Workshops & Tours
Iceland - Land of Fire and Ice
Download Brochure: Word Doc
Vehicle | Cost | Payments | Responsibility | Conditions | Travel Insurance | Registration
Iceland, one of our favorite tour locations, lies on the skirt of the Arctic Circle. Sitting atop of the North Atlantic Ridge, one the world's most volcanically active hotspots, Iceland is a land of glaciers, bubbling hot springs and rugged fjords. It is also home to large seabird colonies teeming with millions of Atlantic Puffins, Razorbills, Common and Thick-billed Murres, Kittiwakes and Northern Fulmars.
While bird photography will be one of the goals of the tour, we will also be devoting a generous amount of time to photographing the unique landscape of Iceland. We'll explore a diversity of habitats, and make striking images of snow-capped peaks, green mountains rising out of black sand, numerous waterfalls, delicate Heath spotted orchids, Roseroot growing in fertile heathlands, striated glaciers, icebergs and much more!
We've been to some pretty amazing places in our lives crossing both the Arctic and Antarctic circles and we still place Iceland on par with both locations for sheer natural beauty. Since Iceland is located so far north, it receives more than 20 hours of light each day during mid-summer. When the weather is cooperative we will take advantage of this bonus of daylight hours by photographing for extended periods of time.
We'll plan on photographing when the best light occurs, some days this will be between the hours of 8 PM and 2 AM. It is possible to photograph all day long if it is cloudy but, if the sun is shining; we'll go scouting or rest in anticipation of the day's best light. If everything goes as planned, our tour will be pleasantly exhausting! However, we operate with 2 vans – one for hardcore enthusiasts and one for those who'd prefer a little more laidback experience. This is another benefit of taking a tour from us –flexibility!
It would be impossible to show you every last bit of Iceland. Instead we'll linger in strategic locations carefully selected for their seabird cliffs and a variety of scenic wonders to photograph. We'll devote extra time mid-tour in the Interior to experience some of the best landscape photography Iceland has to offer. The following new itinerary provides an outline of the places we plan to visit; expect weather and logistics to alter our daily schedule.
Wednesday, June 10: Overnight Flights which departed US on Tuesday arrive in Keflavik. Transport by taxi or bus to City Center of Reykjavik. Check-in to hotel and meet Rod at 4:30 PM for orientation and meet other participants.
(Accommodation: Reykjavik Hotel included in tour) (B/L/D – on own)
Thursday, June 11: The tour begins with an early departure from the hotel lobby where we will drive towards Hvalfjördur-fjord and from there towards Hellnar on the shores of the Snaefellsnes Peninsula. We'll stop along the way to enjoy the scenery and photograph what we find appealing. After arriving in Hellnar, those that are not too tired from travel can have their first taste of photographing at the seabird colony. The nearby colony is home to Black-legged Kittiwake, Northern Fulmar, Common Black-headed Gull and the Icelandic race of Black-tailed Godwit. There is also an Arctic Tern colony which we can try to photograph – if it does not cause too much disturbance.
Overnight in Hellnar (breakfast, lunch and dinner)
Friday, June 12: In the morning we'll travel to the community of Stykkiskholmur to take the ferry across the Breidafjordur Bay. This journey will take us to our next major destination – the West Fjords, a remote region that is home to a huge seabird colony at Latrabjarg. If the weather is cooperative (cloudy) we will visit the Dynjandi waterfall on the way. Also known as Fjallfoss ("mountain falls"), this 328 foot high cascade pours off the edge of the mountain, then fans out to a width of 197 feet at its base. Below it is a series of cascading waterfalls with lyrical names: Hundafoss, Strokkur, Gongumannafoss, Hrisvadsfoss and Baejarfoss. After dinner we'll make our first photographic trip to Latrabjarg. (Weather will factor into the days, times and frequency of visits to the Latrabjarg Cliffs. We'll remain flexible to take advantage of changing weather conditions and may need to change the itinerary based on this.)
Overnight in Breidavik (breakfast, lunch and dinner)
Saturday, June 13: We will drive southeast of the Latrabjarg cliffs to a very remote area overlooking a magnificent stretch of red sand beach at Raudasandur. In the evening we'll return to the Latrabjarg seabird colony, which hosts one of Iceland's greatest concentrations of seabirds. (Weather dependant) Thousands of seabirds perch on cliff edges, undeterred by human observers. We'll see some very approachable Atlantic Puffins along with Razorbills, Black Guillemots, Brunnich's Guillemots (Thick-billed Murre), and Common Guillemots (Common Murre). This is where we have witnessed the classic kleptoparasitic behavior of Arctic Skuas (Parasitic Jaeger). These spectacular tail chases usually resulted in the victimized seabird dropping fish held in its beak or disgorging its stomach contents. This is also an excellent place to photograph grand landscapes of the coast. (Weather will factor into the days, times and frequency of visits to the Latrabjarg Cliffs. We'll remain flexible to take advantage of changing weather conditions and may need to change the itinerary based on this.)
Overnight in Breidavik (breakfast, lunch and dinner)
Sunday, June 14: Today we'll venture out into the countryside to photograph along the edges of the Patreksfjordur. Here we will find a picturesque lighthouse and rippled sand beaches edged with aquamarine blue waters. In the evening we will return to Latrabjarg for our last photographic experience along the western most region of Europe. Night owls can stay up to photograph the historic church bathed in "afterglow" at Breidavik before retiring for the night.
Overnight in Breidavik (breakfast, lunch and dinner)
Monday, June 15: We will make our way east stopping along the way to take advantage of photographic opportunities afforded by waterfalls in Kolugljúfur canyon and sea stacks in Hunafjordur. This area is known for having a high density of the Icelandic horse – we'll be staying at an active horse farm in the heart of horse country which should opportunities to photograph these splendid animals.
Accommodation: Laugarbakki (B/L/D)
Tuesday, June 16: As we begin our journey for the day, we'll take time visit the small pictorial seaside village of Blönduós. Continuing south through the Central Highlands one of Iceland's most remote areas where we'll discover glaciers, volcanic desserts and numerous hot spring areas like Kelingarfjoll. Kerlingarfjöll highlands offer an abundance of amazing colored formations. We'll overnight near Gullfoss so we can visit either Gullfoss or Geysir after normal tourism hours. By doing this we'll avoid the daytime crush of tourism and photograph the in the best light of the day.
Accommodation: Gullfoss (B/L/D)
Wednesday-Thursday, June 17 - 18: Those who stayed up late will be happy with the later departure planned for the first morning. After a leisurely breakfast we'll make our way deeper into the Interior of Iceland. Over the next two days we'll travel in and around Landmannalaugar, part of the Fjallabak Nature Reserve, where we will see mountains composed of rhyolitic rock of varying delicate colors. This is an area of indescribable splendor, featuring hills awash in a painter's palette of reds, bright yellows and greens. Landmannalaugar is a land born of hot springs, with steam rising from every corner of the valley. In addition, we'll also photograph in the volcanic district of the Veidivotn fissure. This fissure is one of Iceland's youngest fissures, created during the 1480 eruption and features lava formations and craters. In calm weather, a multitude of small pools and lakes capture reflections from the dramatic geologic formations.
Accommodation: Hrauneyjar (breakfast, lunch and dinner)
Friday - Saturday, June 19 -20: We'll drive south into the southern district of the highlands using the Oldufell route stopping to photograph old farmhouses and churches isolated in stark surroundings and Icelandic horses (if accessible.) Over the course of the next two days you'll discover why we have chosen to linger longer in this location. Early risers will be greeted with the possibility of stepping out the back door to photograph spectacular sunrise and early morning light beaming across braids of streams in the coastal flats in the valley below.
In the evening, after dinner, you can step out the backdoor of the guesthouse to photograph the stunning surrounding countryside.
Accommodation: Hrífunes Guesthouse (B/L/D)
Sunday, June 21: We'll make our way southeast stopping along the way to photograph waterfalls and experience the area overshadowed by the vast Vatnajokull icecap, whose enormous glaciers creep down through every crack in the coastal mountains. The highlights of the region are the areas in and around the Skaftafell National Park. After checking in to our next location we'll explore the area to the northeast chasing light and taking advantage of what comes our way.
Accommodation: Hali Guesthouse (B/L/D)
Monday, June 22: Today begins with an early (5AM) excursion into the Ingolfshofdi Nature Reserve to photograph Puffins, Black-legged Kittiwakes and Great Skuas. The Ingolfshofdi Headlands is also an excellent location to photograph Great Skuas. In the afternoon, we'll drive west to the Jokulsarlon Glacial Lagoon to photograph "captive" icebergs which have calved off the Breidamerkurjokull glacier. If the weather cooperates we could photograph the lagoon and nearby black sand beach until 1:00 AM. (Weather will factor into the days, times and frequency of visits to the Ingolfshofdi Nature Reserve. We'll remain flexible to take advantage of changing weather conditions and may need to change the itinerary based on this.)
Accommodation: Hali Guesthouse (B/L/D)
Tuesday, June 23: Today we'll make our way west back along the southern coast. Just outside of the easily pronounced hamlet of Kirkjubæjarklaustur (locals say "Kirka") we'll stop at the storied waterfall named Systrafoss ("the waterfall of the sisters"). Folk tales tell a story about one good and one sinful nun. We'll rely on our Icelandic guide's vast knowledge of Icelandic Sagas to hear the entire tale. In the afternoon, we'll be sharing a few of Hawk's favorite places to photograph. Rod and I have been to several of these places and they are worth keeping off the radar of other tour companies. Plus, a few are only available to us because of Hawk's good relationship with private landowners. He would like to keep these areas "secret" so we will respect that and not list them here. It will be a fun afternoon of exploration and surprise!
Accommodation: Hrífunes Guesthouse (B/L/D)
Wednesday, June 24: We will take full advantage of our last day in the field by driving over the sands of Mýdalssandur towards the Hjörleifshöfdi cape. He we will see the large rock outcroppings that stand alone in middle of the sand desert. We'll continue towards the village of Vík with the Reynisdrangar rock outcroppings in the sea, and also take a look at the columnar basalt formations at Reynisfjara beach. If time allows, we will drive on top of cape Dyrhólaey, the southernmost point of Iceland. As we make our way back towards Reykjavik, our last day of photography will include a stop at the impressive Skogafoss. We have our last dinner together and break early
Accommodation: Reykjavik (B/L/D)
Thursday, June 25: Depending on your flight time you may be able to sleep in! Then prepare for the journey home. If time allows you can explore the museums, sightsee or check out one of Europe's famous shopping districts in downtown Reykjavik. Allow enough time to take a bus or taxi to the airport.
(B) (Lunch and Dinner on own)
We will stay in a variety of hotels and guest-houses, with accommodations based on double occupancy and private baths (when available). This helps to keep the cost of the tour down (if we have an odd number of women or men we may have to assess an additional fee for a single room supplement).
It can rain a lot in Iceland. We'll make the best of rainy periods by offering a moderate hike for those who wish to stretch their legs or just take a break from the rigors of photography. We may also use these times to download images, catch up on sleep or travel between locations.
"Hawk", born and raised in Iceland, will act as our driver/guide. He is one of the most respected photographers in Iceland who also owns one of the largest stock photo agencies in Iceland. His intimate knowledge of Iceland, passion for the land, and knowledge of photography makes him an excellent choice for the tour. Over the years we have come to know Hawk well and consider him our long lost Icelandic brother. We are pleased to be working with him again! He understands the vagaries of light and its impact on photography, our need to keep unusual hours, and most importantly, he knows what makes photographers tick. He will also act as our interpreter when necessary (though you'll discover that most Icelanders speak fluent English).
With few exceptions, Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner are included in the cost of the tour. Typically, we will eat breakfast at our host hotel / guesthouse. On a normal day we will eat dinner in a restaurant, depending on availability and the lighting conditions around dinner time. For lunch we have found that utilizing box lunches allows us to spend more time in the field. Please bear in mind that when you factor in the drive time associated with remote shooting locations, time to order, eating and then driving back to the field - having lunch in a restaurant is not practical. Since this tour is about making beautiful images and not spending time in a restaurant, we won't be scheduling photography around meal times.
We will be driving and photographing in extremely remote areas, "pit-stops" may have to take place in the field. Since there are no trees, the overly modest might have difficulty with this aspect of the tour. We will keep an eye out for any natural features like big rocks, bushes or sand piles that are suitable to hide behind. During our previous tours this actually never posed a problem but we thought we should mention it…
Spouses or partners are welcome and encouraged to share this Iceland experience with our photographic clients. However, we must stress that this a tour that is devoted to photography, and non-photographers or those with only a passing interest in natural history are not likely to appreciate the schedule that we will be keeping. If you feel your partner is up to the rigors of traveling with nature photographers and would enjoy the trip they are more than welcome. Iceland is a special place, one that you will enjoy sharing with your partner. Please understand that no changes can be made to the itinerary to suit the needs of an accompanying spouse (shorter field trips, shopping excursions, etc.) Note: Having said that, we have had several non-photographers accompany our groups in the past. So far it has worked well. They either had an interest in birding or enjoyed hiking on their own. Give us a call; we can help you decide if this will work for you!
We'll get around in 4x4(s) designed for just the type of travel we will be doing. This mode of travel also allows us the flexibility of crossing rivers in the back country and comes highly recommended by Hawk, who is experienced with photographic tours.
$8900 includes accommodations (double occupancy) beginning June 10 through June 24, land transportation (except individual transfers), entrance fees and meals (breakfast, lunch and dinner – except where noted). Currency, US, ISK as well as the Euro is always in flux. If rates change radically we reserve the right to adjust the price of the tour accordingly. Please add $1400 for Single Occupancy. If you snore or are a light sleeper we strongly recommend taking advantage of the opportunity to upgrade to a single room. You will enjoy the trip more if you are well rested!
Initial deposit: $500. Second deposit: ½ of balance on September 1, 2014. Final payment: last ½ of balance is due January 1, 2015. Until 150 days or more prior to departure, payments are refundable except for $2000. Refunds given 149-80 days prior to departure will be subjected to a charge of 40% of the tour price, 79-60 days prior to departure, a charge of 50%, and 60 days or less prior to departure, no refund will be paid unless we can fill your space. Cancellation insurance is strongly recommended (see below). There is a possibility of a fuel surcharge if fuel prices rise dramatically over the current price of 200 ISK / per liter (9/13).
Lunch and dinner are not included on June 10 and June 25. This will permit you to make your own selection of the area restaurants in Reykjavik. Tour cost does not include air transportation, airport departure taxes, separate airport transfers, (group transfers are included) personal items such as laundry, wine, liquor, meals not included in itinerary, beverages not included with meals, medical expenses, faxes/telephone/email charges and insurance. Nor activities listed as optional, or those taken on your own; passport/visa expenses; personal medical or travel insurance. Estimated flight cost from US to Keflavik, Iceland $1000 (coach). At this time, Delta and Icelandair have flights to and from Iceland.
Rod Planck Photography, McMillan, Michigan act only as agents and shall not be responsible or become liable for any delay incurred by any person in connection with any means of transportation, nor for the loss, damage, or injury to person or property by reason of any event beyond the control of the agency or default of such agency suppliers. We reserve the right to cancel the tour prior to departure in which case full refund will constitute full settlement to the passenger. No refund will be made for any unused portion of the tour unless arrangements are made at the time of booking. All rates are based on current tariffs, exchange rates and fuel costs and are subject to adjustment in the event of any change therein. We reserve the right to change the itinerary if we deem by doing so we provide a better experience for participants. You will be notified in advance if a change is made. By sending your initial deposit, you agree to accept our payment schedule as a contract. If payments are still outstanding two weeks after the due date, your space may be forfeited. Baggage is at the owner's risk.
Travel to remote places like Iceland is exciting, but understanding and accepting the risks, both medical and logistical, are important. There are clinics where minor medical problems can be treated, but due to the remoteness of most of our itinerary, there can be no expectation for immediate medical attention. If this fact concerns you too much, do not choose this trip for your vacation. Anyone with health problems needing close medical supervision should not consider going on this trip. Bring enough medication for the duration of the trip for any chronic medical needs. When you send your tour deposit and signed reservation form, you certify to us that you do not knowingly have any physical or other conditions that would create a risk for yourself or for other trip participants.
Trip insurance information is available from us and will be sent with in-depth trip information and your deposit receipt at the time of making your reservation. It is your responsibility to obtain trip insurance and is strongly advised due the changing nature of the location and cost of the trip.
Cost of the Tour: $8900 includes accommodations (double occupancy), land transportation (except individual transfers), entrance fees and meals (breakfast, lunch and dinner – except where noted).
Payments & Cancellations: Initial deposit: $500. Second deposit: ½ of balance is due on September 1, 2014. Final payment: last ½ of balance is due January 1, 2015. Until 150 days or more prior to departure, payments are refundable except for $2000. Refunds given 149-80 days prior to departure will be subjected to a charge of 40% of the tour price, 79-60 days prior to departure, a charge of 60%, and 60 days or less prior to departure, no refund will be paid unless we can fill your space. Cancellation insurance is strongly recommended. In the event that we cancel the trip, all monies paid to us will be refunded. However, we will not reimburse for unused airline tickets. Please purchase trip insurance.
You can register online using Paypal by clicking the "Add to Cart" button below.
You can also register by downloading and completing a registration form and mailing with payment to:
Rod Planck Photography
PO Box 100
McMillan, MI 49853
By Phone: Call (906) 293-3339. Office hours are Monday through Friday, 9a.m. to 5p.m. EST. We accept credit cards (for deposits only), or we'll hold your space for 7 days, while awaiting your check.
- Southern Appalachian Mountains (April 13 - 18, 2014)
- Summer Safaris - Bugs and Blooms (June 8 - 13, 2014)
- Bristlecone Pines and Grand Landscapes of Eastern Sierras (July 6 - 13, 2014)
- Foggy Bogs and Dewy Insects (August 17 - 22, 2014)
- South Dakota Badlands and Black Hills (September 1 - 8, 2014)
- Ultimate Autumn Forests and Lake Superior Shoreline (September 28 - October 5, 2014)