Hekla Volcano Riding Adventure

About the Experience

Horseback riding through the wilds of Iceland. Fjords, volcanoes, waterfalls, hot springs. Imagine the wonders. Imagine the adventure. Imagine the stories you’ll tell.

Designed for experienced horse riders, you will explore the colourful landscape between the famous Hekla volcano and Tindafjallajökull glacier. Known for its incredible landscapes, this area was shaped by the forces of nature. Be a part of these forces when you ride with a herd of free-running Icelandic horse on soft riding paths, on black sand hugged by green grass, and on lava fields in a mystic scenery created by centuries of volcanic eruptions.

Feel the presence of the natural force and the mystique surrounding Hekla, together with elements from the old Sagas. Your riding path follows an old Viking trail that the Viking, Gunnar from Hlíðarendi in Njáls Saga, was riding when he ended up in one of his many battles.

And oh, the horses. They have a story, too. The Icelandic horse was brought here more than 1,000 years ago by Vikings. Famous for their affectionate nature, herds of Icelandic horse still roam the valleys.

And the Icelandic horses you’ll be riding are known for their affection, too, as well as their sure-footedness and smooth gait. After a good, long day of horseback riding through the wilds of Iceland, you’ll spend your nights at comfortable guesthouses or peaceful mountain huts. By day and by night, you will not soon forget this epic riding adventure.

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

About the Experience

Horseback riding through the wilds of Iceland. Fjords, volcanoes, waterfalls, hot springs. Imagine the wonders. Imagine the adventure. Imagine the stories you’ll tell.

Designed for experienced horse riders, you will explore the colourful landscape between the famous Hekla volcano and Tindafjallajökull glacier. Known for its incredible landscapes, this area was shaped by the forces of nature. Be a part of these forces when you ride with a herd of free-running Icelandic horse on soft riding paths, on black sand hugged by green grass, and on lava fields in a mystic scenery created by centuries of volcanic eruptions.

Feel the presence of the natural force and the mystique surrounding Hekla, together with elements from the old Sagas. Your riding path follows an old Viking trail that the Viking, Gunnar from Hlíðarendi in Njáls Saga, was riding when he ended up in one of his many battles.

And oh, the horses. They have a story, too. The Icelandic horse was brought here more than 1,000 years ago by Vikings. Famous for their affectionate nature, herds of Icelandic horse still roam the valleys.

And the Icelandic horses you’ll be riding are known for their affection, too, as well as their sure-footedness and smooth gait. After a good, long day of horseback riding through the wilds of Iceland, you’ll spend your nights at comfortable guesthouses or peaceful mountain huts. By day and by night, you will not soon forget this epic riding adventure.

DAY ONE: ARRIVAL

Your Iceland adventure starts in the evening. Your WWE guide will greet you at the BSI bus station between 5:30-6pm. You will be driven out to Farm Vellir near Hveragerði and lodged in the new guesthouse. Get to know your fellow wild women during dinner at Hotel Eldhestar, before going through your Wild Women Orientation. And, if you’re inclined, end this first day with a soak in the hot tubs.

DAY TWO: ORIENTATION AND DAY TRIP

Rise and shine to a hearty breakfast in Hotel Eldhestar. Today you will be outfitted with raingear, helmets, and saddles, and paired up with your first horse. Your guides will demonstrate tacking, mounting, and maneuvering through the various gaits of the Icelandic horse. The rest of the morning is spent in the paddock, practicing mounting, maneuvering, walking, tolting and trotting, as you will need to be able to do all of this comfortably throughout the trip.

After lunch, practice on soft riding trails along the meadows around farm Vellir. You 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.

Ride along the slopes of Reykjafjall with epic views of the landscape between the ocean and the volcanoes surrounding the village Hveragerdi before returning to the farm. Untack your horse and store your saddle and raingear together. Dinner tonight is at Hotel Eldhestar. You will then review the next day’s itinerary, pack and enjoy the hot tubs again!

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

 

DAY THREE: VELLIR – HRÓLFSSTAÐAHELLIR

Today you will go by bus to the farm Fellsmúli in the beautiful area Landssveit, at the foot of Volcano Hekla. From there you ride northwards to the farm Leirubakki, and then on nice trails eastwards to the Vestri-Rangá River. The tour continues southward along the river to the farm Hrólfsstaðahellir, where you will spend the night in a cottage with, of course, a hot tub.

  • 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 – FOSS

Your day starts by crossing the river Vestri-Rangá and continuing over the moss-covered lava field Botnahraun, which was created several hundred years ago in one of Hekla´s many eruptions. You’ll follow an ancient riding path over the lava field and across wide plains of grassland, and over Axarhraun, until reaching the mountain hut Foss. This hut is located in the area south of the volcano Hekla which is well known from 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

Today, you leave the herd at the hut and ride with your best tölters to experience the beautiful surroundings with scenic valleys and special cleft formations. From the farm Foss you ride through grassland towards an impressive cave. After visiting the cave, ride back to Foss for a relaxing lunch, passing abandoned farms along the way. In the afternoon you will follow a scenic path to the very special area next to the volcanic mountain Hafrafell. You will spend the night again at 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 hrs

 

DAY SIX: FOSS – RJÚPNAVELLIR

Ride over the lava field Axarhraun to see the area west of the volcano Hekla. Afterwards you will pass the farms of Hekla which are the farms closest to the volcano. Continue through an area covered with soft black lava sand and enjoy the breathtaking landscape and mountains, until reaching the mighty river Vestri-Rangá. You will spend the night at Rjúpnavellir, a nice cottage situated close to Hekla. In this area, the landscape is imprinted by natural forces such as wind and 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: RJÚPNAVELLIR – ÞJÓFAFOSS – FELLSMÚLI – BACK TO ELDHESTAR

Ride on with the herd of horses towards the glacial river Þjórsá, the longest river in Iceland, where you will reach the Waterfall of the Thieves, Þjófafoss. Continue in brisk tölt on soft sandy paths through a beautifully green forest of birches to the old farm Skarfanes. The horses know they are on their way home now, so the pace on these paths will quicken. The tour will come to a close where it began, at the farm Fellsmúli, where refreshments are waiting for you.

  • 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

Ride on the black lava beach next to the small fishing town Thorlákshöfn. You will follow the beach to the place where the mighty river Ölfusá meets the sea. Continue your journey through shallow water at the edge of the river delta and ride on the soft, green river banks back to farm Vellir.

On your way, delight in the spectacular views, and keep a lookout for a variety of birds. Return to farm Vellir to relax, take a last soak in the hot tub and enjoy a 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 hrs

 

DAY NINE: DEPARTURE

After breakfast, your group will travel back to Reykjavik. You can be dropped off at the BSI Terminal or your Reykjavik accommodations if you’re continuing to travel in Iceland.

 


Blue Lagoon Information

If you wish to enjoy the Blue Lagoon during your visit to Iceland, you can do this before or after your Wild Women Expedition. Blue Lagoon tickets must be booked online well in advance (CLICK HERE). You can book transfers directly on their website. Luggage storage is available at the Blue Lagoon. There are Flybus departures directly from the Blue Lagoon to KEF and vice versa – a 25 min transfer!

Riding Pace & Terrain

On our Hekla Volcano Riding Adventure Adventure, the pace will vary depending on the terrain and groups 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.

This adventure, riders ride along with a loose herd of horses (20-30 horses) since traditionally, this is how Icelanders ride. There will be 2 riding groups, a front group (sets the pace for the herd) and a back group (keeps the herd together) and 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 going along gravel roads or riding paths, to lava fields and 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 horses mouth.

WWE likens this to western trail riding on an English saddle and that Icelandic horses are more like 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 blood lines, 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 helps to explain 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) to share with if you’re on your own, or of course you can share 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 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 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 outside the sleeping/main rooms and at Foss hut, you 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!