Type of car for Iceland winter aurora?

Discussion in 'Holidays & Travel' started by Multiplexer, Dec 17, 2014.

  1. Multiplexer

    Multiplexer Member

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    Will be going to Iceland on Feb 2015 to see the aurora. Anyone know what type of car to hire, SUV, Sedan? SUV starts from $1000 for 11 days :upset:

    I have never driven in ice before so any tips is appreciated. thanks
     
  2. oculi

    oculi Member

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    sounds fairly cheap.

    four wheel drive will be helpful, won't have to put chains on as soon, especially as countries that know about winter have proper snow/ice tyres.

    most four wheel drives will be SUVs but not all SUVs will be four wheel drive.
     
  3. Falkor

    Falkor Member

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    I didn't drive when I was there, but I was there in November and the weather was ridiculous and it wasn't even winter yet. So you want to make sure you get something with good 4wd/AWD capability and read up on driving in the snow/ice

    At some points I was in tour buses and you couldn't see 2 meters ahead, the guys driving were all natives so they were used to it but I imagine it'll be hairy for someone not used to it :)

    I agree with the above poster too, $1100 for 11 days is only $100 a day which is pretty good for a hire car that size really
     
  4. OP
    OP
    Multiplexer

    Multiplexer Member

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  5. Falkor

    Falkor Member

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    I'd be pretty comfortable with a Grand vitara if their are just two of you yeah, I think the weather is worse around Reykjavik than other parts of the country so you will hopefully be good

    If you want to see the lights I'd recommend trying to get to Akureyri I've heard its pretty good there

    Hopefully the weather is good for you, it sucked when we were there we went out 3 nights in a row and only saw them once and only faintly

    The first night the lights activity was really high, but all we had was cloud cover so we saw nothing :(
     
  6. KrisT

    KrisT Member

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    As others have suggested thats a good price for car hire, especially considering the dangers and usually cars in that environment have to be replaced fairly often due to them salting the roads.

    I paid $5k for 12 nights earlier in the year, granted it was an RV though.
     
  7. sam_allen

    sam_allen Member

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    Anything with permanent four wheel/all wheel drive.

    No rental company in Iceland is going to rent you anything in winter without proper Nordic winter tires. (Usually spiked in the case of rental companies).

    As for the type of vehicle, take whatever you're comfortable with.


    As for driving on ice... if you're really concerned, find your nearest driver training centre that has a skidpan. The effective difference in traction when turning is much the same.

    Driving tips... keep your speed lower than the speed limit if the road surface appears wet, make turns at considerably reduced speed, 90° turns at cross-roads at a snails pace and expect far longer than normal braking distances. When and where possible use motor braking to reduce speed before applying the brakes. Most of all, don't drive faster than the locals ;)
     
  8. doigal

    doigal Member

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    I just got back from a week there over Chrissy, theres pics here and a timelapse of our biggest day driving here.

    We had a Grand Vitara for the week, paid ~650 quid including insurance.

    Short of it - IMO Anything less than a 4x4 with winter tyres is negligent. Ice driving requires 110% of your concentration at all times, and if you are not comfortable at 90kph (the national limit) then slow right down. During the week, we saw one guy who didn't pay attention and ended up upside down against a fence (Thankfully both of them were ok), dug another group out that decided to go off roading through the snow in a tiny little Kia and passed someone that went off the road to take pictures and got themselves very very stuck.

    The four of us took things slow, kept up to date with the road conditions (check them here and do it before any major driving) and had 1500km of incident free driving. Take things slow, no sudden movements or breaking and you should be fine.

    EDIT: Also, when you stop on the side of the road to take pics, do it in a safe spot. So many people just stopped in random spots thinking it was fine because there's very few cars around... no.
     
    Last edited: Jan 9, 2015
  9. OP
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    Multiplexer

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    Finished my Iceland trip safely. Rented a 4x4 from http://www.iceland4x4carrental.com/ and I am so glad I did.

    Driving on ice was so stressful and making matter worst there was time visibility was reduced to 6 meters when high wind + snow.

    Even with winter tire there was incident I felt the SUV was sliding when a gush of high wind hit. The way Iceland road is build, if you are off the road then you are off for good since the road is raise up.

    Just so amaze how fast the local drive in such a condition. Was later told by a guide they were using tire with spike which I dont think it is offered by any rental company :upset:
     
  10. Falkor

    Falkor Member

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    Glad you enjoyed it, did you get to see the lights much?
     
  11. OP
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    Multiplexer

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    Unfortunately only managed to see a faint trail, like a mist of cloud. The rest of the time was cloudy. I was more amazed by the night star more, something we cannot see in Sydney.

    I did go to ice cave tour which was pretty amazing.
     
  12. Falkor

    Falkor Member

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    Ahh bummer, yeah we were similar :(

    It seems like its not that easy to actually see the Northern Lights if you go for them, my wife wants to go to Tromso for like 2 weeks to give us the best chance to see them
     
  13. doigal

    doigal Member

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    Glad to hear you got back safely, put the pics up when you get the chance :thumbup:
     
  14. Nattynoos

    Nattynoos Member

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    We went to Tromso for 5 nights and only saw them decently on one night. Literally, I walked out of the front of our hotel (where there was a fair bit of city lights), looked up and saw the Aurora overhead! Later that night we went out to a super dark area and didn't see so much. The photos that you see of psychedlic bright colours are mostly done by fancy cameras with long exposures and settings where colours are amped up.

    Tromso is fairly awesome though, even if you don't see the lights!
     
  15. Kafoopsy

    Kafoopsy Member

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    I've heard that the lights are fairly hit and miss, you really need to go there for several weeks to see them. I'm planning a trip to Finland to see the lights next year. Have a look at this site http://www.aurora-service.eu/aurora-forecast/ It gives constant aurora forecasts. Iceland is not quite north enough to get frequent auroras.

    Multiplexor, did you have any heavy snowfalls while you were there? How long did was it before the roads were cleared? I want to hire a car in Finland but can't seem to find out much info on road conditions in winter - in particular how long it takes to clear roads after snow. If I have booked a hotel, but can't get there, it would not be good.
     
  16. OP
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    Multiplexer

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    I was in Iceland late Feb for 11 days and drove around the whole island, west, north, east then south. The time I was there was mostly cloudy and snow every day or second day. The road is always open because Iceland have snowplow truck going back and forward in area with heavy snow fall, regardless there will always be a layer of snow/ice so drive cautiously. The only time it is close is when the wind is above 30km/hr because that is enough to break the car window, I waited for 3 hours on one incident.

    The technique I was taught by the aurora tour guide was to do a break test, if the car slide when you break hard then there is ice and should drive slow.

    Depends where you driving, if you drive outside city or town then I recommend getting a 4x4 SUV and preferably bring a shovel if you plan to go to unpaved road with snow on top. Do consider other insurance they have for offer, like windows and gravel, FYI i did not purchase additional insurance but hearing the hotel owner saying wind can break windows then it might be worthwhile.

    Start your trip early as you may be driving 20KM\hr. My 4 hours trip become 7 hours

    I can only assume Finland have something similar or the same.

    Below is some of bad driving condition I encounter. Just have to drive slow.
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Mar 30, 2015

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