In Iceland, late spring and summer nights are full of light, and night walks (as defined by the clock) are a twilight hike at the most. If you are walking along the North Atlantic coastline, you will have a chance to see the sun dip its toes into the Arctic Ocean and shudder a bit, before rising into the sky again.
Hiking through the night during the Icelandic summer is an unforgettable experience. The cool night air envelopes you and heightens your senses; the colors of sky and land blend together; the breeze on your skin is soft and cool; the smell of earth promises life; and the utter silence is broken only by the symphony of birdsong. In the bright summer night, everything is sharper.
In North Iceland, the summer solstice is a chance to hike through the night over the ancient mountain passes traversed by our ancestors throughout the ages and to visit the night time sun at the time of its celebration.
Autumn and winter seasons give us weather conditions that are more prone to storms and snow. The winter weather in the north is unstable and can change at the drop of a hat (or mitten); therefore, being able to go out to hike is not a given. In the long winter night it is important to tread carefully through the rugged nature of the Icelandic landscapes.
Preparation is imperative, but the darkness during winter days is an exciting opportunity to explore night walking on ice and snow, even before dinner.
There are few experiences more memorable than the Icelandic mountain landscapes during winter, with light from the moon reflected in the snow below your feet and the northern lights dancing above you. Far away, frozen ranges cut the dark night sky and the starscape, free from urban light pollution, twinkles happily. After the snow sets in snow shoes or cross country skis can provide accessibility beyond what mere hiking boots can.
If you are close enough, the mighty Arctic Ocean provides background music to your walking tempo. If it is windy, the grungy, howling voice of the wind intensifies your experience and offers a sense of urgency to your walk, a reminder of those before you who took walks such as yours out of necessity rather than recreation.
A wonderful finale to a winters day in the North is the opportunity to rest in a warm pool after a walk, feeling the contradictory senses of the warm, soft water enveloping your body and the sting of frozen snowflakes on your face as you gaze towards the sky.
Sóti Summits offers weekend packages, private tours and tours for small groups in which night walking is included. Experience a stay at the wonderful Sóti Lodge, enjoy our friendly service, our geothermal pool and the best that North Icelands nature has to offer. Check out our offers here, or contact us for a private quote at email@example.com.
Tips for night time walking:
Despite the absence of predators in Icelandic nature, it is important to be well prepared and, have a guide with you if you are not knowledgeable about the areas you visit. Icelandic nature is in itself sometimes predatory and those that underestimate its volatile temperament do so at their own peril.
- Join a planned tour with a professional local guide.
- If not, plan carefully before embarking on a night walk. Check weather conditions, plan your hike and leave your plan with your accommodation provider or some other responsible party.
- Map your route, use GPS and or a map to follow.
- Challenge your comfort zone, but not too much. Ask locals for tips on planning.
- Stick to your plan and do not stray from it without informing those who wait for your return.
- Bring a headlight to guide your step – and make sure you have enough batteries!
- An extra powerbank for your phone is an option.
- Clothing is important. It is always colder than you think. Dress more than you think you should, take extra and be prepared for sudden weather changes.
- Take something hot to drink and snacks.
- Check out Safetravel (https://safetravel.is) for alerts, conditions and tips.
- Decide to take a night hike at the spur of the moment without informing anyone.
- Underestimate Icelandic conditions.
- Hike alone in the winter.