The best light is usually at the beginning and end of the day, around sunrise and sunset. Avoid shooting in the middle of the day when the sun is too high and the light will be flat.
It will slow you down and help you concentrate on composition. Be sure to use a cable release or remote shutter release to avoid getting camera shake on slower exposures.
Great light and conditions don't just happen the instant you turn up. Give yourself enough time and never give up and leave a location too early, all it takes is one beam of light through the clouds for that award-winning shot.
There are no specific lenses for shooting landscapes but a good mid-range zoom like the NIKKOR 24-70mm f2.8 is a versatile lens. You can shoot very wide for the big view or zoom in to concentrate on just a section of the landscape. Be careful to avoid shooting every single landscape with a wide angle lens though as you will exaggerate the foreground and anything in the distance will become small and insignificant. Experimenting with short and long focal lengths is the key to getting good results with landscape photography.
Some locations may require effort to get to the best viewpoint. Think about what you need and pack accordingly. Carrying unnecessary kit will start to take the fun out of landscape photography.