Iceland Northern Lights

2012 is going to be the year of the Northern Lights as they will be their brightest in over 50 years and one of the best places in the world to see them will be Iceland.

According to NASA, the Northern Lights will display at their greatest intensity since 1958 in 2012. This is due to the scientific phenomenon the Solar Maximum, which is on an 11-year cycle.

Iceland is an ideal Northern Lights hunting destination, as it is the only place in the world where the lights can be seen throughout the whole country. To help make it easier for visitors to see this amazing natural phenomenon there are a number of new Northern Lights tours launching this winter:

Astronomy Tours is offering an eight-day Northern Lights trip for February 2012 in the Lake Myvatn region in northern Iceland, just south of the Arctic Circle.

The departure dates are organised around the new moon, on 18 and 22 February, which will ensure the group has optimum viewing of the lights. Former President of the British Astronomical Association, Dr John Mason, will also join the group to explain the science and mythology attached to the mystical lights. The trip will have the added bonus of the two brightest planets, Venus and Jupiter, shining unusually brightly and it should also be possible to catch a glimpse of Mercury.

Discover the World has announced a new four-night Northern Lights and killer whale tour on the Snaefellsnes Peninsula in western Iceland during February and March 2012.

Large pods of killer whales gather in the area between February and March. Often visible from the hotel, guests will also view the creatures close up during two boat trips. Nightly viewing of the spectacular Northern Lights will be available from the balcony hot tub of Hotel Framnes, a converted fisherman’s hostel, in the small fishing village of Grundarfjörður.

A guided driving tour of the peninsula, the setting for Jules Verne’s famous book ‘Journey to the Centre of the Earth’, and a visit to the shark museum for a taste of putrefied shark and Icelandic schnapps ‘Brennivin’ completes the tour.

This winter, luxury operator, Scott Dunn, is featuring Iceland for the first time and has added a private-guided four-night Northern Lights Safari itinerary.

Guests will explore the dramatic south coast from the chic art deco Hotel Borg in Reykjavik. The sights of the Golden Circle are discovered in a private guided 4 x 4 vehicle. The more adventurous can then head to the Langjökull or Mýrdalsjökull glaciers for snowmobiling, while those who prefer city life can head back to Reykjavik’s shops. By night, guests will head out on a Northern Lights safari with an experienced guide.

The last two nights are spent at the boutique Hotel Ranga in the volcanic south. From here guests can go hiking, fishing and horse riding or take a spectacular private helicopter flight over smoking volcanic craters and black sand beaches.

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