‘Enter Iceland’ Drone Report
Iceland has been high on my list for a while of places to visit. So you can imagine my anticipation after returning back to Europe from a 3.5 year work and travel abroad excursion. The original plan was to go-to Iceland March 2016 but I was pushed for time so it had to wait until September. As this is also known as ‘end of season’ car hire prices dropped significantly, anything to help the bank balance! The plan was to camp and sleep in and around the car at various locations, this would save me a fair bit of money.
I brought along my backpacking camp stove and gas burner, gas canisters were in abundance at any Petrol Stations throughout Iceland. Just be aware some gas/petrol stations will charge double what other places charge for a small gas canister. I paid around 800 ISK for mine, some places wanted 2000 ISK!
Car Hire in Iceland
Vehicle wise I opted for an all wheel drive SUV, I had chosen a Dacia Duster online but they were out of those on arrival, so I was presented with a Renault Kadjar thing. If you’re planning a trip I highly recommend you go the whole hog and either rent a Land Rover Defender or a Toyota Land Cruiser with appropriate off road tyres. These vehicles will get you right up close to the glaciers where others can’t. ‘F Road‘ suitable vehicles are a must. Bare in mind I was allowed on F roads, I soon picked up a puncture due to normal road tyres. Regarding the power situation for equipment, I brought along my 300W Power Inverter to charge all of my camera equipment along the way as I was on the road full-time! A must have piece of equipment.
The price of fuel is obviously higher than the States and Canada but compared to Europe it’s normal, so I wasn’t shocked at the prices, the car was quite economical anyway.
Most car hire companies in Iceland offer wireless internet. I say don’t bother, as you can buy a ‘Nova‘ sim card like I did at any N1 Petrol/Gas Station then top it up with data, this is much cheaper. I went with 2GB of data and still had about 800MB left at the end of the trip. Coverage was excellent, I had LTE / 4G pretty much everywhere I went. (See Map Below).
The drone of choice was the DJI Phantom 4 for this trip. I couldn’t justify taking the Phantom 3 as well due to the additional baggage charges. Unfortunately I hadn’t tested the remote controller back in the UK. It appeared to have a fault whereby the drone would want to veer off to the left all the time by 10%. A Re-Calibration didn’t solve the issue. I first discovered this at my first stop Kirkjufell, as you could imagine I was extremely annoyed but just had to accept and see what I could come up with. A right slap in the face for not practicing what I preach (watch my ‘How to Capture Epic Aerial Footage‘ to understand why).
Below is an interactive map of the island. I started at the Airport and worked my way around clockwise. This took me 10 days. If time is less of an issue for you then 2-4 weeks is ideal, that will give you more time for exploring or to make up for the days when the weather is too volatile.
Zoom & Click on various Icon’s in the map below for Info / Photos
Weather & Timing
Weather on my 10 day September visit was varied. A couple of sunny days, a couple heavy rain but mostly overcast and windy. So not ideal droning conditions, but I managed to find a way. There was only one night that revealed clear skies for a 4 hour window of northern lights over in ‘Myvtan’. If your planning on catching the Northern Lights you do this from September – March. Download an app called ‘Aurora’ and it will show you where’s best for catching the strongest light show. Also use this: ‘Aurora Forecast‘ The white areas indicate clear sky and the green clouds.
Knowing where to go
As a photographer I had built up a big list of key places I wanted to shoot with my DSLR for the trip. The plan was to combine the drone filming at these locations too with a few ‘drone only’ missions for good measure. Generally anywhere in the ‘Golden Circle’ which is near Reykjavík will become very busy during the days so not a good idea for filming or droning. I would imagine most of the places in the ‘Golden Circle’ have ‘NO DRONE’ signs. I saw two ‘NO DRONE’ signs one at Dettifoss (Prometheus) and one at Skogafoss Waterfall. Generally avoid the golden circle unless you’re at those key spots crack of dawn.
In my opinion, the more ‘off the beaten track’ the better.. Some examples: Westfjords, Central Iceland, East & North East Iceland, Far North Iceland. Proper 4×4 required.
How to keep Expenses down in Iceland
- Find the cheapest car hire place online and book months in advance as the cheaper places will go quick.
- Buy a Nova sim card + data top-up at any N1 Gas Station.
- Use your phone and Google Maps as a SAT NAV.
- Do your grocery shopping at Krónan or Bónus.
- Travel with friends = Cheaper split fuel costs, group meals.
- Sleep in vehicles or in tents near vehicle (Keep well off the main ring road). Make sure you have adequate thermals, sleeping bags, mats, air mattresses with thermal efficiency.
- If you absolutely need accommodation, google map search for your nearest ‘hostel’, haggle discounts for groups.
- Don’t go on excursions. Do it yourself. The only excursion I would personally do are the ‘Ice Cave’ ones.
- Cook your own food, don’t eat out.
- Don’t go-to the Pubs for a few beers.
- Use the showers at any of the local hot-springs around the Island, usually you will have to pay anything from 200ISK – 800ISK also gives you access to pools .
Iceland Must Have’s
- Down Jacket like one of these : Click Here
- Wind Breaker / Gortex Jacket
- Merino Gloves / Waterproof Gloves
- Waterproof trousers
- Waterproof boots / Shoes
- Data Sim Card
- Power Inverter for vehicle if planning live out of car. If you hire a campervan, it should already have one, confirm this.
- Drone + Additional Camera and or Mobile Phone / GoPro
- Weatherproof Backpack
- Proper Credit or Debit Card with sufficient funds
- Sense of Adventure
More pictures are available over on Facebook.
ALL MY GEAR : https://kit.com/mananddrone
Best Drone Settings Iceland
Colour Profile : D-Log | Custom | Sharpness 0 | Contrast -1 | Saturation 0
White Balance : Custom 5600
Shooting Mode : NTSC, 4K @ 30 FPS
ND Filters : PolarPro Professional Series – ND8, ND16-PL, ND16, ND32 + Cinema Series. Get yours now at: https://www.polarprofilters.com/ use code ‘mananddrone20’ to receive 20% off.
ISO : 100
Shutter : 60