I went to Iceland over Thanksgiving break. It was a breathtaking trip – the island is still very much geologically active with lava fields and volcano craters everywhere! Snow and ice are a part and parcel of life, and although the scenery was beautiful, I got pretty tired of layering and un-layering as I moved in and out of the heated indoors into the icy outdoors 🙂
We stayed in Reykjavik throughout and took day trips everyday. Here’s what our itinerary looked like –
Day 1 – Golden Circle. This covers the famous geysers, Gulfoss – a chilling frozen waterfall, and a visit to the only place in the world where you can see the American and the European tectonic plates!!
Day 2 – South Shore. Beautiful vistas with visits to beaches with volcanic sand and rocks, and strange cliff formations.
Day 3 – Whale watching. Amazing experience, although I got a fairly seasick towards the end. Saw a bunch of dolphins and whales though!
Day 4 – West Island. AMAZING. The scenery is very different from southern part of the island, with much warmer tones.
Day 5 – Blue Lagoon. A natural geothermal spa where the water is naturally heated due to volcanic activity 🙂
The one thing we missed were the northern lights, even though we tried hunting around on two nights 😦
This trip did make me realize though the importance of a tour that is geared solely towards photography. On a tour such as ours this time, I found it very hard to take good photos. Overall, I am not happy with what I got, even though the country is bursting with photographic moments. A photography tour would have much more hiking and walking, with more time spent at a place. It would have a smaller number of people. Which is why I plan on going to Iceland again on a photography tour 🙂
Sharing some of the shots I took –
The Inca trail is one of the most popular treks in Peru. Starting from Chillca, it ends in Machu Pacchu, the lost city of the Incas. The Inca trail is however a moderately difficult trek, and preparing well for the trek would help in making the hike that much more easier and fun! 🙂 Here are 5 steps to ensuring that you’re well prepared –
1. Plan your itinerary and book in advance– the hike to Machu Picchu can be done in as few as two days, to five days. We did a four day variant, covering about 45kms over four days. The distance covered and level of difficulty varies with the option you choose (the five day hike is easier but also longer, although it goes up till a higher altitude). Due to the hike being above 10,000 ft for the most part, it is also important to factor in a few days at Cusco to help the body acclimatize. Two – three days are usually enough for most people. Make sure you book well in advance as only 500 passes to the trail are released each day, and they tend to get over pretty quickly.
2. Health check and Diamox – make sure you get a health check up done. Get the necessary shots, and also a prescription for Diamox (helps you deal with altitude sickness). It is debatable whether you would need Diamox or not as different people react differently to the altitude, but unless you’ve done high altitude treks before, best you’re well prepared. Be warned though – Diamox has side effects such as tingling.
3. Get the right gear – although you don’t really need anything special for the trek, having a shell jacket and shell trousers can be very useful, especially if you go in the rainy season. Hiking poles, sleeping bags, gaiters are again useful to have. Three things that I found super helpful – hand sanitizers, baby wipes, and a headlamp!
4. Train! – While you’ll be able to do the hike even if you’re not the fittest person ever, a little bit of training before the hike can go a long way in helping you manage the trek and enjoy it while it lasts. At high altitudes, your fitness levels can definitely make a difference in terms of how quickly you get tired or exhausted. The second day of the hike in particular is fairly hard as it has a long and steady ascent to the highest point in the trek (Dead woman’s pass). Just half an hour of jogging a few weeks before the hike should do! 🙂
5. Do your research – Make sure you do some preliminary research on Cusco, Machu Picchu and the trail in general before you go. This is an area rich in history, and having some background beforehand would really help you appreciate the beauty of the place.
Sounds hard? Here are some pictures that will hopefully motivate you. The effort is well worth it! 🙂
My first photo book 🙂 It’s a collection of ten of my photographs, ranging from the Himalayan glaciers in the north, to the historic palaces in the south, interspersed with captures of life on the streets. The photographs are brought together in a hand made book, that makes for a great piece for the coffee table 🙂