Iceland – March 27, 2016 (Day 11)

We spent the Day 11 in and around the coastal town of Höfn. We left the Kálfafellsstadur Bed & No Breakfast (as I stated in the Day 9 blog, the B&B serves B only in the summer) for Höfn, a short drive. On the way, we found a small but beautiful unnamed waterfall behind an unoccupied farmhouse. Here are the pictures of the the farmhouse and the small waterfall behind it.

Farm House near Höfn
Farm House near Höfn (64°12’37” N 15°43’23” W)
Unnamed Waterfall Behind a Home in Southern Iceland
Unnamed Waterfall Behind the Farmhouse

We reached Seljavellir Guesthouse just outside of Höfn at around 10am. The super inn keeper allowed us to check-in right away. The rooms were excellent and very modern. The bathroom floors were heated. The showers were top notch. This was THE BEST hotel/guesthouse we had stayed during the 12 days. Excellent service, super friendly and helpful hosts, very fast Wi-Fi, and modern and clean rooms with floor to ceiling glass for terrific views of the mountains. Tip: Get a room in the back for great views of the mountains and to experience the Northern Lights right from your bed.

We dumped our stuff and drove to the town and checkout the views. Then we decided to drive to Stokksnes to view the lighthouse and the rocky cliffs. We had to pay US$8/person to the owner of the cafe/pub at the entrance to the road to the lighthouse. When we reached the lighthouse, it was so windy, we had to turn the car around so that when opened, the doors wouldn’t fly away. I couldn’t stabilize my not so light carbon fiber tripod either. You could feel the power of the Atlantic Ocean as the waves hit the rocky shore with massive force. The black sand was hitting my face so hard that we could barely see the Vestrahorn mountain. May be that is God’s way of saying that we should visit the place another time 🙂

Stokksnes Lighthouse
Stokksnes Lighthouse (64°14’19” N 14°58’39” W)

One the way back, my cousins located very skittish group of 3 reindeer. The wind also died down quite a bit. We decided to quietly follow the reindeer to take a good shot. We then parked the car at a spot and waited for the reindeer to come close-by. After about 45 minutes, one of them came about 50′ feet from us. Got a good shot of it staring at us.

Raindeer 1
A Male Reindeer

That day was Easter. That meant almost everything was closed. Luckily Kaffi Hornið was open. We had a terrific Italian dinner. Highly recommend the place. Super helpful staff. After dinner, we returned to the Guesthouse at around 730pm and checked the weather forecast. The Aurora Borealis (AB) forecast was promising. At 9pm, Kp index was expected to be a 4. The clouds were moving away and sky looking towards the west and north was getting clearer. At 930 (about 45 minutes after sunset), I setup my Nikon D800e with the 24mm f1.4 Rokinon lens on the tripod right in front of our room and shot a few images across the sky every 3 minutes or so. The shutter speed for each image was between 15 and 25 seconds at ISO between 800 and 1000. After the 5th shot taken at 946pm, the LCD screen showed a very dim green band. Naked eyes saw just the stars and a blue sky. Over the next 5 minutes the band became bigger and brighter and the sky became darker and we could start to see it with our eyes. By 10pm, the grand show had begun and lasted for about 90 minutes. The host walked around notifying the guests that the show has started. I shot an image every 1-2 minutes until 1116pm for a total of 53 images. Below is the sequence of 10 images shot between 946pm and 1116pm. What a show. The AB Gods finally delivered on 11th night!!!

AB 0946pm
946pm – AB hardly visible but the camera sensor could capture the green band
AB 0956pm
At 956pm – The AB now visible to the naked eyes
AB 1008pm
At 1008pm
AB 1018pm
At 1018pm
AB 1024pm
At 1024pm
AB 1029pm
At 1029pm
AB 1035pm
At 1035pm
AB 1041pm
At 1041pm
AB 1107pm
At 1107pm
AB 1116pm
At 1116pm

All went to bed super satisfied and thinking about the long drive back next morning to Keflavik International Airport to fly back home.

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