Iceland Photo Tours?

Discussion in 'Travel' started by dmanthree, Aug 19, 2017.

  1. Has anyone taken a photo tour of Iceland? If so, can you recommend a provider? I'm planning to go in the summer of 2018 so I need to start looking now.
  2. I did a lot of research last winter and ended up going to Cambodia instead for various reasons. I plan to visit Iceland in the near future and will use the information I have on hand. Here is what I have come up with, everyone's situation is different so feel free to disagree with my strategy. Most photo tours/workshops from the US are expensive so I eliminated those right away. If you have lots of money, want to go with a group, have the itinerary all planned out and want a instructor/photographer available, this is the way to go. I don't want any of those things and I have a limited budget. I will figure out what time of year I want to go, probably late fall. I will find the best deal on airfare for a round trip from Chicago for a seven day stay. Will book the cheapest hotel I can find for two days in capitol.
    I did a lot of research last winter and ended up going to Cambodia instead for various reasons. I plan on going to Iceland in the near future and with the research I did, will probably use IPT (Iceland Photo Tours). ICE-CAVE & THE NORTHERN LIGHTS WINTER PHOTO TOUR - Photo Tours in Iceland
  3. Since you are going for the first time, the commonly visited places in the "Golden Circle" are an easy day (round) trip from Reykjavik. Bus tours start at about $200 per person. Plan on two or three tours to various locations. Organized tours like are expensive, but take you to little-visited places, including the desolate interior and across glaciers.

    It actually wouldn't take much planning to rent a car (4WD at a minimum)) and take off on your own. I did that with my brother, covering the Golden Circle, northern coast and southern coat as far as Vestrahorn, in a 7 day period.

    Google Waze worked perfectly for navigation. We seldom were out of cell phone range. You can pay a per diem charge for international phone service from your local carrier, or buy a SIM card from one of the cell companies in Iceland once you get there.

    Every place takes a credit card (for gasoline, you need a debit card). In 7 days I spend less than $50 in Icelandic Kroner - half of what I checked out at an ATM. Let your credit companies know ahead of time about your travel plans.

    I saw no policemen outside of Reykjavik. Icelend's largest prison has 23 inmates, half of whom are allowed to work during the day. Chicago it is not! I saw a lot of speed cameras, and the fine for not wearing a set belt is US$3500. It scares me to thing about fines for speeding (the national maximum is 90 km/hr, or about 55 MPH).

    I plan to go back. It's a beautiful place and the people are wonderful. Next time will know some Islansk, probably good for laughs. Everybody speaks English - it's required in school.

    Most place names are hard to pronounce, but have an interesting etymology. "Iceland" is a transliteration of "Island," which means "island" in English. Many other places are named after founding fathers and their estates.
  4. If you go, take a GPS unit to record your location. You can use a GPX file to geotag photos in Lightroom. Every mile on the road reveals a new postcard opportunity. Towns are few and far between, and few landmarks are marked with signs. I spent weeks studying maps and the internet, trying to connect landmarks with my photos in lieu of this data.

    Locals seem to have no idea what these landmarks are called. It's like Chicago, where someone on Jackson can't tell you which way to Randolf. Even if you get lucky, the pronunciation in Islansk sounds nothing like the written word seems in English. There are two letters, 29 diphthongs and diacritical modifications which have no English equivalent.
    Last edited: Aug 22, 2017
  5. Thanks for the replies! I may do a _self guided" tour after all.
  6. Just got back from Iceland a few weeks ago (still processing photos). As described above, it is a wonderful and beautiful country with very friendly people who spoke very good English. We used "Nordic Visitor" to arrange a self-guided tour, whereby they booked the hotels, car, and airport transfers, and provided an itinerary. It all worked without an issue and I believe they delivered what we purchased. The rent a car company provided a portable NAV system, a WIFI hotspot, and a local cell phone. We generally relied on Google Maps on our smartphones since cell service was quite reliable, even in what seemed to be extremely remote locations. Did not really need a sim card being well covered by the WIFI in the car and WIFI at all the hotels.

    Iceland is an expensive, with hotels, food and everything else being quite costly. Found many great restaurants but they are not cheap (great lamb and fish dishes)! It helped to take a few snapshots with a smartphone at all your locations since you get automatic GPS coordinates from those images. At the time we booked, Nordic Visitor had 3 levels of hotel accommodations to choose, so we (my wife and our 2 friends) opted for the most expensive, but I think it would be OK going with the mid level option. Best of luck!
    Last edited: Aug 22, 2017
  7. david_henderson


    If you're going to Iceland in summer and sticking primarily to the Ring Road and the few other major thoroughfares, you don't need an expensive photo tour unless you're averse to doing a bit of research, buying a decent map, booking your own hotels and finding your own food. Its as easy to book a hotel in Iceland as it is in USA/UK- pretty much everyone speaks English. If you're going in the winter its a different story unless you're experienced in driving in severe weather and strong winds. I did once go on a trip to the north-west fjords as part of a photo group led by a USA photographer and concluded that we could easily and far more cheaply fix it up ourselves and get a lot more flexibility in terms of getting out for dawn and arranging dinner around ( not in the middle of) the best photo light.

    In summer you don't need 4wd unless you're planning to spend time on the smaller gravel roads normally carrying an "F" prefix. The tarmac roads and indeed most of the gravel roads are fine for 2wd

    You can use a credit card to buy fuel. Some "gas stations" are just a couple of pumps with a card authorisation machine- no people; no help. Best to have more than one card available.

    Hotels , restaurants, car rental and fuel in Iceland are all expensive ; much of it very expensive. Think about $250/night or more for a hotel room that would equate to a Best Western or similar in USA. A small manual shift, low cost 4x4 SUV recently cost me about $120 a day with insurances. Think about $70 for two pizzas and a couple of small beers. For fish or lamb (except fish & chips ) think 4000-6000 ISK -$40-$60 for one main course plus starter, dessert, drinks in a restaurant. Portions aren't huge. The range of dishes available at most restaurants is small and there's not a lot of variation from one place to the next. Its a place you'll remember for its scenery not for the luxury of its hotels and its food. The quality of restaurant food has improved a lot but its still not a place for a gastronomic holiday. You could opt to save a bit by eating in the gas stations along route 1. Despite what I'm saying about prices you'll need to book hotels and possibly car well in advance.

    On the upside some of the photography is interesting and unique, though you'll need to venture beyond Reykjavik for that.
  8. I still recommend a 4WD vehicle. It can snow or rain just about any time and the roads are slippery and narrow. If you want to go on back roads, you need an off-road SUV, like a Land Rover or Land Cruiser. Gravel roads can be soft and deeply rutted. If you wish to ford rivers or drive on glaciers, you need a super Jeep, preferably with a professional guide or driver. It is illegal to drive off road except in designated places. Hardly anyone drive a 2WD vehicle. Traffic fines for simple offenses like failure to wear a seat belt or speeding can reach 4 figures.

    I went in April, which is off-season. My Land Cruiser cost less than a compact car in Seattle. Rooms were still $200 or more, and meals expensive. Hot Dogs (Pilsur) are $10 plus drink. A pint of beer is $15 (Iceland campaigns against alcohol like former Mayor Bloomberg against sugar.)
  9. I once traveled to southern Ethiopia in 1996 and was able to find fellow tourists to share hotel and a landcrusier with driver - I located them on a Lonely Planet forum. I wonder if there are any photographer oriented forums where lone photographers can come in contact with others looking to pool resources. Most organized 'photography tours' are prohibitively expensive and are geared to either unskilled photographers or well heeled ones to lazy to research properly the location they want to visit.

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