Tours versus Expeditions in Iceland

Planning a trip to Iceland is often an adventure many look forward to for months or even years! So when you head down the road yourself, it’s important to understand the difference between choosing tours versus expeditions in Iceland. If you’re a more adventurous person or group the latter is likely going to be way more fun for you!

Tours versus Expeditions in Iceland

Are you a person who just loves to see highlights of a place and then move on to something else?  Or are you a person who thrives on exploring, discovering, being in the moment, and witnessing things few have?  Likely, if the last, choosing to embark on an expedition in Iceland will be way more beneficial to you.  Either way it’s good to be aware of your limits both physically and mentally.  Today we would love to educate you on the difference between tours and expeditions.

Tours in Iceland:

  • 1 Day and typically between 1-6 hours.
  • Visit tourist locations or popular locations.
  • If booking a seat on an “open tour” then you are with who knows how many other folks.  Most times tour company’s book slots for 6-35 people at one time.  Maybe more too, especially if you choose to book a big box tour company (and not a local).
  • Rigid schedule, likely because they have another tour booked before or after yours.
  • Guides who may not care about your experience or enhancing it.
  • Not flexible to any personal requests.
  • Lunch nor any additional amenities are included.
  • No inclement weather reschedules.
  • You’ll feel rushed when you’re trying to explore.
  • Likely the van, bus, or super jeep you’ll be transported in will be packed with people you don’t know.


Expeditions in Iceland:

  • One to multi-day, typically between 6-12 hour days.
  • Local guide that 100% knows the area and how it changes to ensure they are prepared no matter what happens.
  • Mode of transport could be via super jeep, 4×4, or by power of your own two feet!!
  • Likely discovering more offbeat areas of Iceland where usual tourists do not venture.  For example, the highlands or private property locations.
  • Expeditions are tiny and between 1-6 people maximum. 
  • If booking with Vik Expeditions, you are guaranteed an private journey with your group by the owner!
  • Iceland expeditions into the highlands can involve other exciting adventures such as the following: Cross country skiing, snow shoeing, ice climbing, glacier walking, kayaking, canoeing, stand up paddle boarding, zip lining and crossing rivers in a 4×4 or super jeep!
  • Personalized thoughtful service from start to finish.
  • Flexible schedule to ensure plan b, c, or d happens in case of weather challenges.
  • Intimate education of local geology and folklore from your driver-guide or hiking leader.
  • You’ll feel at ease when you explore the areas, not rushed!  Plenty of time for photos, drone, and being 100% in the moment!!  Possibly the biggest difference in tours versus expeditions.
  • Packing list included!
  • Unique amenities included!

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Choosing the right Company

The differences in tours versus expeditions in adventure companies in Iceland can be huge so selecting the right one is important!  To illustrate, the following topics will help you in choosing a company that would be a good fit:

  1. The company having experience specifically in the area of the Icelandic highlands you want to discover.
  2. Keeps the groups small (especially in the age of Covid-19).
  3. Guides who are prepared to handle any truck problems, ensure your safety, and react carefully with weather changes.
  4. Well maintained and prepared trucks.  For instance, not leaking oil, falling a part, GPS, radio, shovel, winch / tow rope, tire repair kit, etc.
  5. Intact gear (IE, helmets, headlamps, crampons, hiking poles, and ice axes are safe and cleaned).
  6. Flexible schedules or re-booking if extreme weather (or road closures) challenge the days plan.
  7. First aid trained drivers / guides.
  8. Reviews, speak for themselves so read them!

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What Kind of Adventure in Iceland Will You Have?

Endless adventures await you in Iceland.  In comparing boring tours versus expeditions… What gets you excited?  Here are few things that makes us smile at Vik Expeditions…

  • Ice climbing to remote ice caves or tunnels.
  • Walking on Iceland’s 4th largest glacier.
  • Taking a super jeep into the highlands of Iceland and cross county skiing out.
  • Hiking and then wild camping.
  • Abseiling down into a cavern in the glacier and ice climbing out.
  • Trekking to remote waterfalls or non-touristy hot springs.
  • Stand up paddle boarding (SUP) in a glacier lagoon exploring glacier edges and then embarking on a hike to a canyon very few have ever explored!
  • Having a BBQ at a glacier, highland waterfall or beside a roaring river.
  • Witnessing the illusive Northern lights or wildlife in Iceland (think arctic fox and countless bird species. 
  • Waterfall hunting in the highlands.
  • Taking a zip-line over a fiercely powerful glacier river!
  • Having a helicopter take you to the top of a mountain in Iceland that takes 10 hours to hike up, seeing the view, and hiking back down!
  • The possibilities for expeditions in Iceland are endless and we would love to craft an unforgettable custom adventure for you!!

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Booking Vik Expeditions

Being based and local to Southern Iceland, means that Davíð Geir at Vik Expeditions knows how the glacier areas ebb and flow.  Furthermore, with his 14+ years of service to the SAR team and being an avid mountaineer he can skillfully get you in and out of areas flawlessly!  Not only all that, but he thrives on discovering and exploring, which in turn then sets the stage for you to have the best experience driven adventure day!  Feel free to contact us for more information!

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