7 days (6 riding days)
Strong Intermediate or Advanced riders only
- Jul 31 - Aug 06 2017
- Aug 08 - Aug 14 2017
Tour operatorGunnar and Bjarni
On this tour, we ride through the unusual landscape formed in the furnace of gigantic ice age eruptions and then refined by water - water coming from melting glaciers, from the purest fountains or from the depths of the geothermal hot springs, that shapes the land like a diligent artist. Relentlessly, it hollows and breaks the hardest rock, files it smooth or just moves it from the highest mountain all the way down to the sea.
Over the course of thousands of years, the water has been at work in the impressive mountain range of Kerlingarfjöll, situated in the middle of Iceland’s wilderness. It has formed beautiful yet intimidating canyons and provided for the vegetation to add color and texture to the landscape. Not stopping there, the geothermal water of the area has brought colorful minerals from deep down to complete a painting of immense beauty, to set the stage for the main actor, the water itself, showing its everlasting presence in the form of bulging rivers, quiet creeks, the ghostly steam from the hot springs and particularly the beautiful waterfalls.
This tour takes us behind the mountain range of Kerlingarfjöll, very close to the Hofsjökull glacier. This involves riding through demanding and difficult terrain but as a reward, you get to see one of the most remote and beautiful places in Iceland.
Day by day
Day 1: Kaldbakur – Búðará (overnight stay in Svínárnes hut)
After an early pickup in Reykjavik, we head to the remote farm of Kaldbakur close to the Laxárgljúfur Canyon, where we meet the horses and the guides that will be with us on the tour. The drive from Reykjavik is just over an hour. We mount our horses and ride across the heaths of Hrunaheiðar to a pen at Búðará river. From there we will go by car about 15km to a cozy mountain hut in Svínárnes where we stay the night.
Distance: 35km, 5 hours
Day 2: Búðará - Fosslækur
We drive back to the pen at Búðará and ride very nice trails west of the mountain Búrfell with the view of the glacier Langjökull to the west. After about a 15km, we arrive at the hut in Svínárnes where we have our lunchbreak. After lunch, we saddle our horses again and ride along the Grjótá river to a newly built hut called Fosslækur. This hut is built like the old icelandic “turf houses” with the roof and walls covered with grass.
Distance: 30km, 4-5 hours
Day 3: Fosslækur - Ásgarður
We ride towards the impressive Kerlingarfjöll mountain range. While we approach it, we will see the rock Kerling which is believed to have been a huge female troll that turned to stone when she was caught by the morning sun. The mountain range is named after her. We arrive at the hut in Ásgarður where we spend the night.
Distance: 25km, 4 hours
Day 4: Ásgarður - Kisubotnar - Leppistungur
This day is the crux of the tour. We ride east to Kisubotnar and along Kisugljúfur canyon to the slopes of Draugafell (The mountain of Ghosts) up to the elevation of over 1000m (3000ft). The view from there is absolutely breathtaking. We follow the beautiful Kerlingargljúfur canyon down to the hut Leppistungur. This area is very remote and almost like a country within the country. It has even a climate of its own. This is the longest day of the tour, but we will be rewarded with the most spectatular views and an incomparable experience of nature and wilderness.
Distance: 50km, 8 hours
Day 5: Leppistungur - Helgaskáli
We ride about 15km from Leppistungur to Mikluöldubotnar where we change horses. Somehow the horses are sensing that we are now on the way home and this first stint is commonly ridden at high speed tölt as the herd is in good spirits. We continue along the slopes of Geldingafell down to Helgaskáli. We are likely to see large flocks of geese preparing for their flight overseas to the British Isles. The arctic fox is also common in this area. This is a reasonably long day, but we will enjoy nice smooth riding trails. Since this is our last day in the mountains, we will celebrate that evening.
Distance: 40km, 7-8 hours
Day 6: Helgaskáli – Kaldbakur
From Helgaskáli we follow the impressive Laxárgljúfur canyon. Laxárgljúfur is up to 600ft (ca. 180m) deep and the trail will lead us at times quite close to the canyon. Vertigo anyone? We follow the canyon down to the deserted farm of Hrunakrókur and end the tour at Kaldbakur. On the last stint of the tour, we select our favorite horses and ride like the wind, since the horses certainly feel the call of home.
Distance: 25km, 4 hours
Day 7: Departure
After a hearty breakfast, we head out for Reykjavík. We will most certainly take the scenic route and drop by the Gullfoss waterfall, the Geysir geothermal area and Þingvellir where Iceland’s parliament was founded in 930 A.D.
Sjá Grand Canyons - Extended á stærra korti
It is hard to find the words to describe the most amazing week of my life. Not knowing exactly what to expect, we drove with nervous anticipation from the airport to the farmhouse in Kjóastaðir where we started the tour, everyone trying to imagine the adventure that lay in front of us. We were greeted by Siggi and the rest of the Riding Iceland Team and by the time we finished our welcome dinner that night everyone was bonded, donning new Icelandic sweaters and so excited to go.
The days were thrilling and so exhilarating! Riding Icelandic horses is the absolute pinnacle of horse riding. The horses are the perfect blend of beauty and strength and their unique gait, tölt, allows you to ride forever! I think before the tour it was hard for people to imagine flying through the countryside for hours on end, but these horses are extraordinary. Everyone quickly found their favorites and left wanting to take them home. Our tour had us riding around the Kerlingarfjöll Mountain range, the views and landscapes were spectacular; glaciers, mountains, waterfalls and canyons, each one more breathtaking than the next. As we rode through fields filled with wildflowers, you could see snow on the top of the distant mountains, it was just magnificent. Herding the horses was quite fun and eventful, there were always a few trying to escape, but mostly it was remarkable watching them quickly form a single line and play follow the leader. We would ride for a few hours and then stop at one of these scenic areas and switch horses or have a picnic lunch, sharing stories of our journey so far.
The nights had their own enchantment. Siggi turned the most basic accommodations into a 5 star hotel with amazing food and entertainment. You would think that for being in a hut with no electricity and only a Bunsen burner, that the food would be just enough for sustenance; but the meals were truly fantastic. We ate all authentic Icelandic meals; like lamb, salmon, Iobster, puffin and of course we all had to try the rotten shark. After dinner, we would take out the song books, a collection of classics that everyone knows. Siggi and his family are really great musicians and good or bad we sung our hearts out to favorites like the Beatles as they played guitar. They also would sing some traditional Icelandic folk songs which was like being serenaded by the best a cappella choir ever.
The unexpected bonus from this tour was the wonderful friendships that were made. It is amazing how close you become to each other after sharing a week like this. This was so much more than a horse tour; Siggi has made this an experience of a lifetime. Now I am back in the States, missing the sheer simplicity and serenity of each day, counting down until next summer’s tour.