I booked this tour with Reykjavik Excursions through Icelandair as part of their Golden Circle break.
It was one of the few (only?) tours on Christmas Day.
Reykjavik Excursions pick you up half an hour before the tour start time, so we were ready in the lobby at 8.30am. Then you are taken to the central depot to board a tour bus. Christmas Day was very busy with many tour buses going out on the same tour at the same time. We finally got away about half an hour late. There were several small children on the tour. We were in convoy with around 7 other coaches.
Because there had been bad weather the night before we were told that we couldn't do the third part of the tour - Thingvellir. Very disappointing but understandable.
It is dark until 11.30am at this time of year. We drove through the countryside for a couple of hours but couldn't see much. First stop was the greenhouse. After a longish trip most people were in need of a comfort break. There were 2 toilets (unisex) and around 200 people. Luckily I was one of the first in the queue, but by the end of the stop (over half an hour) there were still people waiting. It was great to see men as well as women having to wait their turn!
On the way to the geysir area i(n convoy) one of the coaches skidded off the road. We were all stopped for almost an hour while the coach was retrieved, passengers put onto our coach, and snow chains put on the remaining coaches. This meant we had to travel fairly slowly afterwards.
We stopped at Geysir for 1 and a half hours so we could see the geysirs, have lunch and shop.
Then we drove off to Gullfoss. We had half an hour there but some of our party were late coming back and so we set off half an hour late. Then someone had left something at the geyser visitor centre so we stopped there to pick it up. This added more time.Eventually we could take off the snow chains and drive faster.
As we had a dinner booking in Reykjavik at 7pm we were keen not to be too late back....the tour was supposed to finish at 5pm and we had not even been able to do the third part.
Then we were told there was another scheduled stop at a motorway service area for a comfort break. It was getting later and later and we saw that there was a coach that had already made his stop and was ready to leave. The tour guides kindly let us swap coaches.
Then, on the last few miles into Reykjavik we hit a blizzard. Cars were stopped on the motorway and a coach had gone off the motorway. We were (understandably) driving slower and slower.
We had asked if we could be one of the first hotel drop offs, and they kindly obliged. We got to our hotel at 7pm - just when we should have been having dinner in town - see my review of Skolabru to find out what happened....
Golden Circle is best done in summer. In winter there is too much darkness to appreciate the scenery, bad weather problems can cancel or otherwise affect the tour.
Christmas Day is very busy for this tour, so avoid if you can!
Reykjavik excursions are very professional and helpful, but as you are reliant on others this can prolong the tour. I would go independent next time (not in winter!)
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