Land of Ice and Fire
High up north just outside the Arctic Circle, underneath a magnetic sky that weaves auroras violet, red and green, there is a land where glaciers and geysers, and fjords and volcanos intermingle to forge a land of ice and fire.
Navigate through this mercurial land this winter to reach a state of landscape photography bliss. And in the land of the opposite forces, achieve unity with the magic that spins around the sun by the name of Earth.
- Seven nights and eight days of mystical winter landscape experience under dancing Northern Lights
- Limited group size to ensure exclusivity and unrestricted photography
- An epic photography experience on a wonderful and isolated island in the frozen north
- Extensive learning on using filters, making time-lapse videos, HDR photography and processing, and panoramic shooting
- An exotic time in a truly untamed wilderness and amazing part of our planet
- A productive Tour guided by experienced professional photographer
Iceland defies categorisation. It’s neither bucolic nor Utopian; neither hostile nor placid; and neither entirely frozen nor oppressively warm.
Iceland is nothing if not alive. It’s a living, changing landscape that breathes through its volcanos and bubbles through its geysers. And when things go south, looks cheerfully at you with its lush pastures and gushing waterfalls.
It wasn’t always like this. Iceland is one of the planet’s youngest landmasses, with all this geological bustle having mushroomed as recently as yesterday plus 25 million years ago. And it’s still growing, at a positively pubescent 5 cm every year.
That rate of expansion for so long would make even an ant a giant, and surely enough, that’s what Iceland is: the second largest island in Europe (after Great Britain) and the 18th largest on the planet. And the giant wears many robes.
In the southwest, moss-covered steaming lava fields are the choice outfit for some contrasting Arctic sizzle, while in the northwest, soaring fjords are the pick from the wardrobe for that flowing look. The coveted centre is attired in barren highlands to offset all the razzmatazz, while the terrain generally is bedizened with impressive peaks, plateaux and lowlands.
But the most striking aspect of this accoutrement is the dark hemline, in the form of black-sand beaches on the tortuous 5000 km coastline, striking enough to evoke memories of The Swan Queen and peculiar enough to feel like a scene from medieval fantasy, Game of Thrones, large and impressive parts of which are fittingly filmed here.
And with a sparse population and over 80% of Iceland’s area reeling in joyous desertion, experience pristine seclusion as you set about witnessing a dazzle that’s uniquely Icelandic in its ‘Arcadian rhythms’, and the convergence of elements in all their untamed colours: red, green and violet in the sky, blue and brown underneath — held together with lots of ice and a little fire.
With so much going on, it’s little wonder that the subject of this Tour is the land itself, in all its glorious forms.
Our voyage will begin with an unforgettable experience in the Snæfellsnes Peninsula, famously known as a miniature model of Iceland, due to the way it encapsulates all the magnificent landscapes seen on the island.
Kirkjufell, known to be the most photographed mountain in Iceland, is on the north coast of Iceland’s Snæfellsnes Peninsula. We make some evocative images of this dauntingly-beautiful mountain and its breathtaking surroundings. Iceland also has amazing lava formations, gorges and waterfalls, lovely towns and harbours, and an assortment of fascinating attractions, all of which render themselves to stunning frames.
Lying next to Europe’s largest glacier is Iceland’s largest national park of the same name, Vatnajökull, also encompassing Skaftafell in the southwest, and Jökulsárgljúfur in the north, which is considered one of the country’s most romantic and magical places. In all, the park covers some 13% of Iceland’s area, and is among Europe’s largest national parks.
Here you will be treated to fantastically diverse landscape despite a large part of it being underneath the icecap of the Vatnajökull Glacier, due in part to the constant interplay of volcanic activity and glaciers. In George Martin’s universe, Vatnajökull is the mysterious land Beyond the Wall, home to mythical creatures and White Walkers. It’s as mythical in the real world as it’s real in the mythical world.
Here, spectacular photo opportunities are the byproduct of icebergs from Vatnajökull Glacier falling frequently into the lagoons and floating around until they melt or are small enough to be carried by the river to the sea.
The southern part of Vatnajökull, which envelops Iceland’s highest peak, the mouthful Hvannadalshnúkur, is punctuated by the majesty of mountain ridges, with outlet glaciers gracefully descending betwixt them onto the handsome lowlands.
As for wildlife, Arctic foxes are the only originally native mammals on the island, while Icelandic horses, although not wild, are an absolute joy to photograph, particularly against such exquisite backdrops, and birdlife is rich to the teeth, although winter’s not the best time to find them.
And amongst all this, whenever the weather conditions are conducive, we’ll be hunting for the Northern Lights (Aurora Borealis) with enticing Icelandic nature in the foreground — just because we can, and because an outstanding thing can always be made even more surreal.
Especially if it’s on the marvellous island of Iceland.
Please note: We assemble for this Tour on Friday, 1 March 2019 at Reykjavik, Iceland, and depart from the same place on 8 March. Travel between your home and Reykjavik is not included in the Tour fee, but all requisite assistance with air travel will be provided.
1 March 2019, Friday
Participants in Reykjavik arrive from various places, and once everyone has checked in to our hotel, we meet before dinner for a round of introduction and orientation, where Skipper will set the tone for the Tour and brief the group on what to expect over days to come. We dine and retire for the night in hot anticipation of the icy-cool time to come.
2 March, Saturday
Our exploration of Iceland will start with the Snæfellsjökull Glacier and the charming villages and friendly people who nest around it. This day we enjoy the nature and the wildlife the area offers, and photograph the exceptional lava fields and formations, and fill our eyes and memory cards with its gorgeous gorges and waterfalls, lovely towns and harbours.
3 March, Sunday
We will, on this day, traverse the spectacular route from the Peninsula to the South Coast, treating our eyes to and photographing such sublime sights as will amiably confront our senses along the way.
4 March, Monday
We’ll spend the next day on the South Coast of Iceland, from Reykjavík to the Vík, a charming village. We’ll discover the island’s volcanic activities while passing by some of the island’s active volcanoes, and behold their most recent eruptions. Along the way we enjoy the sight of the black-pebble beach of Reynisfjara and the basalt sea stacks Reynisdrangar. Dyrhólaey, Skógafoss, Seljalandsfoss and Sólheimasandur and its notorious plane wreck are amongst our stops.
5 to 7 March, Tuesday to Thursday
We’ll visit the magical and romantic Jökulsárlón, a large glacial lake on Iceland’s southeast coast, close to the beautiful Skaftafell and the Vatnajökull National Parks, and witness the floating of the icebergs from the Vatnajokull glacier to the lagoon.
We’ll also visit an icecave underneath Vatnajökull (ice caves form under the glaciers in the autumn and last through the winter), venturing in with helmets, head-torches and crampons underneath our boots. Caves can be found in several different locations on the south side of glacier Vatnajökull, and the surroundings are magical.
In the evening we’re dropped off to the airport hotel, Keflavik.
8 March, Friday
After breakfast we check out and are transferred to the airport, whence, having enjoyed an enchanting time on the exotic island of Iceland, we fly back home.
- Per Person on Twin Share Accommodation
- Per Couple on Twin Share Accommodation
- Per Person on Twin Share Accommodation
- Boarding and lodging for Tour duration
- All local fees
- All planned activities and excursions as per the itinerary
- Services of a Photography Skipper
What’s not included?
- All airfare and transfer expenses
- Any extra accommodation availed of outside the itinerary, before or after the Tour
- Visa expenses
- Any kind of personal expenses or optional tours, extra meals and beverages ordered
- Insurance, laundry and phone calls
- Soft drinks and alcoholic beverages
- Tips and gratuities
- Anything that is not included in the inclusions list
- All applicable taxes
- Atleast USD 1000 of the Tour fee as booking amount (non-refundable)
- Atleast USD 2000 of the Tour fee before 1 November 2018
- Remainder of the Tour fee before 1 December 2018
All figures per person.
- USD 1000 of the Tour fee on or before 9 November 2018
- USD 3000 of the Tour fee between 10 and 30 November 2018
- 100% of the Tour fee on or after 1 December 2018
All figures per person.
Please note: The date of written (email) communication of intent to cancel is the date considered for calculation of the cancellation fees.
While Toehold Photo Travel is one of our most popular offerings, we work as a travel agency without bringing the photography guide element in to your travel. In short you would be using our travel experts service to just plan the vacation and execute it.
- Unlike a Photo Travel experience, your Vacation is completely personalised.
- The dates, style of travel, class of hotels and lodges, destinations, everything is tailor-made to suit your custom requirement.
- A Skipper or a photography guide doesn’t travel with you to guide you unless you decide to take our customised and guided photo travel experience.
So take advantage of the immense experience and field knowledge that we bring in to your Vacation’s planning without having to pay for our time and costs. Plus, we don’t charge an additional fee for our time and travel planning services.
Who should participate in this Tour? Are there any eligibility criteria?
Anybody interested in landscape photography or nature in general and is above the age of 18 (unless accompanied by an adult) can participate in this Tour. There are no eligibility criteria.
I am not into photography. Would you still recommend this Tour?
Most certainly! While photographers will probably derive maximum value from this Tour, non-photographers will enjoy the expedition equally.
I am a newbie in nature photography. Am I eligible?
Absolutely! This Tour is meant for fledgling as well as experienced photographers. Beginners get all the advantages of learning on and off the field from Toehold’s eminent Skippers. In fact if you are a newbie, you should jump on this terrific learning opportunity and sign up for an Art and Science of Photography Workshop.
What equipment do you suggest on this Tour?
The focus of this Tour is on landscape photography, so a good ultra-wide-angle lens and a wide-angle zoom are musts along with graduated neutral-density, neutral density or variable neutral density, and circular polarising filters, a fisheye lens being welcome, too. For the occasional portrait and to photograph the horses, a 50mm or equivalent normal lens would be desirable. A tripod is absolutely necessary, and so is an intervalometer if your camera doesn’t feature in-built interval shooting, or just a wireless or cabled remote release otherwise, for bulb photography.
How different are your Photo Tours from ordinary tours?
Unlike travel agents who plan your holiday from a remote destination to places they sometimes haven’t experienced themselves, Photo Tours offer a comprehensive toehold to experience a place through the guidance of a professional photographer. The common ingredients in all our Photo Tours are fun and a lot of learning and knowledge-sharing. Besides, most or all of our Tour participants are photography enthusiasts, which keeps the group in harmony and helps make your experience focussed.
How cold will it be?
The weather is variable, but the average hovers around -5°C. There will be considerable strong, chilly winds, so please carry sufficient warm clothing.
What fitness level is required?
Although this is not a very physically intensive Tour, some basic amount of physical fitness is required, chiefly to withstand the cold, undertake short and easy to moderate walks and treks. If you suffer from known illnesses, please consult your physician before signing up for the Tour.
By what mode will photography be done on this Tour?
We’ll be using vehicles to get to the places of attraction, but most or all of the photography will be done on foot.
Will you provide visa assistance?
Yes. You need a valid Schengen visa to enter Iceland, and while the Tour cost does not include visa expenses, all the assistance you require in procuring a visa will be duly provided.
How sure are you about this Tour being photographically productive?
Considering the meticulous attention to timing we pay while scheduling Tours and the local expertise we leverage, we believe that it would be extremely unfortunate if our photography were unsatisfactory. However, since we will be in an uncontrolled environment and are visiting in the winter, we do not claim that the conditions will always be conducive to photography.
I do not own appropriate equipment. What do I do?
If you do not own adequate photography gear, there is no need to fret. Toehold offers an exhaustive array of cameras and lenses for hire, so you can always hire what you need. Visit our Rental Store to see what we offer. What’s better, you enjoy a 10% discount on all equipment hired on our Photo Tours!
Thank you for being such a wonderful Host, Guide & Skipper and thank you very much again for discovering such destinations.
The amount of learning just being around these guys is amazing. The best part was getting assistance from the Skippers in the field, to make most of the opportunities we had. I’d greatly recommend Toehold tours to someone looking for a productive way to spend few days
I went on a tour with Toehold to a destination I was so familiar with but ended up learning a lot more things than I already knew. Great bunch of young pros.