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Organized tours??

Annapolis, Maryland
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50 posts
42 reviews
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Organized tours??

I am considering a trip to Iceland with my son in mid-February. I have read a lot of the forum posts and got a lot of ideas of what we can do while there. I notice that there is a lot of discussion about organized tours for various sites such as the Northern Lights tour, the Blue Lagoon Tour, the Golden Circle tour etc. Typically I do not take organized tours, finding that I am able to do the activity a lot cheaper on my own. Is there some overriding reason to take the tours in Iceland? Are these attractions particularly difficult to reach on your own? what about the Northern Lights - do we need a tour to increase our chance of seeing them?

thank you

Toronto, Canada
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1. Re: Organized tours??

The reason for taking tours in Iceland is the high cost of renting a car. Have a look at some car rental websites and tour websites and see the cost differences for yourself. If you're traveling with 2+ adults then renting a car can be cost effective...traveling on your own can make renting a car prohibitively expensive. If your son is young, he can travel for free or half price with tour companies like Reykjavik Excursions.

All the major sites can easily be seen on your own, hence all the self-drive tours in Iceland. Some require a 4WD but most of the major sites can be seen with a 2WD.

You could see the Northern Lights on your own by driving into the country yourself. When you have a guide, you're paying for an experienced driver who will help you find a better vantage point for seeing the lights. It could make a difference or it may not.

Alsace, France
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2. Re: Organized tours??

I spent a lot of time researching my holiday to Iceland last year. Usually we drive everywhere, but it soon became obvious that there were lots of tours involving big name tour operators from Europe and America all doing the same thing, usually in the same order and local ones who really knew the lie of the land and how to make the experience really special for their guests.

If you plan to travel elsewhere than on the Ring Road, (for example Landmannalaugar or the Highlands) you will not only need special equipment in the way of 4WD but also special expertise because of the 'road' surface. Don't make the mistake of being over confident ... if you don't ford rivers even in mid-Summer, drive on steep embankments or on cinders, or if you need to see a defined road or track in front of you, the interior is NOT within your competencies.

I used a local company - Iceland On Track - and took a wonderful personalised tour, not only seeing things many folk miss, but also having flexibility in the timings to avoid arriving at a site with a coach load or two of other folk and staying for as long as we needed.

I have to say that I am not a sheep and don't like being 'packaged' but this was nothing like an organised tour in that the itinerary was suggested, backed up by excellent local knowledge and skilful competent driving. Our guide Omar could not have been more charming and as I've worked in the personally organised tour side of the travel industry, I could not find fault in the organisation and running of our trip however hard I tried!!

It became obvious as we drove up Mount Hekla, crossed the Highlands on the Sprengisandur pass and forded various rivers that this type of terrain requires professional input. And I found it and had the holiday of a lifetime.

Annapolis, Maryland
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3. Re: Organized tours??

thank you for your replies. I have looked into rental cars and found, as you said, that they are quite expensive ($90/day), but still less than fare for two on the tours (65$ per person). Our main objective is to see the Northern Lights which I have heard requires perseverance and patience. My son (age 16) also wants to do some snowboarding.

I have heard that it is necessary to get out of Reykjavik to see the Northern Lights. What do you recommend? should we stay in a hotel that is out of town (if so - where?) and then take public transit when we want to go into town? should we stay in a smaller town? Should we rent a car so that we can travel out of town every night?

some people have also recommended that we postpone this trip until 2012 when more sun activity (hence more northern lights) is predicted. Are you seeing the northern lights in Iceland frequently?

thanks

Toronto, Canada
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4. Re: Organized tours??

Search for skiing or snowboarding in the forums... you'll find info related to those subjects.

Do not stay in a hotel outside of town.

To see the northern lights, I would suggest a tour or renting a car and driving north of Reykjavik yourself. You could drive yourself to the Golden Circle and spend a night at the Hotel Gulfoss near the falls. Then you could try and spot the northern lights that night while you're away from the city. That idea would kill two birds with one stone.

Whatever you do, you're better off staying in Reykjavik and driving out to see the lights than vice versa.

In regards to postponing your trip. That's up to you but right now Iceland is more affordable than it's ever been. If the timing works for you, then by all means go to Iceland now and have a great time. If you don't see the northern lights, make the best of your trip and don't let it spoil your time in Iceland.

To be honest, I'm surprised you've never seen the northern lights in Connecticut. I've lived in southern Ontario my whole life and I've seen the northern lights 3 times. I'm just slightly further north than you. The last time I saw them was 2005 in London, Ontario... a town of 300,000. They must have been pretty strong to get through the light pollution. Good luck spotting them!

Reykjavik
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5. Re: Organized tours??

you can check http://www.cheapjeep.is if you want to find the cheapest car rental around... that is if you do not mind the rental car being slightly more "experienced" than what is common with your regular car rental..

Organized tours are safer though as it is the middle of winter..

6. Re: Organized tours??

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