Golden Circle Riding Adventure

About the Experience

Horseback riding through the wilds of Iceland. Volcanoes, waterfalls, hot springs. Imagine the wonders and think of all the stories you’ll tell!

Every place you’ll explore in the ‘Golden Circle’ of Southern Iceland has a story. Iceland is famous for its spectacular landscape. What more could you want? Giant gorges, volcanoes, valleys, lava fields, sandy ocean beaches, seaside cliffs, and idyllic meadows – and you riding through them all on horseback.

The horses, they have a story, too.  The Icelandic horse was brought here more than 1,000 years ago by Vikings. Herds of Icelandic horses still roam the valleys – you’ll see them and might even get up close to them but don’t worry, Icelandic horses are famous for their affectionate nature.

The Icelandic horses you’ll be riding are known for their affection as well and their sure-footedness and smooth gait. This trip is suitable for women with novice skills who are ready to learn, as well as more experienced riders, as we ride much of the trip in trot and tolt. After long days of horseback riding through the wilds of Iceland, you’ll spend your nights at comfortable guesthouses and peaceful mountain huts.

 

Click here to see the full itinerary!
Golden Circle Riding Adventure

About the Experience

Horseback riding through the wilds of Iceland. Volcanoes, waterfalls, hot springs. Imagine the wonders and think of all the stories you’ll tell!

Every place you’ll explore in the ‘Golden Circle’ of Southern Iceland has a story. Iceland is famous for its spectacular landscape. What more could you want? Giant gorges, volcanoes, valleys, lava fields, sandy ocean beaches, seaside cliffs, and idyllic meadows – and you riding through them all on horseback.

The horses, they have a story, too.  The Icelandic horse was brought here more than 1,000 years ago by Vikings. Herds of Icelandic horses still roam the valleys – you’ll see them and might even get up close to them but don’t worry, Icelandic horses are famous for their affectionate nature.

The Icelandic horses you’ll be riding are known for their affection as well and their sure-footedness and smooth gait. This trip is suitable for women with novice skills who are ready to learn, as well as more experienced riders, as we ride much of the trip in trot and tolt. After long days of horseback riding through the wilds of Iceland, you’ll spend your nights at comfortable guesthouses and peaceful mountain huts.

 

DAY ONE: ARRIVAL

Meet your Wild Women group at the BSI-Reykjavik Excursions bus station in Reykjavik at 5:30-6pm. Enjoy the scenic 40-minute drive to Farm Vellir, near Hveragerði.

Upon arrival, meet your Wild Women guides and settle into the guesthouse. We will get to know each other during dinner at nearby Hotel Eldhestar. The day will end with our Wild Women orientation and an introduction to the trip. If you have energy, suit up for a soak in the “hot pots” fed with natural hot water from a nearby hot spring. 

  • Meals: D

 

DAY TWO: LEARNING TO RIDE TOLT

Rise and shine to a hearty breakfast in Hotel Eldhestar. This morning, your guides provide detailed information about the Icelandic horse and techniques for Icelandic riding. We begin with a live demonstration of tacking, mounting, and maneuvering through the various gaits of the Icelandic horse. We then get outfitted with our rain gear, helmets, and saddles and paired up with our first horse.

The rest of the morning is spent in the outdoor paddock learning to ride the Icelandic way; mounting from the ground, maneuvering and stopping, walking, tölting and trotting on an Icelandic horse are all slightly different than what you are used to. You will need to be able to do all of this comfortably throughout the trip, so this is the practice session.

After lunch, we head out for a 2.5 – 3-hour ride on some smooth riding trails along meadows which are perfect for trying the special gait of the Icelandic horse, the tölt. The ride starts on soft riding trails along the green fields of farm Vellir. We then follow an old route towards Ingolfsfjall Mountain, riding along the slopes of the mountain with nice views of the lowlands, Olfusa river and Atlantic ocean before we return to the farm. We untack our horses and store our saddles and rain gear together, ready for our ride tomorrow.

Dinner tonight is at Hotel Eldhestar. We will review the next day’s itinerary, pack for our next two nights at the huts and enjoy the hot tubs!

  • Riding Distance: about 15km
  • Riding Time: 2.5 – 3 hours
  • Riding Pace: Walk and Tolt/Trot
  • Meals: B, L, D

 

DAY THREE: VALLEY OF HORSES 

After another early but hearty breakfast, both riders and horses are shuttled (about a 20-minute drive) to Kolvidarholl (the site of a geothermal power plant). Be prepared to ride for 4-6 hours today, over rough, mountain terrain. There are a few places where we must dismount throughout the day where we will need to lead our horses down steep rocky sections.

We head north below the volcano Hengill and as we ride along, we dismount and lead the horses single file through a short canyon into Marardalur (the Valley of Horses). Today we enjoy a picnic lunch along the way. From here we ride along the mountainside to the next road, where we meet the trailers for our shuttle to Thingvellir.

Thingvellir National Park is special because it is where Icelanders had their democratic meetings, called Althing, for hundreds of years. It is also the site of the rift valley where the North American plate and the Eurasian plate are drifting apart along the mid-Atlantic Ridge.

From here, it is just 10 minutes to our mountain hut, Skógarhólar, where we spend the night. The chef will meet us at the hut, with our luggage and have warm drinks and snacks waiting. Feast tonight on an amazing Icelandic meal, then relax and reflect on our second day of riding.

  • Riding Distance: 25 km
  • Riding Time: 4 – 6 hours with breaks
  • Riding Pace: Walk and Tolt/Trot
  • Meals: B,L,D

 

DAY FOUR: THINGVELLIR NATIONAL PARK RIDE

Today you ride across Thingvellir National Park. From Gjábakki you have an exceptional view over the park and Lake Thingvallavatn, the largest lake in Iceland. This is also the area where the North American and European crustal plates meet. The plates are drifting apart about 2 cm per year on average, which has created a beautiful valley.

You cross half of the Lyngdalsheidi Moor before finishing the day’s ride at the cottage Kringlumýri, where you enjoy another amazing, home-cooked meal.

  • Riding Distance: about 22 km
  • Riding Time: 4.5 – 6 hours
  • Riding Pace: Walk and Tolt/Trot, maybe options for fast tolt for experienced riders
  • Meals: B,L,D

 

DAY FIVE: GEYSIR & GULLFOSS

This morning, you will ride a loop through the Lyngdalsheidi Moor, with a stop at the Laugardalshellir caves. These caves were inhabited up until the late 1940’s, but are now the home of sheep.

You continue the day’s ride along the mountains until stopping outside the village of Laugarvatn, named after a nearby lake heated by underwater hot springs. After returning to the Kringlumýri cottage with all the horses, you will be driven to Gullfoss where you will learn how the first Icelandic female conservationist, saved this Golden Waterfall from being dammed.

Next, you head over to the Haukadular hot springs, Geysir and Strokkur, the hot spring that erupts every 7-8 minutes. Here, you will revel in the power of geothermal energy before returning to Kringlumýri for another delicious meal and a well-deserved sleep.

  • Riding Distance: about 15km
  • Riding Time: 3-4 hrs
  • Riding Pace: Walk but mostly Tolt/Trot
  • Meals: B,L,D

 

DAY SIX: RIDING THE DRIFT

From Kringlumýri you travel along soft riding paths called drift. These trails are soft under the horses hooves but can be deep in places. You will get another excellent view over Lake Thingvallavatn, then ride past Ljósafossvirkjun, one of the first water power stations in Iceland.

The ride continues along the south side of the lake to the road to farm Villingarvatn, where you’ll meet the trailers and load the horses and continue by bus to farm Vellir.

  • Riding Distance: about 15km
  • Riding Time: 3-4 hrs
  • Riding Pace: Mostly Tolt/Trot
  • Meals: B,L,D

 

DAY SEVEN: REYKJADULAR HOT SPRINGS

Todays ride takes you around the community of Hveragerði, through the lava fields and under the highway en route to Reykjadalur (the Smokey Valley). We stop to rest the horses before we ascend into the mountains. The trail is about 2-3 m wide and well graded with some exposed sections (where the downhill side is very steep) but just trust your horse and look out at the amazing views! There will be other users here since this trail is for hikers and mountain bikers as well. We arrive at a corral and untack the horses.

A 15-minute walk further up the trail brings you to the hot river! Take time here to picnic and relax. Change into your swimsuit and soak in the hot river, head up or downstream to find the perfect temperature for you. Before riding down the mountain, you will have a magnificent view over the sea and Westman Islands. We take the new riding path between Hveragerði and Reykjafjall where options to fast tolt will be available.

Free time in the late afternoon until dinner at 7 pm.

  • Riding Distance: 19 km
  • Riding Time: 5-6 hrs
  • Riding Pace: Mostly walk with options to Tolt/Trot
  • Meals: B,L,D

 

DAY EIGHT: BLACK BEACH RIDE

Today’s route depends on the tides. You will either ride from Farm Vellir to Thorlákshöfn OR Thorlákshöfn to Farm Vellir. The goal is to ride the black beach (next to the small fishing town Thorlákshöfn) at low tide when the sand is firmest – the best tolting conditions!

You and your trusted Icelandic horse will trot or tolt the beach, the soft black lava sand making for a soft ride, so much so it feels like you’re flying! We ride over the sand dunes to the picturesque estuary where the mighty river Ölfusá meets the sea. You continue back to the farm through shallow water at the edge of the river delta then ride on the soft, green river banks and pastures back to farm Vellir.

On your way, be prepared for spectacular views and the possibility of a variety of bird sightings. You will return to farm Vellir to relax, take a last soak in the hot tub and enjoy a farewell dinner.

  • Riding Distance: 23 km
  • Riding Time: 5-6 hrs
  • Riding Pace: Mostly Tolt/Trot
  • Meals: B,L,D

 

DAY NINE: DEPARTURE

Today, sleep in, enjoy your coffee, say your last good bye’s to the horses and take a mid-day transfer back to Reykjavik. Drop off will be at about 2 pm at the BSÍ – Reykjavik Excursions Bus Terminal. From here continue your journey in Iceland or take the Flybus (a 40-minute shuttle) to the airport. The Flybus runs in connection with all departing flights from KEF. Allow 2-3 hours to get through the airport and to your gate.

  • Meals: B

 


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 Golden Circle Adventure, the pace will vary depending on the terrain and groups ability. Ideally, you will be riding trot or tolt whenever the terrain allows since this pace is the perfect balance of speed and rider comfort. Be prepared to learn to ride all over again!  The Tolt 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.

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 very steep mountainsides. The scenery is spectacular though (to reward your efforts) and your Icelandic horses are sure-footed and familiar with the trails.

Icelandic Tack & Riding Style

The saddles used in Icelandic riding are more padded and comfortable than traditional English saddles, but they are English saddles nevertheless. Therefore, you should be familiar with riding on an English saddle.

On Icelandic saddles, riders keep their legs straight, and sit a bit back in the saddle, for a more relaxed posture. 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 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 helps to explain its special capabilities, temperament, and behavior 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.

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