Iceland in winter vs Iceland in summer

Often when speaking to people about safaris and tours the conversation naturally goes to destinations they've visited and destinations that would still like to visit.  I find it pretty sad that people will say often something like "no, I've already been to the Mara / Madikwe / Svalbard so I'd rather go somewhere new".

The magic of any particular destination lies in the fact that is different from season to season. Going to Svalbard, for example, in May or July versus visiting during December and January will give you two very, very dramatically different experiences. This might seem like quite an obvious example but even with the destination like the Sabi Sands you can, and will, experience very different visuals and photographic opportunities. The changes are, if you look for them, quite obvious and ranges from differences in clouds and skies to the density and colour of the vegetation in the area.

A few weeks before leaving for Iceland to host my Wild Eye recent expedition there, there was a small part of me that was a little bit sad that I wasn't visiting in winter. This was pretty naive and shortsighted because I was trying to compare, in my mind, the experience I was about to have to the one I had in the same destination a few months before that. Iceland in winter totally blew my mind and I can say with hundred percent certainty that the summer version of this tour was just as spectacular and amazing. Looking at both experiences now it seems pretty obvious that a place like that will never disappoint from a landscape photography point of view.

I guess the take-home points from all of that is to not write off the destination once you've been there. Do not always be looking for another or a new destination but keep the places you have visited, and enjoy, in your bucket list and always look at the potential of visiting again.  Just on a side note, a lot of people often expect to get incredible images from a place after any visiting for just a week. The reality is that if you want to create better wildlife or landscape images you need to spend more time in the bush or in the area because it only makes sense that the more time you spend in any given reserve or destination, the better and more diverse your portfolio of images will be.

Anyway, moving on.

Having recently experienced Iceland and summer I'm gonna share three quick comparisons with our winter tour to give you more insight as to what you can expect and what type of images you could possibly create when you join me in this magnificent destination.

1. Color

When we think about Iceland it's quite easy to get stuck in the name and imagine a place covered in ice with very little colour in the landscape. This could not be further from the truth and my recent summer tour proved this. There were times on the bus, while we were travelling from one small town to the next that I was just staring out at the window and was totally captivated by the change of textures and colour in the landscape.

We visited many of the same waterfalls and shooting locations that we did during my winter tour and they could not be more dramatically different. I think in a previous life I must've lived in snowy and icy conditions because I am very drawn to the harsh, called landscapes offered by places such as Iceland and Svalbard.  This is maybe the reason why a small part of me was, very wrongly so, not as excited about the summer tour before I got there but now, looking back, I don't think there's a way to choose one over the other and the best option to create a well rounded portfolio of Iceland would be too busy during both the seasons. Both tours whispered to my creative side in a different ways but both of them left me with images that I really, really like.

The following two images shows the difference between two waterfalls as photographed during winter and summer.

2. Northern lights and ice caves

Winter times in Iceland office to very unique photographic opportunities. The northern lights and the incredible ice caves.

These two things you can only see and photograph do in the winter and they are both worthy of the bucket list status.

3. More access to shooting locations

Where winter offers the opportunity to photograph the northern lights and ice caves, a summer visit to Iceland will allow you access to areas that you won't be able to get to when everything is snowed an iced up.

One of the really cool photographic experiences we had on my last two that was been able to go behind some of the waterfalls which is not a made for an incredible experience but also images that you won't be able to get during the winter months.

Which ever way you look at Iceland will produce incredible photographic opportunities time of the time, season after season. One of the other differences a lot of people ask about is the difference in temperature and weather. I must be honest, during my recent summer tour I was actually quite surprised as to the temperature as it was quite a bit warmer than I thought it would be. Doing the tour I didn't once wear a beanie or gloves and yes, I did get a bit of a chill once in awhile, but it was rather pleasant all-round. In winter I most definitely wrapped up a lot more than in summer and the one thing that made a huge difference was that the wind wasn't as strong during the summer tour.

That all said, the weather, temperature and wind does not influence the experience to such an extent that I would warn someone against it. It is after all an Arctic environment and the slight chill and wind add beautifully to the experience.

If you have any further questions about the differences in seasons in Iceland, please feel free to get hold of me by leaving a comment, by sending me an email or by hitting me up with a DM on Instagram and I'd love to answer any questions you may have.

Iceland in winter

Find out more about, or book your spot one one of my my winter tours to Iceland.

Iceland in summer

Find out more about, or book your spot one one of my my summer tours to Iceland.

I look forward to one day sharing the Wild Eye Iceland experience with you!

Until next time.


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