What's this tour like?
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The 'best time' to visit Iceland and Greenland depends on exactly what you want to see. From our point of view, we've very carefully picked July as it should give you the most diverse experience possible, the best weather, long summer days, midnight sun in Greenland, and the environment being at it's most lush and green. During July in Iceland many of the highland roads open up giving us access to some more remote areas usually closed during the colder months and it's also the best month to photograph the puffins returning with fish in their beaks! We needn't be worried about harsh lighting ruining our landscapes and waterfalls as Iceland is conveniently cloudy 90% of the time anyway. In Greenland, July is also the best month as the waterways will have only just opened up for boat travel (June the sea is still frozen solid), whales should be swimming past the shores, icebergs and glaciers are very active, and the springtime flowers and plants should all be out adding colour, and the climate is generally mild, with the weather often fine with clear blue skies for long spells at a time.
We're always trying to secure you the highest standard in accommodation on our Iceland & Greenland photo tour, however, to get to a couple of the most amazing photography destinations in Iceland require that we travel to some rather remote locations with sometimes very limited accommodation options (ie, just one 2-3 star guesthouse). Where it has been possible, we've always found you the most amazing accommodation available. In Greenland we're spending 3 nights at the most northerly 4-star hotel, then at amazing luxury eco-chalets overlooking a glacier. However, in just two of our more remote locations, we are limited to what is available. All accommodation will of course be clean and comfortable, but we ask that you keep things in perspective and realise why we are there for those two nights in sub-optimal accommodation. We'll survive. =)
Weather in Iceland can be highly variable. Temperatures in July range between 8 - 13 degrees Celsius with cloud cover for 90% of the time (makes for great soft lighting for waterfalls etc!) and a 63% chance of rain on a typical day. In Ilulissat, Greenland, temperatures range between 6 - 12 degrees Celsius, with 24hr daylight (i.e. the sun never sets). There is cloud cover 72% of the time with a 36% chance of rain on average. You'll therefore need to make sure you have clothes that'll keep you warm and good quality rain gear for yourself and your camera equipment. As the beautiful, golden 'evening lighting' extends right up to (and beyond) midnight, some of our days in Greenland go very late, but we usually compensate by allowing a bit of a ‘morning’ sleep-in where possible. Of course weather is outside of our control and while we do our very best to re-work itinerary to try and keep in as much as possible in the advent of bad weather, in the end sometimes it can't be helped and we will not be held responsible or provide any refunds or compensation for anything we are forced to miss out on.
Most of this tour is physically quite easy – mostly driving up to locations which then involve only a small walk, with a few notable, optional exceptions:
Puffin Cliffs, Iceland: We’ve driven almost all the way to the Puffin Cliffs, except for a final 150m walk up a steep soft sand dune to get to the top plateau (after that it’s flat), and the guide will provide hiking poles if needed. Don’t worry though, you can take your time and we’ll wait for everyone at the top before continuing along the rim to view the puffins.
Landmannalaugar, Iceland: To reach the most photogenic locations in this spectacular national park you need to walk along a well-used trail, with your camera, for about 3 hours (return) at slow pace with plenty of photographic stops on route (it would otherwise only be an hour or so), and much of it is quite flat, save an initial unavoidable slope, and some other optional ones. If you don’t think this is possible for you, don’t worry, as there are plenty of other photographic opportunities close by that can entertain you while others walk. You’re also welcome to walk as far as you’re comfortable with, then either wait around or start to head back on your own - no pressure.
Also, in Iceland we hire two off road 4WD vehicles with high ground clearance, and getting in and out of these vehicles involves a high step up and down. It’s certainly manageable, but please be careful when stepping down and make sure you hold onto the handles provided.
In Greenland, you’ll need to be confident getting on and off the various charter boats that we use, and this can sometimes involve big steps to get from the boat to the wharf. However, there are numerous guides on hand to assist if needed and we are happy to help.
When we vist the remote Eqi lodge in Greenland, you’ll need to be capable of carrying both your own camera bag and your small overnight duffle bag off the boat and up a steep series of stairs (100 meters) and path to your accommodation yourself. Similarily in Ilimanaq Lodge you’ll need to carry your camera bag and overnight bag from the wharf, up a slight incline to our accomodation (300m).
Please email us if you have any questions or concerns about fitness for this trip we can provide photographs and additional information about these more challenging sections.
We created our Iceland & Greenland photo tour to be - in our eyes - the perfect travel experience. When I travel, I don't want to be stuck with loads of other people (especially when we've got nothing in common), or be taken to the regular, over-crowded tourist attractions or waste half my time in an amazing country just relaxing by some pool. I want to get the most out of it - I want to see as many different animals as I can, I want to travel through different landscapes and be shown hidden gems off the beaten path, I want to experience the culture, taste the food, meet new friends with similar interests, enjoy some luxury and importantly, I want to have the time to take some beautiful and unique photos of it all.
It's not enough for me to spot a distant lion, tick it off and move on - I wan't to have the option to try and get closer, on the correct side for best lighting and even wait for him to lift his head and stare directly down the barrel of my lens - or to move on when I'm done - I want flexibility. I want the inside tips for the best location to be ready when the sun rises over the horizon and spills across the bay onto those boulders - and if I can't quite get my shot to work, it'd be awesome to have a friendly pro-photographer right there to offer advice (not one who'll stand in front of you to get the best shot themselves!). If there's a seal colony out on an island nearby, then I'd want to charter a boat out there just with my friends onboard so we can spend as much or as little time as we want to get the shots without being crowded on a regular sight-seeing trip. If the seal colony was a bit of a tourist attraction on a local beach then I'd want to wait for the crowds to leave, and go down onto the beach after hours - just us, and a private ranger guide to photograph them at our leisure in beautiful evening lighting.
You don't even need to be a photographer to love this style of holiday - who wouldn't like a bit of extra patience from their tour leaders, or to be given the opportunity to fly over the migrating herds of Africa in a doors-off plane or over a beautiful coastline in a doors-off helicopter for some epic views? Stay on a private island, learn some new skills with your photography, make some new friends and have an unforgettable, unique holiday - all at the same time! Sound good? Well, there's a reason more than half of our guests come back again, and again!
We've become one of the world's premiere photography tour companies for a reason: We offer the highest quality, small-group, unique operations focused on providing the access and luxuries the others don't - such as exclusive charter of ships, planes & helicopters (doors-off for better photography) along with off-road & special access permits to get you closer - so we can give you what we know you want. For example, while other operators might book you a spot on a busy, regular scenic cruise, we'd privately charter the whole boat, relaxing the pace, giving you plenty of space and modifying the route for the best photogenic locations and timings. We delight in welcoming you to beautiful accommodation and providing fantastic local seafood and other luxuries to ensure the tour is as much a wonderful holiday as it is a photographic experience.
Unlike most, we're fully accredited and insured, obtain all the proper permits, respect and give back to the communities and environment, and employ industry best-practices such as holding your payments in a trust-fund and have been awarded the tick from the Accredited Tourism Business Australia (Australian national symbol of tourism quality). We don't waste your time with 'rest-days' or surprise you with hidden costs.
Perhaps one of the key differences our guests keep saying is how we - unlike so many other operators - always put YOU and YOUR photos first, always there to help out with any issues or check your images and suggest ways you could improve - never getting in your way or even taking any photos ourselves unless every single guest is content. Our friendly pro photography guides are all energetic and up-to-date and are a pleasure to be around. Our goal is to help YOU have the best experience possible, improving YOUR photography, and helping YOU take the best photos!
If you're still not convinced, then ask anyone who's come on a photo tour with us - our repeat guest rate speaks for itself: We've had entire photo tours sell-out solely with repeat guests, and if you'd like we can put you in touch with a guest who's already been on the tour your considering to ask their opinion.
Absolutely not! We have many non-photographers (and partners of photographers) enjoy our tours! As one guest said "It didn’t matter that I’m not a photographer - I used my iPhone. Just experiencing all these amazing locations at a relaxed pace, in comfort and without the crowds was wonderful!". The expert photography tuition is a bonus - the incredible access to experience the most wonderful places in a tiny group is the main thing! If you're traveling to take photos, or just as a holiday - in the end, it's all about seeing as many of the amazing animals as possible, experiencing the local food and culture, admiring the landscapes, breathing the fresh air and enjoying the whole unforgettable experience with a small group of friends. Whether or not you put a camera in front of your face doesn't really change this. We've had many non-photographers come on our tour, enjoying just spotting animals, identifying them, or watching their behaviour and by the end of the trip many of them do start picking up a camera (or borrowing one of ours) and start getting excited about photography too! Some have later gone on to become full-on photographers, to the delight of their partners! Either way, they have a ball and often come on another photo tour with us again and again.
Most photography guests are beginner to keen-enthusiast level - so don't stress that your photography may not be good enough - the whole point of our photo tour is to improve your photography, no matter what your level! Our photo tours are enjoyed by everyone from non-photographers, iPhone and happy-snap photographers right up to serious professionals. We start each tour with a quick photography crash-course, and our expert photography guides are there to help you throughout the whole photo tour. There is no better way to improve your photography than spending a solid week or two practicing, surrounded by amazingly inspiring subjects, with a small, friendly group of like-minded people. You will be amazed how much your photography will improve. We're there to offer as much or as little assistance as you'd like, at whatever level of complexity you're ready for.
For each of our photo tours, we've carefully prepared (and keep updated) a detailed information booklet covering everything including our recommendations for what kind of camera & lenses we'd consider well suited for that trip, as well as also everything else like clothes, what type of power plug, what currency, what the climate is like, language tips and plenty of other information to help answer all your questions! We'll send you a copy of this information booklet when you book, or you can email us for one in advance. We also have a selection of lenses including telephoto lenses for hire, please email us in advance if you're interested.
We do have a selection of lenses (including macro, wide and telephoto lenses, for both Canon and Nikon) available for hire. Please just ask us about this if you're interested during your booking. Don't feel like you need amazing camera gear though to enjoy our tours - some guests come as non-photographers or just with an iPhone camera and still absolutely love the experience of small-group, luxury and relaxed-pace travel to these very special places. It's up to you how serious you want your photography focus to be, and we do provide an information booklet for each photo tour including our recommendations for what kind of camera & lenses we'd consider best suited to maximise your photography for each trip. We'll send you a copy of this information booklet when you book, or you can email us for one in advance.
Don't worry - more than half of our photo tour guests travel solo. To help you make friends before you even leave and to be reassured and aided by the advice of your fellow-travellers (and those who have gone before you), we've created an interactive Facebook group for our CBP Voyager Club members (that's anyone who's been on, or is going on any of our tours, which also gives them 10% OFF any future tours!). You can find out who's coming from your area, perhaps even meet up beforehand or fly together. This is a great resource and we encourage you to make the most of it if you're on Facebook! Anyone can read the CBP Voyager Club Facebook page, but you can only interact once you've paid your deposit.
We recommend that you book your flights and travel insurance with our dedicated, friendly travel agent Brenda as she can try and put you on the same flights and accommodations as your fellow travellers pre/post tour. Before you depart you'll be told exact details for who will be meeting you at the airport, holding what sign, and also give you contact phone numbers to call in the unlikely event that you are delayed or plans need to change.
And don't worry that most accommodation is twin-share - we're good at pairing you up with a roomie who you'll get along with - it has been the start of long-term friendships for many! We can't guarantee that we'll always be able to have you sharing with someone of the same sex - it depends on the gender split, but we do our best. You can request to purchase a single supplement (a room to yourself) if you really need to (subject to availability) though keep in mind that you're usually only in your rooms to sleep as we fill your waking hours with plenty to do, and the couple of times we have had guests request rooms to themselves, they end up regretting it when they see the amazing friendships that form between the other roomies.
Of course we can - even in places like Kenya we've successfully catered for vegan, gluten-free, lactose-intolerant and vegetarian guests, and all have had a wonderful time.
Our cancelation policies are in line with other leading tourism operators, and you can read all about them here in our Booking Terms and Conditions. We are proud to employ industry best-practices such as holding your payments in a trust-fund and have been awarded the T-QUAL tick (Australian Government's national symbol of tourism quality).
The Voyager Club is our photo tour loyalty program! As our photo tours apparently can be very addictive (we've had guests come to more than half a dozen of our tours!), we created the Chris Bray Photography Voyager Club, giving repeat guests 5% OFF future tours with automatic Silver Membership, and then 10% OFF as Gold Members after their fifth tour with us.
Either click the 'Book Now' button above and fill in your details, or simply contact us and let us know which tour you're keen to join us on, and we'll send you a deposit invoice to secure your spot, along with the tour information booklet and our Booking Terms and Conditions.
Our tour starts in the early evening when we meet at the Hotel Óðinsvé in Reykjavík. After a quick photography refresher course and briefing, we’ll head out for dinner, sampling some of the fine local cuisine before setting your camera batteries on charge, formatting memory cards and getting some sleep, ready for the adventure to begin tomorrow!
After a hearty breakfast at the hotel, we’ll depart for the steaming geothermal area just outside Reykjavík in our 2 exclusive, modified 4WD vehicles. From there we’ll drive to the south of Iceland and head for the Þjórsárdalur Valley. This is an amazing landscape full of stark contrasts - flourishing birch woods, black sandy lava fields, rivers, lush vegetation, numerous springs, bizarre rock formations and home to Iceland’s second tallest waterfall ‘Háifoss’ – one of our favourite waterfalls in the world and delightfully hidden from most tourists! Tonight we stay in the remote Hotel Hrauneyjar.
Today we’ll be driving to Landmannalaugar – boasting the most colourful mountains in Iceland. Being a volcanic hot-spot, the landscape varies from black lava flows with red and green mountains, to orange sandy deserts and vibrant green lake-filled valleys. From here we can walk slowly (3hr return walk) to the base of the sulphur mountain – Brennisteinsalda. The name in English means: sulphur wave. This multi-coloured, 855m tall formation is a mixture of green mosses, red iron from the earth and black/blue from the lava flows. This volcanic mountain is still visibly active, and we’ll see hot sulphur springs and vapour venting from its sides! In the late afternoon we’ll make our way to our ‘home-away-from-home’ for the next 2 nights, the family owned and hrifunes guesthouse.
It doesn’t get any better than this! Today we’ve chartered a helicopter to come all the way from Reykjavík and land beside our Hrifunes Guesthouse to commence a series of 2hr doors-off helicopter flights to photograph the many spectacular colours, patterns, mountains, glaciers, craters, river deltas and waterfalls in the highlands of Iceland! Aerial photography is an absolute treat in Iceland and we’ve organised the best possible route with Volcano Heli! We’ll take the doors off this R44 helicopter so we can have 3 photography guests shooting at the same time, each at an open door for 2hrs. Depending on the weather, we’ll fly over the painted mountains of Landmannalaugar, the azure lakes and green moss of Veidivötn and Langisjör, the crater rim of Lakki and even one of Iceland’s icecaps! While the others are up photographing and you’re waiting, our expert photography guides will sit down with you for a private one-on-one photography session where they’ll go through some of your photos to identify areas you can improve on and provide feedback etc.
After checking out, we’ll drive east to the ice-filled Fjallsarlon Lagoon before visiting the even better Glacier Lagoon. Dozens of arctic terns will be diving for fish around the blue icebergs of all shapes and sizes moving and jostling towards the river mouth, some washing up on the beach beside us. These blue icebergs can almost appear to glow against the black sand, and we’ll have an amazing time here with longer shutter speeds etc., - a photographer’s paradise. But wait - there’s more! The highlight for the day will be travelling out to Ingólfshöfdi Cape - an isolated headland on the East coast, fronting the Atlantic Ocean. Here, thousands of seabirds, especially Atlantic Puffins, Guillemots & Great Skuas all come to nest! The only way out to this nature reserve across the tidal black sand flats is to enlist the help of the local farmer (doubling as a guide) who’ll take us on his hay cart behind his tractor! Awesome! After managing the short but steep, sandy 100m track onto the cliff top, we’ll arrive at the best vantage point to photograph the 100s if not 1000s of puffins that nest here on the various edges of the headland! Over half of the world’s population of Atlantic Puffins breed in Iceland, somewhere between 3 – 4 million pairs each year! Here we can get amazingly close to these charismatic birds (often only 3 or 4 feet away!), and at this time of year the puffins should be fishing out at sea, returning to their nests with their beaks brim-full with fish. It’ll be an absolutely amazing experience, but don’t worry if you don’t nail that perfect shot tonight, because we knew you’d all want a second try, so we’ve organised to get you back out there again very early tomorrow morning. Tonight we are staying at the nearby Hotel Skaftafell to minimise driving and maximise sleep!
We’ll be waking up early this morning for a second attempt at the bird colony bathed in early morning light at Ingolfshofdi Cape. The farmer will again take us out on his tractor and we’ll all hopefully capture some more iconic shots of cliff-side puffins. Don’t forget to photograph the nesting Great Skuas and Guillemots too! This’ll certainly be one of the highlights and that’s why we have scheduled to do it twice! After visiting the cape we’ll return to our home away from home - the Hrifunes Guesthouse, for the next 2 nights - travelling via the Svinafell Glacier, where a short walk takes you to an amazing viewpoint over the glacier. This is the backdrop for many well-known TV and Hollywood movies like Game of Thrones, James Bond, Batman Returns, Jackie Chan etc.
Another day in landscape photography heaven: Today we’ll be travelling the Oldufell Mountain Range following alongside the Holmes River to Fjallabak Nature Reserve, where we’ll photograph a huge green pyramid mountain rising dramatically from the black lava sands. We’ll be stopping along the way to photograph Axararfoss and other secret cascading waterfalls while also stopping to photograph the brilliant green mosses and black volcanic sand dunes interwoven by azure blue streams. This really is the road less-travelled and another real highlight. Tonight is the last night at our Hrifunes Guesthouse home.
After checking out of guesthouse, we’ll start to make our way back to Reykjavík Airport (using just the one ten seater mini van and trailer). We’ll say goodbye to our local driver-guide and thank him for what has been an exceptional week exploring Iceland before our afternoon departure to Greenland!
Even the flight to Greenland will leave your jaw dropping as you look outside your window as we cross Greenland’s rugged, iceberg-filled East coast and over onto it’s great Icecap, scattered with electric-blue glacial melt pools and streams. It’s one of the most amazing passenger flights we have ever been on. At last we’ll start our decent down into Ilulissat on the west coast in the afternoon - a classic Greenland village: Every house seemingly a different colour, all nestled in front of steep mountains with a huge glacier beside it pushing out an endless parade of icebergs which then bob theatrically past the coastline. Located 350km north of the Arctic circle, this picturesque village’s claim to fame is the UNESCO world heritage listed Ilulissat icefjord (AKA Jakobshavn Glacier) literally right beside the village. It’s the biggest glacier outside of Antarctica and also the most productive glacier in the northern hemisphere, producing the majority of Greenland’s icebergs - likely including the one which sank the Titanic. The glacier flows out at an astonishing rate - approx. 30 meters/day (one of the fastest in the world) producing around 20 billion tons
Once we arrive, we’ll check into our wonderful accommodation at Hotel Arctic (the world’s most northerly 4-star hotel) where you’ll be staying in their well-appointed Umiaq rooms which all feature beautiful views out over the ever-shifting mosaic of icebergs in the bay. After dinner we’ll head out on our exclusively chartered boat for a ‘midnight-sun’ cruise in and around these beautifully sculpted icebergs, glowing in the non-stop golden evening lighting - all the while keeping a look out for humpback whales too! The sun will never set, so it’ll likely be 1AM by the time we get you home, but you can enjoy a sleep in tomorrow.
After a late breakfast, our local guide will pick us up from the hotel and take us to some of the town’s most photogenic locations, like the church perched on a hill of daisies and arctic cotton blooms, overlooking a bay where huge chucks of Ice continually drift past. There’s also an excellent vantage point we'll visit to get a view of all the colourful houses in Ilulissat. Next we'll walk along a beautifully maintained boardwalk meandering through the UNESCO world heritage site, before a set of stairs take us to what we think is one of the most breath-taking yet accessible views of the ever changing Icefijord. After lunch we have arranged an exclusive photographic opportunity with a Greenlandic dog musher and his team of beautiful sled dogs! Ilulissat has over 2000 Greenlandic dogs (the Greenland dog is one of the oldest breeds in the world and it’s been proven that the first dog reached Greenland with the Saqqaq people 4000 years ago). The dog sled is still considered to be the safest and most secure way to travel distances around Greenland in the winter. After a great day of exploring Ilulissat, we'll head back to Hotel Arctic for a delicious dinner. We'll then give you time to prepare for tomorrow’s adventure to Eqi!
Today we’re relocating to the remote town of Ilimanaq (population 54 people) for an incredible scenic helicopter flight followed by a tour of the town where the people still live a very self-sufficient, hunter-gatherer lifestyle.
After checking into our brand new Eco chalets in Ilimanqq, with incredible views over the Illulissat Icefijord, our chartered helicopter will arrive and land on the grassy heli pad area next to Ilimanaq's small lake. This helicopter is huge with 14 seats and is used for tourism as well as rescue missions! 8 of the seats on the helicopter are window seats so you’ll all get incredible views of this amazing landscape! Once we’ve boarded the helicopter, we will have the amazing experience of flying inland towards the Jakobshavn Glacier, looking out for Musk Ox and Arctic Hare on the way! We’ll even land next to the glacier enabling us to get out of the helicopter and take photos from this amazing (and private) vantage point. We’ll then fly back to Ilimanaq where we’ll return to the amazing Eco lodge, and you’ll then have the rest of the evening to enjoy wandering around and photographing the village where colourful houses, fish and skin drying racks (and even more sled dogs) are abundan
Today you’re in for another highlight as we relocate to the luxurious and remote Eqi Lodge, overlooking Eqip Sermina – a calving, tidewater glacier. Getting to this lodge is an excursion in itself as we’ll be transported by boat along the ice-filled coast, passing Bredebugt, the settlement of Oqaatsut and the big fijord system called Pakitsoq where whales and seals often are seen. Further on we’ll pass through Ataa Stright, surrounded by steep mountains with birdlife and waterfalls. Our boat will drift silently in front of the glacier, waiting for some ice to calve dramatically in front of us – an amazing experience.
We'll reach the lodge in the afternoon and check into our chalets. We have booked their four best chalets for you, which all have panoramic views out to this Eqip Sermina Glacier and its fjord, and feature brand new eco-design en-suite bathrooms with under-floor heating! The rest of the afternoon will be spent exploring around this amazing lodge where it is possible to see Arctic Foxes, Arctic Hare as well as take macro photos of the summer flowers and mosses of the arctic tundra. If you’d like, you could even relax a little in your private chalet and start going through photos, only disturbed every now and again by the thunder-like rumble of another hunk of ice breaking off the glacier outside your window!
This morning there’ll be enough time for a short walk around the local area to try for some last minute wildlife and landscapes before farewelling the beautiful Eqi lodge and heading back aboard our boat towards Illulissat. As always we’ll be keeping our eyes out for more whales, seals, beautiful snow capped mountains, granite walls and so on as we weaving through the ice-filled mouth of the Ilulissat icefjord.
Once at Illulissat, we’ll check back into Hotel Arctic for one last night. But don’t worry - it’s not over yet! A local company owns a beautiful turf hut overlooking the Illulissat Icefijord and will provide an amazing farewell BBQ dinner exclusively for our group as we reminisce about all the incredible experiences we’ve shared and photographed together during the last two action-packed weeks. The perfect way to end.
Well, that’s all folks – after breakfast we’ll be offering airport transfers to lulissat airport for those heading home from Greenland, although some of you may well choose to hang around for a few more days relaxing, photo-culling or exploring further afield. Thank you all very much!
IMPORTANT - Ensure you have read our Tour Booking Conditions prior to booking. A copy will be sent with your deposit invoice, and must be signed and returned to us (an emailed scan/photo of your signed copy will suffice), before we accept and confirm your booking. The document covers everything from your rights, inclusions and payment schedule, to our cancellation policy and extent of liability.
A non-refundable, non-transferable € 1,000 EUR booking deposit is required to secure your place on this photo tour.
Price includes all meals and accommodation.
Price does not include flights from your home town to Reykjavík in Iceland, nor your flight back home from Ilulissat Greenland to allow you to stay longer in Greenland if you wanted. The tour does however include the flight from Iceland to Greenland.
After you book, we will email you an extensive information document telling you everything you need to know from what camera gear to bring, currency, power plug types, etc.
We do not loan out our own camera equipment for this trip. We will bring a spare camera just in case but... be prepared to be self sufficient regarding your camera gear - however we do have some gear available for hire - book ahead.
CBP GOLD Voyager Club members receive 10% OFF loyalty discount. CBP SILVER Voyager Club members receive 5% OFF loyalty discount.