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Great Experience Horse Riding Holiday in Iceland

This listing has one of the 10 most popular offers available in in Iceland

The North of Iceland is known for its spectacular natural sights and diverse landscape. This tour goes from Bjarnastaðir Farm near Húsavík to the Lake Mývatn area, famous for its volcanic features and rich birdlife. Ásbyrgi Canyon, Dettifoss, Europe’s largest waterfall, and the strange rock formations at Hljóðaklettar are just some of the gems of nature we´ll be seeing on this amazing tour. An optional whale watching tour concludes the selection of natural attractions on and offshore. This tour was nominated by the Sunday Times as one of the 10th best trails in the world!

Key information

  • Rider Weight Limit: 100 kilograms
  • Tack Type: English tack
  • Horse Breed: Icelandic horse

Highlights

  • 5 riding days (start and end in Reykjavík)
  • Daily riding mileage: 20 - 40 kilometers / 12 - 25 miles
  • One of the 10th best riding trails in the world according to the Sunday Times
  • Ride to Jökulsárgljúfur National Park and other points of interest
  • Domestic flight from Reykjavík to Húsavík and bus drive to the farm included
  • Rainwear, water bottle, saddlebag, and riding helmet provided
  • Daily breakfast, lunch, and dinner during the ride
  • 5 nights accommodation

Skill level

  • Advanced

Styles


5 days with instruction
Group size: Maximum of 20 participants
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Accommodation

For this tour, please bring your sleeping bag.

Bjarnastaðir farm

Bjarnastaðir Farm, home of Halldór Olgeirsson and Elín Maríusdóttir is situated in the low bushy area of Kerlingaskógur, close to the glacial river Jökulsá á Fjöllum and Dettifoss Waterfall. You will enjoy a great view over the Fjord Öxarfjörður and the famous Lake Skjálftavatn which suddenly appeared overnight after a strong earthquake 28 years ago. Halldór and Elín, breeders of both horses and sheep will welcome you with open arms and their warmth and hospitality are indeed second to none.

  • Number of beds: 23
  • Outdoor jacuzzi: Yes
  • Number of showers: 4
  • GSM connection: Yes
  • WiFi: Yes

Þeistareykir Mountain Hut

Þeistareykir is known as a geothermal area, with colorful mud pits, tabletop mountains, hills, and lava fields, you will find the earth constantly at work. The mountain hut stays warm all year round due to the geothermal activity of the area. The area is great for hikers and those who want to enjoy nature in the “raw.”

  • Number of rooms: 1
  • Number of beds: 30
  • Outdoor jacuzzi: No
  • Number of showers: 0
  • GSM connection: No
  • WiFi: No
  • Made up beds: No
  • Number of WC: 2
  • Website with photos: No

Program

Overview

You ride along soft riding tracks ideal for “tölting”, the unique extra gait of the Icelandic Horse. On the first day, you spend in Jökulsárgljúfur National Park and visit both Dettifoss Waterfall and Ásbyrgi Canyon.

From rich green pastureland, you head towards the Gæsafjöll Mountains and spend a night in a mountain cabin at Theistareykir. Through an area scarred with cracks and fissures from earthquakes and volcanic activity, the route takes you to Lake Mývatn where bubbling mud pools and eerie lava formations are a reminder of the powerful energy right beneath your feet. You have the opportunity to bathe in the warm geothermal water of the outdoor pool at the Mývatn Nature Baths.

Itinerary

Monday: Reykjavík – Húsavík – Ásbyrgi – Dettifoss – Bjarnastaðir

The meeting place is at Flugfélagið Ernir in Reykjavík airport at 07:30 or Íslandshestar can pick you up at bus stops in Reykjavik. Pick up between 06:30 – 07:30. Please let Íslandshestar know what you prefer. You fly to Húsavík and drive to Bjarnastaðir farm. Please dress already in riding clothes and bring your passport or other identification for your domestic flight. At Bjarnastaðir, you have lunch and start the ride with a short introduction to the Icelandic horse and its special gaits.

This is truly a day to remember when you ride on the east side of the National Park Jökulsárgljúfur. On this day, you have a sightseeing tour by bus to Europe’s largest waterfall, Dettifoss, and the famous Ásbyrgi Canyon, one of the wonders of nature, a wide, horseshoe-shaped canyon with sheer cliff faces up to 100 meters high. Overnight at Bjarnastaðir Farm.

  • Riding distance: Approximately 20 kilometers

Tuesday: Bjarnastaðir - Kelduhverfi - Theistareykir Mountain Cabin

After breakfast, the group drives to Kelduhverfi and start the ride from there. You ride into the mountains and see a magical landscape over Öxafjörður Fjord. You ride to the geothermal area of Theistareykir. Overnight at Theistareykir Mountain Cabin.

  • Riding distance: Approximately 35 kilometers

Wednesday: Theistareykir - Laxárdalur

Enjoy today’s ride from the Theistareykir area to Halldorstaðir in Laxárdal. Over the rough landscape and riding through the geothermal area and lava fields up to the desert area of Hólasandur. Then you ride down to Laxárdalur Valley and over the Laxá river to Halldórstaðir. You then drive to Bjarnastaðir farm, where you stay the night with a hot tub on the premises.

  • Riding distance: Approximately 35 kilometers

Thursday: Laxárdalur

You saddle up again and head off through a black sand desert along the colorful Laxárdalur valley with the glittering Salmon River Laxá in the middle on your side. A true day of contrasts in the ever-changing Icelandic nature. You stop at the very special Hraunsrétt - made of lava. You ride to Skógarhlíð, where you leave the horses before you head back to Bjarnastaðir farm where you spend the night. You will enjoy a nice hot bath in Jarðböðin, an outdoor lagoon with geothermal water.

  • Riding distance: Approximately 30 kilometers

Friday: Geldingadalur - Reykjaheiði

Today, you set out through Geldingadalur Valley and Reykjaheiði heath. At one point, you will practically cross over from one continental plate to another as you ride over the Mid-Atlantic Ridge! It is a fascinating area with deep earthquake fissures, multi-colored mountains, and geothermal energy. With all this volcanic activity going on here, it is easy to understand that Iceland is still under “natural construction”. You ride into Öxarfjörður Fjord to Bjarnastaðir Farm, where the hot outdoor tub is waiting and you spend your last night.

  • Riding distance: Approximately 40 kilometers

Saturday: Bjarnastaðir - Húsavík (optional: whale watching) - Reykjavík

In the morning, return to Húsavík by bus and a whale-watching cruise for those interested (price per person EUR 80). Others can enjoy the town‘s swimming pool with its hot tubs or just go for a stroll in this beautiful town. Afternoon flight back to Reykjavík Domestic Airport and a transfer to your accommodation.

Note: Íshestar reserves the right to alter the itinerary if necessary.

The Icelandic horse

The history of the Icelandic horse can be traced right back to the settlement of the country in the late ninth century. Viking settlers brought their best horses with them, from various origins, though mostly of Germanic descent. The breed has remained pure for over a thousand years so today there is only one breed of horse in Iceland - the Icelandic horse.

Today, there are close to 80,000 horses in Iceland, an incredible number for a nation that counts only 330.000 people. The Icelandic horse is intelligent, good-tempered, and versatile. It is the most colorful breed in the world with over 40 different colors and over 100 variations. Travel on horseback is growing in popularity and Icelandic horsemen are respectful and considerate when it comes to nature, just as they are with their horses. All sorts of competitions are held, emphasizing the different gaits of the horses, from novice fun classes to top-class championships.

The five gaits

The Icelandic horse is unique amongst horse breeds because it masters five gaits: walk, trot, tölt, canter / gallop, and flying pace. The breed is best known for its four-beat smooth gait, the “tölt”, which is very comfortable for the rider and elegantly displayed by the horse.

  • The walk: The walk is a four-beat gait. The horse should be relaxed when walking, moving ahead briskly and putting each foot down independently.
  • The trot: The trot is a two-beat gait where the front and hind legs on opposite sides move together. It is important to train it as well as the other gaits.
  • The canter / gallop: The canter / gallop is a three-beat gait, ridden at different tempi. A slow canter is comfortable while a fast gallop can liven up the horse and increases its willingness.
  • The tölt: The tölt is the specialty of the Icelandic Horse. It is a smooth four-beat gait in which the horse’s hind legs move well under the body. The Icelandic Horse can manage this gait naturally and with variations in speed, from a gracious, collected slow tölt up to a very fast and extended tölt. The smoothness of this gait is what makes it so desirable.
  • The flying pace: The flying pace is a two-beat lateral gait. Not all Icelandic horses can perform the pace, but those that manage all five gaits well are considered the best of the breed.

Location

Tour highlights

Húsavík

It is a town in north Iceland around 10 kilometers from the domestic airport. The town is famous for whale watching tours and has around 2300 inhabitants.

Bjarnastaðir Farm

It is situated in north-east Iceland in the low bushy area of Kerlingaskógur, close to the glacial river Jökulsá á Fjöllum and Dettifoss waterfall. It is the farm of Elín and Halldór, breeders of both horses and sheep.

Jökulsárgljúfur National Park

Located north around the river Jökulsá á Fjöllum and the waterfall Dettifoss. Since 2008 it has been a part of Vatnajökull National Park, the largest national park in Europe.

Lake Mývatn

Famous for its volcanic features and rich birdlife.

Dettifoss waterfall

It is considered the second most powerful waterfall in Europe. It measures 44 meters high and 100 meters wide. It is located in north-east Iceland within the Vatnajökull National Park and flows from the glacier river Jökulsá á fjöllum which has its source in Vatnajökull.

Ásbyrgi canyon

One of the wonders of nature. It is a wide, horseshoe-shaped canyon with sheer cliff faces up to 100 meters high.

Öxarfjörður Fjord

A broad fjord in north-east Iceland located right on top of the Mid – Atlantic ridge.

Þeystareykir

A geothermal area with colorful mud pits, mountains, hills, and lava fields. The mountain hut stays warm all year round due to the geothermal activity of the area.

Halldórsstaðir in Laxárdalur valley

A farm in the north. The land has one renovated house built in 1893.

Hólasandur

A big, sandy, deserted area between Mývatn and Laxárdalur. Part of it is a protected and fenced land reclamation area, around 130 km2 growing Alaskan Lupine and birch. There is one road through the area Hólasandur.

Laxá river

Glittering salmon river.

Mývatn Nature Baths

An outdoor lagoon filled with mineral-rich geothermal water heated from natural hot springs.

Mid-Atlantic Ridge

A tectonic plate boundary. In Iceland, it is where the North American and the Eurasian plates meet and drift apart. It extends above sea level.

Food

During the ride, full board meals are provided. The menu consists of a large breakfast and traditional Icelandic meals (fish or lamb). Vegetarian meals are available if requested when booking. All riders make their own packed lunch from the breakfast table.

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.

The following meals are included:

  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Dinner

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

  • Regular (typically includes meat and fish)
  • Other dietary requirements on request
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)

There is an optional whale watching tour at an additional cost of 80 EUR per person.

What's included

  • 5 riding days
  • 5 nights accommodation in shared rooms (bring your sleeping bag)
  • All transfers during the riding tour (also domestic flights where applicable)
  • Full board (Icelandic breakfast, packed lunch, and dinner) while on the riding tour
  • 3 - 4 horses per person and local guidance
  • Rainwear, saddle bag, water bottle, and a safety helmet
  • 11% VAT

What's not included

  • Alcoholic beverages
  • Flight from and to Iceland
  • Individual travel insurance
  • Whale watching tour (80 EUR per person)

How to get there

Recommended Airports

Arrival by airplane

Please book a flight to arrive at Keflavík International Airport (KEF).

Arrival by bus

Íslandshestar's pick up for the tours will be from BSÍ bus station, except for the tours that use domestic flights.

Cancellation Policy

  • A reservation requires a deposit of 14% 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.

Value for money
Accommodation & facilities
Food
Location
Quality of activity
6 days / 5 nights
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Availability

This vacation is available from June to August, please select an arrival date below.

 

Low season

  • Rest of the year

 

High season

  • June 25 to August 18

High season for 2025:

  • June 22 to August 16

 

Special discount

Children under 12 years old will receive a 25% discount on Íslandshestar’s multi-day tours. Family discount: 5% discount available for parents and children 12 - 18 traveling together, 3 or more. Not applicable if the children’s discount is used for one family member.


Early bird discount

This tour offer 7% early booking discount for arrival dates in 2024. It is only applicable for bookings made before November 1st. 2023. To benefit, please send an inquiry to Íslandshestar.

 

Important information

Íslandshestar can also offer accommodation near the Kjölur route. The cabins are Árbúðir, Gíslaskáli and Fremstaver. Please send an inqury to Íslandshestar for more information.

Saturday August 24, 2024
(6 days / 5 nights)

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