Wild Photography Holidays - Photography & Adventure Travel: Iceland – Landmannalaugar, Þórsmörk & Southern Highlands with James Rushforth

Landmannalaugar panorama

Iceland – Landmannalaugar, Þórsmörk & Southern Highlands with James Rushforth

Highlights include…

  • Landmannalaugar’s rhyolite mountains
  • Canyons of Þórsmörk
  • Mælifell Volcano
  • Landmannahellir & Rauðufossar
  • Hólaskjól and Ófærufoss waterfalls
  • Rauðibotn Crater
  • Frostastaðavatn Lake & Strútur Crater
  • Drive the F208 – Iceland’s most beautiful road
  • Háifoss and Granni waterfalls
  • Braided channels along the Tungnaá river
  • Rauðufossakvísl


Iceland offers some of the best photography locations worldwide, none more so than within the vast interior of Iceland, in the wild uninhabited region known as the Highlands. Travelling into these areas is only possible during the summer months when the combination of a specialist vehicle and some cosy mountain accommodation allows the serious landscape photographer an unrivalled opportunity to visit a number of unique and seldom frequented locations – including some of the remotest and most beautiful mountain scenes in the world. Your photographic guide James Rushforth, author of Photographing Iceland is ideally qualified to enable you to make the very best of your exploration. We will be travelling in a specially modified 4×4 vehicle expertly driven by our Icelandic driver-guide. It should come as no surprise that the walking trails between Landmannalaugar and Þórsmörk have been nominated several times by National Geographic as a world-class location for hiking and photography. There will be options to opt out of the hiking and to explore more locations close to our base or perhaps drive a little further afield with a driver, we can be very flexible on this.

Photographic Tutors and Guides

This tour will be led by James Rushforth, author of Photographing Iceland.
All images in the gallery on this page are by James Rushforth.

Brief Itinerary

For full details please download the trip description PDF

Day 1: Arrival in Reykjavík

Participants will be arriving on a variety of flights; Flybus tickets will be sent out in advance. The first night’s accommodation in a three-star Reykjavík city hotel is included. We will meet for introductions and briefing at 19:00 before heading out into the city for dinner.
Accommodation: Hotel Reykjavík (D)

Day 2: Drive to Þórsmörk

Our adventure starts after an early breakfast, as we follow the ring road south to Þórsmörk, stopping to explore Gluggafoss and Nauthúsagil Ravine on the way – two beautiful and seldom frequented waterfall locations. The drive is difficult, with no less than 15 rivers to ford, the F249 claiming more vehicles than any other road in Iceland. Fortunately, we will be travelling in a specially modified vehicle, the challenging approach making for some dramatic photo opportunities. The Volcano huts are perfectly situated for exploring the labyrinth of interlocking valleys, with a bar and restaurant on site.
Accommodation: Volcano Huts Þórsmörk (B,L,D)

Day 3: Exploring Þórsmörk

Tucked away between the Mýrdalsjökull, Tindfjallajökull and Eyjafjallajökull ice caps, the latter of which brought European air travel to a standstill during its 2010 eruption, Þórsmörk or ‘Thor’s forest’ offers some of the best day hiking in Iceland. Over the next two days, we will explore this intricate network of birch studded canyons, both on foot and using the vehicle. Walking is not compulsory and there are excellent views from our accommodation.
Accommodation: Volcano Huts Þórsmörk (B,L,D)

Day 4&5: Into the Southern Highlands & Fjallabaksleið Syðri

Leaving Þórsmörk we will make a quick stop at Hvolsvöllur to resupply before entering the southern highlands proper. More challenging driving awaits with several large river crossings as we drive Fjallabaksleið Syðri, one of Iceland’s most stunning mountain roads – with stops at Álftavatn and Hattafell. Our highland accommodation is situated directly underneath Mælifell, a stunning solitary volcano situated in a dramatic black expense of volcanic desert. This is an ideal base for exploring the nearby Hólmsárlón lake, with the opportunity to explore several secret craters.
Accommodation: Strútur Mountain Hut (B,L,D)

Day 6: Strútur to Landmannalaugar

Frequently cited as one of the most scenic drives in the world, our southern approach to Landmannalaugar along the F208 contains a wealth of photographic opportunities. The journey is bumpy with many river crossings but any discomfort is more than compensated for by the stunning vistas which unfold one after another. We will make a short diversion to the Eldgjá canyon before arriving at the Landmannalaugar camping grounds in the evening. After dinner, the natural hot pools located at the campsite provide the perfect place to relax after a day’s driving.
Accommodation: Landmannalaugar Huts (B,L,D)

Day 7&8: Landmannalaugar Hiking

Comprised of pure Rhyolite, the mountains of Landmannalaugar are justifiably world-famous and are undoubtedly one of the most dramatic landscape photography locations in the world. Due to a long cooling process, this slow-formed crystallised igneous rock gleams red, yellow, orange and brown when it catches the light. Add in purple, blue and green ash deposits from previous eruptions and you have an outstanding visual spectacle. Winding between the pyramid peaks lie a series of braided rivers, blue crater lakes and steaming hot springs that gave the area its name (bath of the land’s men).

There will be a choice of hiking options depending on the conditions and group ability. There is a lifetime’s worth of exploration to be done from the doorstep here. Thanks to the proximity of peaks such as Bláhnjúkur and Suðurnámur, it’s possible to make the most of the golden hours as well as taking advantage of any dramatic light throughout the day. Hiking is not obligatory and the views surrounding the campsite are stunning for anymore preferring a rest day. 
Accommodation: Landmannalaugar Huts (B,L,D)

Day 9: Landmannalaugar Surroundings, Landmannahellir & Raudafoss

A short drive west along the F225, negotiating several more river crossings, leads to Landmannahellir and the Rauðufossar river. We will then make the 4 km hike to the source of the Rauðufossakvísl, where a beautiful series of waterfalls, pools and surreal red ferrous rock awaits. Despite its close proximity to Landmannalaugar, this area is very much off the beaten track and it’s easy to find solitude here.
Accommodation: Landmannalaugar Huts (B,L,D)

Day 10: Landmannalaugar to Reykjavík

The last day of the trip offers a fitting finale to the tour. On the drive back to Reykjavík we will stop at the volcanic crater lakes Ljótipollur and Hnausapollur, visit Háifoss and Granni, one of the highest and most beautiful waterfalls in Iceland, and finally stop at Gjáin, a beautiful green oasis immersed in the surrounding black desert. Once back in Reykjavík we check in to our city hotel before heading out for a final celebratory dinner together.
Accommodation: Hotel Reykjavík (B,L,D)

Day 11: Homeward Flights

WPH services finish after breakfast. Guests may transfer on this day to Iceland’s international airport for homeward flights. If you would like to stay at the hotel for an extra night, please enquire at the time of booking this holiday.

What’s Included

  • Accommodation 10 nights
  • All meals, breakfast, lunch and dinner
  • Guide & driver
  • Airport transfers

What’s not Included

  • International flights
  • Alcoholic beverages
  • Anything not mentioned as included


In Reykjavík the first and last night is in a 3 star city hotel with private bathrooms. Outside Reykjavík there is one night in a hotel with private facilities. Three nights in the Volcano Huts comprise modern cabins with single or double rooms. The toilets are shared and close by in the hallway. There are hot showers and toilets are outside the building. Close by, there are also excellent hot tubs. The Landmannalaugar accommodation (4 nights) is all together in one room and sleeping bags are necessary. The hot showers and toilets are outside and good quality. The hot tubs on site are a given as this is a famous geothermal area. If you pay a single supplement this will ensure a private room in Reykjavík (2 nights) Volcano Cabins Þorsmörk (3 nights) and the Highland Centre Hotel (1 night).

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.