Wild Photography Holidays - Photographic Adventure Travel: Iceland Highlands Extreme – Volcanic Landscapes, Waterfalls & Geothermal Wonders

Glacial river

Iceland Highlands Extreme – Volcanic Landscapes, Waterfalls & Geothermal Wonders

Highlights include…

  • One of Europe’s last wilderness areas
  • Kverkfjöll & Vatnajökull, Europe’s largest icecap
  • Areas seldom visited by other photographic tours
  • Spectacular waterfalls: Gullfoss, Aldeyjarfoss, Dettifoss, Selfoss & Goðafoss
  • Vast water filled crater at Askja
  • Colourful geothermal & volcanic phenomena
  • Kerlingarfjöll and Gýgjarfoss waterfall
  • Relaxing spas in dramatic locations
  • Hveravellir colourful hot springs
  • Jökulsárgljúfur Canyon
  • The Golden Circle
  • Hverfjall Crater
  • Sunrises and sunsets in dramatic location
  • Icelandic horses
  • Lake Mývatn and Dimmuborgir lava towers
  • Opportunity for aerial photography
  • Possibility of aurora
  • Optional whale watching

“The workshop was extremely well organised and the tuition from the leaders was the best we have ever had, even down to the processing of images using Lightroom. We were taken to the beautiful and varied locations at the best times of day and night (occasionally we were allowed to sleep!!). The leaders knowledge of the area was such that in the event of inclement conditions there was always an alternative location to visit. Thank you so much for a fabulous holiday.”

Margaret and John 2022

Introduction

We are excited to introduce a new and improved itinerary for this exceptional summer expedition through some of Iceland’s most remote and visually stunning wilderness areas. Whilst the majority of travellers to Iceland remain in the south and west of the country we are inviting you to take the ‘road less travelled’ by joining us on this breathtaking photographic adventure that will include the remote, vast and uninhabited interior of Iceland. This is a remarkable place for landscape photography and indeed it is only accessible for a few weeks of the year. Nowhere in Iceland will you find anything to compare with the stark, raw beauty of Europe’s last true wilderness. Travelling in sturdy 4×4 vehicle driven expertly by our Icelandic driver, our tour will give us access to areas that are beyond the normal scope of visitors. We explore an untouched desert, remarkable waterfalls, extraordinary volcanic landscapes, national parks, impressive canyons and wild geothermal areas. As always, this adventure allows a certain amount of flexibility. We are always prepared to change our plans to make the maximum use of the prevailing light and weather. Despite travelling to some totally off the beaten track locations, for much of the time we stay in lovely scenically located hotels with excellent facilities. The options to bathe in relaxing and scenic spas and whale watching are also an option. Whilst this is not a trip specifically for the aurora, the nights at this time of year have become dark again and it may be possible to spot some early shows of this gorgeous phenomena. In all, this expedition is an excellent opportunity for landscape photographers and travellers who want to experience and photograph some highly unusual landscapes. Those of you that enjoy mobile phone photography will be very welcome and tuition will be given. All participants will enjoy the opportunity to return home with a truly unique portfolio of images and an insight Iceland’s road less travelled.

Daily Itinerary

For full details please download the trip description PDF

Day 1: Arrive Reykjavík and Transfer to Hotel

Wild Photography Holidays commence with an included transfer from Keflavík airport to our first night city hotel in the heart of Reykjavík. Our group will meet together for the first time at 18.00 for introductions and a trip briefing before heading out to a nearby restaurant for dinner together.
Hotel Reykjavík (D)

Day 2: Goðafoss and Aldeyjarfoss

This morning we take the one hour early morning flight to Akureyri in the North of Iceland. Our driver will meet us and we will head off to photograph the lovely waterfall Goðafoss. After lunch we set off to one of Iceland’s most impressive and least photographed waterfalls, Aldeyjarfoss. Few photographers venture here as it is on the edge of civilisation! The location is quite simply stunning. By Icelandic standards this is not a high fall but it is very shapely and there are many different viewpoints that we can use. The waterfall originates from Vatnajökull, Europe’s largest icecap. The river passes through the Highlands and plummets into a shapely amphitheatre of basalt columns before flowing down into a steep sided canyon. We will spend the remainder of the day here before driving to our accommodation right next to the lovely Lake Mývatn. We spend three nights here.

Lakeside cottages (B,L,D)

Day 3: Lake Mývatn

Today at sunrise we will explore this unique ‘hot’ area right on the edge of Iceland’s interior desert, the steam from red hot fumaroles and geysers looks fabulous when back-lit by the morning sun. Following breakfast we will continue to more geothermal locations. The whole area lies bang on the boundary of the North American and the Eurasian tectonic plates. The plates move apart at a rate of about two centimetres a year. Volcanic lava wells up between them and fills up the rift. The volcanic activity in the area is considerable. Mývatn’s surroundings are varied in landscape and amazing geological formations – we will have a busy time fitting them all in! It is likely that we will visit the Mount Krafla area with lava fields, a startling blue crater lake Víti and steaming fissures. The bubbling geothermal area of Námaskarð, black lava pillars and arches at Dimmuborgir and the weird black ash crater of Hverfjall. Photographically the whole area is a kaleidoscope of unbelievable colour and textures. The lake itself is home to a remarkably diverse number of waterfowl.
Lakeside cottages (B,L,D)

Day 4: Volcanic Craters and Húsavík

The biggest and most impressive pseudo-craters in Iceland are at Skútustaðagígar in the Mývatn area of North-Iceland. These are one of the most interesting natural phenomena in Iceland. This morning we spend time walking and exploring this dramatic area before heading to the coastal fishing town of Húsavík. Following lunch in a local restaurant there will be an option to discover the stunning beauty of Húsavík’s Skjálfandi Bay on a boat tour while observing whales, dolphins, and sea birds in their natural habitat. There will also be a chance to visit the Geo-Spa which is beautifully located by a lighthouse on a cliff-top overlooking the ocean. We return to the Mývatn area for our evening meal and preparations for our following days departure into the interior of Iceland.
Lakeside cottages (B,L,D)

Day 5: Dettifoss & Selfoss

Today we photograph two of Iceland’s most spectacular waterfalls in the national park of Jökulsárgljúfur. The Jökulsá river flows from Europe’s largest ice cap Vatnajökull. Our waterfalls plummet into the canyon, which is rather like a miniature replica of the Grand Canyon in Arizona. The west banks of Dettifoss and Selfoss are easily reached by well-marked trails and there are several interesting vantage points where we can photograph from. The waterfall Dettifoss was used in the dramatic opening scene of the film Prometheus. Rainbows in the spray of the falls are a common and beautiful sight. In the afternoon we will head to Möðrudalur a farm settlement right on the very edge of Iceland wild highland interior, it is the highest inhabited place in the country at just 469 m above sea level.
Fjalladýrð traditional hotel (B,L,D)

Day 6: Askja and Kverfjöll

This morning we enjoy an early breakfast before packing and setting off on our journey away from civilisation and into the interior, a huge uninhabited wilderness area. We cross the vast Ódáðahraun desert and usually encounter three or four interesting river crossings before we arrive at our first location of Askja and the strikingly blue water of Öskjuvatn. Water has filled the caldera that remained following the eruption of Askja in 1875. The interesting walk to see this spectacle is around 1 mile each way. The first sighting of these two remote lakes never fails to induce an OMG moment for photographers. Early afternoon we will travel to our next destination Kverkfjöll. The most recent volcanic eruption in Iceland and this particular area was the Holuhraun volcanic eruption in Bárðarbunga that started in August 2014. This massive eruption lasted until the February 2015 and the lava defines the landscape. We cross this lava desert followed by the raging glacial torrent of the Jökulsá River to arrive in a remote area at the very north most tip of the Europe’s largest Ice Cap, Vatnajökull; a true virtually untouched wilderness area.

Mountain Chalet (B,L,D)

Day 7: Kverkfjöll Exploration

The area is a true meeting point of ice and fire and it is one of Iceland’s most powerful high-temperature areas. One of the main locations we will visit and photograph today is the edge of the glacier where an ice cave may be found. The glacier cave is formed by a volcanic hot water spring beneath the Vatnajökull glacier. The terrain around the glacier itself is full of fascinating detail for photographers, plant life and mosses vibrant against the black sand, unusually coloured rocks deposited by the glacier and shimmering rivulets of water. The evening light out in this remote Arctic desert is often very spectacular.

Mountain chalet (B,L,D)

Day 8: Mývatn

There will be plenty of stops if the light is good. Back in civilisation again we will no doubt take a long shower or perhaps a visit to the nearby geothermally heated spa.

Lakeside cottages (B,L,D)

Aerial Photography

Whilst aerial photography from a small plane is not included in the price of this holiday, our guides will be able to arrange for you to fly from the tiny airfield in Mývatn if the conditions are favourable on Days 3 & 8. This is a fabulous area for aerial images and general sightseeing. Past guests have been very happy with their results. We do not include this as the weather can prove unpredictable and we prefer guests not to pay for an activity that may not be possible.

Day 9: Hveravellir & Kerlingarfjöll

We will have an early breakfast before travelling north to Akureyri where we will spend a little time sightseeing, shopping and enjoying coffee and cake before starting our next journey into even more remote highlands. Once again we will be away from the crowds travelling along the famous Kjölur highland route towards Kerlingarfjöll. En route we will explore and photograph the interesting geothermal ‘hot’ area of Hveravellir, a steamy and green oasis midst in the vastness of Iceland’s interior Highlands. Here we will find interestingly shaped smoking fumaroles, a plethora of colourful earth and sky blue boiling water. There is a gorgeous geothermal pool here if you fancy a dip in a truly unique place. Our hotel for the night in Kerlingarfjöll has been recently renovated and it is around one hours drive from Hveravellir.
Hotel (B,L,D)

Day 10: Kerlingarfjöll

The geothermal area around Kerlingarfjöll is where ice and fire meet. During our explorations here we will encounter geothermal phenomena such as bubbling mud pools, fumaroles, hissing fissures, waterfalls and snow. The orange mountains enveloped in steam present us with a landscape that is truly Tolkien. The Kerlingarfjöll massif, ‘Ogress Mountains’ is part of the Kjölur area. During our explorations here we will encounter geothermal phenomena such as bubbling mud pools, fumaroles, hissing fissures, waterfalls and snow. The orange mountains enveloped in steam present us with a landscape that is truly Tolkien. We we spend the whole day here before heading south to a hotel in Reykholt, our starting point for the famous Golden Circle.
Hotel (B,L,D)

Day 11: Golden Circle and Reykjavík

The Golden Circle is the most famous of all scenic routes in Iceland and combines stunning landmarks and historically significant places in a circular sightseeing tour. Its proximity to Reykjavík and the airport area, as well as the short drive between the sights make it an excellent choice for our last day on the road. Our day will include the stunning Gullfoss waterfall and the close by magnificent geyser of Strokkur, Þingvallavatn, the biggest natural lake in Iceland, and the scenic beauty of Þingvellir National Park. Once back in Reykjavik we check in to our city hotel before heading out for a final celebratory dinner.
Hotel, Reykjavik (B,L,D)

Day 12: Homeward Flights

Breakfast and a Flybus transfer to the International airport for homeward flights. Our guests from the US often fly late afternoon and may well want to experience a visit to the Blue Lagoon en route to the airport.
(B)

Joining Arrangements and Transfers

WPH services commence with an included Flybus transfer from Iceland’s International airport Keflavík to our first night hotel in the heart of Reykjavík. The Flybus is the most convenient way to get from Iceland’s international airport to Reykjavík and back. The buses run all day and the bus stop is right outside arrivals.

What’s Included

  • 4 nights in lakeside cottages
  • 5 Hotel nights
  • 2 mountain hut nights
  • All meals, breakfast, lunch and dinner
  • Transfers to and from Reykjavík airport
  • Mývatn Spa
  • All transport
  • Flight Reykjavík to Akureyri

What’s not Included

  • International flights
  • Alcoholic beverages
  • Snacks and beverages other than with meals
  • Travel insurance
  • Húsavík spa
  • Helicopter/plane flights for aerial photography
  • Whale watching excursion

Accommodation

We will be using a variety of accommodation. In Reykjavík we will stay in a 3 star hotel close to the city centre. Outside Reykjavík we will stay in scenically located hotels or modern, well equipped cottages. All hotels have twin or single rooms with private bathroom/Restroom facilities. In the interior highlands we stay for 2 nights in a warm, modern mountain huts with shared facilities. This accommodation is quite literally the only place to stay, it is scenically located and allows us to visit a part of Iceland unseen by most visitors. For the mountain nights we will provide all guests a new unused sleeping bag. The single supplement is only for the hotel nights.

Complete Itinerary and Full Details

This page is only a brief summary. A complete itinerary and more details can be found in our trip description PDF
It is important that you read this full day-to-day description and further information for this holiday before making your booking.