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ICELAND day tours: alone in September

Hi there,
Hoping someone can advise. I'm looking to take a quick, cheap trip to Iceland sometime during the first week in September for around 6 days. I really wanted to drive through some of the countryside, but my friends just dropped out of the trip and I don't really feel safe driving alone. Also, I'm trying to keep this trip to under $2k (including flights from NYC) since I have some bigger trips at end of the year.
I consulted some travel agents and they've quoted some high prices. So I'm wondering ...

If I don't want to do a group/organized tour for my whole stay- would it be cheapest for me to just book a hotel in Reykjavik and try to do some day trips?

I've seen some interesting day trips through companies like Reykjavik Excursions, Superjeep, and Viator but wondering if anyone has any experience with any of these? I really dislike the idea of being on a bus with a bunch of other tourists so are any of these smaller, more personal, and of better quality? I'm trying to find the cheaper happy-medium to hiring a private guide/driver...

Any recommendations for small charming boutique hotels that are less than $200/night in Reykjavik?

thanks in advance!

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