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I'm going to Iceland this December with the hopes of catching the Northern Lights. We were considering doing a tour, but we were considering renting a car and drive around hunting for them ourselves. Potentially we could follow some of the buses too.

The main reason is, we have enough people to fill a car, so it would likely be cheaper than going on a tour bus. And also it gives us more flexibility, i.e. we can choose when to go and when to leave.

However, I'm unsure if this is possible, and how hard is it to look for the Northern Lights? Is it as easy as driving out far from the city? Are the tours worth it? Have people had problems where, the tours end too early?

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It is certainly feasible to do it on your own. You can get information about aurora conditions on the website of the Icelandic Met Office. It shows expected cloud coverage for the next few days and (except during the summer) a forecast for aurora activity.

If you are not a part of a tour, it is important to monitor this so you know when to stay up late! You'll need to make sure that you've got internet access.

You will also improve your odds of seeing northern lights by not staying near Reykjavík. Generally, your best odds of seeing them is to stay in the northern part (near Akureyri). There are never any guarantees though. During December, hotels will rarely be fully booked so you might leave it open and let the weather decide which part of the country you head for. That is a luxury that the tours will not afford.

Also, if you do decide to go on your own, keep track of weather reports not just for the northern lights, but also for driving conditions. December isn't usually that bad but there can be storms and road are occasionally closed.

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