24 hours

Aurora Borealis

24 hours

Even with only 24 hours to spare, the adventures you can have here are pretty great.  With such a short time frame it’s important to minimize transit time and maximize fun time. Adventure is a state of mind; it can be had at any time and any place.

We've followed what Alastair Humphreys has in recent years been actively promoting: the concept of microadventures. His recipe for a microadventure is to do “something different, something exciting but cheap, simple, short, on your doorstep. Grab a map, close your eyes, point, go.”

Departure point

And that’s what we did one day in March.  Weather was good and the aurora forecast looked promising. At noon, we came up with the idea to take sea kayaks and go camping – three hours later we took this picture. We had driven half an hour out of town and Maik had a big smile on his face. We had kayaks, camping and camera gear, instant noodles, cookies and chocolate. Everything to survive the night and return home the next day.

Arctic fox

Seeing an arctic fox in the wild is always a fun event, but they usually stay far away from humans.  This one, however, didn’t seem to be afraid of us at all. He came right up to us when we were preparing our kayaks, he sniffed around and then walked away – seemingly not very impressed by our colourful figures and toys.

Kayaking

We didn’t paddle far, a mere 6km. But it was a good distance to take it easy and enjoy the paddle and reach camp before sunset. Seals and numerous birds accompanied us along the way and upon approaching the camp, we saw another arctic fox running on the beach. 

Maik taking off his wet suit

When kayaking in arctic and sub-arctic waters it’s important to be well prepared and warm. Most kayakers wear a dry suit but Maik, who is used to surfing, wore his Patagonia wet suit. Not ideal but definitely warm – until we arrived at our campsite and he had to undress in the freezing cold.

Old shipwreck

When looking for some driftwood to make fire, we found the remaining from an old shrimp boat, Dröfn ÍS 44, that was abandoned in a storm in December 1993.

Maik making fire

There are very few trees in the Westfjords so making a bonfire can be a challenging task. Luckily, we found a few pieces of driftwood along the beach. We were both so deeply focused on the fire-making that we didn’t even notice when the auroras started to form on the sky. All of a sudden we looked up and the whole sky was glowing.

Aurora borealis

Northern lights

We spent the evening whoa-ing and wohoo-ing under the aurora display. The excitement level was so high we didn’t even notice the freezing cold. The bonfire also helped keep us warm.

Camp

The northern lights continued throughout the night and there was no sign of them stopping. We were tired and happy, satisfied with what we had seen and experienced that day. It was certainly a different end of the day than we had foreseen when the day started.

Hotel room view in the morning

Our 5 star beachfront accommodation with a view. Perfect for Maik to do his morning meditation.  

Skyr for breakfast

Skyr is an Icelandic dairy product made from pasteurized skimmed milk. It’s been a part of Icelandic cuisine for a thousand years and nowadays they make it in easy plastic cups – with blueberries.  A great breakfast out in the wild.

Paddling towards home again

It was time to head back home. The water was calm and the sun was shining. When we turned into the fjord, we discovered there was a thin layer of ice covering the surface. Our kayaks turned into Russian icebreakers and the way back took much longer than the way out. We managed to get home at 3 o’clock, exactly 24 hours after our departure.

Paddling through thin layer of ice

Living in the Westfjords of Iceland does give a certain advantage to easily access stunning nature. But adventures can be had nearly anywhere near your home, whether you live in Bildudalur, Berlin or Baihrain. Go somewhere you’ve never been. Go on an adventure that is close to home, that’s cheap, simple, short and effective. That’s what we did – and it was fun.

Download the GPS track of the kayak route here.