My wife and I recently returned from Iceland and we booked with Iceland Horizons for their 15 May South Shore trip. I had read several of the reviews here on TripAdvisor, and decided to take a chance with them over the other "bigger" tour companies.
I had emailed the owner, David, back in the beginning of April concerning booking this trip. David and I exchanged several emails over the course of a week and David replied to all my questions within a day, if not hours in some cases, even given the time difference. David was very professional in all of his responses, and we agreed to a tentative booking for the trip I wanted. As of early April, I was the only one who had inquired on this trip for that date, and I was leaving for a month tour of Europe.
About 4 days before we arrived in Iceland, I emailed David again, and he confirmed within a matter of hours, that yes, others had signed up as well for that date and the trip would be going ahead (I think there's a min of 5 required). David also left the door open for us to pick another of his tours if the South Shore trip didn't have enough people by that time. David confirmed he would pick us up at our hotel the day of trip.
David arrived on time that day, and we loaded into his tour van (a 17 person shuttle van). Keep in mind there is a max of about 15-17 people on his tours. This allows much greater interaction with the tour guide as well as a much more personable experience then the other tour companies. There were about 12 people on our tour, and the shuttle van was more then adequate and quite comfy.
Heading out of Reykjavik, David gave us tons of information on Iceland, both past and present and set the stage for what we would see that day. Any question we threw at him, he answered without hesitation. The South Shore trip consisted of visits to several wonderful waterfalls, a glacier visit, and a visit to black sand beaches and rock formations. Yes, the other bigger companies with the flashy websites, and 60 person tour buses operate the same tour, but here is why Iceland Horizons excels... Upon arriving at the first waterfall, David noticed the weather, location of the sun, and overall surroundings, and determined on the spot that the experience at this waterfall would be much better in the afternoon on the way back. Also, once we arrived at the town of Vik, sure, you could go walking on their black sand beach with all the hundreds of other people from the other 3 or 4 tour companies, but David instead told us to have a quick lunch here, and after we would go around to the other side of the headland where a much better experience was waiting. And this did not disappoint. Instead of sharing the experience with the hundreds of others, the 12 of us had an entire stretch of beach, 3 caves and wonderful rock formations all to ourselves. Actually, we shared it with a friendly local dog, and a bunch of sheep grazing on the rock cliffs. :)
On the way back, at the waterfall we skipped earlier, David was spot on again. The sun was creating wonderful rainbows in the falls this late in the day, and David even pointed out a "hidden" waterfall to us at the same site.
David gave us more then enough time to explore every stop. He even made "extra" stops to see Icelandic horses, turf houses, and a oystercatcher nest with eggs that he somehow spotted along side the road. There was no rush with David. Very laid back. There was no concern that we returned back later then scheduled, his primary purpose was to give us, the customer, the experience. This is what he lives for. Not to be on a "schedule" of getting to each place at a predefined time, like all the other bigger companies. And this is exactly why I highly recommend Iceland Horizons. Forget the other companies flashy websites, and flyers all over town and in the hotels. Well, unless you like the strict schedule and being sardine-canned into a huge tour bus with little room for flexibility in the schedule. Which I unfortuneately had to endure on all the other tours I did during my trip thru other countries in Europe.
One other thing was that he didn't seem concerned with making sure we paid before he confirmed our trips. Everyone on the trip paid at their convenience along the way if we got back to the van early.
The trip with David and Iceland Horizons was the highlight of our trip. I only wish I had more time in Iceland to take some of his other trips.