Overview

Riding in Iceland is a unique experience – an opportunity to ride strong, willing horses over exciting and adventurous terrain. Riding an Icelandic horse is not only tremendous fun, it is also a great way to experience the natural beauty of Iceland; snow topped mountains, the largest glacier in Europe, volcanoes, thundering waterfalls and striking lunar landscapes.

The Icelandic horse is a pure-bred descendant of those brought to Iceland by the Vikings over a thousand years ago. Horses remain an important part of Icelandic culture; they are used on remote farms to round up livestock and are still the best means of getting around in many parts of the island. Although small, the Icelandic is a powerful horse and has no difficulty carrying someone weighing 100kgs.

There is no better way to visit the main attractions on the Golden circle tour, than by riding on Icelandic horses on the Golden Circle trail, through stunning countryside of Southern Iceland, with a visit to the hot spring area of Geysir, Gullfoss or the Golden Waterfall and Thingvellir National Park. Each one guarantees to take your breath away. Thingvellir National Park is now on the UNESCO World Heritage List based on its historical, geological and cultural importance.

Key Facts

  • Runs mid-June to end of August
  • Set departures
  • No minimum/ maximum 18 riders
  • Trail with progressive riding
  • 6 Days / 6 nights (6 days riding)
  • 5 hours riding per day
  • Suits intermediate to advanced riders
  • Weight limit – 100 kilos

Riding and Horses

Riders must be at ease at all 4 paces across varied, uneven terrain and be in good physical condition. You must be secure in the saddle and be comfortable riding for long hours.

Much of the riding is at a tölt, which can be fast so you need to be a confident rider able to adapt to different riding styles. General fitness is as important as riding experience due to the long hours in the saddle.

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. The 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.

The height of horses is from 13hh – 14hh

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. Saddles come with plain or quilted seats. On longer rides a crupper helps 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 with clip on reins.

The 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 is an authentic riding experience.

Herding along free running horses is the traditional way of travelling in Iceland, since horses are changed at least once a day on longer tours. You will get to ride a variety of horses.

Helmets are strongly recommended and a packing list will be provided when you book the ride. Saddlebags, wet weather gear, and water are provided

Itinerary

There is no better way to visit the hot springs area of Geysir and the Golden Waterfall of Gullfoss, than by riding through the lovely countryside of South Iceland. As you ride towards the magnificent waterfall at Gullfoss and Geysir, your guides lead spare horses for you. Some days of the ride are more challenging as the spare horses will travel with you as a loose herd as you cross the highland moor of Hrunaheði. What makes this horse special is its fourth gait, the tölt, which is comparable to a running walk. Most riders can master it fairly quickly; it’s fast, comfortable and enables the horse to cover great distances.

Saturday
You will be collected from Reykjavík at 18:00pm and transferred to Réttarholt Guesthouse, to meet the horses and your guides. Settle into your room and then an introductory meal with your fellow riders.

Sunday
After an introduction to the Icelandic horse and its special gaits, start your ride along pleasant trails with views of deep green mountains and valleys and the mighty glacial river Thjórsá. Leave the horses at Sandlækjarmýri field and drive to Réttarholt Guesthouse where you can relax in the outdoor hot tub before a hearty dinner. (Distance covered today is approx.15 km)

Monday
Leave Réttarholt and return to the horses. From Sandlækjarmýri field you head off to the fertile farmlands of neighbouring community Hrunamannahreppur. Your spare horses are driven ahead of you in a free running herd, allowing you to change horses regularly and travel at a brisk pace.  Cross the salmon river Stóra-Laxá and stop for lunch at Hrunaréttir, a corral for the annual sheep round-up in the autumn. Continue riding to Hvítárdalur Farm where you spend the night. (Distance covered today is approx. 30km)

Tuesday
We continue our ride on soft trails ideal for tolting towards the majestic canyon Brúarhlöð where milky green water passes through bizarre rock formations. Alongside Hvítá River you follow the ever deepening canyon to Gullfoss waterfall, before continuing to Geysir hot spring area. (Distance covered today is approx. 20km)

Wednesday
Ride through Haukadalur valley with its beautiful birch forest. 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 awaits you when you reach the top of Haukadalsheiði. (Distance covered today is approx.15 km).  The rest of the day is spent in the Geysir area and there is plenty of time to explore.  There is also the option today to join a snowmobiling trip on the white ice field of Langjökull glacier (payable locally).

Thursday
Leave the Geysir area and ride along green pastures back to the bridge at Brúarhlöð canyon where you cross mighty Hvítá River. Now you are heading towards the interior and follow beautiful Tungufellsdalur valley onto Hrunaheiðar heath plateau. Your horses spend the night at Kaldbakur Farm, whilst you drive to the ‘Secret Lagoon’ to bathe in the relaxing geothermal pool before transferring to Réttarholt Guesthouse for the night. (Distance covered today is approx.30 km)

Friday
On your last day of riding you follow good riding tracks past Mt. Galtafell and see the amazing basalt columns at Hrepphólar. Cross River Láxá before you reach Sandlækjarmýri. From here you turn towards the banks of Thjórsá River and follow them back to Kálfhóll Farm where you say goodbye to your guides and horses. (The distance covered today is approx.40 km) Arrive in Reykjavík at approx.20:00pm. Included: Bus transfer from the farm to Reykjavík.

We reserve the right to alter the itinerary if necessary

We recommend an extra night in Reykjavik at the end and we can arrange this for you.

Accommodation and Food

You will stay at various family run guest houses during this trip. Price is based around sharing a twin or quad room with twin or bunk beds. Single rooms are on request with a supplement. Bathrooms are shared.

During the ride full board is provided with a mix of cosy, simple guesthouses & farmhouses. The food is lovely home cooked Icelandic food, consisting of soups & stews, fish & lamb, with healthy breakfasts & lunches. Vegetarian meals and other meal requests are available if requested when booking. All riders make their own packed lunch from the breakfast table.

Rain wear, water bottle, saddle bag are provided. It is compulsory to wear a riding helmet.

Hot tubs are available at most of the guest houses so this gives the riders something to look forward to after a long days riding.

Upcoming Dates

The Golden Circle Trail ride is the most popular riding holiday in Iceland, and particularly good for first time visitors to the country and includes all the highlights like Gullfoss and the Hot Spring Geysir. However there are a wide variety of other rides available like Sheep round ups throughout the summer.

If you do not see availability for your preferred dates, please do contact us. There might have been a cancellation or we might have a slightly different ride in Iceland which would appeal to you.

Depending on your flight times, you will need at least one night in Reykjavik after your ride.

Dates and Prices

2018: Saturday to Friday June 9-5, June 16-22, June 23-29, July 7 -13, July 14 -20, July 21-27, Aug 4-10, Aug 11-17, Aug 11-17, Aug 18-24, Aug 25-31

Cost: €2080.00.  We use the ANZ sell rate to convert from euro to the Australian dollar.

Rates are based on the Euro and subject to currency fluctuation, so please contact us for the most up to date pricing for your riding holiday.

Includes

  • All accommodation in twin or quad share rooms
  • Bus transfer from the Reykjavik to the farm
  • Full board during the ride is provided. The menu consists of a large breakfast and traditional Icelandic meals (fish or lamb).  All riders make their own picnic lunch form the breakfast table.
  • 6 full days of riding on horseback, including horses and riding gear
  • Trained riding guides
  • Rain wear, water bottle, saddlebag and riding helmet are provided

 Not included

  • International flights and transfers to start of ride paid locally
  • Travel insurance (compulsory)
  • Entry to sights and activities not mentioned
  • Drinks not included with meals, additional incidentals and tips
  • 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 Keflavik Airport on arrival.

Other Information

Location
Near Reykjavik

Weather
Weather website: http://www.holiday-weather.com/

Activities
During the ride you will enjoy sightseeing in the local area with a visit to the secret lagoon

Languages spoken
English and Icelandic

Other information

It is suggested to pack a soft covered bag and pack light as space is limited

Closest Train or Airport
Nearest Airport Keflavik

Terms and conditions and terms apply to this riding holiday

Please contact Snaffle Travel for further information, booking terms and conditions at info@snaffletravel.com.au

Please note that the itinerary may change depending on the weather at the time and other local conditions.

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