During our journey, we’ll photograph some of the most amazing scenery and wildlife Iceland has to offer. From verdant rolling hills to rugged mountains, the landscapes of Iceland are famous for their interplay between light and sky. We’ve also included a few photo sessions with some famous bird populations to stoke your wildlife photography passions.
Take a walk on the wild side with us as we hike into volcanic craters and explore the stunning country in our own private tour vehicles. Because we’ll be traveling as an independent group, our guides and drivers are dedicated to getting us to the best locations in the most incredible light.
Our partner on this trip is the world-renowned photographer Tim Vollmer who is a native of Iceland and has been running photo tours for years. He has one of the best reputations in the industry. Mike Hagen, your Nikonians Academy Director, is co-leader for this trip, so you can be sure that this will be an adventure you’ll never forget.
We’ll photograph geothermal sites, glacial lagoons, birds, landscapes, volcanoes, lava fields, waterfalls, and basalt columns. We’ve also included a photo tour of Reykjavík that includes buildings and architecture.
This workshop is strictly limited to a maximum of 10 participants. This means that you’ll receive hands-on training from your workshop leaders every single day. Our goal is to help you capture incredible images and our small group size ensures you are well taken care of.
Duration: 9 Days/8 Nights
Depatures: 12 – 20 July 2015
Minimum number of participants x, maximum 10.
At least one camera.
Wide angle lens.
Medium range lens.
Data storage (disk drives or laptop).
Clothing should be in layers. Plan for temps between 32 and 75 degrees F.
A thorough packing list will be given to all participants after sign up
Second camera body.
Laptop with image editing software.
Day 1, 12 July 2015: Arrival
Arrival at Keflavík airport. Transfer to accommodation in Reykjavík.
Day 2, 13 July 2015: Golden Circle or the area around Stokkseyri and Eyrarbakki
1. Option: Golden Circle: We drive to Þingvellir National Park a remarkable geological site, and the most historic place on the island, where the world’s oldest democratic parliament was founded in 930. We continue to the Geysir region, where hot springs are in abundance, such as the famous great Geysir which has given name to hot springs all over the world. We will see one of the most active geysers in the area, Strokkur, spouting up to 20 meters. A few minutes drive from Geysir is the Gullfoss waterfall, one of the most impressive waterfalls in Europe. In the area between Reykholt and Flúðir there are areas rich with birds.
2. Option: Drive from Reykjavík the south shore near Stokkseyri and Eyrarbakki villages an area rich of birds. Overnight in Hvolsvöllur village.
Days 3-4, 14 – 15 July 2015: Westmann Islands
Drive to harbour at the south coast and sail to the Westman Islands-Heimaey.
Westman Islands are home to around 4,500 people and eight million puffins (every summer). The islands are a true wonder of nature. Heimaey is surrounded by rocky mountains, a volcano and 14 other small islands which are all in different sizes and shape.
The islands were all created by volcanic activity originating on the seabed. The last volcanic eruption took place in January – July, 1973 with overwhelming damage as nearly one-third of the town burned down or was covered under lava.
For bird-watchers, there are many interesting locations to visit in Heimaey such as the west coast to the southern tip. Here, during the breeding season, it is possible to observe nearly all the species of birds that nest in the cliffs of Westmann islands. The main puffin colony is to the south of the island. Passerines and waders also nest in the grassy area between the airport and coastline. If one is fortunate, it is even possible to observe the Manx Shearwater on the sea near their breeding grounds on Ystiklettur and the Storm Petrel and Leach´s Petrel also breed there but are only out and about during the night.
Hiking up the volcanoes Helgafell and Eldfell, Fire mountain, is quite easy and going down into the crater of Eldfell does not present any difficulties either.
A three hour boat tour will take us to the south islands amongst them Súlnasker were the second largest colony of gannets, Súla, in Icelandic waters nests. We will literally sail under the island which stands on four posts.
After that we sail to and around Surtsey, an island formed in eruption in 1963. You will sail around the islands, into caves, pass by other small islands/skerries and experience the buzzing birdlife that is in Westman Islands. Who knows, maybe we will see a flock of killer whales swimming by.
Stay at a hotel in Heimaey.
Day 5, 16 July 2015: South Coast
We leave Heimaey and drive from the harbour along the coast to guesthouse Hali in the southeast.
We pass the glaciers Eyjafjallajökull, Mýrdalsjökull and others on the south coast and stop at Reynisfjara beach, Reynisdrangar (rocks), Vík village in Mýrdal valley and in Landbrot near Kirkjubæjarklaustur.
Reynisfjara Beach is a natural black sand and pebble beach with some larger boulders. By the beach you can see basalt caves which are very interesting for photographers. Here is the nesting site of puffins and other seabirds and a great view of Dyrhólaey. This is a very beautiful place, but please be careful, the ocean can be extremely dangerous here.
Reynisdrangar are basalt sea stacks situated very near to Reynisfjara and the village Vík í Mýrdal.
The areas Landbrot and Meðalland south of Kirkjubæjarklaustur support a wide range of birds. The region´s wetlands are varied and include flood meadows, lakes, springs and lava fields. Breeding birds include Horned Grebe and various ducks. White-fronted Geese are common visitors on spring passage.
Overnight at a guesthouse near Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon.
Day 6-7, 17 – 18 July 2015: Skaftafell – Jökulsarlón glacier lagoon – Ingólfshöfði
Vatnajökull glacier towers over this region and has immensely affected the landscape. We will visit many of Vatnajökull’s outlets and outwash areas and the Jökulsárlón lagoon, a famous glacial lagoon full of icebergs were we can take a short boat tour and sail among the huge icebergs, an unforgettable experience!
The glacial scenery continues with a visit to the stunning Skaftafell, Iceland’s second largest national park, where the landscape has been formed in thousands of years by different influences of fire and water (volcanic eruptions and glaciers).
Ingólfshöfði is an isolated headland between black sands and the Atlantic Ocean, with thousands of nesting seabirds, especially puffins and the great skua. This historical cape is named after the first settler of Iceland, Ingólfur Arnarson, who spent his first winter in Iceland there in the year 874 AD. You will be driven to the nature reserve on a tractor with hay cart by a local farmer who will also be your guide in the area. The tour will either be early in the morning or in the evening. These are special departures for advanced photographers who need more time to work with their equipment. The duration of this tour is 3 hours.
Day 8, 19 July 2015: Waterfalls & Reykjavík
Drive back to Reykjavik along the south coast. Stops at Sólheimasandur, Skógafoss, Seljalandsfoss and other places of interest.
Sólheimasandur is a black volcano-sand-coast near Sólheimajökull where you have a spectacular view of the glaciers, the near mountains and the sea.
Seljalandsfoss is a picturesque waterfall. You can walk behind this waterfall and get a different photo angle. Here are bird colonies of fulmars.
Skógafoss is one of the biggest and most beautiful waterfalls in the country and lies under the glacier and volcano Eyjafjallajökull. Due to the amount of spray, the waterfall consistently produces a single or double rainbow which is normally visible on sunny days. According to legend, the first Viking settler in the area, Þrasi Þórólfsson, buried a treasure in a cave behind the waterfall. A local boy found the chest years later, but was only able to grasp the ring on the side of the chest before it disappeared again.
Overnight at a guesthouse in Reykjavík.
Day 9, 20 July 2015: Departure
Transfer to Keflavík airport in time for your departure. Prolong your stay in Reykjavík – Information upon request.
Note: Itinerary is subject to change due to weather, road closures, or events beyond our control.
Price per person sharing a double room USD 5,550
Single supplement USD 600
- 8 nights including breakfast in rooms with private facilities.
- Full board from dinner on day one to breakfast on day nine.
- Airport transfers.
- Private bus from during tour.
- Boat tour on the glacier lagoon.
- Lodging Tax.
International airfares – available upon request from Esja Travel, drinks, tips and anything that is not mentioned in the itinerary.
Mike Hagen is an author, photographer, workshop leader, entrepreneur, husband and father. At a young age, he merged his passion for adventure with his camera and later found the two to be the perfect pair for a business. He started his professional photography career in 1998 with his first photography company called Out There Images, Inc. Since then, he has continually pushed himself artistically and technically by expanding into books, video, workshops, lectures, consulting, and retail.
Mike currently owns and operates Visual Adventures along with his wife and business partner Stephanie Hagen. Over the course of their career, they have traveled, taught, and photographed in North America, South America, Europe, Asia, and Africa.
Mike’s growing body of books include Thousands of Images, Now What?, The Nikon Creative Lighting System (1st and 2nd editions), Nikon Capture NX 2 After The Shoot, and contributing author for The Wild Side of Photography. In addition to writing his own books, Mike has worked extensively with publishers as a technical editor for topics ranging from Photoshop to Lightroom to camera bodies to workflow to travel guides.