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7 Day Horse Riding Holiday with Free Running Herd in the Icelandic Highlands, Iceland

Hestasport, Varmahlíð, Skagafjörður, Iceland

Horse Riding Holiday in Iceland

This vibrant riding tour with a herd of free-running horses commences in the beautiful Skagafjörður, the heart of horse breeding in Iceland. You will embark on a trail leading through the wilderness of the Icelandic highlands, where the stunning sight of the glaciers Hofsjökull and Langjökull will emerge as you go further. The scenic canyon Gilhagadalur, the remote highlands hut Galtará and the beautiful Svartádalur Valley are only a few of the highlights of this tour.

Key information

  • Rider Weight Limit: 240 pounds / 110 kilograms
  • Horse Height Range: 132 - 142 centimeters (13 - 14 hands)
  • Tack Type: English
  • Horse Breed: Icelandic horse

Meet the instructors

Magnús, Giulia, & Gracina
Read more

Highlights

  • Ride with a free-running herd of horses
  • 6 riding days (1-3 horses per person per day)
  • Discover the unique nature of the Icelandic Highlands
  • Soak in a hot spring under the midnight sun
  • Full board is provided throughout the tour
  • The perfect tour for nature lovers
  • 6 nights accommodation

Skill level

  • Advanced

Styles


6 days with instruction in English
The organizer also speaks: German
Group size: Maximum of 12 participants
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Accommodation

Check-in Time:
02:00
Check-out Time:
10:00

Facilities

  • Hot spring
  • Hot tub / Jacuzzi
  • Concierge desk
  • Environmentally friendly
  • Multilingual staff
  • Restaurant
  • Smoke-free property
  • ATM / banking
  • Convenience / grocery store
  • Free parking
  • Free Wi-Fi
  • Internet access
  • Parking lot
  • Wireless internet

During this holiday, you will be spending 5 nights at Hestasport's cottages in twin rooms as well as 1 night in a mountain hut.

Hestasport cottages

With magnificent views overlooking the vast plains and distant mountains of the Skagafjörður Valley, Hestasport's seven charming timber cottages are the ideal place to spend your days off all year round. Experience the serenity of Northern Iceland and fill your days with the endless possibilities for adventure that Skagafjörður has to offer.

The cottages are nestled together up on the hill only a short walking distance from the center of Varmahlíð. In town, you will find all the services you need, such as tourist information, grocery shop, restaurant, petrol station, bank, hotel, swimming pool, and more.

Hestasport has different styles of cottages with unlimited access to the natural hot tub, full self-catering kitchen and dining facilities, bathroom and shower, bed linen, towels, and bathrobes, furnished living area, and free Wi-Fi.

From the hot tub at the center of the well-maintained cottage site, you can enjoy the golden light of the midnight sun or watch the northern lights. The cottages range in size from studio-style bungalows (two to four people) to spacious multi-room retreats.

Galtará Mountain Hut

Offering the luxury of made up beds and running water (a rare sight in the remote highlands), this highland hut will be your home for one night during the tour. The herd of horses will spend the night with you, just a stone's throw away from the hut.

Program

Day 1: Reykjavik – Varmahlíð

After the public bus transfer to Varmahlíð, Hestasport will pick you up at the bus station and they will welcome you at their comfortable wooden cottages. There, you can settle down, put your luggage away and then you'll meet for a tasty snack.

You will have a short informal conversation before you will meet the horses and set out on your first short ride (approximately 2 hours). Afterward, you can jump into the natural hot tub that's conveniently located outside the cottages and wait for an exquisite dinner.

Day 2: Varmahlíð – Gilhagi

Today, your adventure truly begins! You will be riding through the stunning nature of the river delta towards the pen Mælifellsrétt. Herd of free-running horses will also start their journey towards the pen and you will meet the herd around noon.

From this time, you will ride with the herd of horses deeper into the valley along a low-traffic road. Riding with the herd enables you to change horses so they can relax while running free. This day will end at the farm Gilhagi, where the herd will spend the night. You will return back to your cottages, where the delicious dinner will be already awaiting you.

Day 3: Varmahlíð - Gilhagi - Galtará

Before you set out in the morning, you will pack your luggage for the night in the highlands. Everything that you don't need can be left in the biggest, common cottage until your return. After a short drive, you get back on horseback and ride through the scenic canyon Gilhagadalur into the highlands.

Your destination is the mountain hut Galtará located nearby the Blöndulón reservoir in the wide moor Eyvindarstaðaheiði. The horses also spend their night here - only a few steps away from your hut. At the Galtará hut, you have even the luxury of hot water and showers.

Before the night sets in, the chef will treat you to a delectable dinner. If you are lucky, you will be able to see the Hofsjökull and Langjökull glaciers shimmering in the soft light of the midnight sun.

Day 4: Galtará - Svartárdalur - Stafnsrétt

After breakfast, you'll have to pack your luggage and leave the peaceful Galtará and the stillness of the highlands behind. You'll follow wide riding trails that allow you for an endless tölt. In the breaks, depending on the season, you may be able to pick crowberries, the aromatic wild thyme, or the healthy Iceland moss.

As you descend from Eyvindarstaðaheiði further into the Svartárdalur Valley, you will see the corral Stafnsrétt, where the sheep are collected every autumn. This corral is your destination today. The horses will retreat here for the night and you will drive back to the cottages.

Day 5: Stafnsrétt - Mælifellsrétt

In the morning, you will saddle the horses and ride into the direction home. The day seems like a summary of the entire tour. The paths alternate between soft riding trails that are perfect for tölting and a more challenging, rugged terrain.

To start with, the horses climb uphill on rocky serpentines. From the mountain pass Kiðaskarð, you will be able to catch one last glimpse of the faraway highlands and the majestic glaciers. You will ride down towards the pen Mælifellrétt you remember from your lunch break on the second day. You will leave the horses there and relax back at the cottages and wait for the last exciting riding day to come.

Day 6: Mælifellrétt - Varmahlíð

Following a delightful breakfast you will start your last day with some history. First, you visit Glaumbær, a collection of traditional turf-houses, where you can see how Icelanders lived throughout the centuries. Then you saddle up for the last ride. The horses are yearning to go home, therefore it will be an exciting ride towards the stables.

After passing through the glacier river delta, you will stop at the farm Stokkhólmi for lunch.

The Icelandic horse is one of the few breeds in the world capable of 5 gaits. During the past days, you have tried four of the five gaits of these amazing horses. Now it’s time for the ultimate experience of the Flying Pace, a gait offering breathtaking speed and explosive acceleration. You will be aided by Hestasport's skilled riding instructor and her well trained pace horses.

Once you arrive at Vindheimamelar, you have to say goodbye to your horses and release them onto the pasture. At the cottages a substantial farewell dinner will be awaiting you. For an even better conclusion to your riding tour, you can jump into the stone hot tub and relax while pondering the ever-amazing memories of the past days spent on horseback.

Day 7: Transfer to Reykjavik - the end of the tour

After breakfast, you will pack your luggage and Hestasport will give you a lift to the bus stop where you will depart to Reykjavík. If you would like to take the Highland Bus that follows road F35 and explore the geothermal area of Hveravellir, the magnificent waterfall of Gullfoss and the famous Geysir in Haukadalur, then they can arrange this for you as well for and extra price. Domestic flight from Akureyri to Reykjavík with transportation to the airport is also available for a surcharge upon request.

Instructors

Magnús Sigmundsson

Giulia Weitz

Gracina Fiske

Location

The start of the tour is in Skagafjörður, North-West Iceland, also known as the "Valley of Horses". The valley is home to 4.000 human inhabitants and over 8.000 horses. It is truly the perfect place to visit for any horse enthusiasts. During the ride you will be visiting the glacier river delta, Blöndulón lake, Svarárdalur valley, the sheep corrals of Mælifellsrétt and Stafnsrétt and the some of the northern parts of the Icelandic Highlands, before returning to your cozy cottages near Varmahlíð.

Features

Activities

  • Hot spring
  • Hot tub / Jacuzzi

General

  • Environmentally friendly
  • Kitchen
  • Lounge
  • Multilingual staff
  • Smoke-free property
  • Terrace

Services

  • Free parking
  • Free Wi-Fi
  • Internet access
  • Parking lot
  • Wireless internet

Food

Hestasport's chef will prepare all meals and you’ll get the chance to taste traditional Icelandic specialties such as fresh and smoked lamb, trout, salmon, and a variety of cheese and other dairy products. All of the ingredients are locally sourced from the farms of Skagafjörður.

Vegetarian meals are available upon request. Hestasport can cater to special dietary requirements, but only to a certain degree. If you are on a special diet, please contact Hestasport and you can discuss the possibilities.

The following meals are included:

  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Dinner
  • Drinks

The following drinks are included:

  • Water
  • Coffee
  • Tea
  • Soda

The following dietary requirement(s) are served and/or catered for:

  • Vegetarian
  • Regular (typically includes meat and fish)
If you have special dietary requirements it's a good idea to communicate it to the organiser when making a reservation

Things to do (optional)

If you wish to extend your holiday with a few extra nights, please inform Hestasport. There are endless things to do in the area apart from horse riding such as:

White water rafting

Visiting an island full of puffins

Sea angling

Salmon and trout fishing

Hiking

Whale watching

The price for extra nights and other activities are not included in the tour price.

What's included

  • 2 - 3 horses per day / per rider
  • Transfer from and to Reykjavík (public bus)
  • All ground transportation throughout the riding tour
  • Full board during the riding tour, starting with lunch on day 1, ending with breakfast on day 7
  • 5 nights accommodation in Hestasport Cottages (2 to 4-bed rooms, shared facilities)
  • 1 night accommodation in a mountain hut (sleeping bag place, sleeping bags are provided)
  • English and / or German speaking guides
  • Helmets, rain gear, saddlebags
  • Accompanying service carrying luggage, food, and more

What's not included

  • Transfer to and from Iceland
  • Accommodation in Reykjavík (but bookable on demand for an extra charge)
  • Riding breeches, boots, jackets, gloves
  • Alcoholic beverages

How to get there

Recommended Airports

The cost of the tour includes tickets for the public bus from Reykjavík to Varmahlíð, departing from Mjódd bus station at 9:00 on the first day of the tour. Hestasport recommends spending the night before in Reykjavík.

If you fly to Keflavík International Airport, you can take the frequent FlyBus from the terminal straight to Reykjavík. Hestasport will provide a customized travel plan for you to hely you find the bus station the next morning, based on your accommodation for the night.

You can also take a domestic flight from Reykjavík to Akureyri. Please note that the domestic flights depart from Reykjavík Domestic Airport (RVK), not Keflavík International Airport (KEF). You can take the FlyBus to the domestic terminal from the international airport if you choose to fly to the north. There are two buses a day from Akureyri to Varmahlíð.

Once you arrive in Varmahlíð, Hestasport will meet you at the bus station and take you to your accommodation.

You can also drive to Hestasport's location. See below for driving directions:

  • In Varmahlíð, you turn off Ring Road no.1 onto road number 752.
  • When you are on road number 752, Hestasport's office is the first building on the left.
  • It is 150 meters from the junction.
  • It's a white and blue painted building.

The GPS coordinates are the following:

  • N 65°32,744' W 19°26,338'
  • 65°32'44''N 19°26'20''W (on an iPhone)
  • The drive from the airport will take you approximately 5 hours.

Cancellation Policy

  • A reservation requires a deposit of 25% of the total price.
  • The deposit is non-refundable, if the booking is cancelled.
  • The rest of the payment should be paid 30 days before arrival.
7 days / 6 nights
from --
Monday August 3, 2020
(7 days / 6 nights)

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