Iceland Revealed

Highlands & Northern Landscapes

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The island of Iceland, the second largest European island after Great Britain, lies on the Mid-Atlantic Rift—a major seam between the European and North American tectonic plates. These two plates are splitting apart at remarkable geologic speed, making Iceland one of Earth's most geologically restless areas. Iceland is a veritable cauldron of geothermal activity, with active volcanoes, steam vents and bubbling hot springs. While the best-known—and oft photographed—landscapes along the southern Ring Road have long enticed photographers, it is the interior of Iceland, the Highlands, that dwarfs even those dramatic images. More remote and less visited than the south, the Highlands are a landscape of endless pristine vistas where bridgeless glacial meltwater rivers passable only with 4x4 vehicles in summer cascade from distant volcanic mountains.
"Great experience seeing the heart of Iceland with knowledgeable professionals. Tour leaders customized each day to enhance the opportunity for great photographic moments."
- C. Corace

From our conveniently located lodging at the southern edge of the Highlands we explore Fjallabak Nature Reserve. Fjallabak translates as "behind the mountains" and is our gateway to a vast and untouched interior. Here, multi-hued rhyolite hillsides rise on the edge of a tortured volcanic landscape with numerous blue crater lakes set among moss green hills reflecting summer skies. During Iceland's long summer daylight hours, we travel northward into the heart of the interior traversing a stark and seemingly otherworldly topography edged by glaciers. Photographing the ever-changing light on rock, river, and glacial ice and snow yields bold and graphic compositions.

At the northern edge of the Highlands near Lake Mývatn we photograph some of the most diverse landscapes in Iceland. Here, the waters of massive Dettifoss, the most powerful waterfall in Europe, thunder out of the north side of Vatnajökull glacier across a broken gray-black lava field and roar—ashen-gray with churning glacial flour—150 feet down into the canyon below. In contrast, nearby Selfoss is graceful and elegant—its water surging over horseshoe shaped bedrock. Steam from fuming volcanic vents dances in the air amidst a backdrop of tall mountains and a charred broad horizon.

Rainbow over rocksEn route on our return south, we skirt northern fjords and photograph a wave-carved sea arch, among other features. At Hraunfossar ("lava falls") a series of underground streamlets emerge along a 3,000-foot-long sweep of bright green moss-clad rock to fall gracefully into turquoise waters below.

As this expedition is first and foremost about photography we may sacrifice regular hotel dinners in order to be out in the best light of the evening. In such circumstances we carry food with us into the field. Some mornings we leave our accommodation before breakfast and return after our morning shoot for late brunch. Each day brings excellent, yet unpredictable, photo possibilities as the light on the land spawns seemingly endless prospects to create intensely powerful images. Join Jeff Vanuga and Daniel Bergmann in one of the richest locations for dramatic landscape photography in the world during the long radiant days of Iceland's short summer.


Check out Jeff Vanuga's trip report from our 2016 Iceland photo tour

Tour Itinerary

Day 1

Depart from home.

Day 2 (Aug 25)

Most US flights to Iceland arrive at the Keflavík airport in the early morning and those from Europe land in early afternoon. Transfer to Reykjavik. We meet for dinner. (D)

Day 3

We depart for Hrauneyjar, gateway to the Highlands, on the edge of one of the most active volcanic hot spots in Iceland. This outpost location is near some of the most photogenic sites in the southern Highlands. After unloading our luggage at the guesthouse we photograph locally including Haifoss waterfall. (BLD)

Days 4–5

Two full days to explore Fjallabak Nature Reserve, including Landmannalaugar and the Veidivötn region. Created by volcanic activity, this vast, wild and mountainous landscape is one of Iceland's largest geothermal areas. The painted rhyolite mountains of Landmannalaugar offer a brilliant range of color—sulfur yellow, caramel orange, bright green rock created by geothermal gases—at the edge of dark lava fields. We explore the numerous sky-reflecting crater lakes of Veidivötn set among vast mossy mountains and rough black lava. (BLD)

Our 4X4 vehicles gets us to Iceland's interiorDay 6

We drive the 125-mile-long Sprengisandur highland route—longest of Iceland's highland roads and accessible only by 4x4 vehicles—through the vast interior to Lake Mývatn. Distant glaciers and mountains fringe the rough gravel road, meltwater rivers snake across our path, and the stark landscape has its own lonely beauty. Here, photographically, "less is more." (BLD)

Days 7–9

From our comfortable hotel base at Lake Mývatn we have three full days to explore one of Iceland's most diverse natural areas. Waterfalls—from the raw wild power of massive Dettifoss to the frothing white waters of Aldeyjafoss plunging amid photogenic columns of contrasting black basalt—offer opportunities to create a variety of images during the constantly changing light.

This region continues to be used for the filming of some of HBO's popular fantasy drama Game of Thrones and is featured in several of its story lines. The Mývatn area was also used as a training ground for American astronauts in preparation for the lunar missions of NASA's Apollo Program.

We photograph the geothermal areas of immense Hverfjall Crater and the live steam vents dotting black lava field at Leirhnjúkur. An excursion to Askja, a still-active caldera volcano with deep crater lakes set amid an unforgettable landscape of nearly 5,000-foot-high mountains, is a highlight. (BLD)

Day 10

We photograph at several locations along the north coast road to Vatnsnes Peninsula. En route, we "shoot" Hvitserkur, a wave-sculpted volcanic monolith rising 50 feet from the pounding waters of the Atlantic like a photogenic stone monster. Local legend tells of a giant troll turned to stone by the sun when it failed to retreat to its lair before dawn. Black-legged kittiwakes and northern fulmars nest on its sheer walls—their guano painting white-washed patterns over the dark stone. (BLD)

A photographer perched high on a cliffDay 11

This morning we photograph at Hraunfossar ("lava falls") in Borgarfjordur. Photogenic Hraunfosser is comprised of a 3,000-foot-long series of springs flowing gracefully out of seemingly solid lava to form a turquoise blue stream below.

Depending on weather and road conditions permitting, we drive via Kaldidalur Mountain Pass—the interior route to Thingvellir National Park—nearly 2,300 feet in elevation and the second highest pass in Iceland. Our seasonal gravel road traverses the vast expanse of the Kaldidalur Valley surrounded by four glaciers and climbs amid snow-covered peaks. Alternatively, we travel a more direct road to the Reykjanes Peninsula. Our overnight is at a Keflavík Airport hotel. (BLD)

Day 12 (Sep 4)

Depart on flights home. (B)

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Joseph Van Os Photo Safaris Enrollment Information

Iceland Revealed

Aug 24, 2018 - Sep 04, 2018

A deposit and completed and signed Registration Form are required to reserve a place for you on a Joseph Van Os Photo Safari.


All prices are quoted in US dollars and all payments must be paid in US dollars. For deposits only, we accept Visa, MasterCard or American Express. Final payment of the trip fee is due 120 days priors to departure and must be paid by check or bank transfer. Trip deposits are non-refundable and non-transferable.

We must receive written notice of your cancellation, at which time cancellation fees in the following amounts apply:

If Written Cancellation is Received:
90 days or prior:
89 to 61 days prior:
60 or fewer days:
Cancellation Fee:
100% of deposit
50% of entire trip fee
100% of entire trip fee

No partial refunds are made for unused portions or services of a trip for any reason whatsoever. Trips are sold as a package only. This policy also applies to tour extensions and independent travel arrangements. Cancellation fees are not transferable.

Protect your travel investment and purchase a trip insurance policy that includes emergency evacuation coverage. A trip insurance brochure will be sent with your enrollment confirmation.

Joseph Van Os Photo Safaris are within the capabilities of average people in good health. Some of these trips require the capability of walking for several miles over uneven trails, stepping from a small boat to a wave-washed rocky beach, flying in small planes and helicopters, and occasionally hiking at high elevations—all while carrying an assortment of camera equipment. If you have concerns about your own capabilities and/or fitness as it relates to a trip, please inquire with our office before reserving a space. By forwarding a signed Registration Form and trip deposit, you certify that you do not knowingly have any physical or other conditions of disability that would create a risk for you or other trip participants and you agree to inform our office in writing if changes in your health occur any time prior to the tour. We reserve the right to request a doctor's statement of good health. The company's or trip leader's judgment shall provide the ultimate determination of an individual's ability to embark upon or to continue a trip. Once a trip has been confirmed, medical circumstances will not be considered as exceptions to our cancellation policy. We assume no responsibility for medical care or for special dietary requirements. “Meatless” meals are normally available at most locations. Due to the remote nature of many photo locations, and the growing diversity of today’s dietary trends, participants requiring special food items are encouraged to bring their own.

Tour members are asked to refrain from smoking with or near the group.

Participants will receive three emails before the trip departs: 1. Initial Tour Information sheet confirms the deposit and provides pre-departure information. 2. Invoice/Practical Information provides clothing and photo gear recommendations, climate data, applicable health advisories and reading list. Visa information will also be included (if applicable). 3. Final Tour Information includes arrival instructions, itinerary revisions (if any), hotel addresses, trip telephone contact information and participant list. We provide the trip leader's telephone number(s) and/or e-mail address with final documents so you can inquire about special photographic questions you may have regarding your trip. We welcome your calls or e-mail messages to

Information supplied upon enrollment describes the specific costs that are included in your trip fee. Generally these costs include lodging in double room occupancy, all meals (specified in the itinerary as BLD denoting breakfast, lunch or dinner), ground transportation during the trip in vans or small busses, air transportation as specified, meal and baggage tipping, and guide services provided by the trip leaders. Not included are airfare or other transportation from your home to the trip staging location, airport departure taxes, insurance, alcoholic beverages and bar expenses (plus bottled water and soft drink expenses on international tours outside of North America), tips and gratuities to local guides abroad, phone calls, passport or visa expenses, laundry or items of a personal nature. Gratuities to Joseph Van Os Photo Safaris trip leaders are optional and always appreciated. Rates are based on group tariffs; if the trip does not have sufficient registration, a small party supplement may be charged.

Single accommodations are available for a supplemental cost in many locations; see the pre-departure trip information or call our office for details. You will be charged the single supplement fee if you desire single accommodations or if you wish to have a roommate, but one is not available. In some remote locations, clients with single rooms are infrequently compelled to share a room due to circumstances beyond our control. In such cases, appropriate per diem refunds will be made reflecting the direct cost of the single room at the facility where clients are required to share. There is no additional single supplement fee on ship-based cruises, if you request a roommate and one is not available.

Cost increases may occur unexpectedly due to rising costs of airfares, ground transport, fuel surcharges, accommodations and currency fluctuations, among others. Joseph Van Os Photo Safaris, Inc. may be compelled to amend prices, and we reserve the right to do so without prior notice. An increase in trip prices shall not be sufficient grounds for any refund of funds paid for the trip other than as determined by the terms of our cancellation policy.

Whenever possible, our trip participants are lodged in comfortable, modern hotels. We select among the best available accommodations, but refrain from extravagance. Some interesting photographic destinations are far removed from modern amenities, however, and where necessary we will be accommodated in rustic country inns, cabins or tented camps.

Meals are always a special part of our trips for the camaraderie they engender and the opportunity they provide to try new foods from different areas. Depending on the trip and specific locale, participants order restaurant meals from the full menu or, less frequently, table d'hôte. Some trips include picnic lunches in the field. Fruit juice for breakfast and coffee or tea are included with the meals. Soft drinks are included with meals on tours within North America. Participants are responsible for their own bar tab (including bottled water, soft drinks and alcoholic beverages on tours outside of North America) at restaurant lunches and dinners.

Our itineraries are intended as examples only. Participants should allow for flexibility due to changes in weather, natural history or cultural events, or other logistical arrangements deemed necessary by Joseph Van Os Photo Safaris, Inc. or our leaders.

The second tour leader (and any subsequent additional leaders) listed for each trip on the website will be added as the group size warrants. If only one space remains on a trip, and logistics permit, we accept two persons traveling together, even if it exceeds the trip maximum.

Joseph Van Os Photo Safaris, Inc. and/or their Agents act only as agents for the passenger in regard to travel including, but not limited to, sightseeing, meals, lodging, transportation, and all other services whether by railroad, motorcar, motor coach, boat, ship or aircraft and they assume no liability for injury, damage, loss, accident, delay or irregularity which may be occasioned either by reason of defect in any vehicle or for any reason whatsoever, or through the acts or default of any company or person engaged in conveying the passenger or in carrying out the arrangements of the trip.

They can accept no responsibility for losses or additional expenses due to delay or changes in air or other services, sickness, weather, strike, war, volcanic eruption, terrorist acts, political unrest, quarantine or other causes. All such losses or expenses will have to be borne by the passenger, as trip fees provide for arrangements only for the times and locations stated. Baggage is at the owner's risk entirely.

The right is reserved to 1) substitute hotels of similar category for those indicated and to make any changes in the itinerary or transport where deemed necessary, or caused by changes in air schedules or equipment substitution; 2) cancel any trip prior to departure, in which case full refund of the paid trip funds will be given, but Joseph Van Os Photo Safaris, Inc. is not responsible for any other trip preparation expenses such as penalized or non-refundable air tickets, visa fees and medical related expenses; 3) substitute trip leader(s) for the leader(s) originally specified, in which case the substitution is not a basis for participant cancellation or refund other than provided by our normal cancellation policy; or 4) accept or retain any person as a member of any trip.

Trip prices are based on tariffs and exchange rates in effect at the time of publication and are subject to adjustment in the event of any change therein.

A Registration Form including the Release and Assumption of Risk section must be signed by each participant prior to the commencement of the trip. Participation by any trip member will be declined in the absence of the signed Registration Form including the Release and Assumption of Risk section, with no trip fee refund. No modification to the Registration Form including the Release and Assumption of Risk section will be accepted.

Should Joseph Van Os Photo Safaris, Inc., or anyone acting on their behalf be required to incur attorney's fees and costs to enforce this agreement, the enrolling trip participant(s) agree(s) to indemnify and hold them harmless for all such fees and costs. In the event a lawsuit is filed, the enrolling participant(s) agree(s) to do so solely in the County of Lewis in the State of Washington. Certain ship owners require the use of pre-printed ticket forms that limit the ship owner's and operator's liability. When such tickets are used, the passenger is bound by the terms of these tickets with respect to the passenger's legal relationship to the owners and operators of the ship, their agents (Joseph Van Os Photo Safaris, Inc.), and the ship's crew.

Iceland Revealed
  • More remote and less photographed, Iceland's Highlands yield a diverse mix of dramatic landscape images
  • Photograph thunderous waterfalls, colorful rhyolite hillsides, black volcanic fields, blue crater lakes and still-active glacier-clad volcanoes and geothermal features
  • Interior routes are accessible only by 4x4 vehicles during Iceland's short summer season
  • Shoot the landscapes of Iceland's ancient sagas and legend—plus contemporary sagas like HBO's Game of Thrones
Aug 24 - Sep 04, 2018
Fee: $7,995 from Reykjavik, Iceland
Deposit: $800
Limit: 14
Tour Leaders
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