Iceland: Land of Culture and Adventure

Tour Intro

Experience the vast volcanic landscape, breathtaking glaciers, and hardy Viking hospitality that have been celebrated for centuries in Icelandic sagas. On this unique expedition, view towering volcanic pillars, witness stunning waterfalls, and languish in ancient geyser springs. From the capital city of Reykjavik to remote farms and the diverse landscape of the southern coast, Iceland has some of the most picturesque landscapes. At every turn, the vistas will astound you. At this time of year the sun sets just below the horizon around midnight offering almost 24 hours of golden light. Ralph has planned this unique tour with this in mind, so often you’ll photograph iconic waterfalls and landscapes at off hours, before or after the typical tourists have departed.

The unique interplay of light, shadows, and intense colors make every photographer’s heart jump! Mother nature has painted a magnificent tapestry of colors with geological phenomena unmatched elsewhere in the world. Inexorably intertwined with this exotic natural environment are the 300,000+ Icelanders who along with their Nordic and Celtic ancestors have called this North Atlantic Island their home for over 1,100 years. Join Ralph on this adventure to one of our planet’s most fascinating and unique environments.
 

Tour Highlights

  • Nine days with accomplished photographer and tour leader Ralph Velasco.
  • Specially designed itinerary for photographers where we’ll plan to get to the iconic sites before or after the tourists have departed.
  • Tour limited to 12 passengers.
  • Experience the diverse landscape of Iceland with fellow photographers, on a puffin and lagoon boat trip.
  • Meet and enjoy the people of Iceland on a traditional farm setting, and in the evening light of Reykjavik City.
  • Ice Lagoons of Jokulsarlon and Fjallsarlon.
  • Waterfalls of Skaftafell National Park , Gulfoss, Skogar, and Seljalandsfoss.

Tour Itinerary

June 30: Home
Golden Falls Gullfoss

Photo By: Ralph Velasco

Photo Location: Iceland

Your journey to Iceland begins with an overnight flight to Keflavik Airport in Reykjavik, Iceland.

July 1-2: Reykjavik – Reykjanes
Horses In Field & Church - Vik

Photo By: Ralph Velasco

Photo Location: Iceland

After a very early arrival in Keflavik Airport, our local guide will meet us as we start the tour with a light breakfast in an Icelandic coffee shop. Enjoy the terrific landscape in Reykjanes Peninsula, stopping at the fishing village of Grindavik. Enjoy a relaxing swim in the famous hot spring waters of the Blue Lagoon (be sure to have your bathing suit easily accessible). Then we head to the South Coast and overnight at a working horse farm. You will have another full day here to enjoy horse riding or photographing the beautiful yet stoic Icelandic horses in their natural surroundings. Overnight Hestheimar (B, L, D both days)

July 3-4: Skogar - Jökulsárlón
Glacier Bay South Coast

Photo By: Ralph Velasco

Photo Location: Iceland

Depart the farm and drive further east to Skogar waterfall and living museum. There will be another full day in this region photographing the immense landscapes, waterfalls, and fantastic glacial lagoons, such as Jökulsárlón, where floating icebergs, all sizes and shapes, will blow you away. We’ll also photograph crystal clear icebergs of all sizes on a black sand beach.

You will have a private zodiac boat tour on an ice lagoon, capturing glacier images, up close and personal with these melting sculptures. Given time there will be a late light photography session on foot as well. The glacier surface and color changes depending on the time of year, but one thing is true, it is always a different world up there, and there are always photo opportunities. Hotel Skaftafell or Hali (B, picnic L, D both)
 

July 5-6: Vik - Skaftafell – Seljalandsfoss – Gulfoss and the Golden Circle
Seljalandsfoss - P - South Coast

Photo By: Ralph Velasco

Photo Location: Iceland

Visit Skaftafell National Park, which is located, by the roots of Vatnajökull glacier, the biggest glacier in all of Europe. Stop in Vík beach to look at the amazing coastal features. Vik has black sand beaches and picturesque rocks line the seashore including columnar basalt grottoes, sea stacks, and bird cliffs.  Visit the waterfalls of Seljalandsfoss, Gulfoss, and Skógafoss. Hotel Laekur (B, picnic L, D both days)

July 7-8: Reykjavik
Glacier Bay South Coast

Photo By: Ralph Velasco

Photo Location: Iceland

Depart the South Coast this morning, making your way toward the capital of Reykjavik, and enjoy a walking tour of the city, photographing as you go. The next day the group will take an hour long boat tour to islands not far from Reykjavik City. These islands are covered with small hills and slopes and both are well known for their colorful birdlife. The island‘s shores are rocky but the boat, Old Skuli, is especially designed to take us as close to the islands as possible due to its shallow draught. Learn about the Puffins and other birds of interest that are often seen, such as Northern Fulmars, Gulls, Arctic Terns, and Black Guillemots. Hotel Hilda or similar (B, L, D both days)

July 9: Reykjavik - Departure
Glacier Bay South Coast

Photo By: Ralph Velasco

Photo Location: Iceland

This morning there will be a city tour of Reykjavik as we enjoy our last day of photography. Enjoy a farewell lunch before returning to the airport for early evening flights home. (B, L)
 

Photo Leader

Ralph Velasco
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Ralph Velasco

A native of Chicago, Ralph Velasco has taught a variety of travel photography classes at a number of institutions, including Santa Ana College, Saddleback College, the UC Irvine Extension program and others. Ralph has a unique series of international cultural tours that provide hands-on experience for photographers of all levels, and you can learn more about these trip at PhotoEnrichment Adventures. Ralph tries to differentiate his photo tours by providing an overall cultural experience, which in addition to photography might also include the food, drink, music, dance, sport and other cultural aspects of a destination. Additionally, Ralph is creator of the My Shot Lists for Travel app for iPhone, iPad and iPod touch, available for free on iTunes (be sure to download it before the trip). The app is an organizational tool that helps photographers of all skill levels to bring back a more well-rounded portfolio of images that truly captures the essence of any destination or subject.

Ralph was shortlisted for the prestigious 2015 Travel Photographer of the Year award and he was recognized as “Open Category Photographer of the Year” by the Professional Photographers of Orange County for two years in a row.  He’s the author of Ralph Velasco On Travel Photography: 101 Tips for Developing Your Photographic Eye & More, which is available for free on his website, and his latest eBook is titled Essence of a Place: A Travel Photographer's Guide to Using a Shot List for Capturing Any Destination. Ralph is a past member of the Circumnavigators Club, an elite group of travelers whose charter requires that its members have traveled “around the world, in a single journey, having crossed every one of Earth’s meridians.”

“My goal with any tour is to help you to create a cultural portrait, both in images and in memories. For the photographer in you my style is to provide leadership and guidance that will get you in front of some of the most awe-inspiring architecture, interesting people and iconic sites and landmarks in the places we’ll be visiting, while at the same time explore more off-the-beaten-path locations. With our travel schedule in mind, we’ll plan to get out early in the day in order to capture each location in the best light, and before or after the tourist crowds overwhelm. The main goal of any trip is to help you to advance your capability to ‘see like a photographer,’ but also to provide an overall cultural experience that will not only reveal the location through your camera’s viewfinder, but also through your mind’s eye

Participants of all experience levels are welcome, and with any type of camera, and after an orientation I’ll provide advice about photography when asked, however, my style is to allow you the freedom to discover photo, and cultural, opportunities on your own, but to always be available to assist.

In my experience, the traveler who gets the most out of any international adventure is the one who is open to going with the flow and is flexible. I’m a photographer who insists on traveling light, and I shoot 100 percent digital. My feeling is that 75 percent of good photography is simply making an effort to put yourself in the right place at the right time, and we help you to do just that." ~ Ralph Velasco

Pricing and Details

US Dollars based upon minimum of 10 paying participants. There is a small group surcharge of $500 if 6-9 paying participants. All our program prices are based on double occupancy unless noted in exceptions.

Single rooms are subject to availability. We try to accommodate travelers who request single accommodations, as well as travelers who are looking for a roommate. If a single room is requested, or if we are unable to find a suitable roommate, you will be required to pay the supplement.

Terms and Conditions

Unless otherwise noted, this information applies to all tours.

Airfare

Contact Strabo Tours if you would like rates on International Airfare. Please note on your trip application form if you would like us to assist you with your airfare needs, a charge is added for this service. If making your own arrangements, it is important to discuss flight times with Strabo Tours before booking any airline tickets. This will avoid you having to pay airline cancellation penalties. Please contact Strabo Tours for destination airfare estimates, specific flight time arrivals, and departures.

The land cost includes:
  • Group transportation for tour events in the tour van.
  • Accommodations based on two people sharing a room, singles are assigned on a first come, first served basis.
  • Services of driver, English speaking cultural guide (if applicable) and photographic leader, during the tour.
  • Meals as listed in itinerary (B=breakfast, L=lunch, D=dinner).
  • Park entrance fees, day tours and excursions as shown in the itinerary.
  • Extensive pre-departure information and services.
The land cost does not include:

Domestic or International air fare; other airfare if noted in exceptions; air fare tax; airport departure tax; airport transfers; additional transfers or accommodations that may be required by those not traveling with the group; excess baggage charges; meals not included in itinerary; activities taken on your own; passport/visa expenses; personal medical or travel insurance; any expenses of a personal nature, such as room service, laundry, beverages not included with meals, medical expenses, photographic equipment, any activities not specified in tour itinerary or listed as optional, or any items not listed in what is included; fuel surcharges; exchange rate surcharges; upon the completion of your trip, modest gratuities to the local guides and the drivers are customary; tips for meals not included in itinerary.

Fitness and Health

The majority of trips are not strenuous (see exceptions below for particular destinations) and anyone who is reasonably fit should be able to take part in most of the activities. You may experience general fatigue due to the long flights and the change in time zones. You will need to be sufficiently agile to climb in and out of the tour van and be able to carry and manage your own equipment. We will frequently hike trails ranging from easy to moderate. Some hotels do not have elevators or air conditioners.

If you have any special needs or any physical condition that you feel might prevent you from fully participating, please contact Strabo Tours with your concerns (607-756-8676).

You should also be aware that medical services or facilities might not be readily available during all or part of your trip. This could include emergency medical care, presence of physicians, or adequate medication.

Exceptions:

The following destinations require more physical activity. Bhutan, China, Patagonia, Peru, Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands, New Zealand, Scotland, Domestic tours. On the African Safari you will spend many hours in a vehicle on game drives, land travel will sometimes be over very bumpy and dusty roads. Galapagos Cruise accommodations are in upper and lower berths (bunk beds) only.

The following destinations require more physical activity. Bhutan, China, Patagonia, Peru, Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands, New Zealand, Scotland, Domestic tours. On the African Safari you will spend many hours in a vehicle on game drives, land travel will sometimes be over very bumpy and dusty roads. Galapagos Cruise accommodations are in upper and lower berths (bunk beds) only.

Deposits, Cancellations AND Refunds

A deposit of $750 ($500 on domestic tours) per person is required. Specific tours may require an additional deposit due to accommodation bookings or transportation requirements. If applicable these will be noted on your invoice. Payment in full is required when bookings are made less than 120 days before the departure date. Space is subject to cancellation by Strabo if payment is not received when due.

If a passenger wishes to cancel they must send notification in writing to: Strabo International Tour, Co., P.O. Box 580, Dryden, NY 13053; fax 208-545-4119. At the time we receive your notification, the following per person charges apply:

  • 91 days or more before departure: $300 cancellation fee ($150 fee on domestic tours), plus Strabo’ costs, as well as fees that are charged by the suppliers providing the services included in your tour, and/or the airlines providing the air transportation.
  • 61-90 days before departure: $500 ($250 on domestic tours) minimum cancellation fee, plus Strabo’ costs, as well as fees that are charged by the suppliers providing the services included in your tour, and/or the airlines providing the air transportation. Fees may range from 25% to 100% of tour costs.
  • 60 days or less before departure or anytime after departure: NO REFUND.

Refunds for services that are voluntarily not used by you cannot be made.

Insurance

Each participant must be covered by medical insurance that is valid overseas.

We strongly urge you to evaluate your risk and to take out insurance on your trip. It is vital for you to realize that if you experience a delay or find it necessary to cancel or cut short your trip for any reason, you will lose part or the entire sum you’ve invested in it (see the section “Deposits, Cancellations and Refunds” in the trip brochure).

Travel insurance helps to minimize the risk of monetary losses you would incur in the event of a delay of your departure due to weather, airline strike, missed connection, etc., your inability to travel for reasons such as illness, injury, unforeseen financial complications and other personal circumstances, or if you were required to cut your trip short for medical or any other reasons.

There are restrictions and limitations on any insurance program. For this reason, please read carefully the enclosed pamphlet, which outlines their program of trip cancellation, baggage, and medical insurance. Trained agents are available to answer your questions, so don’t hesitate to call the toll free number in their brochure. It is to your advantage to apply for insurance at the earliest possible time, so don’t delay in making a decision.

Subject to Change

Itineraries have been carefully constructed to assure participants the best each destination has to offer; however, should events arise that are beyond our control, activities and hotel arrangements are subject to change without notice. The itineraries summarize typical areas you will explore. Since there is no possible way to visit all of them, your guides will plan each day considering the interests of the group and the weather at hand. Be assured that we will make substitutions that are as similar in quality and interest as possible.

Photo Release

Strabo International Tour Company, Inc. reserves the right and permission to use photographs of individuals on tour for use in promotional and publicity purposes. We also reserve the right to use clients photographs for promotional and publicity purposes, when submitted to Strabo International Tour Company, Inc.

Accommodations

As this is an active expedition with moderate hikes, you should be in good physical condition. While hotels selected are the best available, accommodations are basic with a private bath in each room.

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