Workshops: Iceland 2014 Summer Circumnaviation + Highlands Photo Tour

Iceland 2014 Classic Circumnavigation + Highlands Photography Workshop and Adventure Photo Tour

14 filled days, 20 June - 04 July 2014
$4400 USD or € or ISK equivalents, all inclusive from trip start to end.
2 of 5 spaces available!  Book your place instantly by submitting the deposit through this page!

Led by pro photographer and international workshop leader Johnathan Esper of Wildernesscapes Photography LLC, USA, with award-winning Icelandic special guest photographer Örvar Þorgeirsson for a session!

This incredible 14 day photography tour and workshop around Iceland, the legendary land of fire and ice, is meant for passionate outdoor photographers who desire to see and photograph Iceland in depth. The intensive itinerary is designed to help you photograph all of Iceland’s diverse geographic areas and all the popular natural attractions that are considered must-sees, as well as hidden treasures most Icelanders have never even visited, by driving in a large counter-clockwise loop, that completely circumnavigates the island, beginning and ending at Reykjavik. We will also explore some of Iceland’s most photogenic Highlands regions for 4 days, that are inaccessible to most tourists, including 4x4 trips into the highland areas of Landmannalauger, Askja crater lake, Mt Snæfel and the vast glacial floodplanes of the northern Vatnajökull icecap, and the geothermal wonders of the famous Kjölur Highlands Route. We’ll enjoy Iceland’s long summer daylight hours as we photograph highlights including erupting geysers and geothermal areas, nuzzle with Icelandic horses in idyllic green pastures, peer over sea cliffs alive with hundreds of thousands of birds including puffins, swim in warm volcanic springs, feel Europe’s most powerful waterfall, hike up mountains for panoramic vistas of Iceland’s green mountains, explore some of Iceland’s stark highland regions, and photograph and walk on Iceland’s glaciers.

Photography Instruction: A maximum group size of 6 photographers ensures you will receive ample personal photographic coaching in the field from a full time working pro, maximize the group’s flexibility and ability to shoot more places, more spontaneously based on light and weather, and provide an intimate small group adventure experience. This photo tour is all about in-the-field field photography and situational instruction working alongside your leader, and there will be no classroom workshops or presentations, unless there is extra downtime from rainy weather. Photographic topics that will covered while shooting include classic landscape photography composition and technique, HDR (High Dynamic Range) imagery, panoramic photography, adventure and travel photography, tilt/shift focusing, and slow shutter -speed effects. We will also be going on some shorter hikes (1-3 hrs) to truly experience Iceland, which was listed as one of the top 10 travel destinations in 2010 by leading guide books. Group participants may wander on their own occasionally if they wish to pursue individual photographic objectives, enabling each participant to get the most out this once-in-a-lifetime trip.

Pro Leaders: Johnathan Esper of Wildernesscapes Photography LLC in the USA will be leading the trip. Johnathan is a full time photographer and experienced international photo trip leader, and this will be his 15th trip he's led to Iceland since begining Iceland trips in 2011.   Every trip so far has been an incredible experience for the participants. Johnathan has a unique background and an intimate knowledge of the land from living out of a car, exploring and photographing Iceland intensively for months at a time, and he specializes in wide panoramic landscapes and adventure photography.   Award-winning Icelandic special guest photographer Örvar Þorgeirsson will also join us for an outing session on the trip, for added instructional and cultural diversity.   Örvar Þorgeirsson and his wife Mai run a fine art gallery in downtown Reykjavik, Iceland, and he is one the top photographers in the country.  Clients always appreciate his patient come-alongside teaching style, and his exclusive private outings with clients are always in high demand. 

Trip Details: The cost of this tour is $4400 USD (or ISK equivalent), all inclusive from the morning of evening of 20 June though morning 04 July, and includes all photographic opportunites and professional iinstruction, all ground and 4x4 transportation, all accommodation for 14 nights (accomodation will be chosen based on optimal locations to photograph, and will vary including authentic Icelandic farmers guesthouses, bed and breakfasts, hotels, and a couple very basic sleeping bag bunk rooms in remote Highland huts (rooms vary with shared bathroom facilites down the hall and private facilities). Prices are based on double occupancy - optional single supplement may be available for an added $700; all meals and food (breakfasts provided by our guesthouses, picnic-style lunches and snacks including Icelandic smoked salmon, locally grown fruits, sandwiches, Icelandic skyr, etc.), and hot dinners at our places of accomodation and/or restaurants) and all activity fees listed in this itinerary. Alcoholic drinks, incidentals purchased by participants on their own, extra ordering beyond standard 2-3 course dinners, and similar, are extra and not included in the price.  A $1000 deposit is due at the time of registration, and the remaining balance is due by by the trip start. Refund details are available upon request, with a mix of cash refund and future trip credit, depending on cancellation date. This tour is open to digital photographers of all skill levels, and a trip packing list will be provided.  There is a maximum group size of 6, and a minimum of 3. Our long 14 day itinerary that completely circumnavigates Iceland, explores some of Iceland’s remote and inaccessible Highlands region, and gives more time, will enable you to photograph much more than the average photo tour, with professional in-the-field instruction, at an excellent value given how much we'll see and do. We'll be so immersed in the Icelandic countryside for our entire time as a group, that we have left no time to enjoy the sights of Reykjavik, so we encourage you to stay in Reykjavik for a couple days on your own, either before or after the tour. If you have additional questions, the trip leader will be happy to answer them over the phone or email.


Day 0 (June 20): Arrive and be picked up at Keflavik Int'l Airport and brought to your included hotel accommodation. Pre-trip evening meeting; otherwise the rest of the day/night is free, or possible sunset shoot with Icelandic photographer Örvar Þorgeirsson.
Day 1: We start very early, and first photograph the mossy lava fields of the Reykjanes Peninsula, and onto the popular south coast waterfalls. We’ll take a walk right behind Seljalandsfoss waterfall (hope you brought along a weather-sealed camera body!), and photograph Skógafoss and another nearby secret waterfall that no one goes to. Next we’ll spend our evening around the small town of Vík y Mýrdal (which has a beautiful country church surrounded by fields of lupine wildflowers), and photograph the Dyrhólaey sea arches, sea stacks, and puffin colony.
Day 2: After wrapping up our photography in the Vik area, we travel in the daytime harsher light up into the Highlands, then spend the rest of the day and evening hiking and photographing the colorful ryolite hills of Landmannalauger geothermal area and soak in a natural hot spring in the Icelandic Highlands (many Icelanders’ favorite place in their country). Overnight in Highland basic hut.
Day 3: A full day spent hiking and photographing the colorful ryolite hills of Landmannalauger geothermal area and soak in a natural hot spring in the Icelandic Highlands (many Icelanders’ favorite place in their country).
Day 4: Rejoining the Ring Road, we drive past the smallest grass-roofed church in Iceland at Núpsstaður, and more farm scenes, on our way to Skaftafell National Park, where we’ll photograph more glaciers, Hvannadalshnúkur (the highest mountain in Iceland) and the smooth Svartifoss waterfall among unique basalt columns). The iceberg-filled glacial lagoon Jökulsárlón is another classic postcard scene, and we’ll stay close to the lagoon for all-night photography potential if good weather.
Day 5: Full extra day around Jökulsárlón, Skaftafell, Svinafellsjökull, or the Vatnajökull tongue glacier
Day 6: The picturesque east fjords are calling us; first stop is the Hofn area with the dramatic Vestrahorn and black dunes. We’ll stop in ample locations to photograph the winding roads and cascading streams down the steep terraced mountains, before staying for a night around Djúpivogur, Eastfjords.

Day 7: We'll devote another day to often-bypassed Eastfjords area, photographing remote fjords and fishing villages, including Seyðisfjörður region, which is considered by some to be Iceland's most beautiful fjord. We'll also photograph the red-layered Hengifoss and visit a brand new museam on the newly created Vatnajökull National Park, after driving along the scenic Lagarfljót lake, and will stay in this region overnight at Laugarfell Highland Hut with natural geothermal pools and waterfalls surrounding.

Day 8: We take the road less traveled, cutting across the Highlands on 4x4 tracks westward first to Mt Snæfell and overlooking vast glacial floodplanes of the northern Vatnajökull icecap are highlights on this excursion into the northern Highlands region. The iconic Highland destination of Askja volcanic crater lake awaits us after a several hour 4x4 drive into the heart of Iceland's Highlands region, and there we'll also swim the Icelandic way in the Viti explosion crater that's still warm. Highland 4x4 tracks northward eventually bring us toward one of Iceland's most remote farms, Möðrudalur, where we'll stay for the night. This will be a long day, probably around 16 hours!

Day 9: Now in the north of Iceland, we’ll feel the plummeting power of Europes’s largest waterfall by volume, Dettifoss, and also Selfoss, and take some shorter hikes in the river canyon of Jökulsárgljufur National Park to see basaltic rock stacks dividing the powerful Jökulsá á Fjöllum. Then after dinner in the fishing town of Húsavik, we'll watch the midnight suns just dip below the Arctic Ocean's horizon.  

Day 10: In Mývatn we’ll photograph geothermal steam vents, bizarre volcanic formations, and fields of craters that will make you feel like you are on the moon, then check out or swim in warm, silica-rich water with an amazing blue-colour, from a nearby geothermal power plant. Possible visit to Krafla geothermal area. After finishing exploring the Mývatn lake region that's filled with craters and bizarre lava formations, we’ll drive west, photographing Goðafoss waterfall, and the remote Aldeyjarfoss in the northern Highlands with it's photogenic basalt clolumns framing the falls, before eating at the best bakery in Iceland, in Akureyri.
Day 11: We’ll take a 4x4 over the rough, famous Kjölur Highlands Route through Iceland’s stark, barren Highlands, arriving at very colorful and little-known geothermal area of the Kerlingarfjöll Mountains. We'll walk and photograph literally among steaming vents and bubbling pools that would be roped off elsewhere, allowing some great close-up photography. The Langjökull glacier and the barren, bleak, yet beautiful expances of Iceland’s western Highlands are more photographic highlights on this route.
Day 12: Kerlingarfjöll Mountains midday excursion. We'll walk and photograph literally among steaming vents and bubbling pools that would be roped off elsewhere, allowing some great close-up photography. The Langjökull glacier and the barren, bleak, yet beautiful expances of Iceland’s western Highlands are more photographic highlights on this route. The end of this Kjölur route leads us directly to the famous Gullfoss waterfall (Iceland’s most famous waterfall), which we can shoot at midnight without the tourist crowds around.
Day 13: Popular Golden Circle sights of Geysir (after which all other geysers are named) and Þingvellir National Park (the world’s oldest parliament’s meeting place and rift zone between the North American and European tectonic plates). We’ll also find the locals’ secret of Brúarfoss, with amazing blue colour water channels. Then we'll drive one last 4x4 road taking a shortcut past a giant shield volcano and past the Langjökull glacier, onto the Reykholt farm valley, visiting Hruanfossar lava springs and breeding area.  This last night is spent at a friendly farm guesthouse with a hottub overlooking the farm valley.  
Day 14: We'll drive into Reykjavik by midday, after spending time rubbing noses with more friendly Icelandic horses.  You may either be shuttled to Keflavik International Airport to catch your flight home, or stay on your own longer in Reykjavik which we highly recommend, since we've been so busy exploring the rest of Iceland that we left no time for this unique European city!

Please note this itinerary is somewhat flexible, and we may have to make adjustments on what we see during the day, based on weather patterns and our time limits.  Descriptions and terms subject to change, due to error or otherwise, with notice.

CONTACT INFORMATION (for making a booking or requesting information)

Johnathan A. Esper
Wildernesscapes Photography LLC
PO Box 326, Long Lake, NY
United States
[email protected]
phone: +001 518 624 6675 (USA) or +354 844 5033


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Jokulsarlon lagoon sunset, Iceland
Strokkur Geyser and Blesi pool
  • To book your space on this trip, please send in a deposit payment of $1000 USD per person. Until payment is sent, your place is not guaranteed.  You may conveniently pay your deposit here on this website, securely with your credit which will be processed by Paypal payment processor.  The deposit portion may also be paid via personal or bank check for USA and Canadian clients; contact me for further instructions.  
  • Cancellation policy:  In the unfortunate case if you need to cancel, cancellation policy is: Deposit payments are refundable as 100% future scheduled trip credit up to 120 days before trip start, 50% future scheduled trip credit if cancellation is 120-60 days before trip start, and non-refundable less than 60 days before start. Final payments for the full trip balance are 100% refundable as cash until the trip start, and non-refundable after the trip start. If I am able to fill your empty spot on the trip, half of what you'd lose will additionally be returned to you, for all the above situations.   If I cancel the trip for some major reason, such as overwhelming volcanic activity, trip leader health crisis, etc, then I fully refund everything in cash or Paypal, or a pro-rated amount if the trip must end early for the same reasons.   I am not responsible for reimbursing you for travel or other ancillary expenses you incur in prep for the trip.  
  • Final Payment. The final payment for the balance due on the trip (after your paid deposit), is due one week prior to the trip start. Payment options include bank transfer to my Icelandic bank account (details on request), cash in person at the trip start (with prior permissin), personal or bank checks (preferred for USA and Canada clients), and credit cards (a 2% credit card fee will be added for final payments with card).