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Horse Riding Holiday in Iceland

If you are looking for a real horse adventure in the Icelandic wilderness and prefer untouched, stunning nature over luxury, this is your tour! In true Icelandic style, you will be driving a free running herd of horses through vast grasslands, stony mountains and a moon-like volcanic landscape towards the glacier. You lead the herd across rivers and explore new tracks, as the old ones may have vanished in the last winter.

Key Information

  • Rider Weight Limit: 240 pounds / 110 kilograms
  • Tack Type: English Tack
  • Horse height Range: 13 to 14 hands
  • Horse Breed: Icelandic horse

Meet the instructors

Magnús, Giulia, & Gracina
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Highlights

  • Long and challenging riding days
  • Ride with a free-running herd of horses
  • Soak in a hot spring after a long day in the saddle
  • Discover the hidden trails and remote valleys of the Icelandic Highlands
  • Full board meals provided throughout the tour
  • Authentic, simple mountain huts
  • 7 nights' accommodation

Skill level

  • Advanced

Styles


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

Check-in Time:
14:00
Check-out Time:
22:00

Facilities

  • Hot spring
  • Hot tub / Jacuzzi
  • Dining area
  • Environmentally friendly
  • Garden
  • Kitchen
  • Lounge
  • Multilingual staff
  • Smoke-free property
  • Terrace
  • ATM / banking
  • Convenience / grocery store
  • Free parking
  • Free Wi-Fi
  • Tour assistance

During this holiday, you will spend three nights in Hestasport's cottages (two to four bedrooms, shared facilities) and four nights in mountain huts. For those four nights you will spend in the highlands, you will stay in simple mountain huts with no electricity or running water. Hestasport can provide sleeping bags but guests are welcome to bring their own.

Hestasport's 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.

Program

Day 1: Reykjavik - Varmahlið

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 the first short ride (approximately two hours). Afterward, you can jump into the natural hot tub that is conveniently located outside the cottages and wait for an exquisite dinner.

Day 2: Varmahlíð - Breið

Today is the beginning of your adventure! After a long sleep and a good breakfast, you will drive to the stable and get on your horse. While you are on your way to the highlands, the herd of free horses is also starting its journey. Your accompanying herd allows you to change horses during the day so your mount can have a well-deserved rest and run free with their friends.

You'll ride along the wide river delta Héraðsvötn where you can watch plenty of birds nesting and hunting. After lunch, you will ride together with the herd deeper into the valley along a low-traffic road. You'll end your day at the Breið farm where the herd stays for the night. You'll drive back to the cottages where a warm dinner awaits you.

Day 3: Breið - Skiptabakki

This morning, you have to pack your luggage because you'll spend the next nights in mountain huts. From Breið, you'll head southbound. After a few minutes ride, the civilization is already behind you, you'll hear nothing but the golden plover and the wind. Ahead of you lays the gleaming glacier Hofsjökull.

The higher you get, the less vegetation it would be, you'll see on your way, only some lonely arctic willow bushes and Iceland moss remain. Late in the afternoon, the mountain hut Skiptabakkaskáli appears in the wilderness. Running cold water is the luxury of this charming cabin but “central heating” is guaranteed since you'll all sleep together in one room.

Day 4: Skiptabakki - Ingólfsskáli

Today, the majestic glacier, Hofsjökull, dominates the horizon while you ride west along the Vestari Jökulsá river. The herd is running across the stony, barren highland that begins to look almost moonlike. Here, you'll have to cross a huge glacial river for the first time and you need to find a good point, so all of the horses get safely to the other side.

In the evening, you'll reach the Ingólfsskáli hut, located in the ancient lava field, Lambahraun, only a few kilometers from the roots of the glacier. After a good dinner, you can enjoy the peacefulness around and see the horses through the windows of the cabin.

Day 5: Ingólfsskáli - Laugafell

From Ingólfsskáli, you'll turn east and ride towards the Illviðrahnjúkur mountain. The newest research has proven that the geographical heart of Iceland is situated not far from the east side of this mountain. Here, the winters are very harsh and almost no creature can survive, except ravens and the arctic fox.

Immersed by the wilderness, you'll head to the Laugafell cabin, the oasis in the center of the desert. A hot tub awaits you to help relax your bones and muscles and you'll enjoy the midnight sun while bathing.

Day 6: Laugafell - Hildarsel

Ahead of you is one of the longest of your riding days and amazingly beautiful nature. After a strengthening breakfast, you'll saddle the horses and begin to descend from a highland plateau down to the riverbanks of the East Glacial River. Very slowly, it will get greener and livelier around, you'll hear the common snipe and maybe get a glimpse of a ptarmigan.

The herd is trotting through small birch and blueberry bushes as you ride along the powerful river. You'll have wonderful views and ever-changing riding trails until you reach the very rustic Hildarsel hut in the Austurdalur valley.

Day 7 Hildarsel - Kelduland

Today, you'll ride north through the valley until you reach the ruins of the turf farm, Ábær, and a very tiny church; many stories can be told about the life of past generations here. After a stop, you'll ride ahead to the magnificent deep gorge, Merkigil. You'll climb down into the gorge with the horses and take a moment to watch this very unique natural beauty.

Up again, you'll continue your way to the final destination, Kelduland farm; here, you'll have to say goodbye to your trustful horse. You'll drive to the Hestasport Cottages where you'll enjoy a farewell dinner and the last bath in a hot tub, while you recapitulate all the impressions of this unforgettable trip.

Day 8 Transfer to Reykjavik - The end of the tour

After breakfast, 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 an extra price. Domestic flight from Akureyri to Reykjavík with transportation to the airport is also available for a surcharge upon request.

  • Please note that Hestasport reserves the right to change the itinerary in short notice depending on weather conditions or other unexpected nature phenomenons. It could also be the huts are even more basic or Hestasport have to recourse to tents.

Instructors

Magnús Sigmundsson

Giulia Weitz

Gracina Fiske

Location

The start of the tour will be 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 of Héraðsvötn, then, volcanic deserts of the highlands, the glacier Hofsjökull, the natural hot springs of Laugafell, and the magnificent Austurdalur valley, before returning to your cozy cottages near Varmahlíð.

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

  • Transfer by public bus to and from Reykjavík
  • All ground transportation throughout the riding tour
  • Full board during the riding tour (Starting with a light meal for lunch on Day 1 and ending with breakfast on Day 8)
  • 3 nights in Hestasport Cottages (2 to 4-bed rooms, shared facilities)
  • 4 nights in Mountain Huts (sleeping bag place, sleeping bags are provided)
  • English and/or German-speaking guides
  • Helmets, rain gear, saddlebags
  • Accompanying service carrying luggage, food, etc.

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

Arrival by bus

The cost of the tour includes tickets for the public bus from Reykjavík to Varmahlíð, departing from Mjódd bus station at 9 a.m. on the first day of the tour. Hestasport recommends spending the night before in Reykjavík. If you fly to Keflavík International Airport (KEF), you can take the frequent FlyBus from the terminal straight to Reykjavík.

Hestasport will provide a customized travel plan for you to help 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.

Driving direction

You can also drive to Hestasport's location.

  • In Varmahlíð, 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 five 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.
8 days / 7 nights
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Availability

Arrival: Sunday August 15, 2021
Departure: Sunday August 22, 2021

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