7 days (6 riding days)
Intermediate to advanced riders
- Aug 16 - Aug 22 2017
- Aug 24 - Aug 30 2017
Tour operatorGunnar and Bjarni
A ride in between extinct and not so extinct volcanos. Here you will find that the Earth is quite alive.
The landscape of Iceland, as well as the history of its people, has been shaped by the sheer forces of our numerous volcanoes. These sleeping dragons regularly wake up and spew destruction in the form of all consuming lava, ash and glacial floods. But in this destruction lies the seed of creation. New landscapes are formed; rivers find new paths to the sea and the relentless resilience of life in the form of various grasses and flowers dress this new landscape in clothes that fit. This tour will take you through Fjallabak, the area north of Mýrdalsjökull, which has been under siege of the powerful volcanoes Hekla, Katla and Eyjafjallajökull but also contains many of the most beautiful places in Iceland.
Day by day
Day 1: Kaldbakur - Klettur
After a 90 min bus ride from Reykjavik, we start our ride at the remote farm Kaldbakur. We cross river Stóra-Laxá and pass the beautiful waterfall Skillandsfoss on our way to a mountain hut in Hallarmúli. From there we decend into the Þjórsárdalur valley and spend the night in a mountain hut at Klettur.
Distance: 30km, 5 hours
Day 2: Klettur - Áfangagil
From Klettur we ride through Þjórsárdalur with a view of the majestic waterfall Háifoss (122m) on the left and pass Gjáin canyon, the most favorite habitat for elves. After a short stop at a hut in Hólaskógur we cross river Þjórsá on a bridge and continue east over a sandfilled lavafield to a charming hut in Áfangagil.
40km, 6 hours
Day 3: Áfangagil -Landmannahellir
We ride east through a landscape that has been shaped by the frequent eruptions of Mt. Helka. This is a fast trail, so we will make the most of the speedy tölt that our horses posses.
25km, 4 hours
Day 4: Landmannahellir - Hungurfit
A long day over Krákatindsleið. We start the day by climbing up into the mountains to the South. We ride onto the shoulder of the infamous volcano Hekla. As we pass over the mountains, some of the best views in the fjallabak area open up. The latter part of the day we ride down the mountains and onto good flat grounds, an exciting and fast ride to finish the day off.
Distance: 50km, 7 hours
Day 5: Hungurfit - Bólstaður.
We continue further east into Fjallabak until we head south towards the spectatular looking mountain Einhyrningur (Unicorn). From a high elevation we have an amazing view of the volcano/glacier Eyjafjallahjökull which eruption in 2008 halted flights over Europe for weeks. We spend the night at a mountain hut called Bólstaður.
30km, 5-6 hours
Day 6: Bólstaður - Fell.
In the start of the day we ride through a beautiful canyon that opens up into the plain of Markarfljótsaurar. We continue to the mountain hut Fell where we leave the horses and take a bus ride to the swimming pool at Hvolsvöllur. We spend the night feasting in the style of the old heros.
20km, 3-4 hours
Day 7: Departure
We start the day with a relaxed breakfast and enjoy the fact that we are in the center of the stage where the most famous of the Icelandic Sagas "The Story of Burnt Njáll" took place about 1000 years ago. A bus will pick us up at 11:00am and take us downtown Reykjavik where we will arrive about 3 1/2 hours later.
View Sleeping Dragons in a larger map
There is a saying in Iceland about the weather........."if you wait ten minutes, it will change". That adage would well apply to riding SLEEPING DRAGONS. It was chapter two of my journey that began the prior year riding GRAND CANYON with Riding Iceland and Siggi.
Sleeping Dragons offered a diverse view of the magnificent land that indeed changes continuously. Unlike a view from the window of a transport, you feel and experience the topography through the sure footed steps of the magnificent horses that survived and bred to negotiate the changing land and protect the rider. Unlike the highlands of Grand Canyon, Sleeping Dragons, named for the most fierce volcano eruptions of recent past and ancient history, follows the low lands with valleys of grass and rushing waters of shallow rivers to cross. The sturdy horses swiftly and smoothly carrying me over valleys of small rocks as far as the eye can see, experiencing a ghostly fog rolling in from the right off a distant mountain overtaking and obscuring the previously unlimited vision, then as quickly passing by and overtaking a distant mountain once a minor volcano.
At riding days end, in sight of the sixty or so horses secured in their paddock, a tireless activity to watch and photograph them framed against a picture postcard background, we recount our day over great food and intoxicating drink. We laugh, listen to singing and take our rest in the shadow of Volcano Hekla. Another day, another set of adventures experiencing more waterfalls even more magnificent than the prior days. Riding across sandy bottomed shallows with cautionary signs for Quick Sand, and then long slow treks up mountains of hard packed rocks revealing views that must be experienced, and seeking the best route to the long awaited bunk house/hut.
The needed rests to change to fresh horses and stretch our legs were accompanied by the always entertaining, Siggi, sharing the legends and lore of the area. As an American with each changing landscape my mind wanders, something reminding me of old black and white filmed western movies. Mostly, you imagine yourself exploring territories unseen or never mapped. Truth be told, you are seeing and experiencing from the ground a land that few will ever witness, that defy development in any future time and so remote that only these special mounts that you ride will ever negotiate the terrain. The one nod to civilization witnessed was the occurrence of a highflying helicopter against the blue/grey sky that does not darken in summer. The copter thought to be filming or spotting locations for the Tom Cruise movie project. It was in Iceland, that Cruise's wife mustered to leave him, as we were traveling by horse to our next hut or bunkhouse for more regaling the day’s adventures and indulging in great food and box wine.
For myself, my wife who never gets on a horse yet shows the greatest affection and trust in the Icelandic horses to carry her, this summer will be our third year and an adventure that is now an existential part of our being. Here is where we belong to hold fast to our memories of the prior two summers. A perfectly safe adventure holiday by day and like a summer camp with no counselors in the laugh and song filled evenings. Will see you in June and July, and thank you Siggi, for these trips change our lives.