Iceland Midnight Sun Photography Workshops
Join this 12 day photo workshop around Iceland where we will be photographing varied and amazing landscape. We will be chasing the light, choosing beautiful and epic locations in the company of a great group of other enthusiastic photographers. We will share our experience and technique with each other and take our photography skills to a higher level.
During summertime from mid-May through July days get longer in Iceland. You will be mesmerized by the “midnight sun,” a natural phenomenon where the sunlight remains visible throughout the night creating a golden glow and giving great photographic results.
Be prepared to start early and stay out late hunting and photographing otherworldly scenes in the arctic light.
During this tour our main focus is on landscape photography but since Iceland is a colony for the smart and beautiful puffins we will also be looking out for this gorgeous seabird that nests in cliffs and little islands around Iceland this time of year. On this tour we will explore Snæfellsnes Peninsula in West Iceland, the wild vast Vatnsnes Peninsula in northwest Iceland, partly the east and last but not least the beautiful south coast. On this journey you will experience Iceland’s surreal beauty with its countless majestic and iconic waterfalls, world famous glacier lagoons, black sand beaches with impressive cliffs and basalt formations, sea stacks and bird colonies with puffins and other sea-birds, the largest glacier in Europe, mountain peaks, big lava fields, moon-like steamy craters, active volcanoes - oh yes, trolls turned into stones - abundant wildlife and more.
Refine your skills and immerse yourself in nature. Check availability by choosing a date.
- Available: June
- Duration: 12 days
- Activities: Sightseeing
- Difficulty: Easy
- Languages: English
Jökulsárlón is Iceland’s most famous glacier lagoon. Conveniently located in the southeast by Route 1, about halfway between the Skaftafell Nature Reserve and Höfn, it is a popular stop for those travelling along the South Coast or around the circular ring road of the country.
It stands out, however, due to the fact that it also fills with icebergs breaking from the glacier, some of which tower several stories high.
These icebergs, other than their scale, are notable for their colouration. Although they are, as expected, largely white, most are also dyed electric blue in part, with black streaks of ash from eruptions centuries past.
When the icebergs finally make it across the lagoon, they either drift out to sea or wash up on the nearby shore. Because of the way they glisten against the black sands of Breiðamerkursandur, this area has been nicknamed ‘the Diamond Beach’.
In spite of being a rather recent formation, Jökulsárlón is the deepest lake in the country, with depths reaching 248 metres. With a surface area of 18 square kilometres, it is also growing to be one of the largest.
Jökulsárlón has not been around since Iceland’s settlement; it only formed around 1935. This was due to rapidly rising temperatures in the country from the turn of the twentieth century; since 1920, Breiðamerkurjökull has been shrinking at a dramatic rate, and the lagoon has begun to fill its space.
Today, the expansion of Jökulsárlón is accelerating. As recently as 1975, it was just 8 square kilometres, and now that size has more than doubled.
In the relatively near future, it is expected that the lagoon will continue to grow until it becomes a large, deep fjord.
Though a dark omen for Iceland’s glaciers and ice caps in general, the retreat of Breiðamerkurjökull has resulted in an incredibly beautiful, if temporary, site. This has not been overlooked by Hollywood.
Jökulsárlón has been featured in the James Bond films A View to Kill in 1985 and Die Another Day in 2002, 2001’s Lara Croft: Tomb Raider, and 2005’s Batman Begins.
In 2017, Jökulsárlón was enveloped into the Vatnajökull National Park, thus it is now fully protected by Icelandic law.
Because of the wealth of herring and capelin that the tides bring into the lagoon, Jökulsárlón is somewhat of a hot-spot for Iceland’s wildlife.
In summer, it is a nesting site for Arctic Terns; stay well away from this area, as these birds are notorious for the fierceness with which they protect their eggs, dive-bombing the heads of any they see as a threat. Skuas also nest on the lake’s shores in this season.
Seals can be reliably spotted here throughout the year, swimming amongst or else hauling out on the icebergs. Jökulsárlón provides them with a safe haven to rest and socialise, especially considering the waters of southeast Iceland are renowned for their population of orcas.
Vatnajökull is the largest ice cap in Iceland and the third largest glacier in Europe, covering 8% of the island's landmass. Vatnajökull Glacier can be found in the south west of Iceland and is a popular spot for glacier hiking and ice caving tours.
Facts about Vatnajökull
- Surface: 8,100 km2
- Average thickness: 400 - 600 m
- Maximum thickness: 1,000 m
- Height: 1,400 - 1,800 m
- Highest peak: 2,200 m (Hvannadalshnjúkur)
Information about Vatnajökull
Vatnajökull Glacier belongs to the greater Vatnajökull National Park, which encompasses the former national parks Skaftafell, in the southwest, and Jökulsárgljúfur, in the north. Vatnajökull's highest summit is Hvannadalshnjúkur which rests on top of a stratovolcano known as Öræfajökull.
Underneath the glacier rests some of the most active volcanoes in the country, the most notable being Grímsvötn, Öræfajökull and Bárðabunga. Volcanic activity in the region has occurred on and off throughout the centuries, and many geologists believe that such a period is overdue for immediate future. If their calculations are correct, it would mean significant volcanic activity for Vatnajökull over the scope of the next half century.
The glacier boasts of over 30 outlet glaciers, which are channels of ice that flow out of ice caps but remain constrained on the sides of the valley. The major outlet glaciers of Vatnajökull include Dyngjujökull in the north, Breiðamerkurjökull and Skeiðarárjökull to the south. To the west, one can find the outlet glaciers Síðujökull, Skaftárjökull and Tungnaárjökull.
Glaciers are in constant motion underneath their weight; as they form over the centuries, the accession of snow exceeds its melting, creating a constant "push" on the ice cap. Each year, due to the melting ice water, new ice caves form that disappear come spring.
- Click here for a selection of Ice Cave tours
Numerous rivers run out of Vatnajökull, making up some of the greatest glacial rivers in Iceland:
- Tungnaá (west)
- Köldukvísl (west)
- Þjórsá (west)
- Jökulsá á Fjöllum (north)
- Skjálfandafljót (north)
- Jökulsá á Brú (north east)
- Jökulsá í Fljótsdal (north east)
- Jökulsá í Lóni (south)
- Hornafjarðarfljót (south)
- Jökulsá á Breiðamerkursandi (south)
- Skeiðará (south)
- Núpsvötn (south)
- Hverfisfljót (south)
- Skaftá (south)
Vatnajökull National Park
Vatnajökull National Park, in its current state, was established in June 2008. The park now covers an area of 14.141 km2, making it the second largest national park in Europe. Vatnajökull National Park has 14% coverage over the whole island of Iceland.
Rivers divide the highland plateau to the north of the park; an area that sees massive glacial flows in the summertime. The volcanic table mountain Herðubreið towers over this particular region, along with volcanoes Askja, Snæfell and Kverkfjöll.
The canyon Jökulsárgljúfur was carved out by glacial floods centuries ago. At the upper end of the canyon, you'll find Dettifoss, the most powerful waterfall in Europe. Further north, the horseshoe-shaped canyon Ásbyrgi is believed to have formed when Óðinn's horse, Sleipnir, stepped his foot down from the heavens.
East around Snæfell, one can find wetlands and ranges, home to roaming herds of wild reindeer and abundant birdlife. Steep mountain ridges make up the south side of Vatnajökull, where outlet glaciers crawl in between the ridges onto the lowlands. The sandy plains of Skeiðarársandur also lie to the south as they reach out to sea. The glacial river Skeiðará runs through this vast desert.
One of Iceland's most visited landmarks is the Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon, which sits at the head of outlet glacier Breiðamerkurjökull. There, large icebergs that have broken off the glacier gather to float in the lake before ending up in the Atlantic Ocean, or on the nearby Diamond Beach.
- Click here for a selection of Jökulsárlón tours
The Future of Vatnajökull
The volume of Vatnajökull reached its peak around 1930 but has since been in a steady process of decline. Because of rising levels of global temperature, approximately over the last 15 years, Vatnajökull has on average lost about a metre of its thickness annually.
If temperature levels continue to rise, the glacier could be all but gone nearing the end of the next century, leaving only small ice caps on top of the highest mountain summits.
Vatnajökull and Jökulsárlón in Popular Culture
- HBO's Game of Thrones (season 2, 2012)
- Batman Begins (2005)
- James Bond: Die Another Day (2002)
- James Bond: A View to a Kill (1985)
Myvatn is a beautiful lake with many small islands in the north of Iceland, the fourth largest lake in the country. Along with its surrounding area, the lake is one of Iceland's most amazing natural attractions.
Some of the islands in Myvatn are pseudocraters, formed by steam explosions. The lake has rich birdlife and more species of ducks than anywhere else in the world. As for vegetation, it is one of the few places in the world that grows Marimo, also known as Cladophora ball, Lake ball, or Moss Balls in English, a species of filamentous green algae (Chlorophyta).
The Myvatn nature baths are also renowned throughout the world, a perfect place to relax, surrounded by breathtaking landscape.
Close to the lake is Dimmuborgir, a fascinating area of dramatic and chaotic lava. Norwegian symphonic metal band Dimmu Borgir takes its name from the the lava field, and it continues to inspire travellers from all over the world.
The Myvatn area is definitely one of the most beautiful places in Iceland. Don´t miss it!
Vatnsnes is a mountainous peninsula in the north. It features one of the largest and most accessible seal sanctuaries in Iceland.
The highlands of Vatnsnes are collectively known as Vatnsnesfjall. It’s highest peak is Thraelsfell, at 985 meters and offering a good view in all directions. There is limited lowland in the area.
Of particular note at Vatnsnes is the sea rock Hvitserkur, which the waves have given a peculiar shape. It resembles a natural fort, and, according to the sagas, was used as such in earlier times. Vatnsnes also has an abundance of seals, Hindisvik and Osar being good places to go watch them and there is a seal center nearby, at Hvammstangi.
Aldeyjarfoss is a beautiful waterfall in the mighty Skjalfandafljot river, dropping from a height of 20 meters.
Of particular note is the contrast between the giant black bent basalt columns and the white water of the fall.
Goðafoss waterfall is located the river Skjálfandafljót in north Iceland, the fourth largest river in Iceland. It is one of the most spectacular waterfalls in Iceland, falling from a height of 12 metres over a width of 30 metres.
The fall's name means either waterfall of the gods or of the 'goði' (i.e. priest/ chieftain). It is said that when the lawspeaker Þorgeir Ljósvetningagoði declared Christianity the official religion in Iceland, after his own conversion, he threw the statues of the old Norse gods into the waterfall.
Snæfellsjökull (1446 m) is an ice-capped volcano found on the tip of the Snæfellsnes Peninsula in West Iceland.
Though many consider Snæfellsjökull to simply be a particularly impressive ice cap, it is, in fact, a 700,000-year-old glacier-capped stratovolcano. The mountain is actually called "Snæfell" (Snowy Mountain), though the “jökull” (Glacier) is often added to help distinguish it from other mountains of the same name. For the first time in recorded history, Snæfellsjökull had no snow or ice at its peak in August 2012, causing concern amongst locals that climate change is threatening the nature of the mountain.
On clear days, one can see Snæfellsjökull from Iceland’s capital city, Reykjavik, approximately 120 kilometres away over Faxa Bay, making for an impressive sight—and a tick off the bucket list if you can’t make it to travelling across the Peninsula itself. The volcano makes up just a small part of the larger Snæfellsjökull National Park.
Nearby villages include Hellissandur, Rif and Ólafsvík, all of which were commercial and fishing hubs throughout the peninsula’s long history of human inhabitance. Fishing took off primarily in the 13th-Century, with fishing stations being built in all areas with easy access to the open ocean.
One notable example would be the settlement of Dritvík, one of the largest fishing stations in Iceland at the time, utilising around 40–60 boats and employing between 200–600 people. Fishing in the region declined during the 19th century due to a change in Iceland’s fishing practises, though it is still an important source of livelihood for those living on the Peninsula.
Snæfellsjökull has, for centuries, been considered to be one of the world’s ancient power sites, a source of mysticism, energy and mystery for the peninsula’s superstitious population. This likely has something to do with the stratovolcanoes place in the Icelandic sagas; the feature takes a prominent role in Bárðar saga Snæfellsáss, a late 14th-century saga that tells the story of Bárður, half-human-half-troll, who became the “guardian spirit of Snæfellsjökull.”
Snæfellsjökull serves as the entrance to a fantastical subterranean world in Jules Verne’s classic 1864 novel “Journey to The Centre of The Earth.” Given its central place in the novel, Snæfellsjökull has become one of the most popular spots for visitors in Iceland and has inspired a wealth of writers, poets and artists.
Since “Journey to The Centre of The Earth”, Snæfellsjökull has appeared in the Blind Birds trilogy by Czech SF writer Ludvík Souček (partially based on Jules’ work) and in Under The Glacier, a novel by Iceland’s only Nobel laureate, Halldor Laxness.
Along with the glacier, attractions include the two nearby basalt cliffs called Lóndrangar and the many fascinating lava formations at the beautiful Djúpalonssandur beach, such as the arch rock Gatklettur. At Djúpalonssandur, one can also test their strength just as the ancient sailors once did with the four "strength" stones, Amlóði ('Useless'), Hálfdrættingur ('Weakling'), Hálfsterkur ('Half Strength') and Fullsterkur ('Full Strength'). In the area, one can also explore the Saxhóll volcano crater and 'the singing cave' Sönghellir, which is named after the loud echoes inside.
Skogafoss is one of the biggest and most beautiful waterfalls of the island with an astounding width of 25 meters and a drop of 60 meters.
This is one of the most popular waterfalls in Iceland for travellers to visit. It is located in South Iceland, not far from Skogar, which itself features a highly interesting regional museum. Due to the amount of spray the waterfall often produces a single or double rainbow on sunny days.
Seljalandsfoss in the river Seljalandsa in South Iceland is one of the most sought waterfalls in the country.
Seljalandsfoss has a narrow cascade but is one of Iceland's highest waterfalls, at 63 meters. The waterfall is highly picturesque and has the rare distinction that one can actually walk behind it.
The stratovolcano Hekla in the south of Iceland is undoubtedly one of the island's most famous and active volcanoes, with over 20 eruptions since settlement.
Hekla is part of a 40 kilometers long volcanic ridge but the most active part is the fissure Heklugja, considered the volcano proper. Hekla has produced one of the largest amounts of lava of any volcano in the world. Last time Hekla erupted was in 2000.
In the Middle Ages Hekla was considered to be the gateway to Hell, and it continues to inspire. It’s referenced in Herman Melville’s Moby Dick, poet and artist William Blake banishes Winter to Hekla in his poem Winter and Icelandic composer Jon Leifs, inspired by Hekla’s power, composed one of the loudest pieces of classical music ever, Hekla Op 52.
Travelers from all over seek out Hekla and it is a popular hiking place. In addition to hiking you can ski there in the spring, summer offers easy mountaineering routes and you can snowmobile to the top in winter.
The glacier volcano of Eyjafjallajokull (1651 m) is located at the borders of the South Icelandic highlands. It featured prominently in world news in 2010 when ash from its eruption halted air traffic in Europe.
An ice cap of about 100 km with several outlet glaciers covers the caldera of Eyjafjallajökull that stands at the height of 1651 meters. The diamaeter of its highest crater is around 3-4 km2 wide and the rim has several peaks.
Eyjafjallajokull glacier volcano lies north of Skogar, and to the west of Myrdalsjokull glacier and the massive volcano there; Katla.
Eyjafjallajokull is thought to be related geologically to Katla in Myrdalsjokull and eruptions in the former have often been followed by eruptions in the latter.
The 2010 eruptions
The end of 2010 saw some small seismic activity that gradually increased and resulted in a small eruption in March of 2010, characterized by a flow of alkani-olivine basalt lava.
This first stage lasted until April 12th and created the volcanic craters Magni and Modi at the Fimmvorduhals trail. They are so far Iceland's newest vocanic craters, and still eminate steam with lava glowing under the surface.
However it was the second phase of the eruption that started on April 14th that created the huge ash cloud that rose about 9 km into the skies.
This eruption halted air traffic in Europe for days, and its estimated that as many as 107.000 flights may have been cancelled during the week it lasted.
The ejected tephra measured around 250 million cubic meters. This ash cloud lasted for six days and some more localized disruption continued into May. The eruption was officially declared to be over in October 2010, as the snow on the glacier had ceased to melt.
Future volcanic developments?
Eyjafjallajokull erupted in years 920, 1612 and again 1821-1823.
Its latest eruptions were the two that occurred in 2010.
Future volcanic developments remain unclear. The area is still highly active and can be quite unpredictable. It continues, however, to be closely monitored by The Icelandic Meterological Office.
The 120 meter high promontory Dyrholaey is the southernmost part of the mainland, only a short drive south of the Ring Road. It offers a breathtaking view and features spectacular outcrops and rock formations.
A notable attraction is the massive arch that the sea has eroded from the heartland, giving the island its name (‘dyr’=door’). One daredevil pilot even flew through it!
Dyrholaey has an abundance of birdlife, the most common being puffins and eider ducks. You can also enjoy the black beach, where the waves can provide an impressive sight. As these can be very wild, we do however advise uttermost caution.
Snaefellsnes is a large peninsula extending to the west from West Iceland ending with a national park, Snaefellsjokull National Park, where the glacier towers over the scenery, as can sometimes be seen from Reykjavik, lending its beauty to the area.
The peninsula stretches over 100 km to the west as a mountain ridge that includes active volcanoes and is unique in the variety of mountains found.
A few small and beautiful villages are located on the south side and a few fishing villages are on the north side: Rif, Hellissandur, Olafsvik, Grundarfjordur and Stykkisholmur. The last one is highly popular for travelers, featuring a volcano museum and a ferry that takes you across the fascinating Breidafjordur bay to Brjanslaekur on the south border of the Westfjords.
Other museums you might want to check out are the Maritime Museum at Hellissandur, the regional museum Pakkhusid at Olafsvik, and, last but not least, the shark museum at Bjarnarhofn, indeed listed as the nr. 1 Snafellsnes attraction by Lonely Planet Travelers. Also, many of the Icelandic sagas take place at Snaefellsnes.
Snaefellsnes has an abundance of interesting sights. At the national park, you can witness the impressive lava formations of Djupalonssandur creek and test your strength on its four stones, see the two massive lava formations that compries Londrangar, explore the Saxholl volcanic crater and enjoy the echo of 'The Singing Cave', Songhellir. You may also hike on the majestic Snaefellsjokull glacier. The glacier has strong ties with folklore and was the setting for Jules Verne's Journey to the Center of the Earth.
Other sights we can recommend at Snaefellsnes recommend include Raudfeldsgja canyon, east of the national park and the rugged and colourful Berserkjahraun lava field, near Bjarnarhofn, on the north side of the peninsula.
Last, but not least, Snaefellsnes is one of the main setting for Laxdaela saga. Chieftain Snorri godi, Gudrun Osvifursdottir, Bolli Thorlakssson all lived there as well as his namesake Bolli Bollason, the first West Norse member of the Varangian guard, an elite unit of the Byzantine army. Iceland's most famous mass murderer, Axlar-Bjorn, also lived at Snaefellsnes.
Solheimajokull is a beautiful outlet glacier of the Myrdalsjokull icecap.
Solheimajokull is a rugged glacial tounge riddled with crevasses and spectacular ever-changing ice formations, jagged ridges and sinkholes and is popular for hiking and ice climbing.
The glacier river Jokulsa a Solheimasandur has its source at the glacier, flowing over the sand plain of Solheimasandur towards the sea.
Skaftafell is a nature preserve in Oraefasveit. It used to be a national park of its own but joined the larger Vatnajokull National Park in 2008.
Skaftafell is notable for its rich flora, growing between sands and glaciers, and overall for its amazing and contrasting scenery. You can take short and easy trails to the waterfalls Svartifoss and Hundafoss, as well as Skaftafell glacier, with the mountain Kristinartindar and Morsardalur valley further off.
Skaftafell is also the perfect base camp for those seeking to climb Iceland’s highest peak, Hvannadalshnukur.
Ingofshofdi is a cape and a nature reserve in Southeast Iceland, located south of Vatnajokull.
Ingolfshofdi is encircled by rocky cliffs but a sand dune lies to its north west, wherefrom the cape can be reached. Part of the cape is well vegitated and it is rich with birdlife, including puffins, seafowl, guillemots, razorbills, fulmars and kittiwakes.
Ingolfshofdi has a lighthouse and ruins of an old fishingmen’s huts can be seen. The cape is named after Iceland’s first settler, Ingolfur Arnarsson, who is said to have stayed here during his first winter in the country, around the year 870 AD.
Reynisfjara is a world-famous black-sand beach found on the South Coast of Iceland, just beside the small fishing village of Vík í Mýrdal.
With its enormous basalt stacks, roaring Atlantic waves and stunning panoramas, Reynisfjara is widely considered to be the most beautiful example of Iceland’s black sand beaches. In 1991, National Geographic voted Reynisfjara as one of the Top 10 non-tropical beaches to visit on the planet.
Reynisfjara is found around 180 km from Iceland’s capital city, Reykjavik, and is a popular stop-off for those taking a sightseeing tour along South Coast. Driving to the beach is particularly easy, taking an approximate two and a half hours from the capital.
Upon visiting the beach, travellers will immediately observe rocky sea stacks sitting off the shoreline, known as Reynisdrangar. According to local Icelandic folklore, these large basalt columns were once trolls engaged in trying to pull ships from the ocean. However, as bad luck would have it, the dawn quickly arose, turning the trolls into solid stone.
Another legend tells of a husband whose wife was kidnapped and killed by two trolls. The man followed the trolls down to Reynisfjara where he froze them, ensuring that they would never kill again.
The sea stacks themselves are home to thousands of nesting seabirds. Species that can be found here include Puffins, Fulmars and Guillemots, making it a must-see location for all birdwatchers out there.
Visitors to Reynisfjara must be made well aware of the potential dangers present at the beach. First of all, the rolling, roaring waves of Reynisfjara are particularly violent, often pushing far further up the beach than many would expect.
Visitors are advised to never turn their back on the waves, don't go chasing after them and keep a safe distance of 20-30 metres.
Aside from these sudden and dramatic shifts in tide (known as “sneaker waves”), the currents off the shore are infamous for their strength and ability to drag helpless people out into the freezing cold open ocean. A number of fatal accidents have occurred at Reynisfjara, the last of which occurred in January 2017.
Jokulsargljufur is a preservation area and former National Park which became part of Vatnajokull National Park in 2008. It derives its name from the river canyon, 25 km long, 1/2 km wide and around or over 100 meters at its deepest.
Among natural attractions are waterfalls Dettifoss, Europe's most powerful one, Rettarfoss, Selfoss and Hafragilsfoss, all belonging to glacier river Jokulsa a Fjollum, the Hljodaklettar echoing caves, Holmatungur, a richly vegetated area with beautiful rock formations, Gloppuhellir cave, the horse-shoe shaped Asbyrgi, Vesturdalur valley and the huge rock pillars Karl and Kerling.
Arnarstapi is a village in the southern part of the Snaefellsnes peninsula. The area has several old and charming houses with interesting stories to them and is furthermore renowned for its beautiful nature.
The beach holds a particular attraction. It has an eroded circular stone arch, called Gatklettur, and three rifts, Hundagja,Midgja and Musagja. The interplay of spectacular waves and the light of the sun creates a fascinating spectacle. Large colonies of the arctic tern also nest in the area.
An old horse trail through the lava field Hellnahraun is highly popular for hiking, due to the impressiveness of the surrounding landscape.
Krafla is a caldera ca. 10-15 km north of Lake Myvatn in North Iceland.
The diameter of the volcano is 10 km and it has a fissure zone of 90 km. Its highest peak is 818 m. It has had 29 reported eruptions in recorded history. Since 1977 the area has been a source for geothermal energy used by a 60 MWe power station.
By Krafla is the explosion crater Viti ('Hell'!) formed in the massive Krafla eruption of 1724-9, i.e. the Myvatnseldar ('The Myvatn Fires'). This crater has a diameter of around 300 meters and features an aqua blue lake.
Viti (meaning 'Hell') in Krafla is an explosion crater. It is one of the two most famous Viti craters in Iceland, the other being Viti in Askja.
This particular Viti was formed in 1724 by a massive eruption in the Krafla volcano, known as Myvatnseldar, that lasted for five years. The diameter of the crater is around 300 meters and it has an aqua blue lake inside it.
One of Iceland's most beloved poets, Jonas Hallgrimsson, wrote the poem 'Viti' inspired by the crater, which was later set to choral music by Icelandic composer Jon Leifs. This impressive piece is now set to have its first cd recording, performed by the Icelandic University Choir.
The vast Eldhraun lava field (“Fire Lava“), in the south of the Icelandic highlands was created in one of the greatest eruptions in recorded history and is of the largest of its kind in the world. The Lakagigar craters were also created during this eruption.
This eruption lasted from 1783 to 1784 and is known as the Skaftareldar (The skafta River Fires). This was a cataclysmic event for Iceland and beyond. In Iceland it lead to diease, crop failure and disasters.
The eruption affected Europe as well. In Great Britain, that summer known as the Sand-Summer in Great Britain due to the fallout of ash and it is believed that the airborne haze and blocking of sunlight may have contributed to the French Revolution.
Despite the abysmal effect the eruption had, this lava field of 565 km2 is today one of the most stunningly attractive ones in Iceland.
The area features one of the most magnificent lava tube systems in the country, located north of the Lake Laufbalavatn. More than 200 caves have been found there, extending for more than five kilometers and 14 cu. meters.
Kirkjufell (“Church Mountain”) is a distinctly shaped mountain found on the north coast of Iceland’s Snæfellsnes Peninsula, only a short distance away from the town of Grundarfjörður.
Kirkjufell takes it’s name from its resemblance to a church steeple, sharpened at the top with long curved sides. From other angles, the mountain can resemble a witch’s hat or even a freshly scooped ice cream.
Photography at Kirkjufell
Peaking at 463 m, Kirkjufell holds the honour of being Iceland’s most photographed mountain. Throughout the centuries, Kirkjufell’s striking slopes have acted as a visual landmark for seafarers and travellers.
Walking distance from Kirkjufell, one can find the photogenic waterfall Kirkjufellsfoss (“Church Mountain Falls”), an excellent subject for photographers who can easily frame the mountain in the background. Despite its relatively diminutive height, Kirkjufellsfoss’ three-pronged falls make the waterfall particularly stunning, even for Iceland.
At the base of the mountain, visitors will also be able to find a lake; on calm and clear days, this lake reflects a perfect mirror image of Kirkjufell, only adding to the fantastic photo opportunities around this area. On top of that, the colours of Kirkjufell change with the passing seasons; the summer see it a lush green, full of life, whilst the winter months scar the mountain’s face with a mask of barren brown and white.
Fans of the HBO series Game of Thrones will recognise Kirkjufell as a shooting location from Season 7 of Game of Thrones. The mountain is showcased from the scenes ‘beyond the wall’ when Jon Snow, The Hound and Jorah Mormont, among others, brave the wilderness in hopes of catching an undead wight. Having seen it in a vision, The Hound acknowledges Kirkjufell as “[...] the mountain like an arrowhead.” Even the Games of Thrones producers can’t resist capturing the mountain on celluloid!
There is a fairly steep trail to the top of Kirkjufell, from where there are magnificent panoramas of the surrounding fields, coastlines and rivers. The mountain takes roughly an hour and a half to ascend, and one and a half hours back to the bottom.
Alongside this mountain-track is a steeper route to the peak which involves two points where one needs to rope-climb. This route should never be attempted in the winter, and never without a certified guide. Given the steep elevation, it is highly recommended that you bring a sturdy pair of hiking boots, snacks and water to the trail.
Getting to Kirkjufell
Kirkjufell is extremely close to Grundarfjörður, a small town on the Snæfellsnes Peninsula, approximately two hours drive from Iceland's capital city, Reykjavik. From Grundarfjörður, one travels ten minutes west down Route Snaefellsnesvegur 54 to the base of Kirkjufell. Visitors have plenty of parking space to choose from, all free of charge.
Reynisdrangar are rock formations situated near the shore of Reynisfjara beach by the coastal village Vík í Mýrdalur on the South Coast of Iceland.
The formations are large and impending sea cliffs, made up of the rock type basalt, that serve as a vital part of the area’s allure as they shoot dramatically out of the ocean under the looming cliffs of Mt. Reynisfjall.
- Visit Reynisfjara and Reynisdrangar on these South Coast Tours
The village of Vík only houses around 300 permanent inhabitants, but on a daily basis, travellers scouting the South Coast make their way there to visit what has been voted as one of the most beautiful non-tropical beaches in the world. The beach of Reynisfjara, however, can be highly dangerous if proper caution is not taken. As is evident from how the waves of the Atlantic Ocean crash upon Reynisdrangar, the currents here are strong, and sneak waves can easily carry anyone that’s standing too close out to sea. The beach is not for wading, but for admiring, and especially the mighty surf bursting on the base of these rocky cliffs.
There is an Icelandic folk tale that explains the origin of the pillars’ eerie appearance. According to legend, a couple of trolls were busy dragging a stranded three-masted ship to shore when the sunlight hit them and turned them into pillars of rock for all eternity. In fact, numerous rock formations in Iceland carry with them tales of trolls or elves, and one has only to look at them to fathom why.
Surroundings & Wildlife
An alternative view of the bewitching cliffs and their surrounding sea can be enjoyed by venturing up Mt. Reynisfjall, by a road to the west of the village. The mountain furthermore functions as a puffin colony every summer, from April to September, meaning guests can enjoy the view in good company. Other birds can be seen gliding around the cliffs such as Arctic terns, fulmars and seagulls.
- See also: Puffin Watching Tours
Hvítserkur, sometimes referred to as the “Troll of North-West Iceland”, is a 15m (49ft) basalt stack protruding from Húnaflói bay, along the eastern shore of the Vatnsnes peninsula. Hvítserkur gets its name from the birdlife nesting atop it. In Icelandic, the name translates to “white shirt”, a nod to the colour of the bird droppings that cover the rock.
It should come as no surprise that Hvítserkur is often referred to as a troll. Folklore implies that Hvítserkur was originally a troll determined to rip the bells down from Þingeyraklaustur convent, an apparent allusion to the people’s stoic resistance to the Christianisation of Iceland. However, as goes the story, the troll paralysed by walking out under sunlight and quickly turned to stone. The Hvítserkur stack is all that remains.
The scientific community has another explanation. Erosion from the cascading sea water has carved three large holes through the basalt rock, sculpting and shaping it into what appears as some petrified, mythological animal. The base of the stack has been reinforced with concrete to protect its foundations from the sea, but this has not stopped visitors’ interpreting the rock’s peculiar shape. Some say Hvítserkur looks like an elephant, others a rhino. Some onlookers have gone as far as to claim the rock appears as a “dinosaur drinking.” Whatever the case, the rock is a nesting ground for seagulls, shag and fulmar, making it appear constantly in motion, further enforcing the idea that Hvítserkur is, in some way, very much alive.
To the south, visitors to Hvítserkur can detour toward Sigríðarstaðir, a location reputable for viewing seal colonies. Hvítserkur is also only a short drive from the historical and quintessential Súluvellir farm, a location that boasts incredible views of the surrounding landscape.
Djúpivogur is a small coastal village located on the Búlandsnes peninsula, nestled between the picturesque fjord, Hamarsfjörður, and Berufirth in east Iceland.
The town has an approximate population of 400 people. Fishing has been the primary engine for Djúpivogur’s economy for centuries. In recent times, the tourism industry has blossomed and a hotel, restaurants, cafés, a campground and shops can all be found in and around the town.
Djúpivogur’s history is deeply interlinked with trading. Records show that Djúpivogur was a trading centre as far back as 1589, meaning over four centuries of commerce in the region. The historic building Langabúð (the oldest warehouse in Djúpivogur), constructed in 1790, has recently been renovated and now serves as the town's cultural centre. Inside is the Heritage Museum, dedicated Djúpivogur’s commercial past.
The cultural centre also displays the incredible sculptures of the late artist, Ríkarður Jónsson (1888-1977). In addition, the town has excellent sports facilities, a swimming pool, museums, and a garden of outdoor sculptures named Eggin in Gleðivík, by Sigurður Guðmundsson. By design or not, these sculptures perfectly capture the prospering local birdlife across the region and make for beautiful photographs.
The landscape around Djúpivogur is overshadowed by Búlandstindur, a pyramid-shaped basalt mountain peaking at 1069m. The mountain is known across Iceland for it’s staggering, almost sculpted beauty. According to local folklore, the mountain is able to grant wishes during the summer solstice and is an ‘energy centre’ for the entire country.
From Djúpivogur, boat tours can be taken to the largest island off east Iceland. Papey, roughly 2 square kilometres in size, was inhabited since the settlement of Iceland until as recently as 1966. The island still resonates with the ghosts of this lost settlement. The oldest wooden church in Iceland, constructed in 1807, can be found in Papey, alongside an automated weather station and a lighthouse. The island is home to an enormous colony of Atlantic Puffins, and is a fabulous day trip from mainland Iceland.
Starting time : 19:00
Two Professional photo guides.
Transportation in a spacious, comfortable bus offering ample room for you and your photography gear.
Accommodation in hotels and guesthouses. Rooms with private bathrooms.
Full board during workshop, from dinner on day 1 til breakfast on day 11
FlyBus tickets for transfer from and to Airport
Alcohol, snacks and beverages
What to bring:
After you signup, we’ll send you a recommended camera gear and packing list. Please pay special attention to things that we say are absolutely required.
Good to know:
The tour is always dependent on weather, as the Arctic weather can indeed be highly unpredictable.When it comes to the Northern Lights, while they are most likely to be seen between September and April, there is no guarantee that they will appear at a given time. There is however always plenty to see and do if conditions do not favour any part of our original plan.
Day 1 - Arrival
You will arrive at Keflavik International Airport and take the quick comfortable FlyBus to Reykjavik. In the afternoon we will meet in the lobby of your hotel and go out for dinner where we will get to know each other and discuss our upcoming adventure. Accommodation: Reykjavik
Day 2 - Snæfellsnes peninsula
You will be picked up at 8:00 a.m. at your hotel in Reykjavik. We will depart and start the tour by traveling to Snæfellsnes Peninsula in West Iceland. We will spend two days in this awe-inspiring area where we will surf between the southern and northern part of the peninsula. We will be photographing craggy rock formations and columnar basalt on the coast of Arnarstapi, a fishing village where ocean waves create great interplay with light both day and night. You will be amazed by the big lava field and windswept area at the picturesque Budir hamlet where the glazed icecap of Snæfellsjokull Glacier makes a great backdrop for a scene with a little black church in the foreground. There is so much natural beauty and extraordinary vistas to be found at Snæfellsnes that it’s sometimes referred to as “miniature Iceland.” Accommodation: Snæfellsnes
Day 3 - Snæfellsnes peninsula
Today we will continue our amazing journey on Snæfellsnes exploring and photographing the outstanding beauty of the coastline which is dotted with small villages a short distance from each other along with lush fjords and steep mountains. Londrangar, the two ancient volcanic basalt plugs rising out of the ocean along the shorefront will take your breath away. Their unusual shape provides a popular habitat for nesting birds of all kinds and their distinctive beauty makes excellent photo opportunities. Since days are long and nights are bright we will have many opportunities to shoot the famous mountain, Kirkjufell on the northern side of Snæfellsnes. Mt. Kirkjufell is considered to be one of Iceland´s most beautiful mountains with its special cone-like shape and steep hills. This mountain with its photo opportunities from different angles will be a masterpiece for your portfolio. Accommodation: Snæfellsnes
Day 4 - Hvitserkur
Today we will head toward North Iceland to the wild and remote Vatnsnes Peninsula. Vatnsnes Peninsula is known for its vast and partly uninhabited terrain with its intermingling of craggy hills and green grazing land where horses can be seen. On the eastern side of the peninsula you can get a great view to the peaks of the coastal region of Strandir in the Westfjords. The peninsula is also known for its flocks of geese and as a seal breeding ground. It is actually one of the best places in Iceland to see seals in their natural habitat and since they are quite curious you can get pretty close. We will most likely put our focus on the dinosaur like rock formation, Hvitserkur, a 15 meter high cliff rising from the sea. Icelandic legend has it that the rock was a troll who forgot to retreat from the light of the rising sun and was turned to stone, a sure fate for all trolls that make this mistake. From some angles it looks like a dragon drinking from the water while from another viewpoint it really looks like a huge rugged troll. This majestic rock has a great photogenic appeal. As we know, light is a key element in landscape photography and timing the location of the sun is very important. That means we will be here when the magic happens. Accommodation: Vatnsnes Peninsula
Day 5 - Lake Myvatn
We drive up North with our sights on Lake Myvatn and the surrounding area for two days of photographing. The lake itself is very picturesque with incredible rock formations. Undisputed gem of the northeast, Lake Myvatn and the surrounding area is starkly beautiful; an otherworldly landscape of spluttering mud-pots, weird lava formations, steaming fumaroles and volcanic craters are there to be found. Sitting squarely on the Mid-Atlantic Ridge the Myvatn Basin is one of the most volcanically active regions on earth. It has produced an astonishing landscape unlike anywhere else in the country. Lake Myvatn is one of Iceland’s major breeding grounds for birds and in combination with craters and fresh lava fields this is a fantastic destination for photographers. We might have the opportunity to dip into the Myvatn Nature Baths to get some extra energy for the long days and nights awaiting us. Accommodation: Myvatn
Day 6 - Lake Myvatn
We will continue to explore the surrounding area of Myvatn traveling to Namafjall covered with a myriad of colorful hot springs and mud pools and the famous fascinating sights of the geothermal field, Hverir. There you can capture extreme contrasts and textures especially when the light is soft and golden from the midnight sun. The scenery gives a glimpse of what the earth may have been like when it was first formed. There is so much to see and photograph in this area. We will have the opportunity to see Krafla, a caldera about 10 km in diameter that includes the Víti Crater with its green lake inside of it. Viti means hell and in former times people believed that hell was under volcanoes. From there, two photographic gems await, the Godafoss Waterfall meaning the “Fall of the Gods” and the impressive Aldeyjarfoss Waterfall tumbling into a wide basin surrounded by extremely beautiful basalt column walls. Since nights are bright and the sun never fully sets, circumstances and opportunities for photographers are exceptional giving one great result of stunningly beautiful photographs from these otherworldly scenes after another. Accommodation: Myvatn
Day 7 - East Iceland-Djúpivogur
Before we head east we will visit the Jokulsargljufur National Park to shoot Dettifoss, Europe’s most powerful waterfall. To see it with its 100 meter width and 45 meters drop is out of this world. Not only will Dettifoss give you epic and artistic photographs but it will also give you an unforgettable experience where you feel so small compared to this massive volume of plummeting water with a plume of spray that can be seen a kilometer away. We have a pretty long journey ahead when driving through the highland desert and over a mountain pass into the beautiful Eastfjords eventually reaching the realm of the Vatnajokull Glacier, Europe’s largest glacier and a national park. The landscape of this area is full of contrasts, and it is strikingly beautiful with its many mountainous fjords along the eastern coast. We will experience picturesque fishing towns, hauntingly beautiful fjords, steep mountains, highland farms, clear mountain streams, bird cliffs and waterfalls, such as the Rjukandi Fall. We will settle in the small fishing village of Djupivogur with its charming harbor and well-preserved old buildings surrounded by beautiful mountains. Accommodation: Djupivogur
Day 8 - Vatnajökull National Park
From Djupivogur our journey continues in the direction of Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon where we will be spending the next two days in the incredible area of the Vatnajokull National Park with endless opportunities with our cameras. The park encompasses not only all of Vatnajokull Glacier but also extensive surrounding areas from the waterfall, Skaftafell in southwest to Jokulsargljufur Canyon in the north. This area of Iceland is protected because of its uniqueness and natural cultural heritage. We will be surfing around following the never-ending light of the season while witnessing phenomenal glacier sights of diverse shapes and sizes. Few other places in the world offer such wide range of natural wonders as Vatnajokull. We will photograph and explore glaciers and glacier outlets descending to a black plateau. We will see floating white and blue icebergs on the glacier lagoon and on the black beach, ice crystals washed ashore illuminated in the midnight sun looking like diamonds; a sight that take your breath away. The glacial lagoon is a pure display of natural art and a spectacular sight leaving one in awe each time there and since the light is ever changing we will spend extra time there to get best possible photographs. Huge blocks of ice regularly break off the glacier and nothing is more picture-perfect than the sight of floating icebergs adorned with the light of the rising or setting sun. Most likely you will see beautiful, sleek seals basking on the ice or swimming in the lagoon. Accommodation: Jokulsarlon
Day 9 - Vatnajökull National Park
Not only we will be photographing icy scenes in Vatnajokull National Park but also we will have the chance to explore the impressive black dune beach at Stokksnes and the majestic peaks of Mt. Vestrahorn. The always picturesque Mt. Vestrahorn on the southeast corner of Iceland is a steep 454 meter high mountain, gorgeous in appearance with dramatic summits and slopes made of gabbro rock that give you endless opportunities with your camera and photographic skills. The strong waves of the Atlantic Ocean crashing on the beach gives the scenery an extra wild look. In the southeast area of Iceland, puffins and other seabirds nest, for example at Ingolfshofdi Cape and since our tour is flexible we will always look out for best possible opportunities best capture it both in terms of light and locations. Skaftafell Park on the west side of the glacier lagoon is a treasure trove with a breathtaking collection of peaks and glaciers, waterfalls, rivers and wild protected flora and fauna. Svartifoss Waterfall or Black Fall is one of Skaftafell’s true gems and never disappoints as it falls from its basalt lava wall. Accommodation: Jokulsarlon
Day 10 - Vik
Today we will leave Vatnajokull National Park and drive along the south coast all the way to the charming village of Vik surrounded by high, beautiful bird cliffs. The Icelandic south coast holds some of the most stunning natural attractions of the island. The area boasts a unique mix of volcanoes, lava fields, glaciers, wild black beaches, epic cliffs and sea stacks along with some iconic waterfalls. Our puffin friends nest there too in the Dyrholaey Cape. Along our way to Vik we will capture the mossy lava field of Eldhraun. The lava with a thickness of about 12 meters, completely overgrown with moss, suits itself perfectly for taking magnificent pictures in scenery that is like from another planet. The black beach at Vik is simply a magical spot and we will capture it while viewing the mysterious Reynisdrangar basalt sea stacks—or trolls. Legend has it that these were trolls out fishing too late that turned to stone when exposed to daylight. Iceland is full of magic and no words can describe how beautiful it is to photograph and enjoy those images during golden hour. Around the corner from Vik, the black beach at Reynisfjara offers a different point of view of the spiky sea stacks along with massive basalt cliffs and caves. The waves are strong and wild adding a powerful element to this extraordinary environment. This beach has been rated as the most beautiful non-tropical beach in the world. Accommodation: Vik
Day 11 - Heading back
Today we will be heading back to Reykjavik but on our way there are plenty of cool and interesting spots to photograph. We will check out the Dyrholaey Promontory which offers endless photogenic views. The Dyrholaey is located close to the village of Vik and the view from its heights is breathtaking. From there you can see the columns of Reynisdrangar from a new interesting angle along with more epic cliffs and stacks in the ocean. You will have an exquisite view over the endless black beach stretching west and in front of the peninsula. You will also see a gigantic black arch of lava reaching out to sea which gave the promontory its name. This time of year, puffins and other seabirds nest in Dyrholaey and the surrounding cliffs and we will be focusing on them for some time. We will photograph two famous waterfalls, Seljalandsfoss where you can make some cool shots by walking along the recess behind the waterfall and the famous majestic Skogafoss with a drop of 60 meters and width of 25 meters where you can photograph it both from the ground or from the top by climbing the stairs. We will pass two active volcanoes, Hekla, a 1490m high snow-topped mountain where devastating eruptions often took place throughout Iceland’s history earning it the name “gateway to hell,” and the famous Eyjafjallajokull, the flight stopping volcano from 2010. Another possible destination is Solheimajokull Glacier where mighty cliffs and mountains accompany the rugged glacier tongue. Accommodation: Reykjavik
Day 12 - Departure
After a good breakfast at your hotel you will depart traveling with the FlyBus to Keflavik Airport.