Northern Lights and Nature Highlights

  Group of 7 friends looking to visit Iceland in December 2017

“We are looking to take a nice leisurely trip to Iceland's natural wonders (Geyers, geothermal baths, ice caves) while also hoping to catch the Northern lights. Since we are unfamiliar with Iceland and are not quite comfortable driving in Iceland during the winter we were hoping to look for a guided tour that will show us the natural wonders and major landmarks in Iceland while being able to hunt for likely spots / good conditions for Northern Lights at night.”


Midgard Adventure Team, a local specialist from Iceland, helped this traveler put together a customized itinerary.

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Trip planning highlights

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Summary of the trip planning conversation

Below are some useful excerpts from the trip planning conversation
Anna:
My name is Anna and I work for a company called Midgard Adventure, located in a small town in South Iceland called Hvolsvöllur, around 1.5-hour drive from Reykjavík. I specialize in small group and private tours all around Iceland, but my main focus is in the South and South-East of Iceland. We love taking our guests off the beaten path, for example to Þórsmörk and the highlands.

Since there are 7 of you, I think it would make most sense to do private tours. The price for accommodation depends on what kind you prefer, hotels, guesthouses, houses, huts etc. It might be nice, at least for a night or two, to stay in a remote hut..it is also usually less expensive than booking a few rooms at a hotel. We also recently opened an adventures basecamp where we have tours, accommodation, and food all under the same rood (and a hot tub and sauna too). Staying in the countryside is quite an experience, especially in the winter when the daylight is limited..and it also increases the odds of seeing the northern lights, since we are far away from the Reykjavík city lights, making it much easier to spot them when conditions are good.

We could visit the South Coast, Skaftafell national park, Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon, the golden circle and the Reykjanes peninsula to name a few, and I think it would also be a great idea to take you off the beaten path, for example to Þórsmörk, to show you the best Iceland has to offer in our opinion. If conditions in the highlands are good, it would also be nice to take you to Landmannalaugar up in the highlands where you can bath in a natural, geothermal pool.

I would also be happy to suggest and book activities for you, for example an ice cave tour, snowmobiling, ice walking etc. Before I send you an example itinerary though, I would like to ask you a few quick questions: 
- Have any of you been to Iceland before? 
- Do you have a specific budget in mind for this trip? 
- Do you have any preferences regarding accommodation? 
- Do you plan on spending part of the time in Reykjavík?

Let me know if you have any questions. I look forward to your reply!

Traveler:
We are definitely very open to being taken off the beaten path and it all sounds very exciting! We are definitely aware that Northern Lights are never guaranteed but we're hoping to get a good chance to view them with a knowledgeable guide and spots.

None of us have been to Iceland before! As for budgeting because we are actually two families the budget is a bit harder to determine -- the party consists of myself, my parents, my boyfriend and his sister. My boyfriend will be paying for his sister and his portion of the trip and is looking to spend around 2000USD per person, however, my parents as they are older are more willing to spend more for the trip and for comfort. Is it possible for you to give me a few prices packages to look at and show them? 
I think we are relatively open-minded for accommodations as long as the conditions are fine and the rooms are clean and comfortable. I have found online of some tours providing hostels as a place to stay and I'd like to preferably avoid hostels. 
We have considered spending a day or two in Reykjavik but it is not a necessary inclusion for the trip and are entirely fine with an itinerary that does not include time looking around Reykjavik.

Anna:
Since our private tours are all customised, we do not really have any pre-planned packages. The price for the super-jeep + guide is always the same unless we do an extra long day, but the price for extra activities would, of course, be lower since it is priced per person. That being said, I am more than happy to make a few different suggestions for each location, for example regarding sights, possible activities, and accommodation. Let me think about this until tomorrow and get back to you then with some ideas.

Anna:
So here are a few ideas:

DAY 1 - DAY OF ARRIVAL (GOLDEN CIRCLE) 
We either pick you up from the airport or you rent a car at the airport. Depending on when you arrive, you can either spend the night in Reykjavík or you can go to the South and spend the night there, for example at Midgard basecamp in Hvolsvöllur or somewhere nearby. If there is time and you are not feeling very tired, we could even go to the golden circle on the way there and view some of the most famous sights in Iceland; Gullfoss waterfall, Geysir, and Þingvellir national park. 
- Ideas for activities: Snorkeling, lava caving, Secret lagoon (geothermal bathing) 
- Accommodation in Reykjavík or South Iceland

DAY 2 - WESTMAN ISLANDS
I was thinking you might like to do a day tour to the Westman islands. You would drive there yourselves from Hvolsvöllur (if you rent a car that is, otherwise we can give you ride or do a private tour there). You can also decide on this later - just thought I should at least mention it :) 
- Accommodation in South Iceland

DAY 3 - ÞÓRSMÖRK 
On this day it would be nice to take you off the beaten path, for example to Þórsmörk or the highlands. We love taking our guests somewhere away from the pavement and showing them the best Iceland has to offer. If the weather is good we can do some hiking (and even have a BBQ!)..if not, we can do some super-jeep driving instead 
- Accommodation in South Iceland

DAY 4 - SOUTH COAST 
If you have your own car, you can do a two-day road trip, covering the south coast and even go all the way to Skaftafell national park and Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon. If you prefer to do a guided tour, you can either do the South Coast as a private day tour, or do this as a two-day private tour, spending the night in the South-East, for example, close to the Glacier lagoon. 
- Ideas for activities: Snowmobiling, glacier walking, horseback riding 
- Accommodation in South-East Iceland

DAY 5 - SKAFTAFELL & JÖKULSÁRLÓN 
If you do the 2 day plan, either as a self-drive or a private tour with us, you would spend this day exploring the national park and the glacier lagoon. If you prefer to do the South coast as a day tour with us, then this day is free. We could, for example, take you to Landmannalaugar up in the highlands if conditions allow it, where you can do some hiking and/or relax in a natural, geothermal pool 
- Ideas for activities: Ice caving, glacier walking 
- Accommodation in South or South-East Iceland

DAY 6 - LANDMANNALAUGAR 
If you want to do another super-jeep and conditions are good, it would be nice to take you off the beaten path again, for example to the highlands, all the way to Landmannalaugar where you can hike and/or relax in the natural geothermal pool. 
- Accommodation in South Iceland or Reykjavík

DAY 7 - DAY OF DEPARTURE (REYKJANES PENINSULA + BLUE LAGOON?) 
You can either spend the last night in the South (depends on what time your flight leaves) or in Reykjavik. If your flight is not very early, it might be nice to do a tour around the Reykjanes peninsula and relax in the Blue Lagoon before you return home. If you have a rental car, you can return it there. If you stay in the South, we can take you on a tour that ends at the airport, stopping at a few places and enjoying a nice lunch at a local restaurant. 

Let me know what you think so far and if you have any questions or comments. I look forward to your reply!
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