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What better or more unique way to do the popular Golden Circle tour than by riding the Icelandic horse through the lovely countryside of South Iceland? You will visit three attractions and each one is guaranteed to take your breath away. You will enjoy the hot spring area of Geysir, the scenic Gullfoss or the Golden Waterfall, and the wonderful Thingvellir National Park. Come and experience this tour nominated by CNNgo as one of the 15 greatest horse treks in the world!
You will be accommodated in various accommodation with made up beds in shared rooms during the ride including Réttarholt Guesthouse on the first, second, and sixth night, Hvítárdalur on the third night, and Myrkholt on the fourth and fifth night. Moreover, please note that accommodation after the ride is to be arranged individually.
Réttarholt Guesthouse is located on the edge of the highlands in the small village Árnes. There are nice cabins to sleep in here with five rooms and 24 regular beds in total. There are three showers that are placed in separate buildings and four water closets.
Hvítárdalur is a nice farm motel near the river Hvítá. It has two floors with a good view of the farm and Íshestar's horse herd that spend the night as well. There is only one room at Hvítárdalur with 24 made up beds. It has two showers and two water closets.
Myrkholt is located just between Gullfoss Waterfall and the hot spring Geysir. It is a very nice farm and guesthouse. There are eight rooms with 32 made up beds in total. The number of showers is eight in total with four water closets in the house.
On the first riding day, you will get acquainted with the unique Icelandic horse and its special extra gait as you take an easy trek along the banks of the majestic Thjórsá River. You will continue towards Gullfoss Waterfall with its thundering waters and the hot spring area of Geysir. After a relaxed day ride in that locality, next, you will explore some of more remote places well off the beaten track. Later, on your way to the accommodation, you will visit the charming Secret Lagoon for a well-deserved bath. Furthermore, you will also cross the highland moor of Hrunaheiði and enjoy good riding tracks when trekking past iconic basalt columns at Hrepphólar on your way back to Kálfhóll Farm.
Icelandic horse breed is best known for its four-beat smooth gait, the “tölt”, which is very comfortable for the rider, especially on a longer tour. Riding an Icelandic horse in its native habitat land is an authentic riding experience. Herding along free-running horses is the traditional way of traveling in Iceland since horses are changed at least once a day on longer tours. You will get to ride a variety of horses.
With over 30 years of experience providing horse riding tours to both locals and visitors, Íshestar is proud to be the industry leader in the caretaking of horses in Iceland. They work actively with MAST (Icelandic food and veterinary authority) to improve their caretaking methods. Íshestar's experience and collaboration with MAST and other leading veterinaries in Iceland prompted them to write and publish a handbook where their procedures are available to fellow horse riding tour operators as best-practice for optimal treatment for the Icelandic horse.
The tack used for Icelandic horses is slightly different than the tack ordinarily used for other breeds. The saddle is built close to a dressage saddle and has a relatively flat seat. The saddles come with plain or quilted seats. On longer rides, a crupper helps to keep the saddle in place. Riding style used on Icelandic horses is close to English riding style, but stirrups are worn long. Bits used are mostly simple snaffles and the bridles have a detachable noseband and clip on reins.
If you know how to ride a horse using English riding style, you should have no problems riding an Icelandic horse. Western-style riders should not experience any difficulties adjusting to the Icelandic way of riding either. Íshestar's guides will take some time at the beginning of each tour to explain the correct way to saddle the horse, mount it, and how to ride the different gaits. They will carefully explain how and when to ride “tölt”, the special gait of the Icelandic horse.
This tour is perfect for families and those not having the required riding experience for our highland tours. However, please keep in mind that riding days can be long so you should be in good physical shape and have the basic horsemanship skills. This horseback riding tour is for intermediate riders. As an intermediate rider, you must be comfortable and in control at the walk, moderate length trots (tölt), and short canters.
You will be picked up at BSÍ Bus station in Reykjavik or at Reykjavik official bus stops near your accommodation between 18:00 to 19:00. Íshesta's bus will transfer you and your fellow riders to Réttarholt Guesthouse where the horses and staff will be waiting for you. After a lovely introductory meal where you can get to know each other, you may relax and rest so you will be well prepared for the adventure ahead of you.
After an introduction to the Icelandic horse and its special gaits, you will start the ride along the pleasant trail at Thjórsá glacier-fed river. You will leave the horses at Sandlækjarmýri field and be driven to Réttarholt Guesthouse. This day will be the perfect start to get to know your horse and the Icelandic way of trail riding in a relaxed atmosphere. You may then enjoy the outdoor hot tub at Réttarholt Guesthouse before a hearty dinner.
You will leave Réttarholt and be driven back to the horses. From there, you will head off to the fertile farmlands of neighboring community Hrunamannahreppur. You will drive spare horses along in a free running herd, enabling you to change the mount regularly and traveling at a brisk space. You will cross the well-known salmon river Stóra-Laxá and stop for picnic lunch at Hrunaréttir, a corral used for the annual sheep round-up in autumn. You will then ride to Hvítárdalur Farm where you will spend the night.
You will continue the ride on soft trails ideal for tölting towards the majestic canyon Brúarhlöð where milky green water passes through bizarre rock formations. Alongside Hvítá River, you will follow the ever-deepening canyon on to the impressive Golden Waterfall Gullfoss and continue to the famous Geysir hot spring area.
Today's ride will take you through Haukadalur valley with its beautiful birch forest. You will cross clear little streams on the way and enjoy the rich vegetation of wild mountain flowers that bloom during high summer. While you ascend to a highland plateau, you will notice the changes in nature as you reach higher ground. A breathtaking view of the mountain ranges and glaciers of the highland around will await you when you reach the top of Haukadalsheiði. The rest of the day will be spent at the Geysir area. You will have plenty of time to explore this highly interesting area with its countless bubbling hot springs.
You will leave the Geysir area and ride along green pastures back to the bridge at Brúarhlöð canyon where you will cross the mighty Hvítá River. Then, you will head towards the interior and follow beautiful Tungufellsdalur Valley onto Hrunaheiðar heath plateau and experience riding along the edge of civilization. The horses will spend the night at Kaldbakur Farm and you will be driven to the Secret Lagoon for relaxing bath in the geothermal pool and then you will continue to be driven to Réttarholt Guesthouse and spend the night.
Your last day of riding will include yet again terrific scenery. Today, you will follow good riding tracks past Mount Galtafell. You will cross River Laxá before you reach Sandlækjarmýri. You will turn towards the banks of Thjórsá River and follow them to Kálfhóll Farm. Here, you will say goodbye to Íshestar's guides, staff, and horses. You will return to Reykjavík and be dropped off at your accommodation. The approximate arrival time will be at 20:00.
Note: Please note that Íshestar reserves the right to alter routes, itineraries, or timetables without prior notice should the necessity arise.
On Thursday, you will visit the charming Secret Lagoon for a well-deserved bath.
This horse riding tour will take place in the Southern Region of Iceland. Iceland is the least densely populated country in Europe with a pure, unpolluted, and truly magical landscape. In Iceland, you can find hot spring oasis featuring hot pools and geothermal hot springs that are perfect for relaxing after a long riding day. The three key attractions on this classic tour are the hot spring area of Geysir, Gullfoss or the Golden Waterfall, and Thingvellir National Park. Thingvellir National Park is now on the UNESCO World Heritage List based on its historical, geological and cultural importance.
On the first day, a welcome dinner at Kálfhóll Farm will be held and during the ride, full board is provided. Íshestar's menu consists of a large breakfast and traditional Icelandic meals (fish or lamb). Vegetarian meals are available if requested when booking. You will make your own packed lunch from the breakfast table. Moreover, please note that alcoholic beverages are not included in the tour price and are hard to get in the highlands. They can be bought at a reasonable price in the Duty Free Store at Keflavík International Airport (KEF) upon arrival.
On Wednesday, with an additional charge, you can also enjoy the white ice field of Langjökull glacier up-close with snowmobile drive on Langjökull glacier. A 4x4 vehicle can take you to a base camp where you can change into warm gear. After safety instructions, you may drive into the white world of ice and snow. Two people may share a snowmobile during the one hour-drive and both can get to drive the vehicle (a valid driver's license is necessary to drive a snowmobile, younger participants and children can sit in the back). The price per person is 26,200 ISK.
Please book your flight to arrive at Keflavík International Airport (KEF).
You can book your Flybus ticket to and from Reykjavík. The Flybus departs from Keflavík International Airport (KEF) 35 to 40 minutes after each arrival. Busses are located right outside the terminal building. Íshestar will pick you up at BSÍ Bus station in Reykjavik or at Reykjavik official bus stops near your accommodation between 18:00 to 19:00.
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