Iceland Photo Tour
with Rod Barbee
Iceland Photo Tour
Iceland is on the bucket list of many photographers, and for a good reason. Iceland is magical (to use an over-used term): mountains and picturesque waterfalls, floating ice and black sand beaches, colorful hills and bizarre lava-formed landscapes, puffins and other seabirds.
The landscape is out of Tolkien, or more precisely, "Game of Thrones" (many scenes are filmed in Iceland). And after you’ve visited for your first time, you’ll be plotting on how to get back.
For this tour, I'm teaming with Iceland Photo Tours, Europe’s leading photography travel agency.
We’ll be visiting the Snaefellsnes peninsula, the southern coast, Vatnajokull National Park, the Golden Circle area including Þingvellir National Park, and of course, Reykjavik. We'll also be visiting at a great time of year to see and photograph auroras. See all the details below.
This is a photo tour. That means there are no classroom sessions or formal critique sessions. It also means that I’ll be actively shooting alongside you. It doesn’t mean that help is not available though. I’ll be checking in on you and will always be available if you need help in the field. And we'll have a photographer guide from Iceland Photo Tours with us to get us to all the right places at all the right times.
And I’ll also be available for informal image reviews as time allows and some of our accommodations will have meeting space so that you'll have an opportunity to share images and ask questions.
Day 1: Arrival in Iceland
On your first day in Iceland, you will land at Keflavik International Airport and then take the flybus to our hotel in central Reykjavik. We'll meet up that evening in the lobby and then go to a nearby restaurant and get to know each other. There you'll also hear more about what awaits us for the next nine days.
Hotel: Fosshótel Reykjavík
Day 2: Snaefellsnes peninsula
On our second day in Iceland, we'll be picked up from our hotel in the morning for two days on the Snaefellsnes peninsula, home to some of the most photogenic scenery in all of Iceland.
We'll photograph the wild coastline of Snaefellsnes, the columnar basalt and spectacular cliffs at Arnarstapi, the charming black church at Budir, the Budahraun lava field and the impressive and peculiarly shaped sea stacks of Londrangar. Snaefellsnes also happens to be one of the best places in Iceland to seek one of nature's absolute wonders, the Aurora Borealis.
Along the way we can stop at Hraunfossar waterfall. Hraunfossar is not a single waterfall but a series of cascading falls, that during the autumn months are surrounded by fall color.
Overnight at Snaefellsnes.
Day 3: Snaefellsnes peninsula
On our third day in Iceland, we‘ll cover the rugged coastline, see several charming villages and the mountains that divide the northern and western part of the peninsula.
A particular highlight is mount Kirkjufell by Grundarfjordur, with its pyramid shape. This is one of the most photogenic mountains in Iceland as it always offers something new and exciting in terms of angle, light and shape. Nearby is the beautiful Kirkjufellsfoss waterfall, as seen in the photo above.
Overnight at Snaefellsnes.
Day 4 - Seljalandsfoss, Skogafoss, Reynisfjara, Vik
Today we'll be heading towards the south shore of Iceland. We'll visit two of Iceland's most picturesque and beloved waterfalls, Seljalandsfoss and Skogafoss. Seljalandsfoss is a narrow one, but falls from 63 meters and has the rare distinction of being able to walk behind it.
Skogafoss is well known as one of Iceland's highest and most beautiful falls. It can be photographed from both the bottom and the top; a pathway leads to the top and then continues on towards other falls. Skogafoss is also known to produce a spectacular double rainbow when the light is right.
Later on, we'll be traveling towards the mainland's southernmost point to witness the dramatic scenery of the famous Reynisfjara beach. The Reynisdrangar sea stacks, the black sands of the shore, the waves of the North Atlantic Ocean, and the basalt column pyramid of Gardar make this one of the most photogenic areas you'll encounter on the tour. This is also some of the most amazing scenery you can ask for to photograph the Northern Lights in, should they appear.
Overnight in Vik
Day 5 - Vatnajökull National Park
Today we head towards Vatnajökull National Park, home to Europe's largest glacier. The park and the Snaefellsnes peninsula share the trait of offering a little bit of everything in terms of Icelandic natural wonders. Focusing on the park's southern and eastern part, we will see mighty glaciers and glacier tongues, dark sandy beaches, stunning waterfalls such as Hundafoss and the famous Svartifoss, with its dark basalt columns, both of whom are located at Skaftafell, ice-riddled glacier lagoons and much more.
Adding to this fantastic scenery, our Northern Lights hunt continues, lending further otherworldly feel to the scenery.
Overnight at Hali hotel. Hali Country Hotel is the nearest guesthouse to Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon
Day 6 - Vatnajökull National Park
On this day we'll have plenty of time photographing the stunningly beautiful Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon, at the eastern part of Vatnajökull National Park. Ice from the Breidamerkurjokull glacier riddles the lagoon and the beach. The amazing view, the display of light, multiple reflections and glistening ice contrasted by dark sands, all combine in making the area a photographer's dream.
Overnight at Hali hotel.
Day 7 - Vatnajökull National Park
On this day you will have ample opportunity to photograph the mighty Vestrahorn mountain, rising at 454 meters above the black lava beach of the Stokksnes peninsula. The mountain, made of unstratified plutonic rock (gabbro and granophyre) is a marvel to photograph and is very interestingly shaped. It consists of several steep peaks, the most oddly formed of which is the Brunnhorn outcrop, which stretches all the way eastwards to the sea.
The wild waves of the North Atlantic Ocean make the scenery all the more photogenic and sunset and sunrise are particularly recommended for stunning images. Auroras may even appear in the sky at nighttime.
Overnight at Hali hotel.
Day 8 - Skaftafell, Vikykjavik
On this day we'll be photographing the beautiful scenery of Skaftafell, a preservation area within the larger Vatnajokull National Park. The main attraction here is Svartifoss, with its dark and dramatic hexagonal basalt columns and the sharp rocks that have broken from them and lie at the base. These columns were also an inspiration for the look of Reykjavikss most distinctive landmark, Hallgrimskirkja church, as well as the roof of the National Theater (same architect) and for Richard Scerra's Milestones sculpture at Videy island, off the shore of Reykjavik. Hundafoss is another beautiful waterfall not far off, well worth photographing in its own right. The area is further graced by the Kristinartindar volcanic peaks, stunning glacier lagoons and the majestic glacier outlet Svinafellsjokull.
After visiting Skaftafell we'll have more time to photograph the fascinating area of Reynisfjara. Evening photography at this site, with the rays of the setting sun, is sure to result in some particularly amazing pictures, as well as great further opportunities for photographing the aurora.
We'll spend the night in Vik at the Katla hotel.
Day 9 - Golden Circle and return to Reykjavik
On your last full day in Iceland, we'll visit "the big three" of Icelandic natural attractions, considered essential for all visitors of the country: the Golden Circle of Þingvellir National Park, the Geysir geothermal area and Gullfoss waterfall, all located in South Iceland.
A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Þingvellir National Park is one of Iceland's most important sites. It was here that the old national assembly was founded, and the current parliament in Iceland, Althingi, still bears its name. The area is situated in a rift valley and evidence of the movement of the tectonic plates may be seen at the impressive Almannagja gorge, into which the beautiful waterfall Oxararfoss falls. The park is certainly one of Iceland's most picturesque sites and we also recommend photographing the surrounding mountain ring and lake Þingvallavatn, Iceland's largest lake, and its islets.
The famous spouting hot spring Geysir in Haukadalur valley lends its name to geysers all over the world and the surrounding geothermal area is also widely known simply as the Geysir geothermal area. This is our next destination. Geysir seldom erupts anymore, but its neighbor Strokkur does so with gusto, spouting water as high as 15-20 meters. Also of interest are the geysers Smidur and Litli-Strokkur. To the north colorful fumaroles may be found and to the south is a range of mudpots. They may boil or steam according to weather. Nearby is an old natural pool. It can be entered but is still very fragile, so visitors need to take extra care not to disrupt it. There is also nice forest in the area, a tree museum and a charming old wooden church, all well worth checking out.
Finally there is the "golden waterfall" Gullfoss, widely held to be the most beautiful waterfall in Iceland and certainly the most sought after by nature photographers and nature lovers alike. Gullfoss belongs to the Hvita glacier river and falls thunderously at a drop of 32 meters into the narrow river gorge.The sun may even lend it a rainbow.
After visiting "the big three" attractions of the Golden Circle and indeed having seen many of Iceland's greatest natural wonders, you'll head back to Reykjavik for your final night in Iceland. This day will also be your final chance of the tour for Northern Lights photography, so keep a lookout and keep your camera ready.
Overnight at the Fosshótel Reykjavík.
Day 10 - Transfer to Keflavik Airport
This is the day of your departure, as you will take the flybus from your hotel back to Keflavik International Airport, bringing with you photos and memories of an extraordinary adventure.
Map of tour locations
About the guide company
Iceland Photo Tours was founded in 2012 by renowned landscape photographer Lurie Belegurschi and is the premier photo tour company in Iceland. They know the locations, the light, and the weather. With any of the team of guides from Iceland Photo Tours, we'll maximize our time and increase the odds of being in the right place at the right time.
To learn more about Lurie, read this interview with him in Landscape Photography Magazine.
$7345 Single occupancy ($7125 if paying deposit and balance by check)
If you want your own room, choose this option.
$6575 Double occupancy. ($6375 if paying deposit and balance by check)
If you already have a roommate, choose this option. I can also try finding you a roommate but can make no guarantees. If a roommate is not available, the single supplement cost will be added to your invoice.
If you wish to pay deposit via PayPal or credit card and balance by check, I can prorate the discount.
If you wish to pay deposit by check and the balance by PayPal/credit card, I will adjust the invoice accordingly to remove the discount on the balance.
- Full board from dinner on day 1 to breakfast on day 10
- FlyBus tickets for transfer from and to Airport.
- Accommodation in hotels and guesthouses.
- Rooms with private bathrooms.
- Alcoholic beverages
- Personal items, snacks, etc.
- Tips for guides/driver
- Transportation during the tour in a spacious, comfortable bus with ample room for you and your gear.
- Professional English speaking photo guide/driver.
Extending your stay
If you want to stay on a few more days to explore Reykjavik, visit other areas, or revisit some of the places we stopped at, Iceland Photo Tours can make that happen.
Further details can be provided upon request after signing up.
I understand that sometimes folks need to make last minute cancellations due to illness, family, or business matters. Unfortunately, I am unable to make last minute refunds or provide credit to future workshops due to these last minute cancellations. I therefore highly recommend travel insurance. See this page for some resources.
Many of your questions may already be answered on my FAQ page.