Roaming Iceland’s Ring Road

Autumn Landscape Photography

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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. Currently Iceland is one of the "hottest" nature photography destinations on Earth.

On this autumn sojourn around Iceland we photograph some of the best-known and most iconic landscapes along the island's famous Ring Road. These spectacular locations have long enticed photographers from all over the world. Yet, in late September and early October, the tourist throngs have diminished, making life very pleasant for adventurous landscape photographers. With clear skies, northern lights—aurora borealis—provide good chances for a night sky lightshow at this time of year.

Icebergs Iceland coastOur route takes us along swift rivers and by some of the island's 10,000 thunderous waterfalls that flow across the torturous volcanic landscape. The sparse vegetation should now sport rich autumn color, softening the harsh edges of the volcanic terrain. Polychrome rhyolite hillsides, striking basalt columns, imposing glaciers, a spectacular rugged coastline—including the awe-inspiring Jökulsárlón iceberg lagoon—and an ever-changing light on the land generate seemingly endless possibilities for creating powerful graphic imagery.

At Hraunfossar ("lava falls") a series of underground streamlets emerge along a 3,000-foot-long sweep of bright green moss-clad rock to cascade gracefully into turquoise waters below. We skirt the northern fjords and photograph a dramatic wave-carved sea arch, among other intriguing features.

Along 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.

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 storylines—and even more so now that "winter is here!" The Mývatn area was also used as a training ground for American astronauts in preparation for the lunar missions of NASA's Apollo Program.

Icelandic horsesThe finale of our photo tour finds us in the Vatnajökull region with its newly-created national park. Here, we find a magical land of ice with glacial iceberg lagoons, an ice-bejeweled black sand beach and pounding surf. This is followed by the dramatic waterfalls of the Eyjafallajökull region and the troll-like seastacks at Vik.

Join us for this easy journey around the land of ice and fire. Participants should come away with a trove of inspirational photographs. Roaming Iceland’s Ring Road is a trip that is accessible to persons in good health, has easy walking access to most locations with the possibility of several longer hikes and a few scrambles down steep rocky slopes for those wishing even more dramatic angles of the iconic glaciers and waterfalls in the north country.

Tour Itinerary

Day 1
Depart from home.

Day 2 (Sep 29)
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)

WaterfallDay 3
Heading north across the island 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. During spring and summer, black-legged kittiwakes and northern fulmars nest on its sheer walls—their guano painting white-washed patterns over the dark stone. (BLD)

Days 4–6
We travel east to Lake Mývatn. 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, the elegant surging arc of Goðafoss, to the frothing white waters of Aldeyjarfoss plunging amidst photogenic columns of contrasting black basalt—offer opportunities to create a variety of images during the constantly changing light.

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. We also visit the Hljodaklettar rock formations in Vesturdalur and the colorful birch woodlands in Asbyrgi, located within the massive Vatnajökull National Park. (BLD)

Day 7
Following the Ring Road we travel east and then south to the East Fjords. The area is remote, even by Icelandic standards, we photograph immense craggy mountainsides, dramatic valleys and the tiny working fishing villages that nestle among them. (BLD)

Rock arch IcelandDays 8–10
Continuing west towards the Vatnajökull glacier, we find a magical world of ice with Jökulsárlón glacial lagoon and its nearby black sand iceberg beach as one of our main photography locations. We also photograph smaller lagoons, such as Fjallsárlón and Heinabergslón. The moraine vegetation of low-growing birch and willow turns red and gold, adding a colorful foreground to the impressive mountains and glaciers. During our time in the Vatnajökull National Park region we also visit the Stokksnes Peninsula with its impressive Vestrahorn mountain range. (BLD)

Day 11
The southern Ring Road takes us west towards Reykjavik—but not before we have more shooting opportunities around Vik. Here, images of two more spectacular waterfalls, Seljalandsfoss and Gullfoss, plus iconic black sand beaches, the Reynisdrangar sea stack "trolls," and a wonderfully photogenic little church perched prominently above the tiny town will consume many pixels. (BLD)

Day 12 (Oct 9)
On our way from Vik to the Keflavik Airport we stop for seascape photography at the Reykjanes Peninsula. Most US-bound flights depart in the afternoon. (B)

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Joseph Van Os Photo Safaris Enrollment Information

Roaming Iceland’s Ring Road

Sep 28, 2019 - Oct 09, 2019

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 deposit 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 trip fee
100% of 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.

Roaming Iceland’s Ring Road : Easy Activity Level

Trip Details
Sep 28 - Oct 09, 2019
Fee: $8,295 from Reykjavik, Iceland
Deposit: $800
Limit: 12 participants
Activity Level: Easy
  • Shoot snow-covered volcanic peaks, crystalline glaciers, black lava landscapes, torrential waterfalls, and an ice-choked glacial lagoon juxtaposed against vibrant autumn foliage
  • Wonderful photographic access to the spectacular Jökulsárlón iceberg lagoon and surrounding glacial landscapes
  • Good possibility of aurora borealis
  • The crowded summer tourist season has ended by this time of year
  • An excellent “sampler” of many of Iceland’s varied photography possibilities
Tour Leaders
Mike Byrne

Mike Byrne

Daniel Bergmann

Daniel Bergmann