8 Day Winter Self Drive | Northern Lights and Ice Caves

8 Day Winter Self Drive | Northern Lights and Ice Caves
Experienced, expert glacier guides confirm the stability of the ice caves under Vatnjökull glacier regularly, ensuring that trips within them are as safe as they are awe-inspiring.
Watching the waves of the Atlantic rolling onto the black sand coastline of Iceland's South is beautiful, but nowhere is it more unique than at the Diamond Beach, which is littered with glistening icebergs.
Before or after a long self-drive tour around Iceland's winter landscapes, it is wonderful to warm up and recharge in the Blue Lagoon's healing warm waters.
In South Iceland, a stretch of coastline adjacent to the famous Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon is littered with ice throughout the year; the way they glitter has led to it being titled 'the Diamond Beach'.
Boulders of blue and white ice, some streaked with the black ash of eruptions centuries past, wash upon the Diamond Beach in South Iceland after leaving Jökulsárlón's glacier lagoon.
Ice drifts in the freezing seas around one of the Snæfellsnes Peninsula's most beloved features, the standalone, pyramid-shaped mountain Kirkjufell.
4.8
Based on 36 traveller reviews

Get cool on this eight-day and seven-night winter adventure in Iceland. Enter Ice caves by the Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon, travel the Golden Circle, hike otherworldly glaciers, explore thundering waterfalls and immerse yourself in Reykjavík's vibrant city life!

This self-drive journey takes you to the western Snæfellsnes Peninsula and along the south coast which is home to many of the most astounding and beloved natural attractions in Iceland. You will visit the Golden Circle, drive in the shadow of Eyjafjallajökull glacier and, if you're lucky, all in the glow of the green Northern Lights. Enormous glacier ice-caps, erupting geysers, bubbling hot springs, and roaring rivers rushing through black desert make your journey through this land of contrast unforgettable.

This trip also has factored in a free day in the city, offering a chance to experience the coolest capital in the world and enjoy all it has to offer with its cottage-cosmopolitan vibe, making it an adventure perfect for both the people of nature and the more city slicking cool cats.

Enjoy blue ice and black beaches while green and purple northern lights dance in the arctic sky above you. Join the adventure and let Iceland be yours this winter. Check availability by choosing a date.


Quick facts

Tour information:
  • Available: Oct. - Apr.
  • Duration: 8 days
  • Activities: Glacier Hiking, Snorkelling, Caving, Snowmobile, Sightseeing, Cultural Activity, Ice Caving, Self drive
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Highlights: Blue Lagoon, Golden Circle, Reykjavík, Jökulsárlón, Hvítá River, Vatnajökull, Snæfellsjökull, Faxaflói, Skógafoss, Seljalandsfoss, Geysir, Gullfoss, Eyjafjallajökull, Þingvellir, Strokkur, Snæfellsnes, Reykjanes, Hvannadalshnúkur, Mýrdalsjökull, Skaftafell, Borgarfjörður, Þingvallavatn, Höfn, Reynisfjara Black Sand Beach, Hellnar, Langjökull, Vík í Mýrdal, Keflavik International Airport, Kirkjufell, Reynisfjall, Reynisdrangar, Öxarárfoss, Haukadalur, Lóndrangar, Djúpalónssandur, Ytri Tunga Beach, South Coast, Diamond Beach
Pickup information:
  • Pickup time : Flexible.

Please consult your itinerary for further information
Included:
  • 7 nights of accommodation (different levels available; breakfast included for Comfort and Quality levels; more detailed info below)

  • Vehicle for 8 days (Toyota Yaris 2WD or similar. Upgrades available)

  • CDW and SCDW insurance along gravel protection for car rental

  • GPS System

  • Detailed Itinerary with fun and practical information on the nature, history and culture of Iceland

  • Hands-on travel agent to oversee your itinerary

  • Taxes

  • Blue Lagoon comfort entrance (can be added during the booking process)

  • Lunch

  • Dinner

  • Additional tours


What to bring:
  • Warm and waterproof clothes

  • Driver's license

  • Winter hiking shoes

  • Swimsuit & towel

  • Camera


Good to know:

Self-drive tours begin either in Reykjavík City or at Keflavik International Airport. A valid driver's license is required, along with a one-year long on-road experience. Please be aware that your itinerary may be rearranged to better fit with your arrival date and time.

The Northern Lights are a natural phenomenon, and therefore cannot be guaranteed, but this itinerary is designed to maximise your chances to see them if weather allows. Please be aware that your itinerary may have to be rearranged to fit your arrival date and time better.

It can happen, in the case of extreme weather, that an activity is cancelled. If your chosen activity is cancelled, we will assist you with rearranging or booking other activities when possible, and any potential price difference will be refunded to you. Please note that though the tour is available to book from September to May, the ice caves are only accessible from November to March each year.

Note that Icelandic roads and pavements can be slippery in the wintertime. We recommend you bring shoes with slip-resistant soles or ice-grip shoe covers. The covers can be purchased in most supermarkets and gas stations around the country.

If you book the extra activities alongside this tour, you will get them at a lower price.



Daily itinerary

Day 1 - Welcome to Iceland


The skyline of Reykjavík glows a golden hue across the frozen Tjörnin Pond in winter.


Welcome to adventure! The ink black lava fields of the Reykjanes peninsula greet you the moment you are out of the airport. To soak away all the kinks and aches of your flight, you'll get into your car and start your journey with a visit to the Blue Lagoon where the azure waters will give you the sensation of floating on a warm cloud, surrounded by snow-topped, ink black lava fields.

Then, it is time to head to the city and enjoy the twinkling lights in the dark of winter. Take a walk downtown, get a cup of hot chocolate and remember to look up, you might just see the Northern lights!


Preferred accommodation in Reykjavík

Reykjavík Budget

Capital Inn is a 2 star hotel 3 km out of the city centre, with a short walk to Kringlan shopping mall and Nauthólsvík geothermal beach. Private bedrooms with a washbasin but shared bathrooms. Free Wi-Fi. Breakfast is not included.

Reykjavík Comfort

The Fosshótel chain has four 3-4 star Hotels located in and around the city center of Reykjavík. There is a short walk from all of the hotels to attractions, cafés, restaurants, museums and the nightlife. All offer private bedrooms with private bathrooms. Free Wi-Fi. Breakfast is included.

Reykjavík Quality

Alda Hotel is a 4 star hotel situated on Laugavegur, Reykjavík's main shopping street in the city centre. Private bedrooms with private bathrooms. Free access to a fitness room with a sauna and a hot tub. Free Wi-Fi. Breakfast is included.


Day 2 - Snæfellsnes Peninsula


Nicknamed 'Iceland in Miniature', the Snæfellsnes Peninsula has diverse landscapes and features, including spectacular mountains such as Kirkjufell, pictured here in midwinter.


Day two marks the start of your journey here in Iceland. You’ll head north from the city to the Snæfellsnes peninsula, which is sometimes called ‘Iceland in Miniature’ due to its geological diversity. This beautiful place stands halfway between reality and fiction, as its remarkable landscapes are shrouded in myth, lore and legend. The mythological passage to the centre of the earth is said to be found in the Snæfellsjökull glacier volcano which reigns over the beautiful black sands of Djúpalónssandur and the Lóndrangar rock stacks. As your journey progresses, you will see the towering Kirkjufell mountain and quaint little fishing villages that dot the coast. You’ll spend the night on the Snæfellsnes peninsula, but be sure to step out tonight and scout for the northern lights!


Preferred accommodation by Snæfellsnes

Snæfellsnes Budget

Hof Guesthouse is situated on the southern side of Snæfellsnes peninsula, just a few hundred metres from the beach. Private bedrooms with shared bathroom, living room and kitchen. Free access to a hot tub. Free Wi-Fi in public areas. Breakfast not included.

Snæfellsnes Comfort

Fosshotel Stykkishólmur is a 3 star hotel centrally located within the town Stykkishólmur. Spacious hotel with a view towards the bay. Private bedrooms with private bathrooms. Free Wi-Fi. Breakfast is included.

Snæfellsnes Quality

Hotel Búðir is a 4 star hotel on the southern side of Snæfellsnes peninsula, with a view towards Snæfellsjökull glacier and to the sea. Private bedrooms with private bathrooms. Free Wi-Fi. Breakfast is included.


Day 3 - The Golden Circle


The effects of the constant 'twilight' that the few hours of sun in Iceland's winter bring allows for brilliant photo opportunities at locations such as the Geysir Geothermal Area in south Iceland.


Today you’ll head south-east and explore the Golden Circle, a route which takes you to three of the most iconic locations in Iceland. During your travel, you will pass through the Borgarfjörður area, known for cavernous lava caves and tunnels. You'll even have the chance to visit one of them; Víðgemir.

When you reach the Golden Circle, your first stop will be the Þingvellir National Park. Situated in a large continental rift valley, at the edge of a lava field, this UNESCO world heritage site is where Icelanders founded parliament in year 930. It has tremendous historical and geological significance and is home to fantastic locations, such as the Silfra cleft, Almannagjá canyon and Öxarárfoss waterfall. There you have the option to take a tour into the abyss and snorkel between the continents in the clear waters of the Silfra cleft.

Next, you will visit the Haukadalur geothermal valley, where the great Geysir lies, giving its name to the smaller geysers that bubble and burst up sky high all around. The earth is truly alive under your feet in this beautiful location.

Lastly, you will visit the Gullfoss waterfall in Glacier river Hvítá, springing from the glacier Langjökull. This massive waterfall plummets in two enormous cascades into the canyon below, its roar echoing in the surrounding cliffs.

You will spend the night nearby, in the Bláskógabyggð area.


Preferred accommodation by the Golden Circle

Golden Circle Budget

Héraðsskólinn Boutique Hostel is centrally located within Laugarvatn village. Private rooms with private or shared bathrooms. Free Wi-Fi. Breakfast not included.

Golden Circle Comfort

Hotel Litli Geysir is a 3 star hotel located right across from Geysir geothermal area. Private bedrooms with private bathrooms. Free Wi-Fi. Breakfast is included.

Golden Circle Quality

Hotel Grímsborgir is a 4 star hotel in the countryside, south of Þingvellir National Park. Private bedrooms with private bathrooms and a terrace. Free access to outdoor hot tubs. Free Wi-Fi. Breakfast is included.


Day 4 - Under Eyjafjallajökull Glacier


Near the village of Vík Í Mýdral is the black sand beach Reynisfjara, which overlooks the mighty mountain Reynisfjall and the basalt columns of Reynisdrangar.


Continuing your journey, you will head to the lowlands and trail the south coast. You'll have the option to start you day in style and take a snowmobiling tour to the Langjökull glacier, whizzing over the white planes for a taste of ultimate freedom.

As you continue your journey, you'll pass two magnificent waterfalls, Seljalandsfoss and Skógafoss, you will drive under the Eyjafjalajökull glacial volcano, and its big brother, Mýrdalsjökull glacier. If it strikes your fancy, you can even have a glacier hike for an up close and personal glacier experience and join a glacier hike at the roots of this ice giant.

You will then reach Vík, a village lying by Iceland's most famed black beach, Reynisfjara, which is guarded by two massive rock stacks that are said to be the remnants of petrified trolls. Surely, the immeasurable power of the North Atlantic will amaze you as one enormous wave after the other crashes on the shore.

You’ll then spend your night in Vík.


Preferred accommodation by Vík

Vík Budget

Puffin Hostel is centrally located in Vík. Private bedrooms with shared bathrooms and a common lounge area. Free Wi-Fi. Breakfast not included.

Vík Comfort

Hotel Katla is a 3 star country hotel that's situated 5km to the east of Vík. Comfortable private bedrooms with private bathrooms. Free access to a hot tub and a sauna. Free Wi-Fi. Breakfast is included.

Vík Quality

Icelandair Hotel Vík is a 3 star hotel centrally located in Vík. Stylish private bedrooms with private bathrooms. Ocean or cliff views from each room. Free Wi-Fi. Breakfast is included.


Day 5 - To the Glacier Lagoon


The fiery skies of Iceland at dusk in midwinter reflect in the mirror-like surface of the Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon, contrasting spectacularly with the azure icebergs.


On this day you will journey through the black sands of Skeiðarársandur to reach the Skaftafell nature reserve, which, to the east north and west, is embraced by the great Vatajökull, Europe's largest glacier. Skaftafell is famed for its many hiking trails which are suitable for all skill levels—and, of course, glacier hiking. If it strikes your fancy, you can join a group of seasoned glacier hikers for a trip up onto the broken, impressive glacier landscape.

Next, you will drive past Iceland’s tallest peak, Hvannadalshnjúkur, and reach the Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon. The massive floating Icebergs are impressive to behold as they slowly drift from the glacier to sea, where they are polished by the waves before being washed on shore, where they lie scattered like jewels on the black sands of the Diamond Beach, south of the Lagoon.

A bit further east is the town of Höfn, where you will spend the night, and prepare for tomorrow's adventure.


Preferred accommodation by Jökulsárlón and Höfn

Jökulsárlón and Höfn Budget

Gerði Guesthouse is located about 13km east of Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon. Private bedrooms with shared bathrooms. Free Wi-Fi in main building. Breakfast not included.

Jökulsárlón and Höfn Comfort

Hotel Höfn is a 3 star hotel centrally located within the town Höfn. Private bedrooms with private bathrooms. Free Wi-Fi. Breakfast is included.

Jökulsárlón and Höfn Quality

Fosshotel Glacier Lagoon is a 4 star hotel located right between Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon and Skaftafell Nature Reserve. Private bedrooms with private bathrooms. Ocean or mountain views. Free Wi-Fi. Breakfast is included.


Day 6 - Ice Caves and Other Marvels


One of the marvels of south-east Iceland is the Diamond Beach, where blue icebergs rest on black sands, contrasting beautifully with the swirling white surf.


Start the day by visiting the Jökulsárlón glacial lagoon. Take your time to marvel at the blue ice and see if you can spot a seal or two, playing amongst the icebergs. This is where you have the chance to visit the amazing Blue Ice Cave, a naturally formed cave in the Vatnajökull glacier, by joining a super jeep tour and heading high onto the glacier to the cave, hidden deep within the ice cap. The ice caves are empty underground river tunnels that freeze, so they are only accessible in winter when the rivers of summer meltwater have run their course. Your guide knows the glacier like the back of his hand, so this will surely be an experience to remember!

On your way back to Reykjavík, you’ll have the chance to visit all the sites you might have missed, before spending an evening in the world’s coolest capital.


Preferred accommodation in Reykjavík

Reykjavík Budget

Capital Inn is a 2 star hotel 3 km out of the city centre, with a short walk to Kringlan shopping mall and Nauthólsvík geothermal beach. Private bedrooms with a washbasin but shared bathrooms. Free Wi-Fi. Breakfast is not included.

Reykjavík Comfort

The Fosshótel chain has four 3-4 star Hotels located in and around the city center of Reykjavík. There is a short walk from all of the hotels to attractions, cafés, restaurants, museums and the nightlife. All offer private bedrooms with private bathrooms. Free Wi-Fi. Breakfast is included.

Reykjavík Quality

Alda Hotel is a 4 star hotel situated on Laugavegur, Reykjavík's main shopping street in the city centre. Private bedrooms with private bathrooms. Free access to a fitness room with a sauna and a hot tub. Free Wi-Fi. Breakfast is included.


Day 7 - Free Day in Reykjavík


A free day in Reykjavík can be spent taking tours, exploring the culture, or seeing stunning nature within the city, such as in its many parks.


Filled with quirky cafés, funny and colourful houses of corrugated iron, wall art and fascinating culinary culture, Reykjavík has something to offer everyone. You now have the day to get to know it a little bit better!

Stroll downtown and hunt for the best coffee (locals take their coffee very seriously) or visit the museums and learn about the country's Viking settlers.

You can head out to the Faxaflói Bay and meet some larger locals on a whale watching excursion or opt for a more adrenalin pumping options like horseback riding or a helicopter trip.

If weather permits, you can head out on an evening northern lights hunt on your own, and enjoy their dance. If the air is too chilly, how about some local drinks, or a taste of Reykjavík’s famous nightlife? Whatever your choice, the city is sure to impress!


Day 8 - Departure Day


The aurora borealis reward those who search for them the hardest, and a self-drive tour provides endless opportunities for guests to hunt them.


All good things come to an end, and today marks the end of your journey. Should your flight leave in the afternoon, you could enjoy a last look at the country in the Reykjanes geopark, go for a morning visit to the Blue Lagoon, or just relax in town.

When it’s time to leave, you’ll drop off your car at the airport, and head home—a little bit cooler than when you came, with loads of new and wonderful memories of Iceland.


Accommodation

See our accommodation levels below and our preferred accommodation partners under each day in the daily itinerary.

Single person bookings will be arranged in a single room, while bookings of 2 or more people will share twin/double room(s) or triple room(s).

Guide to Iceland will provide you with the best available hotels and guesthouses at the time of your booking from our preferred partners.

Please keep in mind that hotel quality in Iceland varies among locations and availability is highly limited. We always do our best to accommodate special requests, which may incur additional costs. The sooner you reserve the higher quality accommodation we can provide. Press choose a date at the top to find availability.

Budget

Rooms with shared bathrooms in farmhouses, guesthouses or hostels, with good locations near the best attractions. Breakfast is not included.

Comfort

Rooms with a private bathroom in three star hotels or quality guesthouses. Very close to the best attractions at each location. Breakfast is included.

Quality

Rooms with a private bathroom in a four star hotel or superior rooms in a quality three star hotel at the best locations in Iceland. Breakfast is included.


Car

Below you can see the car rental options available for this self-drive tour. All our vehicles are new or current models, maximum two years of age, and come equipped with a GPS, CDW, GP and SCDW insurances. You can also upgrade to an automatic model. All cars have winter tyres. For all winter driving, we highly recommend a Comfort level 4x4 vehicle or Luxury 4x4 to combat possible heavy winter conditions.

Budget

A small 2WD vehicle fit for basic travelling in everyday conditions, such as VW Polo, Toyota Yaris or similar.

Comfort 4X4

A medium sized jeep or SUV with 4WD (4x4) fit for most travel, and good for snow and off-asphalt travel, such as Toyota Rav4 or similar.

Luxury 4x4

A large sized jeep with 4WD (4x4) such as Toyota Land Cruiser or similar, fit for nearly all traveling.


Cancellation Insurance

This insurance guarantees that you can cancel tour and package bookings and receive a full refund, minus the insurance cost of 5,000 ISK per person.

The cancellation must be made more than 48 hours before the listed starting time on your voucher. To cancel your booking and claim your refund, simply contact info@guidetoiceland.is and declare full cancellation.

Please note that this insurance covers the cancellation of the whole tour or package. Individual services cannot be cancelled and refunded separately, but are all covered and refunded in case of a full cancellation.


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Verified reviews

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This was our first trip to Iceland and we were so glad to have booked a self-drive package through Guide to Iceland. The communication from the time of booking was excellent and every step during opur trip was easy - right from the start Lotus Car Rental were friendly and helpful and the car provided was great to cope with some challenging winter conmditions on the roads. We were really impressed with the accommodation choices apart from the hotel in Vik, which although brand new and had everything we needed, the room was facing the road and pavement, and because it was a full glass wall we felt there was no privacy fom passers by unless the curtains were permanently closed. We enjoyed our trip immensly and are planning on returning - and would be verry happy to book again through Guide to Iceland.
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Everything is well-arranged, and time schedule is perfect! Enough for enjoying activities and amazing landscape at the same time! That's very important and impressive, especially for self-drive! We never had such good experience with travel agent before. The iceland is definately the place you should travel at leat once in your life. You can feel the dead-end world and passions consistently. Tips, it is high-cost country for no doub, just be well-prepared as much as you can, take some instant noodles and energy bars will help you a lot!
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Iceland was amazing! Even in March. We had some dicey weather, but it all turned out great! We went from sunshine to white outs in a matter of 20 minutes! The weather alerts from the car rental company certainly helped us out! The Highlight of our trip has to be a toss up between the Ice Cave tour and the glacier hike at Skaftafell. Both experiences were well worth it. Our Guide to Iceland representative, Sverrir Omar was very helpful with prompt answers to our questions. The scenery there is amazing. I want to go back when things are green and lush now, just to see the difference! I wanted to see the Northern Lights, and we did! The hotel we stayed at provided a wake up service (at no extra charge) if the Northern Lights were spotted! And that sealed the deal for us! In short, I would go back in a heartbeat!
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Great experience, Iceland is magnificent, we drove 1700 km in this beautiful paradise with a superb car. The hotels at each destinations were excellent. It was the perfect itinerary for our family road trip. We would strongly recommend exploring Iceland with Guide To Iceland. We come back to explore the north and east of this Island. Then we contact again Guide to Iceland.
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The trip 8 days winter self drive was very good programs arranged , especially , provided with the mobile friendly version program guiding to go very easy to many tour places of the tour programs Rental car , Hotels accommodations and locations are very good. We both were very much happy and enjoy on this trip A lot of thanks to Guide to Iceland that provided us a very fantastic services the tour travel trip to Iceland during period 2 to 8 February 2019
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We had an amazing trip! I have not booked a trip through an agency like this before, but given that we were holidaying over the New Year period and travelling with three children, aged 8-13, I decided it might be the best option. It was definitely a good decision. Everything went to plan, from the hire car on arrival, to the triple rooms for the children near ours in all the hotels, to the additional tours we booked. We also got some nice room upgrades as well in honour of my husband's 50th birthday. I did change the date of our Lava Cave visit to day 2 instead of 3 and I'm glad I did. Given the short days, we would not have seen any of the Golden Circle sights if we had tried to do both in the same day. We also requested that our overnight in Hofn be changed to nearer the glacial lagoon to shorten the drive back to Reykjavik after our ice cave visit. Natan arranged this for us and with children, it was a good decision - a swim at the public pool in Vik was the perfect pit stop en route and made the journey manageable. I was very impressed with Guide to Iceland's service throughout the whole process and would not hesitate to recommend them and cannot wait to visit Iceland again! I booked a couple of additional activities independently - The Secret Lagoon and horse riding at Vik so we had a full itinerary any my advice would be to get up and on the road early to make the most of your days and catch the sun rising over the amazing scenery all around the country.
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The trip was amazing ! We found that the itinerary was perfect for 8 days, and we decided to put the blue lagoon on the 7th day, to relax after a week of driving. Do decide each day what you want to see the most, because trying to see everything would be too tiring, and maybe not so interesting. Hotels were nice, landscapes amazing, even with a bad weather (it rained almost all the week...). We had just a little fright when we arrived at the car rental on the first day, because they did not have our rental (there was a misunderstanding between them) but we called the customer service and sent a mail, and 10min later, we had our car, and we got upgraded.
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I had the most amazing time on this tour. While the days were short, my friend and I were still able to see almost everything! Guide to Iceland made everything so easy and made the vacation that much more enjoyable! I could not recommend this trip or this company more! We were even lucky enough to see the northern lights on our last night! If I come back to Iceland I would not hesitate to go through guide to Iceland and I have already recommended it to anyone who has said they want to go!
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My fiance and I had an incredible time in Iceland (we got engaged on this trip!!) and were so happy we left the planning and booking to Guide to Iceland! With so many hotels, excursions, and things to see, we were overwhelmed when starting to plan our trip. Having Guide to Iceland give us an itinerary which we ultimately had the freedom to adhere to or stray from gave us the perfect balance between the freedom we crave while traveling and the structure we need in order to get the most out of each day. All of the hotels were really nice and we loved the rental car. Thanks for making our trip so easy and seamless - I've told all of our friends and family to book with this company when they go to Iceland!
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It was simply exceptional and we enjoyed every minute of the trip. The nature is stunning and the whole day is a picture opportunity. The organization was great as well as the accommodations and the car. Thank you!
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8 Day Winter Self Drive | Northern Lights and Ice Caves