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Help me plan my epic 25-night photographer's dream trip!

Durham, North...
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Help me plan my epic 25-night photographer's dream trip!

I've been haunting this forum for a little while and I can tell that it's full of travel junkies and dreamers like me. I'm hoping that you'll help me with my dream holiday by suggesting places to go, people to meet, and sites to see.

Here's a little backstory: My wife and I took a three-night trip to Iceland in March 2013 and we had a blast. We were so moved by what we experienced there that we decided that we MUST return someday. Well wouldn't you know it: we got our wish granted for us courtesy of Icelandair!

On the day we were departing the airline was looking for volunteers to delay leaving by a day so that someone else could get on our flight. My wife managed to talk the airline into upgrading us to a flight into a different city in the US, first class, AND two free round trip return flight tickets! WOW!

My company offers a 10-week sabbatical program and I jumped on the opportunity to return to Iceland and photograph the place at a more relaxed pace.

Arrive Keflavik Sunday, February 23 2014

21 nights

Family Arrives Keflavik: Sunday, March 16

3 nights

Depart Keflavik: Wednesday, March 19

Continually updated/modifed rough route plan: https:/…5275043985c07ab3bc0001fa

I'm a photographer and my intent is to take a leisurely pace round about the ring road combined with a sojourn into the Westfjords for unforgettable astrophotography, northern lights, and other landscape subjects.

Generally speaking I'm planning to stop and stay for a little while in each of these places and explore what's nearby.

This is all very flexible which is why I'm hoping you can offer suggestions!

Hit list:

Gardur (I have a friend there I want to visit) / Keflavik (1-2 days maybe)

Reykjavik (1 days)

Borgarnes (1 days)

Glymur waterfall

Strandabyggð (1 days)

Dynjandi Waterfall (via southern route [60] to Ísafjörður)

Ísafjörður (and Sudureyri, Flateyri and Thingeyri (1-2 days)

Hvitsrkur (volcanic formation off the west(?) coast of the peninsula)

Skagaströnd (small town w/ artist residency; cheapest room around...) (2-3 days)

Akureyri (hostel? airbnb? couch surfing? 2-3 days)

(Is it worth taking a sojourn to Grimsey from here at this point?)

Reyðarfjörður (cheap place on airbnb) (1-2 days)

Jökulsárlón (where to stay?!) (1-2 days)

Vik (overnight? Meh…)

Back to Reykjavik (stopping where along the way? Selajalndsfoss, etc.)


Any amount of time I can avoid renting a car would save me a tremendous amount of money. I'm open to ideas about this since it represents about 40% of my estimated budget!

-4x4 rental:

I have budgeted to (at great expense!) rent a 4x4 vehicle but I am not experienced with offroad driving. I will approach F roads with a great deal of caution. The least expensive I've found is icerental4x4.


I've seen the carpooling website for Iceland which seems very compelling. Is it worth considering?

-Other transport:

Is there other transportation worth considering?


I will be doing a lot of shooting all night long so I'm not quite sure about sleeping arrangements. I may be napping / sleeping a fair bit during the day which makes traditional hotel/hostel arrangements a little unusual. I will be bringing my 17F sleeping bag and I'm not afraid of cold-weather camping so sleeping in the car for a few nights is fine by me.

On the whole, I'm curious to know what is thought of this plan. Too ambitious? Is the north east region east of Akureyri worth the extra distance traveling? What am I "missing"? :-) Is there, for instance, something totally epic in the middle of the country along F35 or F26, for instance?

Takk fyrir! Help me make this dream even better!

Reykjavik, Iceland
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1. Re: Help me plan my epic 25-night photographer's dream trip!

The sea stack that you were thinking of, Hvítserkur (that looks somehow like a mammoth) is located on the east side of the Vatnsnes peninsula.

Here: ja.is/kort/…

(my shots) fluidr.com/photos/…Hvitserkur


Reyðarfjörður. Me, I prefer Seyðisfjörður.

F-roads in winter: no.

Carpooling is worth considering, yes.

Other practical information: leave your travel plan with the Icelandic SAR.


Delft, The...
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2. Re: Help me plan my epic 25-night photographer's dream trip!

Going from the south to the north of the Westfjords can become a problem in the winter, because the pass south of Dynjandi is often blocked by snow. Check this before you go into the Westfjords


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3. Re: Help me plan my epic 25-night photographer's dream trip!

As mentioned by erensm, the pass South of Dynjandi can be closed at that time of year. We went in April to see the falls and get some photos, travelled from Ísafjörður down to Dynjandi and it was not the best of trips due to the weather and the precarious roads conditions.

If you are hoping for nice photos of the falls, I'm sure they will be frozen in February, as they were for us in April and perhaps not the most photogenic....in my opinion!

Having said all that, the Westfjords are still an amazing area to explore but just be aware of the weather and road conditions.

Here's a example of the Route 60 and a photo of the frozen falls (not the best I know) taken this April.



Durham, North...
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4. Re: Help me plan my epic 25-night photographer's dream trip!

Wow, this is very useful information, thank you!

Diane: I love your photos, thank you for sharing and for directing me to the correct side of Vatnsnes! I'm adding Seyðisfjörður to the list. I had picked Reyðarfjörður mainly due to there being a very affordable place to stay on Air BnB! The F-road tip is very good to have. Thank you for the definitive answer!

erensm: I already had that site on my list. Thanks for the reminder and the tip about driving in the Westfjords.

mulch: seeing that photo of #60 in April was sobering. I can see now that the idea of renting anything other than a 4x4 is out of the question. I supposed that studded tires would be best too. It's very good to know that Dynjandi will be frozen this time of year. My experience in March of 2013 (in the South between Reykjavik and Vik) had very good roads and conditions. I'm surprised at how different the weather is between the south and the Westfjords!

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5. Re: Help me plan my epic 25-night photographer's dream trip!

Jonathan, have you seen this website? I have no affiliation with this guy, it's just something I came across when doing research for my own trip next summer:


I purchased the map and the digital book and it was well worth the money. The map is great, it has more photo locations than you'll need for a 25-day trip (or at least close!).

Hampshire, UK
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6. Re: Help me plan my epic 25-night photographer's dream trip!

We've just returned from a 7 day circumnavigation of route 1, we are a keen group of 4 amateur photographers. Best locations for us: Jokulsarlon lagoon & beach, Godafoss waterfall, Nvarfjall hot springs near Lake Myvatn but we were astounded by the quietness of the main road and the ease of stopping for shots, by the 2nd day we were just stopping on straight bits of road and taking photos for 10 mins perfectly safely!

Great areas for this: Southern lava fields past Vik, Hafnafjordur by avoiding the tunnel, east fjords.

Definitely keep an eye on the weather, road and northern light forecasts - many places offer free wifi or will check for you. Make sure your US phone works too as many do not and it's critical if you get stuck as traffic is so light, potentially only 1 car an hour in some areas.

I'll be reviewing all our hotels this weekend so keep an eye on my profile if you like. We spent average £45 per night B&B all with private en suite and bedding provided.

Derby, United...
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7. Re: Help me plan my epic 25-night photographer's dream trip!

If you hire any vehicle in Iceland make sure that it has coverage for F roads. Most don't and you will be fined if seen on one as the vehicle will be uninsured. The Highland F roads are remarkably busy in the summer, as I thankfully found out after dropping a motorcycle on a steep slope on a gravel road and needing a third person to act as anchor while we pulled it upright. However they are often closed from September to May/June due to snow.

Also check the weather forecasts on a regular basis if heading west as the Westerfjords can .catch you out. We had to abort our trip to explore them in July as we got delayed by zero visibility sea fog while on route 60... not a lot of fun on motorcycles. We hit a clear patch near the ferry so decided to head over to Snæfellsnes. Snæfellsjökull and the surrounding national park, and the southern beaches are very very photogenic.

Durham, North...
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8. Re: Help me plan my epic 25-night photographer's dream trip!

smokan: thank you SO MUCH for the tip on the map and travelogue. I purchased his e-book and the paper map. I can’t wait to receive the map!

I wish that I could do this in the summer but I’ll just have to suffer through the epic journey in feb/march instead. ;-)

parrotfish: 7 days is fast! Wow! Did you shoot at night or only during the day? I had a similar surprise regarding the emptiness of the road. I frequently stopped at my convenience earlier this year for snaps.

I’ve bookmarked vegagerdin.is and will consult it frequently, I’m sure.

£45 per night sounds fine for 7 nights but that gets old VERY fast when you’re talking about three weeks. I’m budgeting for an average of $60 (~36 quid) per night which I’m hoping will be enough.

Scouse_and_Jules: I intend to hire a 4x4 that is covered for F-roads but I’m fairly sure that all of those will be impassable. I’d dearly love to visit Þorsmörk but it looks like it’s out of the question unless I hire a guide with some kind of CrazyJeep. :-) I’m positive that I can’t afford THAT given my other expenses! Again, I guess I’ll have to suffer.

I have had very pleasant discussions with a 4x4 rental agency so I _think_ I have that sorted out (or will have shortly).

Now my largest concern is where to sleep. I stay up LATE when I’m photographing so I will need to sleep for part of the day (which makes B&Bs and hostels a little awkward). These timelapse shoots require about 45m to 1 hour of actual time shooting to equal just ONE SECOND of footage for the final product! :-p

I’m slowly starting to have the idea of sleeping in the 4x4 beaten out of my head. I know that it’s _possible_ but comfort will be near-zero. Who has suggestions on 5000-6500 ISK places to sleep?

I’ve updated my route; you can see it in the link above. I’m starting to think that driving anti-clockwise would be more wise. I’m hoping that by the time I make it to the east coast things will have warmed up at least a couple of degrees. Maybe it won’t make any difference…

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9. Re: Help me plan my epic 25-night photographer's dream trip!

Jonathan- you'll love the map. I've had it on my kitchen island for the last two months and I think I look at it and make plans every night.

Hampshire, UK
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10. Re: Help me plan my epic 25-night photographer's dream trip!

Hey, we mainly shot during the day, either at the popular sites, in picnic spots or just stopped the side of the road as there was so little traffic it was pretty safe, obviously not on bends!

We did sleep with the curtains open some nights with reasonable northern lights forecasts but only saw them once, and handily from 8.00 - 10.30pm.

We also had 3 drivers which helped with the distances. I wouldn't recommend such a short stay but it is easily possible, even with the snow & ice we encountered.