Hi Iceland travelers. We'll use this forum to coordinate our trip scheduled for July 29 - August 6th, 2013.
1. Arrival/Departure. The official trip begins on July 29th with our arrival. The plan is to arrive sometime this day, then transfer to the hotel. We then depart the morning of July 30th for our photo adventure in our private vehicles. When we arrive at the hotel, we will have a local representative meet us at the airport, then we will drive to our guesthouse in Reykjavik where we have dinner and overnight accommodations. I am flying to Iceland a few days early and will already be on the ground when you arrive.
2. Medications/Immunizations. There aren't any significant medications or shots you'll need for entry into Iceland. However, I encourage you to make sure you are up to date on your standard MMR, tetanus, etc. Also, I would encourage you to bring Dramamine or something similar if you are prone to motion sickness. We do have a boat ride (and a tractor ride!) and I just want you to be prepared.
3. Packing/Gear. I encourage you to pack as light as you feel comfortable. Weather is generally cool, with average high temperatures in the 60's and average low temperatures in the 50's. I suggest bringing clothes that you can layer which will allow you to dress warm in the morning, then remove layers as it warms up during the day.
You'll want to bring one large soft-sided roller duffel for clothes, one carry-on pack for your camera gear, and a brief case for your computer. The big roller-duffle bag will be checked luggage. For your camera gear, you'll carry this on the plane. I bring a Gura Gear Kiboko backpack loaded with all my gear. I have discount codes with Gura Gear if you are interested in purchasing one of these for the trip.
Here's the clothing I'll be bringing on the trip. - Zipoff pants. Cotton. (3 pair) - Lightweight safari shirts, long sleeves (3 pair) - Fleece sweater - Waterproof or GoreTex shell - Fleece gloves - Warm hat - Tennis shoes and/or light weight hiking shoes - Socks - Underwear - T shirts (3 pair) - Baseball hat/cap - Sun glasses - Photo vest - Bandanna/Scarf
4. Camera Gear. Here's what I'm bringing. Camera body 1 Camera body 2 Camera body 3 Nikon 200-400mm f4 Nikon 70-200mm f2.8 Nikon 24-70mm f2.8 Nikon 14-24mm f2.8 Nikon 50mm f1.8 Teleconverters 1.4x and 2.0x Gitzo CF tripod and ball head
At a minimum, I recommend two cameras. You can get by with an SLR and a point and shoot, but you'll be much happier with two SLRs. I'll be bringing something like a D800, D600, D7100.
For lenses, I recommend a minimum of lenses that cover 24mm to 400mm. An easy setup would be something like a 24-70mm and a 80-400mm. These two lenses will cover just about any general situation you come across. If you want to specialize in birds, then you'll need a 600mm f4. The problem with the 600mm f4 is that you have to carry it! It is a beast, but worth it if you can manage the weight.
The 80-400 is a very popular lens to bring on these trips because it is so small. As you already know, it is a slow focuser, but sharp. It performs very well and people get great results with it. My guess is that at least 30% of people on the trips bring this lens.
17-35 or 14-24 lenses are excellent for landscapes. I bring the 14-24 and love having it along.
5. Charging batteries. We will have electricity every night at our hotel, so make sure you bring enough batteries to last you through at least one entire day of shooting.
6. Laptops/Computers/Data. You'll need some way to store and backup your images during the trip. I typically shoot between 8,000 and 12,000 images during my one-week trisp. I recommend bringing at least two 1 TB portable disk drives on the trip. Each night, I download the day's shoot to both drives so my data is backed up in two locations. Then, I reformat my memory cards so they are ready for the next day's shoot. I like to bring a laptop computer to help me manage my photos during the trip. I also use it to communicate with the outside world when possible.
7. Phone/Internet. I encourage you to call your cell phone provider and ask about pre-purchasing an international phone plan for your travel in Iceland. It is fairly easy to get a pre-paid data plan from most of the main mobile providers. You'll need to decide whether or not you want to pay for the service. We will have internet at our first hotel, so you'll be able to communicate with everyone back home when you arrive. I'm working right now to determine if we have internet at all of our sleeping destinations.
Ok, that's it for now. I'll send more information as necessary.
I will be arriving at 11:40 PM on July 28. By the time I get through baggage claim and customs it will be after midnight and I will need an additional night's lodging and transfer to the hotel from the airport.
Also I'm considering getting the Gura Kiboko 22L+, so I'd be interested in the discount code.
I've just signed up for this trip and am thrilled to be going. The variety of unique landscape and wildlife opportunities really appeals to me. Hope it's a great time, looking forward to seeing everyone.
Here are some answers to questions from Tom/Carol -
Q1. Mike, why do you suggest duffel bags? I have a small roll on suitcase. The only advantage is that I can handle it more readily at airports, etc. Does this present a challenge when traveling by boat or car?
A1. Go ahead and bring whatever bag makes most sense for you. I suggest duffels just because they are easy to fit into vehicles. I often bring a roller-duffel so I don't have to carry it, but can roll it at the airport. Duffels aren't a requirement, just a suggestion. If you have hard cases, then that's ok too.
Q2. My question is about how we will travel once we get there. On some photo trips we have easy access to gear from a van or car, even if we are out shooting and want some doodad left behind. In such a scenario, we shoot from a 'fanny pack'. Could we plan on that or do we carry ALL of our gear to each site?
A2. During the trip, we will be traveling in a large van (probably something like a Mercedes Sprinter van) as one group. We will have our gear with us in the vehicle, so we'll have easy access to our gear most of the time. Also, one of the days, we'll be on a boat tour of an outer island, so we might need to go lighter on that trip. I'll be bringing two bags. One large backpack (GuraGear Kiboko) and another shoulder/waist pack (Think Tank Speed Racer).
I wanted to send an update regarding our trip to Iceland later this month. Just so you know, I leave for short trip to Tanzania on Monday July 8th, and will return on Friday July 19th. No worries though, I'll be back and ready to start packing for our Iceland adventure in plenty of time. During the time I'm in Africa, feel free to contact Stephanie (my wife/business partner) if you have questions or need anything. She can coordinate and assist with most issues that might come up.
We have ten total going on the Iceland trip with nine participants and myself as the leader. Our group is an international group with travelers from Europe, Asia, Australia and North America. The travelers are:
Ken Mueller Giancarlo Bisone John Choong Ray Anderson Jill Anderson John McGarry Carol Freshley Tom Davison Paul Ekman Mike Hagen
Our trip is all confirmed and I have transfers to and from the hotel when you arrive. When I return from Africa, I'll send our more details about where to meet at the airport for your pickup. The people who are coming in early and who asked me to arrange hotels for them will be staying at Hotel Klettur (http://www.hotelklettur.is). However, on July 27th, the Hotel Klettur is full, so two of us (Ken Mueller and myself) will be transferring to a nearby hotel called the Grand Hotel (www.grand.is) which is located a few blocks away. The rest of you will be staying at the Hotel Klettur for your early arrivals, first nights, and last nights.
When packing for Iceland, consider this information: - Temps in July/August are highest of the year, but it still can be windy or rainy. - Average temp is 54 - 57 degrees F. - Pack both light and warm clothes. - Bring a waterproof parka and pants. - Sweater - Cap/scarf - Light gloves - Sturdy walking shoes for field photo trips. - Indoor shoes/tennis shoes - Zip-off pants - T-shirts - Long sleeved shirt - Socks and underwear - Travel towel - Passport - Plane tickets - Money (traveler's checks, credit cards, cash) - Toiletries - Flashlight/headlamp - Sun glasses - Medicines - Sun screen
All electrical outlets in Iceland are European standard, so please bring an adapter if you have different plugs. The voltage in the entire region is 220V at 50 Hz, and the electric sockets only accept round-pin plugs with two circular metal pins.
Ok, that's it for now. Talk to you in a few weeks when I get back from Africa.
In February I was on the Hurtigruten in Norway chasing the Northern lights. A German TV crew had 2 or 3 mini-copters to film the ship. The guy flying it looked like something out of Terminator. He didn't have a spotter, and almost landed it in a group of passengers. The next day we were walking in Alesund, and heard something – when we looked up saw that the smaller one was following us. It was a bit creepy. Michael Mariant said he has been using one, but didn’t have it along for the Spring Semester at Sea voyage.
Regarding the new 80-400 mm lens, it does focus a lot faster than the original one. I had it with me on the Spring Semester at Sea Voyage. Put it on a Nikon 1 camera and you have a hand-held 1080 mm (equivalent) paparazzi-cam.