time I got back to my hotel.

Conditions were good, the sky was clear and moonless but what passed as the auroral display appeared only briefly and looked just like a small white cloud. Several members of our party missed it as by that time they had given up hope and gone in search of warmth back on the coach. You could only tell that it was the aurora by taking a photo which showed up as faintly green, and by observing the 'cloud' appearing and then disappearing again. I don't think the lighthouse was much of a problem really as we were still able to see what there was (stars were easily visible) and no doubt a more vivid display would have been obvious. It made me wonder whether it's worth the 4900 ISK to be driven somewhere with so much light pollution. Presumably a worthwhile display would have been just as visible from the city. Indeed I did witness a slightly better display the following night by walking up to the Pearl.

On a clear day It was noticeable that the tour operators made the most of the opportunity to drum up any last minute custom they could get for the northern lights tour from people doing their daytime tours, regardless of the chances of actually seeing anything. There's no failsafe way of knowing when the aurora will appear but you can get an indication by scanning the web for reports of a coronal mass ejection on the sun, which means the solar wind should reach Earth about a day and a half later when hopefully there should be a good show of northern lights - assuming it isn't cloudy! It shouldn't make much difference which operator you use and should be equally rewarding if you are in luck.

It was most annoying that there was a report of a coronal mass ejection the day I had to go home. I understand there was a much better display the following night, but of course I missed it.

Will just have to keep trying.

Visited January 2012
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3 Thank Colin055
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Saltash, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
44 reviews
7 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 41 helpful votes
“Pot luck”
Reviewed 23 January 2012

The tour does make it very clear and you should be aware the as the Lights are a natural event there is no guarantee that you will see them. This was made clear to us and we knew that when booking. The tour guide was excellent, a feature of the local population is that they are very helpful and pretty laid back. If you have prebooked tickets you won't have been told that these have to be exchanged for the coach ticket in the bus ticket hall!! Our tour went hunting into an area of low ambient light and we waited. The wait did result in a pretty good display but not the red or green dancing light that are always shown in the pictures. What we saw was a grey haze for a good couple of hours which was a bit disappointing but at least we saw something. The length of the trip will be dependent on what you see, they are very flexible.

VERY IMPORTANT - if you have prebooked well in advance you will have been given a time, check this at you hotel as these can change!

Incidentally the following night we saw the green dancing lights in the sky above the hotel even with al the light pollution. It's a natural occurrence and pot luck!

Visited January 2012
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4 Thank redltcdr
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
New Jersey
Level Contributor
3 reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 15 helpful votes
“Don't use Iceland excursions for this tour!”
Reviewed 19 January 2012

I fully understand that there is no guarantee that you will see the Northern Lights on this tour, so that is not my problem with this company. The problem is that we went out there and saw nothing but some moving clouds and they tried to pass that off as weak northern light activity! My husband and I felt dupped and upset. We then booked with Reykjavik Excursions and finally got to experience the northern lights on our second try with them and we realized even more how ridiculous and insulting it was that they tried to pass some clouds off as the Aurora Borealis! Go with Reykjavik Excursions, all around a much better experience!

Visited December 2011
Helpful?
11 Thank annamaria324
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
IcelandExcursions, Public Relations Manager at Reykjavik Excursions Northern Lights Tour, responded to this review, 20 January 2012
Dear Annamaria,

It is regrettable that you had such a bad experience with us on the tour you booked. As you rightly stated the Northern Lights are never guaranteed. On some evenings the lights appear very strong while on others the lights appear weak.

On both our website as on our company listing page here on tripadvisor you can read about many passengers who enjoyed this tour very much.

Our policy is to offer a free Northern Lights tour to all our passengers if any one night was not successful. We hope you will accept a free Northern Lights tour the next time you visit Iceland.

Best regards
Robert van Spanje
robert@grayline.is
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Stroud
Level Contributor
39 reviews
10 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 100 helpful votes
“Iceland Excursions - Money grabbers!!!!”
Reviewed 4 January 2012

I have used the same subject headline as someone previously as I feel exactly the same about them!!

We booked a Northern Lights tour with Iceland Excursions even though all the other tour operators had cancelled on that day. We thought they may know something we don't which, in hindsight, was foolish but we really wanted to see this phenomenon so therefore were blindsighted!!!

The weather conditions were appalling and there initial plan to travel to the South Coast had to be re-routed as the roads were impassible, we were therefore taken to a lighthouse to try to view the Northern Lights!!! Yes, a lighthouse, with a big flashing beacon coming into view every few seconds and lots of bright lights all around!! Optimum viewing requires no light pollution so why they thought a lighthouse was a good idea I will never know. En route to the lighthouse we drove through a snow blizzard!! The 2nd place they took us to to attempt to view them was the Blue Lagoon car park where we had a wonderful view of the bright lights in said car park!!

Now I understand viewing the Northern Lights isn't guaranteed, I am happy to accept that, but this tour should not have gone out due to the bad weather it's as simple as that!! When we enquired about a refund, we were told exactly the same thing as the previous bad reviewer: that refunds are not given. As like most people, another opportunity during your trip to try to view them may not be possible and on this particular evening, the tour should have been cancelled.

I feel cheated! I would have preferred they be honest and cancel the tour (which they had done the previous night and the two nights afterwards) rather than take a lot of people's money knowing full well they have your money and nothing can be done about it.

There are plenty of other good companies out there to choose from for tours and I would suggest you use them if you don't want to waste £50!!

Visited December 2011
Helpful?
17 Thank FeetDoTravel
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
IcelandExcursions, Public Relations Manager at Reykjavik Excursions Northern Lights Tour, responded to this review, 10 January 2012
Dear Briggsey,

It is regrettable that you feel we have done you wrong in any way and had to leave Iceland with bad impression of our company. We have been offering the Northern Lights Mystery tour for more than 10 years and as you correctly stated, sightings cannot be guaranteed. We rely on the official local weather reports but these can never be guaranteed with 100% accuracy on any give day. Sudden weather changes are one one of the characteristics of Iceland. We were confident however, to see the Northern Lights that particular evening.

Our policy is to offer our passengers another try to join the Northern Lights tour when sighting is not successful.
We agree that there might have been better places to look for the Northern Lights, the main road going South was blocked with snow and ice and this limited our options. Again we apologise for the inconvenience caused to you and would like to extend our offer for a free Northern Lights tour the next time you visit Iceland. Our tours are scheduled daily (weather permitting) from September 15th until April 15th.

Thank you for your report, our staff has been informed about your experience.

best regards,
Robert van Spanje
robert@grayline.is
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Caldwell, New Jersey
Level Contributor
6 reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 3 helpful votes
“AMAZING”
Reviewed 2 January 2012

So amazing to see, at first its hard to tell if they are there. But if you see a white glow take a picture (If you have an SLR), and it should show up green, or other colors too. I saw green only so I'm not really sure. Make sure its on landscape mode (the on with the mountain). Good luck!

Visited December 2011
Helpful?
2 Thank Travel_Ace95
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
IcelandExcursions, Public Relations Manager at Reykjavik Excursions Northern Lights Tour, responded to this review, 20 March 2013
Thank you for your nice review, it´s great to hear you enjoyed our tours.
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