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Iceland - Riding holidays

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    Riding holidays in Iceland summary

    Our Icelandic partners have been a leading tour operator since 1982 and have always given absolute priority to quality service and safety. They place great emphasis on sustainable tourism offering quality rides in the unspoiled nature of their country. 

    Wild and Exotic offer a wide variety of itineraries, ranging from expeditions lasting several days that require good riding skills and knowledge of horses, to easier day rides based from the riding centre, which are suitable for less experienced riders. Information on the different itineraries available are listed under the relevant tabs of this website: Highland and countryside rides. The Wild and Exotic Golden Circle ride is our flagship ride which we highly recommend.

    Iceland countryside rides summary

    Geysir: This tour is a short version of our popular Golden Circle tour covering the hot springs area of Geysir and the Golden Waterfall Gullfoss. They also visit Thingvellir National Park on the transfer day. Enjoy accommodation at a cozy holiday farm with a hot outdoor tub and a hotel with private facilities during this itinerary.

    Golden Circle: There is no better way to visit the hot springs area of Geysir and the Golden Waterfall – Gullfoss – than by riding through the lovely countryside of South Iceland. On your way to the farm you will witness the great scenery at Thingvellir National Park. This popular itinerary is ideal for families and those who do not have the required riding experience for their highland tours. Still riding days can be long so you should be in good physical shape and have a basic knowledge of horsemanship.  On the first riding day you get acquainted with the Icelandic horse and its special gaits on a relaxed ride along majestic Thjórsá River. You will then ride towards magnificent Gullfoss Waterfall and the hot springs area of Geysir. After a relaxed riding day in that area you will experience riding along the edge of civilisation. You will cross the highland moor of Hrunaheiði and enjoy good riding tracks when riding past Hrepphólar basalt columns on your way back to Kálfhóll Farm.

    Countryside Riding Adventure Ride: If you are not ready for many days in the saddle, yet an outdoor person with a basic knowledge of riding and good stamina, this tour might be what you are looking for. You will follow fine bridle paths to the magnificent sights of Iceland, Geysir Hot Spring area and Gullfoss Waterfall. During three riding days your guide leads you to these wonders of Iceland. Tölt”, the special gait of the Icelandic horse will be introduced to you. This comfortable gait is used for parts of this ride, but also trot and walk the horses in between. On the way to Kjóastaðir Farm a visit to Thingvellir is made, a place of historic and geological importance and first National Park of Iceland…

    Bright Nights Riding: In the month of June the sun never fully sets in the high north and the nights are bright in all of Iceland. According to Icelandic folklore, cows gain the powers of speech, seals become human, and it is healthy to roll naked in the dew-covered grass on the brightest night of the year. You will stay at Kjóastaðir Farm located near the Geysir hot spring area and Gullfoss Waterfall. During two riding days “tölt”, the special gait of the Icelandic horse will be introduced to you while riding to both these magnificent natural sights. Get ready for a ride in the evening to enjoy the tranquillity of the Icelandic countryside and the bright nights of Iceland.

    The Twilight Zone:  This ride is for riders, 50 years and older, was already a great success in its first year. This is why they are offering such a ride again, with a slightly changed itinerary. On this ride you will hope to meet many of their older friends again, as well as making some new ones. The hosts and partners since 1988, Sigurður (Siggi) and Ólöf will lead this ride again. You will ride through valleys and mighty lava fields in Hítardalur valley. Majestic Snæfellsjökull rises ahead of you when you traverse the beach on a traditional trail only known by the locals. Besides great riding routes this tour includes some sightseeing as well. You will visit the Settlement Centre in Borgarnes and Deildartunguhver hot spring, as well as Hraunfossar and Barnafoss waterfalls.

    Beach and Mountain Ride: The Snæfellsnes Peninsula stretches out into the west of Iceland. You can find many features of the Icelandic nature in this part of the country. At Stóri-Kálfalækur Farm you start the ride into the mountains and enjoy the colors of nature in Hítardalur valley. Through lava fields and along hillsides you ride down to the shore and continue your ride on the beach. This traditional track, only revealed by the tide, offers horses and riders great opportunities to perform the smooth gait “tölt” over long distances. Participants on this tour join the longer Snæfellsnes tour for four days, but return back to Reykjavík on the fifth day while those on the longer ride continue.

    Trail of Hope: This ride is an ideal opportunity for everyone who wants to enjoy a comfortable ride in different types of landscape. You will ride through unspoiled nature and get an excellent insight into Icelandic history when listening to stories from the Saga ages. There is plenty of time to enjoy the unique gait “tölt” while exploring nature and the history of this outstanding area. You will start the ride at Hvammur Farm in Vatnsdalur valley. It is a thrilling experience riding in water on your way across the lagoon called Lake Hóp, accompanied by a herd of free running horses ahead of you. A visit to a seal colony on the North-Atlantic coast is something you do not want to miss. Another highlight of this tour is the bus trip back to Reykjavík following the highland route of Kjölur. You will be driven between two glaciers and enjoy bathing in the natural hot pool at Hveravellir. You will also visit the Geysir hot spring area and the majestic waterfall Gullfoss before returning to Reykjavík

    Country Living and Horses: For those who would like to experience the Icelandic horse in its natural habitat they offer this unique opportunity for individuals to stay at the breeding farm Miðás in the South of Iceland. Familiarize yourself with the daily life-style of Icelandic horse farmers and ride on horses especially chosen to your abilities and skill. Your friendly hosts will make this a vacation to remember.

    Iceland highland rides summary

    Northern Exposure: This tour was nominated by the Sunday Times as one of the 10 best trails in the world.

    The North of Iceland is known for its great natural sights and varied landscape. This ride starts from Saltvík Farm near Húsavík to the Lake Mývatn area, known for its volcanic features and countless numbers of breeding ducks. An optional whale watching tour concludes the circle of natural highlights on and off shore. You will ride along soft riding tracks ideal for “tölt”, the unique gait of the Icelandic horse. From fertile farm land you will turn towards the Gæsafjöll Mountains and spend a night in a mountain cabin at Theistareykir. Through an area covered with cracks and fissures from earthquakes and volcanic activity the route leads towards Lake Mývatn where boiling mud pools and eerie lava formations remind you of the volcanic energy hidden beneath. You can take a relaxing bath in an outdoor bathing facility with hot geothermal water. The next two days take you from the black sand deserts of Hólssandur over Hvammsheiði heath towards the shore and back to the farm. After this amazing ride in an ever changing landscape you can relax in outdoor hot tubs with a great view over to the ocean and the Kinnafjöll Mountain Range.

    Volcano Vistas: Riding in an area shaped by two majestic volcanoes is an experience beyond compare. Notorious volcano Mt. Eyjafjallajökull towers the region and volcano Mt. Hekla is close by. You will be reminded of devastating eruptions through the ages and enjoy the smooth riding grounds created by ash and pumice eruptions. This itinerary also covers sights from the famous Njáls Saga so you can expect to hear from heroes and villains of the Saga ages.

    You will visit the Geysir hot springs and Gullfoss waterfall on your way to Eyvindarmúli Farm in the historical Fljótshlíð area. Your ride starts alongside Markarfljót River and you will get a glimpse of Thórsmörk Natur Park as you ride into the mountains. Your horses stay behind and you will return to the inhabited areas for your comfortable overnight stay. You will continue on good riding tracks west of Tindfjallajökull Glacier and ride into lava fields created by volcano Mt. Hekla. You will explore this amazing area and spend two nights in cosy summerhouses. During your last two riding days you will follow the Hekla trail and ride back into the Fljótshlíð area where you will finish your ride. Before returning to Reykjavík you will take a detour along the south coast and enjoy a relaxing bath in the Blue Lagoon before you reach your hotel again.

    Snaefellsnes: The Snæfellsjökull National Park is where you find one of the most recognised sights in Iceland; the glacier covered cone volcano Snæfellsjökull. Its mythical atmosphere became famous through Jules Verne’s novel “Journey to the Centre of the Earth”. Many of the famous Sagas unfolded in this spectacular area. Today rich bird life attracts visitors from all over the world. The peninsula itself is often called “Iceland in a nutshell” because of its diversity of landscape.
    Experiencing “tölt”, the unique gait of the Icelandic horse is made easy for you on this itinerary when you will follow good riding tracks. The smooth sand of the beach makes this tour a delight for both horses and riders.
    This tour leads through mighty lava fields, craters and ashes of ancient eruptions in Hítardalur valley. You will also enjoy wide-open stretches of light-coloured sand at Löngufjörur beach, where only the tide sets a limit to the freedom of horses and riders. Crater Eldborg is a landmark, where the light sand turns black once you reach its lava field. On your last riding day you will follow the outskirts of the lava flow along the shore before you return the horses to Stóri-Kálfalækur Farm. Part of this tour can be booked as a 5-day tour/4 riding days.

    Kjolur: Move back in time and ride along the historic Kjölur trail as Icelanders did throughout the centuries while travelling to the big summer parliament at Thingvellir, first held in 930 AD. You will visit this historic place which has since become a National Park. Before leaving civilisation for the rugged wilderness of the interior you will stop at the Geysir hot spring area and admire majestic Gullfoss Waterfall. Travelling from south to north or vice versa right across the heart of Iceland you will find yourselves riding in sand deserts close to mighty Langjökull and Hofsjökull Glaciers. Sheltered green valleys come as a surprise in this rugged terrain. At Hveravellir, a geothermal area in the highlands, you can relax in a long hot bath under the Midnight Sun! If you want to see as much as possible of the Icelandic highland, this tour, which has been in operation since 1983, might be the perfect choice for you.

    Egilsstadir: Discover the incredible wild beauty of East Iceland. Even among Icelanders this part of the interior is a well-kept secret. The surefooted Icelandic horse is the best way of transportation to discover the untamed nature. This ride ascends from sea level to the great highland plateau where vegetation and landscape bear an arctic character. Hrafnkelsdalur valley is where the great Saga of Hrafnkel unfolded during the Middle Ages. Gigantic Hafrahvammagljúfur Canyon is an unforgettable sight and a witness to the power of nature. The ride starts past Mt. Snæfell – the second highest mountain in Iceland. A vehicle then takes you to Europe´s largest glacier, Vatnajökull Glacier, where you will spend some time at the rim of the huge icecap. You will enjoy watching wild geese and herds of reindeer roaming free in their natural pastures before following Jökulsá River down through Norðurdalur Valley. You will enjoy a number of beautiful waterfalls until you reach green meadows again.

    Grand Tour: Why not discover more than one part of Iceland during your visit? Imagine the remote highland grasslands on the Egilsstaðir Tour in the East. Crossing the central highlands on the Kjölur Trail and viewing the natural wonders at Lake Mývatn in the North. Enjoy Snæfellsjökull Glacier in the West and the multi-coloured mountains of Landmannalaugar in the South. Explore the northern highlands on the Northern Odyssey and the southern highlands on the Power of Creation Trail. Most of the longer rides can be combined and you can choose the two parts of Iceland you wish to discover.

    Ishestar Special North – West Safari: Ride with our host Haukur and his family from Hvammur Farm through the northern highlands all the way into the heart of Iceland. You will find yourself in remote desert-like areas and view some of the mighty glaciers of Iceland. This ride starts at the lush farmlands of the North to the geothermal area Hveravellir and back to civilisation again. Another highlight of this ride is riding in the shallow water of the Lake Hóp lagoon. Enjoy the Icelandic horse in this great variety of terrain.

    Ishestar Special Diamonds of the North: This is a special 10 day‘s ride with our hosts Bjarni Páll and Elsa from Saltvík Farm to celebrate their 20 years of working with Íshestar. This tour covers the highlights of recent tours and those of past years, „Northern Exposure“, „Diamond Circle“ and follows also parts of the „Sprengisandur Trail“.

    Ishestar Special Pearls of the East: Discover hidden nature gems together with our host Denni and enjoy the amazing horses of the East on this ride into the remote wilderness. On this ride you will head South and discover hidden treasures of the East. You will ride down into fjords and up into the mountains on this ride beyond compare. From the picturesque town of Höfn in Hornarfjörður you will ride into the amazing scenery of the Lón and Lónsheiði area with harsh yet colorful mountains. With views of the glaciers you will ride in abandoned valleys like Geithellnadalur with dramatic cliffs and numerous waterfalls. Our host Denni has developed this amazing ride into the wild.

    Power of Creation: This ride combines the varied nature of Iceland, geological highlights with great riding tracks that please riders and horses alike. Well trained horses will carry you through the mountains, through sand deserts, lava fields and green valleys. This ride starts at Eyvindarmúli Farm and continues alongside Markarfljót River up into the mountains. You will follow good riding tracks through black ash from Mt. Hekla eruptions and spend a night close to Mýrdalsjökull Glacier. You will continue across the sand desert Mælifellssandur and into lava fields originating from Skaftáreldar, a devastating eruption in the 18th century. The Lakagígar craters created an area of dramatic beauty and are just one of the many natural highlights you will visit on this ride. Whether you join this ride from west to east or east to west, riding through the amazing Fjallabak landscape is an unforgettable experience.

    Northern Odyssey: Skagafjörður is a district in Iceland that has a long tradition in horse breeding. With great pleasure we present a ride from this well known district into the rugged wilderness of the highlands. This ride continues all the way to Laugafell, a place well known for the natural hot pool and green vegetation, a true oasis for those following the old and famous Sprengisandur Trail. From green pastures you will ascent onto remote desert-like areas close to the majestic glacier Hofsjökull. Explore the outback of Iceland, following the old Sprengisandur Trail for parts of this ride. Only here in the North you can see horses living freely in sheltered valleys during the summer months, independent of men, just relying on their natural instincts. Enjoy the peaceful Austurdalur valley and Ábær countryside church, where service is held only once a year. Merkigil canyon is a landmark on this ride before your ride returns to lush green fields and meadows. This is a ride that combines the fascinating and varied wilderness of northern Iceland with historical sights and stories of remarkable men and women.

    Volcaano Mt. Hekla – Landmannalaugar: Hekla Volcano, often called the “Queen of Iceland”, towers over this fascinating area and every day you will be reminded of the devastating numerous eruptions through the ages. Landmannalaugar is a colourful beauty in the southern highlands. A natural bathing spot is only one of the highlights which make this area one of Iceland’s most popular destinations for all lovers of nature and adventurous souls. On your way to the Eyvindarmúli Farm you will visit the hot springs of Geysir and Gullfoss Waterfall. Your ride starts into the mountains, viewing majestic glaciers and the glacier fed river Markarfljót. The beatuiful area Landmannahellir is a fitting outpost in the central highlands before you enjoy the colourful rhyolite mountains in Landmannalaugar, surrounded by black lava fields. Your way back to civilisation leads you down from the mountain and into green valleys. The spirited, yet well trained horses make this ride enjoyable for everyone who is looking for a challenging highland adventure.

    Wild and Exotic Golden Circle ride summary and itinerary

    What better or more unique way to do the popular Golden Circle Tour than by riding through the lovely countryside of South Iceland. The three key attractions on this classic tour are the hot spring area of Geysir, Gullfoss or the Golden Waterfall and Thingvellir National Park. Each one guaranteed to take your breath away. Thingvellir National Park is now on the UNESCO World  Heritage List based on its historical, geological and cultural importance.

    This tour is perfect for families and those not having the required riding experience for our highland tours. Keep in mind that riding days can be long so you should be in good physical shape and have the basic horsemanship skills.

    On the first riding day you get acquainted with the unique Icelandic Horse and its special extra gait as we take an easy trek along the banks of the majestic Thjórsá River. We continue towards Gullfoss Waterfall with its thundering waters and the hot spring area of Geysir. After a relaxed day´s riding in that locality we next explore some of the more remote places, well off the beaten track. We cross the highland moor of Hrunaheiði and enjoy good riding tracks when trekking past iconic basalt columns at Hrepphólar on our way back to Kálfhóll Farm.

    Please note that part of this tour can be booked as a 5-day tour/4 riding days.

    Wild and Exotic Golden Circle sample itinerary

    Day 1: Individual transfer with Flybus from Keflavík Airport to your hotel in Reykjavik. (Included in price). Welcome meeting at Íshestar riding center where you meet  your fellow riders. Pick up for the welcome meeting at 18:00 at included hotel.

    Day 2: Reykjavík – Thingvellir – Kálfhóll – Fossnes Farm. Pick up at the hotel in the morning. Transfer from Reykjavík via Thingvellir National Park to Kálfholl Farm. After an introduction to the Icelandic horse and its special gaits we start our ride along the pleasant trail at Thjórsá glacier fed river. We leave the horses at Sandlækjarmýri field and drive to Fossnes Farm. This day is the perfect start to get to know your horse and the Icelandic way of trail riding in a relaxed atmosphere. Enjoy the outdoor hot tub at Fossnes Farm before a hearty dinner. (15 km)

    Day 3: Fossnes – Hvítárdalur – Kjóastaðir Farm. We leave the farm and drive back to the horses.  From there we head off to the fertile farmlands of neighboring community Hrunamannahreppur. We drive spare horses along in a free running herd, enabling us to change our mount regularly and traveling at a brisk space. We cross the well know Salmon River Stóra-Laxá and stop for our picnic lunch at Hrunaréttir, a corral used for the annual sheep round-up in autumn. Our horses stay behind at Hvítárdalur Farm and we drive to Kjóastaðir farm where we stay for next three nights. (30 km)

    Day 4:  Hvítárdalur – Gullfoss – Kjóastaðir Farm. We continue our ride on soft trails ideal for trotting towards the majestic canyon Brúarhlöð where milky green water passes through bizarre rock formations. Alongside Hvítá River we follow the ever deepening canyon on to the impressive Golden Waterfall Gullfoss and continue to the famous Geysir hot spring area . We end the day at Kjóastaðir farm (21 km)

    Day 5:  Geysir – Haukadalur – Haukadalsheiði – Kjóastaðir Farm. Our ride takes us 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. Rest of the day is spent at the Geysir area. You have plenty of time to explore this highly interesting area with its countless bubbling hot springs. (20 km)

    Day 6:  Geysir – Haukadalur – Haukadalsheiði – Kjóastaðir Farm.Enjoy the white ice field of Langjökull glacier up-close. Optional (available at an extra charge): Snowmobile drive on Langjökull glacier.A 4×4 vehicle take us to a base camp where we change into warm gear. After safety instructions we drive into the white world of ice and snow. Two people share a snowmobile during the 1 hr. drive and both 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). Minimum: 6 participants. Price per person EURO 85. Children younger than 12 years receive 50% discount.

    Day 7: Geysir – Tungufellsdalur – Kaldbakur – Fossnes Farm. We leave the Geysir area and ride along green pastures back to the bridge at Brúarhlöð canyon where we cross mighty Hvítá River. Now we head towards the interior and follow beautiful Tungufellsdalur valley onto Hrunaheiðar heath plateau and we experience riding along the edge of civilization. Our horses spend the night at Kaldbakur Farm, while we drive to Fossnes Farm and spend the night. We will for sure enjoy the nice outdoor tub after this exciting riding day. (30 km)

    Day 8:  Fossnes – Kaldbakur – Hrepphólar – Kálfhóll – Reykjavík. Our last day of riding includes yet again terrific scenery. Today we follow good riding tracks past Mt. Galtafell and see the amazing basalt columns at Hrepphólar. We cross River Laxá before we reach the Reykjaréttir corral. We turn towards the banks of Thjórsá River and follow them to Kálfhóll Farm. (40 km) Here we say goodbye to our guides, staff and horses and return to Hotel Cabin for an overnight stay. Approx, arrival at 19:00.

    Day 9: Departure from Iceland – Reykjavík – Keflavík Airport. Individual transfer by Fly-bus to Keflavík Airport in time for the return flight home (included in price).

    Please note that it is the responsibility of the client to ensure they obtain the correct visa prior to travel. Wild and Exotic will assist with visa applications if instructed but cannot be held responsible for a client’s failure to obtain a visa for whatever reason.

    Neither Wild and Exotic nor the operators or suppliers can accept any responsibility for changes to itineraries or dates that may arise due to weather or unforeseen circumstances such as changes, disruptions or delays to airline flights for whatever reason. This holiday is subject to Wild and Exotic’s terms and conditions, a copy of which is available on this website under the general info tab.

    Wild and Exotic Golden Circle ride fact sheet

    Accommodation: On the Golden Highlights ride you will spend 2 nights in a three star hotel in Reykjavík, 5 nights in a farm guesthouse in a 2 – 4 bed units with shared facilities.

    Category: Intermediate riders, comfortable during long hours in the saddle.

    Children: We accept children from 9 years of age if they have the required riding level.

    Clothing List: A recommended clothing list will be provided at the time of booking.

    Distance and times: On the Golden Highlights ride you will spend 6 riding days averaging 20 – 30 km per day.

    Drinks: Water is provided during the day and we provide water bottles to take along on the ride, coffee and tea are also provided for breakfast and dinner.

    Duration: 8 days – 7 nights – 6 riding days – 156 km

    Game / Wildlife:  Birds such as arctic ptarmigan and wild sheep are encountered during the ride.

    How to Get There: International flight to Keflavík International Airport.

    Horses: The Icelandic horse is a breed of horse developed in Iceland. Although the horses are small and late-developers, they are also long-lived and hardy. In their native country they have few diseases; Icelandic law prevents horses from being imported into the country and exported animals are not allowed to return. The Icelandic horse displays two gaits in addition to the typical walk, trot, and canter/gallop commonly displayed by other breeds. The only breed of horse in Iceland, they are also popular internationally, and sizable populations exist in Europe and North America. The breed is still used for traditional farm work in its native country, as well as for leisure, showing and racing.

    Insurance: Travel insurance is mandatory for all Wild and Exotic clients. 

    Length of Rides: 8 days/7 nights – 6 riding days

    Luggage: Your luggage will be transported by the support vehicle.

    Meals: Breakfast consists of a Scandinavian breakfast buffet. All riders will make their own packed lunch from the breakfast table. Dinner consists of traditional Icelandic meals such as fish or lamb. Vegetarian meals are available if requested in advance.

    Medical and safety: The nearest health centre for medical attention is in Laugarás village, approximately 25 km from where guests stay during this ride. The nearest hospital is in Selfoss, approximately 25 km from where guests stay during this ride

    Power supplies: Wall socket for Europlug/Schuko-Plug (CEE types) with two round prongs in the rooms.

    Riding Ability: This ride is suitable for intermediate riders upwards.

    Single Supplement: Limited number of rooms available at an extra charge.

    Size of the Rides: This ride has been designed upon your request for 8 – 10 riders.

    Tack: The tack used for Icelandic horses is slightly different then the tack 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 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. Bridles have a detachable noseband and clip on reins.

    Terrain:  You will be riding through the countryside, highlands and mountains.

    Tipping: There is no tipping in Iceland (including taxi, hotel and restaurant services). Exceptions exist within the travel industry and nobody will be offended when a satisfied guest offers a tip. The amount is flexible and entirely at guest’s discretion.

    Visas: For UK nationals: British citizens require a valid passport, but no visa is required. British citizens and passport holders endorsed with British National Overseas or British Overseas Territories Citizen do not require a visa for stays of up to three months in any six-month period. In all other cases, a visa is required.

    Weather: July and August are the warmest months. The weather in Iceland is changeable and depends mostly on the tracks of the atmospheric depressions crossing the North Atlantic.

    Weight Limit: 110 kg

    “The trip was fantastic!”
    Alexandre de Tilly, Riding holidays, Iceland, August 2011

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