Horseback Riding in Iceland

Fjallabak Tour

Overview

Nowhere on earth are the forces of nature more evident than here in the “land of fire and ice” and the Fjallabak tour enables you to experience them in depth.  Wild volcanic landscapes next to snow-capped mountains, vast lava deserts amid multicolored hills, and immense snow fields leading to soothing hot springs make up some of the extremely diverse and unique landscapes of Iceland.  The most isolated nation in the Western World, Iceland is situated just south of the Arctic Circle between Greenland and Norway. The clean, fresh air and the natural beauty of the wide, untrammeled spaces make this relatively undiscovered island a rare and striking experience for visitors who have a taste for uninhabited areas.

Riding is an integral part of the traditional Icelandic scene and the naturally gentle Icelandic horse provides excellent riding opportunities ­­— especially through the wild and otherwise inaccessible areas of Iceland. A purebred descendant of its Viking ancestors, the Icelandic horse is a product of isolation and a thousand years of breeding for good riding qualities, resulting in a gentle, friendly disposition and calm manner that make them a delight for anyone to ride.

Their two unique gaits, the tölt and the pace, provide a remarkably smooth way to travel over rugged terrain, making long hours in the saddle more comfortable.  The tölt is what makes riding Icelandics such a pleasure, with its flowing 4-beat gait providing the sensation of floating while being seated firmly in the saddle. There will also be fast canters and gallops. You will have the unique experience of riding with a herd of 30-50 horses running free with the riders which allows for several horse changes throughout the week to ensure freshness of the horses. This is an Icelandic tradition and the horses are comfortable with it.

During the ride you will stay in dormitory type lodging in mountain huts. Many of the mountain huts do not have electricity or artificial lighting. However, they are designed to take full advantage of the long daylight hours. Showers are available only every few days but there are chances to swim in the hot, sulfurous springs.

A typical menu will consist of the following:
Breakfast: Milk, yogurt, cereals, several kinds of bread, cheeses, jams, coffee and tea.
Lunch: Picnic with varied sandwiches, fruit, cold and warm drinks.
Dinner: A hot meal with meat or fish, vegetables, milk products and fruit.
Please note that meals consist of many dairy products. Riders who are lactose intolerant or vegetarians need to notify Equitours in advance. Also, this is a “dry” tour with alcohol only available to purchase in Landmannalaugar.

  • Overview:
    Icelandic horses are short (about 13.2 hands average) but stout and strong, weighing 800 to 1000 pounds and are quite capable of carrying large and heavy people over rough distances at a brisk rate. The horses are usually in snaffle bits - loose rings with snap-on, one-piece reins. English-type saddles are used with the Icelandic style of saddle seen as somewhat of a cross between a dressage and an endurance saddle. The saddle is set further back on the horse. You will have the unique experience of riding with a herd of 30-50 horses running free with the riders which allows for horse changes throughout the week to ensure freshness of the horses. This is an Icelandic tradition and the horses are comfortable with this.
  • Horse Breeds:
    Icelandic
  • Trip Pace:
    moderate
  • Tack:
    Icelandic
  • Weight limit:
    225 lbs

This is not a recommended option for non-riding companions.

BSI bus station in Reykjavik at 6PM on the first day. Transfer back to Reykjavik, leaving the outfitters farm at 5PM, on the last day.

Trip Itinerary

Day 1

Meet at the BSI bus station in Reykjavik at 6PM on the first day for the group transfer to the outfitters farm Austvadsholt for final preparations for the tour, dinner and overnight.

Day 2

After breakfast and the assignment of horses, course is set for the lodge at Rjupnavellir. Ride through meadows and lava fields, alongside Ranga river passing the historical lava sheep-fold Landrettir. 5 hours riding. Overnight at Rjupnavellir.

Day 3

Morning departure from Rjupnavellir to the wilds, crossing a desert of ashes and the lava fields of Solvahraun, close to the famous volcano Hekla (last eruption in 2000). It will take 6 hours to reach the Fjallabak Nature Reserve and the historical area of Landmannahellir, where the farmers used to stay in autumn when gathering their sheep in the mountains. 7-8 hours riding. Overnight in a lodge at Landmannahellir.

Day 4

In the morning, a ride of 3 – 4 hours through the valley Domadal and alongside the magnificent lake Frostastadavatn to Landmannalaugar, in the grandiose setting of old craters, glaciers and rainbow-streaked mountains. Afternoon at leisure for exploring the surroundings of the fabulous region or bathing in a natural open-air hot-water pool. Drive back to Landmannahellir for overnight.

Day 5

Drive back to the horses at Landmannalaugar in the early morning. Continue on the Fjallabak’s trail through the highland, up and down small hills, crossing many rivers until coming to Eldgja, the largest eruptive fissure on the face of the earth. Overnight in a hut. 7-8 hours riding. Overnight in the lodge of Holaskjol.

Day 6

Ride from Holaskjol to Hvanngil passing the “Swan” lake Alftavatn. In the afternoon, follow a track along the glacier Myrdalsjokull through a black desert of volcanic ash. Overnight at Hvanngil. 7-8 hours riding.

Day 7

Ride through varied soft and rough landscape where the scenery is astounding. After crossing a few rivers, ride to the unusual mountain formation Einhyrningur, surrounded by three glaciers. Overnight in a shepherds lodge at Bolstad. 4-5 hours riding.

Day 8

The track proceeds down to the historical Fljotshlid area along the Markarfljot river, the glaciers Eyjafjalla-Jokull and Myrdalsjokull still in the background. It will be a 5-6 hour ride to reach the farm Smaratun where you will overnight.

Day 9

Ride from Smaratun over Vatnsdalur to Austvadsholt where the tour ends. The day’s ride will be 6-7 hours before releasing the horses in the vast meadows of their home. Take the late afternoon (5PM) transfer back to Reykjavik.

Itinerary Addendum

THIS ITINERARY IS FLEXIBLE. CHANGES MAY OCCUR DUE TO WEATHER OR OTHER UNFORESEEN CIRCUMSTANCES.

Trip Map

Trip Dates & Pricing

Departure Dates

Trip Starts
Trip Ends
Aug 11, 2020
Aug 19, 2020

Pricing & Options

  • Base Price
  • $3,570
  • Transportation
  • 6PM pickup from the BSI bus station in Reykjavik is included on the first day. On the last day the transfer back to Reykjavik leaves at 5PM from the outfitters farm.

Departure Dates

Trip Starts
Trip Ends
Jul 25, 2021
Aug 2, 2021

Pricing & Options

  • Base Price
  • $3,570

  • Transportation
  • 6PM pickup from the BSI bus station in Reykjavik is included on the first day. On the last day the transfer back to Reykjavik leaves at 5PM from the outfitters farm.

Additional Pricing Information:
Prices are based on the dollar/euro exchange and are subject to change. Ride price is set, guaranteed, and final at the time deposit is paid.


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Contact Biggi Hayes

It was a wonderful ride in every way. Stefnir and Anita are the loveliest and hardest-working people I think I have ever met. They treat their beautiful horses with love and terrific care and attention. Their tack was in perfect condition. Stefnir answered endless questions about Iceland's history, culture and geography. Anita spent time with us each afternoon following our ride. She is a fabulous cook and baker. Their adorable children visited us too. The accommodations were comfortable, clean and warm. The weather was sunny every day! Despite the sun, it was quite cold when riding. I'm glad I followed your suggestions re: packing. I wore long underwear, winter riding gloves, layers of shirts - synthetic and wool - a puffy jacket and a rain/ wind shell each day on the trail. All in all, a perfect "10"!

Gruber, May 2019