Hekla Volcano Riding Adventure

About the Experience

Tölt through the extreme wilds of Iceland on our Hekla Riding Adventure! The lunar-like landscape of lava fields and black sand beaches transforms just as quickly into glacier-scraped fjords, volcanic craters, staggering waterfalls and sulfur-rich hot springs. 

Designed for confident, experienced horse riders, this extraordinary journey will split through the otherworldly landscape between the famed Hekla volcano and Tindafjallajökull glacier.

Be a part of the supernatural subterranean forces as we ride with a herd of free-running Icelandic horses! The terrain shifts from soft riding paths, to Oreo-black sand fringed with neon green grass into hardened lava fields created by centuries of volcanic eruptions.

Feel the mystical forces and power surrounding Hekla and the shadows of the old Sagas. Our riding path follows an ancient Viking trail that Gunnar, from Hlíðarendi in Njáls Saga, was riding when he ended up in one of his legendary battles.

The horses have a long and winding story too. The Icelandic horse is as local to this volcanic land as its resilient people. These horses were brought here more than one thousand years ago. The very first members of the breed arrived aboard the Viking ships of Norse settlers. Known for their affectionate nature, these horses are spirited and gentle. Herds of Icelandic horses still roam the valleys. 

The Icelandic horse is just how Iceland likes to perceive itself: little but strong. Known for their sure-footedness and smooth gait, you’ll become fast friends. After a solid day of horseback riding through the wilds of Iceland, we’ll spend your nights in cozy guesthouses or peaceful mountain huts.

You will not forget this epic Hekla Riding Adventure in Iceland–please review the full itinerary and the additional information on the five-gaited  Icelandic horse, the unique farm stays and everything you might be wondering about ladders and bladders! The accommodations on this trip are unique. They include open concept lofts (with ladder access) in one-room buildings and sometimes, shared double beds. Full details are listed at the bottom of the full itinerary.

You can read more about the Wild Women Expeditions Hekla Adventure, in Horse Illustrated too. This is a story about a deep connection and gratitude–an opportunity that can be your story to share too!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Did you know we’re a global leader in women’s adventure travel? Check out our destinations around the world!

 

Click here to see the full itinerary!
Hekla Volcano Riding Adventure

About the Experience

Tölt through the extreme wilds of Iceland on our Hekla Riding Adventure! The lunar-like landscape of lava fields and black sand beaches transforms just as quickly into glacier-scraped fjords, volcanic craters, staggering waterfalls and sulfur-rich hot springs. 

Designed for confident, experienced horse riders, this extraordinary journey will split through the otherworldly landscape between the famed Hekla volcano and Tindafjallajökull glacier.

Be a part of the supernatural subterranean forces as we ride with a herd of free-running Icelandic horses! The terrain shifts from soft riding paths, to Oreo-black sand fringed with neon green grass into hardened lava fields created by centuries of volcanic eruptions.

Feel the mystical forces and power surrounding Hekla and the shadows of the old Sagas. Our riding path follows an ancient Viking trail that Gunnar, from Hlíðarendi in Njáls Saga, was riding when he ended up in one of his legendary battles.

The horses have a long and winding story too. The Icelandic horse is as local to this volcanic land as its resilient people. These horses were brought here more than one thousand years ago. The very first members of the breed arrived aboard the Viking ships of Norse settlers. Known for their affectionate nature, these horses are spirited and gentle. Herds of Icelandic horses still roam the valleys. 

The Icelandic horse is just how Iceland likes to perceive itself: little but strong. Known for their sure-footedness and smooth gait, you’ll become fast friends. After a solid day of horseback riding through the wilds of Iceland, we’ll spend your nights in cozy guesthouses or peaceful mountain huts.

You will not forget this epic Hekla Riding Adventure in Iceland–please review the full itinerary and the additional information on the five-gaited  Icelandic horse, the unique farm stays and everything you might be wondering about ladders and bladders! The accommodations on this trip are unique. They include open concept lofts (with ladder access) in one-room buildings and sometimes, shared double beds. Full details are listed at the bottom of the full itinerary.

You can read more about the Wild Women Expeditions Hekla Adventure, in Horse Illustrated too. This is a story about a deep connection and gratitude–an opportunity that can be your story to share too!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Did you know we’re a global leader in women’s adventure travel? Check out our destinations around the world!

 

DAY ONE: ARRIVAL

Your Icelandic adventure will begin in the evening. Your trusty WWE guide will greet you at the BSI bus station between 5:30-6pm for a shuttle to Farm Vellir near Hveragerði where we will stay in the new, cozy eco-friendly guesthouse. Get to know your fellow Wild Women over dinner at Hotel Eldhestar. Fun fact: The Icelandic word Eldhestar means ‘volcano horses’. 

Later, we’ll trot over the itinerary that lies ahead and then you’re free to enjoy an indulgent soak in the hot tub.

 

DAY TWO: ORIENTATION AND DAY TRIP

We’ll kick off the day with punchy coffee and a hearty breakfast at the on-site restaurant at Hotel Eldhestar. Afterwards, we will be outfitted with all the essential kit: raingear, helmets, saddles and your first horse! Our guides will demonstrate proper tacking, mounting and maneuvering through the various gaits of the Icelandic horse. The rest of the morning will be spent in the paddock so we can practice mounting, maneuvering, walking, tolting and trotting. It’s necessary to be able to do all of this comfortably throughout the trip.

After lunch, we’ll practice on soft riding trails that hug the meadows around Farm Vellir. We will then follow the river Gljufura and continue on an old route towards Ingolfsfjall Mountain, named after the first Norwegian Viking who settled in Iceland. *No, in case you’re wondering–our helmets will not be gold with horns, despite the Viking connection.

We’ll ride along the verdant slopes of Reykjafjall with uninterrupted views of the landscape that is sandwiched between the ocean and the volcanoes surrounding the village Hveragerdi before returning to the farm. We’ll untack our horses, store our saddles and rain gear together before a decadent dinner at Hotel Eldhestar. After the last savoured bites of dessert, we’ll review the next day’s itinerary, pack and then simmer in the hot tubs!

  • Riding Distance: around 15km
  • Speed/Pace: slow-fast tolt/trot, no herd
  • Riding Time: 2 – 3 hours

 

 

DAY THREE: VELLIR AND VOLCANOES

Today we will travel by bus to Farm Fellsmúli in the pastoral area of Landssveit, located at the foot of looming Volcano Hekla. We’ll ride northwards to the Farm Leirubakki, and then on easy trails eastwards to the Vestri-Rangá River.

Our panoramic tour continues southward along the river to Farm Hrólfsstaðahellir, where we will spend the night in a cottage with a hot tub to recharge in. 

  • Riding Distance: 25 km
  • Speed/Pace: medium/fast tolt/trot with herd in the afternoon
  • Time: about 4 hours (with a break for lunch and to change horses)

 

DAY FOUR: HRÓLFSSTAÐAHELLI 

Our day starts by crossing the river Vestri-Rangá and continuing over the otherworldly moss-shrouded lava field of Botnahraun. It was created several hundred years ago after one of Hekla’s fierce eruptions. We’ll follow an ancient riding path over the lava field and across wide plains of grassland, over Axarhraun, until we reach Mountain Hut Foss. This hut is situated south of the volcano Hekla which is renowned for the great Saga of Njáll.

  • Riding Distance: about 40 km
  • Speed/Pace: medium/fast tolt/trot with herd
  • Riding Time: about 8 hours (with a break for lunch and to change horses)

 

DAY FIVE: FOSS AND BEYOND

Today, we will leave the herd at the hut and ride with our best tölters to experience the serene surroundings of rolling valleys and distinct cleft formations. From the farm Foss, we’ll ride through grassland towards an impressive cave that we can poke around in. After our mini spelunking adventure, we’ll ride back to Foss for a relaxing lunch, passing abandoned farms along the way.

In the afternoon, we will follow a scenic path to a sacred area next to the volcanic mountain Hafrafell. We will spend another night at the snug Mountain Hut Foss.

  • Riding Distance: 20 km
  • Speed/Pace: slow-fast tolt/trot perhaps an easy canter as terrain and group allows, no herd
  • Riding Time: 5 hours

 

DAY SIX: RIDE TO RJÚPNAVELLIR

We’ll ride over Axarhraun’s mystic lava field to explore the area west of the volcano Hekla. Afterward, we will pass by the farms that bravely sit in the shadows of Hekla. We’ll continue through an area covered with soft black lava sand and digest the startling landscape and mountains until reaching the mighty river Vestri-Rangá.

We will spend the night at Rjúpnavellir, a sweet cottage situated close to Hekla. In this area, the landscape is imprinted by the relentless natural force of wind and past volcanic eruptions.

  • Riding Distance: about 40 km
  • Speed/Pace: medium/fast tolt/trot with herd
  • Riding Time: about 8 hours (with a break for lunch and to change horses)

 

DAY SEVEN: HEADING BACK TO ELDHESTAR

We’ll ride on with the herd of horses towards the glacial river Þjórsá, the longest river in Iceland, to the famed Waterfall of the Thieves, Þjófafoss. Continuing in brisk tölt we’ll travel on soft sandy paths through an unexpected forest of birches to the old farm Skarfanes. The horses will know they are on their way home now, so the pace on these paths will quicken! It’s always a treasured time to reflect on how far we’ve come and the marvel of travelling in the company of Icelandic horses.

We will then load the horses into trailers and make our way back to Eldhestar for rejuvenating showers and another satiating meal before retiring for the night.

  • Riding Distance: about 25 km
  • Speed/Pace: medium/fast tolt/trot with herd
  • Riding Time: about 4 hours (with a break for lunch and to change horses)

 

DAY EIGHT: BEACH RIDING

Today’s ride will be on the mesmerizing black lava beach next to the small fishing town of Thorlákshöfn. We will follow the beach to the place where the mighty river Ölfusá meets the sea. We’ll continue through the shallow water at the edge of the river delta and ride on the soft, green river banks back to farm Vellir.

On our way, absorb the views and birdlife! Arctic terns, skuas and blackbacks like to hang out in these parts.

We’ll return to Farm Vellir to relax in Iceland’s chill vibe and surrounds. Be sure to immerse in one last hot tub soak before gathering for the farewell dinner! 

  • Riding Distance: 23 km
  • Speed/Pace: slow-fast tolt/trot perhaps an easy canter as terrain and group allows, no herd
  • Riding Time: 5-6 hours

DAY NINE: DEPARTURE

After breakfast and maybe an extra cup of coffee, we will travel back to Reykjavik. You can be dropped off at the BSI Terminal or your Reykjavik accommodations if you’re extending your stay in Iceland (which is always recommended!).


Here’s some additional information that should address every burning question you might have from the tölt to bunkbeds to the Blue Lagoon!  

 

Blue Lagoon Information

If you wish to experience the healing Blue Lagoon during your visit to Iceland, you can arrange to do this before or after your Wild Women Expedition. Blue Lagoon tickets must be booked online well in advance. You can also book airport transfers directly on their website. There are Flybus departures directly from the Blue Lagoon to KEF and vice versa – a 25 minute transfer! Bonus: luggage storage is also available at the Blue Lagoon.

Riding Pace & Terrain

On our Hekla Volcano Riding Adventure Adventure, the pace will vary depending on the terrain and group’s ability. You will be riding trot or tölt whenever the terrain allows since this pace is the perfect balance of speed and rider comfort. Trot or tölt is also the speed that the herd will be going and we must all keep up with them. Be prepared to learn to ride Icelandic! The tölt is an extremely smooth, four-beat gait, much like a running walk or rack, and it offers a virtually bounce-free ride at speeds of up to 32 kph. In this gait, the horse’s hind legs should move well under the body and carry more of the weight on the hind part, allowing the front to rise and be free and loose.

On this adventure, riders ride along with a loose herd of horses (20-30 horses) since traditionally, this is how Icelanders ride. There will be two riding groups– a front group sets the pace for the herd while the back group keeps the herd together as we all try to ride the same speed.

The Icelandic terrain is very radical and you have to be able to adapt your riding from comfortable gravel roads or riding paths to the unpredictable lava fields to traversing across very steep hillsides and going up (and down) steep mountainsides. The scenery is spectacular though (to reward your efforts) and your Icelandic horses are sure-footed and familiar with the trails.

Please review this skills list to see if this trip is right for you.

Icelandic Tack & Riding Style

The saddles used in Icelandic riding are more padded and comfortable than traditional English saddles, but they are English-style saddles nevertheless. The bridle system is also more similar to English therefore, you should be comfortable with riding English style for this adventure.

For Icelandic riding posture, riders keep their legs straight, and sit deeper back in the saddle, more like western posture. The bridle and reins are held similar to English (one rein in each hand) and there is always contact with the horse’s mouth.

WWE likens this to Western trail riding on an English saddle. Icelandic horses are akin to sport utility vehicles and you should expect an ‘off-road’ experience!

The Icelandic Horse

Selective breeding for over one thousand years, free of genetic influence from outside bloodlines, has produced one of the purest breeds of horses on earth. Due to Iceland’s harsh environment, only the fittest horses have survived over the centuries. That is why today’s Icelandic horses are strong and sure-footed, have great stamina, and possess friendly temperaments. The Icelandic horse has been bred as a five-gaited horse. It has three basic gaits—walk, trot, and gallop— and two additional gaits, the tölt, and pace. The tölt is described above, and unlike the tölt, the pace, or flying pace, is a two-beat gait, well known in the international racing world. When pacing, the horse moves both legs on the same side together. In Iceland, pace horses are ridden in races and pace racing in Iceland is one of the oldest and most respected equestrian sports.

The freedom the Icelandic horse enjoys also explains its special capabilities, temperament and behaviour traits admired by riders. Herds are kept on very large tracts of land, where the horses run unhindered. Therefore, they are attentive and closely attuned to their environment.

Rooming Arrangements

Our trip price is based on shared rooms, so we’ll team you up with another solo Wild Woman (or more) or you can request to share a room with your travel partner. There are no private rooms available on this trip.

  • Farm Vellir Guesthouse: 2, 3 or 4 women per room (single beds)
  • Farm Hrólfsstadahellir: 2, 3 or 4 women per room in 4-5 rooms on twin and shared double beds. Ladder access to the 3 rooms on the second floor.
  • Mountain Hut Foss: 18 women in a one-room building with a loft. Downstairs there are 2 double-sized bunk beds (foam mattress is double-wide, shared by 2 women, top and bottom) and in the loft, foam mattresses are on the floor.
  • Rjúpnavellir Cottages: 18 women in a one-room building with bottom platform with side by side foam mattresses and a loft (ladder access) platform with side by side foam mattresses.

Bathrooms

At all accommodations, you’ll have shared bathroom facilities. There are always multiple toilets, sinks, and showers usually separated so some can shower and others can still use the loo! The bathroom is accessed via an outside entrance from the sleeping/main rooms and at Foss hut, you will have to go outside and around the back of the hut.

Ladders & Bladders

All accommodations (except the Farm Vellir Guesthouse) have lofts or top bunks with vertical wooden ladders. Part of the group will have to stay upstairs so please work with your group to determine who must have the bottom floor rooms or bottom bunks.

 

Click here to see upcoming trip dates to book your spot!