TRAVELING IN MAY
Iceland has been on my list for a travel photography trip for a few years before last month. I couldn’t wait to get to mars!… I mean Iceland. So after a few flight searches and scheduling, I had a ticket for two weeks at the end of May 2015. The advantages to going in May were plenty. It’s just before tourist season so it’s a bit cheaper, always nice to save some cash on air fair to put into other expenses of the trip (and trust me, you’ll need this extra cash). Outside of tourist season means there will be less tourists there to spoil the experience. The last thing you want is to be looking at a beautiful landscape, or trying to take a picture, only to be annoyed by a bus full of tourists ruining your shot but also the entire mood of the place. If you’re planning on doing photography, you might want to stop in the middle of the main road at your hearts desire. This is easy in may! no one on the road means you can stop and snap!
what we learned
So, My friend and I rented a car, had a list of places to visit gathered from my research, and went on the road to see them! Simple right?...
Wrong. It turns out that a lot of the places I was planning to shoot were inaccessible. If you want to go to some of the most beautiful places (closer to the core of iceland), the roads to places like Landmannalaugar, Eldgjá, and Laki area are closed in the winter. They only open around mid-June and close at the end of August due to the weather. Until then they are big, dangerous icicles.
So, fellow travellers, I highly suggest planning your trip according to the places you want to photograph, before you book your flight. You can look at roads.is for road information.
Also, it’s cold in may. In fact it's cold all year around, so pay attention to this. When I looked up Icelandic weather for May prior to booking, it showed my an average for 12 degrees celsius. I thought this would be okay, we are Canadians after all. It turned out to be around 7 degrees, with lots and lots and lots of wind. This can be okay if you’re okay with it. But keep in mind that if you’re planning to shoot in this country in May, be prepared to be a bit uncomfortable.
only in the winter
Just like there are sights only reachable in the summer, there are also sights that you can only experience in the winter. If you want to photograph Aurora Borealis (Northern Lights) the best time to go is from September to mid-april. You can read more about the Northern lights and how to catch them here.
Ice caves like Vatnajökull in Iceland are only existent in the winter as well. Like the sights above, you might think you can just mark it on a map and go, but it’s much more complicated than that. If you want to visit you need a guide, and plan your visit in advance to avoid disappointment. More about the caves here.
Next up… info about best places to shoot in iceland, how much time you need, packing list, photo gear and general tips for traveling in Iceland.
All images copyright © Alice Zilberberg