Move back in time and ride along the historic Kjölu trail as Icelanders did throughout the centuries while travelling to the summer parliament at Thingvellir. You will visit this historic place which has since become a national park, stop at the Geysir Hot Spring area and admire the majestic Gullfoss Waterfall before leaving civilisation for the rugged wilderness of the interior.

Travelling from south to north or vice versa right across the heart of Iceland your hosts Hjalti and Åsa lead you past extinct volcanoes, glacier lakes and across wild glacial rivers.

Riding up into the highlands the green meadows in the south change to barren sand deserts close to mighty Langjökull and Hofsjökull Glaciers. Sheltered green valleys come as a surprise in this rugged terrain.

Accommodation on this ride is in rustic mountain cabins in the middle of Iceland's untamed nature.

If you want to see as much as possible of the Icelandic highland, this tour might be the perfect choice for you.

Read about David LO Smith's ride on this trip.

Special Offer: 5% discount for all riders that have travelled with us to Iceland before.

Please Note: The opinions expressed in these reviews are the author's and do not necessarily reflect the views of Unicorn Trails Ltd. These reviews are "directly from the horses mouth" and unedited. Unicorn Trails may make additional comments for clarification clearly identified in red.

Review received from EK of London on 05/09/2016

Ride Summary
Really had a wonderful trip, I would highly recommend this tour and the staff were so friendly and fun that it really enhanced the trip! I am definitely hooked to riding holidays and all ready thinking where is next!
What was your overall impression of the holiday

Unicorn Trails sales staff
Professionalism     (X) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor
Friendliness     (X) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor
Speed of response     (X) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor
Efficiency     (X) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor
Knowledge     (X) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor
Other(please specify) Louise was really great!     (X) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor
Riding tour leader
Professionalism     (   ) Excellent     (X) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor     (   ) N/A
Horsemanship     (   ) Excellent     (X) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor     (   ) N/A
Pacing of Ride     (   ) Excellent     (   ) Good     (X) Fair     (   ) Poor     (   ) N/A
Concern for Safety     (X) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor     (   ) N/A
Leadership     (   ) Excellent     (X) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor     (   ) N/A
Friendliness/availability     (X) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor     (   ) N/A
Knowledge of local Culture     (   ) Excellent     (X) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor     (   ) N/A
Knowledge of local Flora/Fauna     (   ) Excellent     (X) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor     (   ) N/A
Concern with Environment     (X) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor     (   ) N/A
Language skills     (X) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor     (   ) N/A
Additional Comments Magdelena was a really lovely, funny and kind person. Really enjoyed meeting her and she looked after the tour very well.
Horses and Tack
Condition of Horses     (X) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor
Condition of Tack     (   ) Excellent     (X) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor
Performance of Horses     (X) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor
Additional Comments Icelandic horses are the most surefooted horses I have ridden. All the horses where good natured and in general suited to the rider.
Meals
Meal Quantity     (X) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor
Meal Quality     (X) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor
Meal Punctuality     (X) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor
Accommodation
Camping Equipment     (X) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor     (   ) N/A
Hotels/Lodges/Inns     (   ) Excellent     (X) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor     (   ) N/A
Hygiene standards     (   ) Excellent     (X) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor
Miscellaneous
Transfer arrangements     (X) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor     (   ) N/A
Other office staff     (X) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor     (   ) N/A
Other ride staff     (X) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor     (   ) N/A
Weather     (   ) Excellent     (X) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor
Was this trip accurately described to you beforehand?     (   ) NO     (X) YES
Please give more details to explain your response I did book the trip very late in the day so I was really pleasantly surprised at how well everything was organised. I feel I knew all relevant details needed for the trip in advance and in such a short time frame I was well informed.
Was there anything you should have known and were not told?     (X) NO     (   ) YES
Please give more details to explain your response I think overall everything was covered and explained to me. Again Louise worked quickly to get me on the tour in under a day!
What could we do to improve this ride? I think the accomodation in Reyjkavik could be improved, the hotel there is on the outskirts, not really that nice and when you first arrive you basically have to share a bed with someone you have never met. Wasn't too phased by this but others might be!
How would you rate the difficulty of this ride out of 10 where 1 is very easy and 10 is very advanced? 5
Please explain why you scored it as you did The terrain was challenging at times but it was not a super fast pace. I think it was average in difficulty and that was only at times. In general I would say that this was a relaxing tour and although long days in the saddle very enjoyable with incredible scenery.
Would you recommend Unicorn Trails to your friends?     (   ) NO     (X) YES
Please give more details to explain your response I would definitely recommend to friends and family and also look forward to booking future riding tours with you in the future.
May we use you as a reference for other people wishing to go on this ride?     (   ) NO     (X) YES
Any other comments Really had a wonderful trip, I would highly recommend this tour and the staff were so friendly and fun that it really enhanced the trip! I am definitely hooked to riding holidays and all ready thinking where is next!
Unicorn comments Thank you for your kind comments, so happy that you enjoyed your holiday and I am looking forward to helping you book the next one!!

Tours operate alternatively from north to south. Reversed itinerary available upon request. 

Due to the early start on Day 1, it is recommended that guests arrive in Reykjavik the day before the trail begins and stay in a hotel in the city. Please see 'Accommodation' for recommended hotels.

Day 1 
Pick up between 07:00 – 08:00 from your accommodation in the morning. Vehicles have to pick up and drop off all passengers staying at hostels and guesthouses within central Reykjavik at designated bus stops. Further details are available in the Accommodations tab. Please dress ready in riding clothes. We drive to the Farm, visiting the historical site Thingvellir and the well-known Geyser Hot Spring Area on our way. The ride starts off towards the majestic glacier Langjökull and our first stop is at the beautiful Gullfoss waterfall. Our ride today leads us to a mountain called Bláfell. There we spend the night and rest the horses at Fremstaver Mountain Cabin. (Approx. 25 km) 

Day 2 
Our ride continues along the slopes of Mt. Bláfell. This area was roamed by outlaws in the old days. We cross River Hvítá and enjoy the view to the glacier fed lake Hvítárvatn. Tonight we stay at Árbúðir, situated right at the banks of river Svartá. (Approx. 35 km) 

Day 3 
We ride along the river Svartá in a beautiful scenery on historical grounds with a spectacular view of two impressive glaciers Langjökull and Höfsjökull. As we continue our ride beside the rough lavafield Kjalhraun the special highland vegetation with its vulnerable flowers catches our attention. The soft and sandy riding paths bring us to Gíslaskáli, which is situated at one of the most beautiful locations of the legendary Kjölur route. We enjoy the great peace and mystic of the surroundings. (Approx. 25 km

Day 4 
Today we cross Kjalhraun where we hear a tragic story about two brothers who froze to death in October 1780 on their way to Skagafjörður with a flock of sheep. During the ride we enjoy the magical unspoiled and extreme nature. We pass the cave where the ancient superhero, Grettir the strong´Ásmundarson lived. He spent most of his life as an outlaw, roaming the mountains. The destination of todays ride is Hveravellir, a very unique geothermal area between Hofsjökull and Langjökull glaciers. Here in this rough but extremely beautiful area the most famous outlaw Fjalla Eyvindur survived for years. At the mountain cabin a natural hot pool invites us to a deserved relaxing bath. (Approx. 30 km) 

Day 5 
Our route today leads us further to the north over the beautiful river Seyðisá. We pass the mountains Sandkúlufell and Sauðafell before reaching our destination. It is easy to see that we follow a historical route. All the way back to the early settlement of Iceland, people travelled on horseback on exactly the same trails as we do today.
Our well-equipped cabin for the night has a hot tub next to it. It is named after the hill Áfangafell which offers great views of the big glaciers behind us and towards the high mountains of the North ahead of us. Up to mid-July the sun hardly sets in this part of the country. (Approx. 35 km) 

Day 6 
We continue our ride over the Auðkúluheiði Moor. The valleys with the farms in the north are getting closer as our horses run freely over the soft riding paths of the northern highland. It is impressive to see the fertile valley Vatnsdalur with all its fields and vegetation. As we ride down to the valley the canyon of the Vatnsdalsá river appears with some of its many beautiful waterfalls. Our horses stay at Forsæludalur Farm which is the first farm in this area when you come from the highland. We say goodbye to our horses (as they get rest in the green fields of the valley). We celebrate a successful tour with a great farewell dinner, storytelling and singing. We stay overnight at Hvammur Guesthouse. The hot tub offers a nice relaxation after today’s ride. (Approx. 35 km)

Day 7
We say good-bye to our farmer and his crew. Transfer back to your accommodation or the bus station in Reykjavík. Approx. return at 14:00. Depending on flight times guests may wish to stay an extra night in Reykjavik.

Please follow this link for a map of this itinerary: Glacier Trail

Some departures for this riding holiday in Iceland are also operated from North to South. Reversed itinerary available upon request.

You may bring your own riding gear (eg helmet) but it needs to be dry cleaned or disinfected; officially, a written certificate is needed to prove at the airport that this has been done, but it is rarely asked for. Luggage is taken ahead every day by truck/trailer to the next night's stop. We recommend you bring bags, rather then hard cover suit cases, and pack light because transport space is limited. Accommodation is basic in rustic mountain huts in the midst of Iceland´s untamed nature. At Hveravellir, a geothermal area in the highland, you may take a long bath in a natural hot pool under the midnight sun!

There is a family discount of 5% available for parents and older children (between 12 and 18 years old) travelling together, 3 or more people only for this offer.

Children under 12 receive a 25% discount.

Please note that it is not possible to book a single room during the riding tour.

  
Reading List
We're avid readers here at Unicorn Trails and have selected several books connected to this ride. If you're interested in reading more about the area before you travel, or want to get into the cultural background, here are some suggestions that may inspire you. Click on the links for more information.

Letters From Iceland - WH Auden and Louis MacNeice 
Iceland, Land of the Saga's - David Roberts 
Ring of Seasons: Iceland - Its Culture and History - Terry Lacy

Please note: All itineraries are given for your guidance only and it may be altered on the ground and in accordance with the prevailing conditions by the organising team.

Horses & Riding

In this land of the midnight sun the season for rides only lasts for 4 months – June, July, August and September but the rides we offer provide plenty of variety of scenery. You will ride the traditional Icelandic horses - they are called horses not ponies despite being pony sized! Icelandics are gaited horses and have a special gait known as the tölt which is very comfortable . Anyone comfortable with English (or McLellan) or Western tack will be able to adapt to sitting to the new gait without any problems – the trail leaders explain how to sit it before the first day’s riding. The guides will explain how to tack up the horses, mount and how to ride the tölt before setting off. All the guides are English-speaking. As well as the ridden horses, a herd of loose horses will be running with the group, and you will change your mount at least once during the day. There is about 6 – 7 hours riding each day (starting around 10.30am) as up to 35/55km have to be covered each day: you’ll need to be riding fit because occasionally the odd day may be slightly longer. The purpose of riding with a herd of horses is to enable a change of mount at the 2 or 3 breaks each day. A minimum of 10 riders up to a maximum of 20 riders per trip: so you could be riding with up to 70 loose horses! You ride across the wide salmon rivers on sturdy native ponies - the preferred mode of transport for many Icelanders, still. Pass glaciers, extinct volcanoes, icebergs floating in the lakes and explore the bubbling hot springs.

Rider requirements

5 to 8 hours per day, this ride is mainly for good intermediate to advanced (beginners and novices can have tailor-made rides organised for them) - all paces including tölt (instruction is given), 125kg weight limit (please enquire if you are an experienced rider exceeding this weight.) Some walking beside horses required. Children are welcome provided that their parent/guardian is prepared to take full responsibility for them during the holiday.

Used riding clothes must be disinfected before entry to Iceland. Riding gear (riding trousers, jackets, etc.) needs to be washed (40°C) or dry cleaned. Items which cannot be washed or dry cleaned (riding boots, riding hats) need to be disinfected at least five days prior to arriving in Iceland. The Icelandic Veterinary Authority recommends the broad-spectrum disinfectant Virkon S for disinfection. Used riding gloves, whips, saddles, bridles and other used leather gear may not be brought into the country.
Please understand that these precautions are necessary because there are no contagious animal diseases in Iceland. Horses are not vaccinated and are therefore susceptible to infectious agents from abroad. Please help us to protect Iceland's fragile nature! For further information please take a look at: www.mast.is

Weight Limit

The weight limit for this ride is 17 st/242 lb/110 kg, please enquire if you are an experienced rider exceeding this weight.

On the Glacier Trail, sometimes the whole group stays together in one room, depending on the size and location of each mountain cabin. Indoor WC, warm showers and/or hot pools are available at most but not all locations. Large breakfasts are traditional (lamb and fish are the staple dinners) though special diets (vegetarian, etc.) can be provided if advance notice is given. Riders make their own picnic lunches up from the large food selection at the breakfast table. Luggage will be transported in the kitchen van. Please bring bags rather than hard cover suitcases and pack light because transport space is limited. 


Please bring your own sleeping bags.


Extra accommodation: We recommend that you arrive the day before the ride begins and stay in a hotel in Reykjavik. Some riders may also want to stay an extra night at the end of the ride before flying home. There are many hotels to choose from in Reykjavik, some recommendations are below.



Cabin Hotel - http://hotelcabin.is/en/ 

Brim Hotel (also known as Reykjavik Hotel Centre) - http://www.booking.com/hotel/is/reykjavik-hostel-center.html


As part of an initiative to improve the centre of Reykjavik for locals and travellers, the local authorities will ban all buses to drive within the central part of the City from July 15 2017. Instead, vehicles with group licenses will have to pick up and drop off all passengers staying at hostels and guesthouses within the area at designated bus stops, including airport transfers and tours.



Please take a look at the available bus stops here http://www.busstop.is/ to find the stop closest to your intended accommodation.

Vegetarian or other dietary requirements can be accommodated with advanced notice. Please contact Unicorn Trails with requests.

Climate Summary

Come prepared for all kinds of weather as the day can change very quickly! Summer temperatures usually reach the 20°C+ but can be less than 10°C.

Climate Chart

Health (ride specific)

No special health precautions are required for visits to Iceland.

Film and Camera Equipment

Bring sufficient film, batteries, etc. with you because there are no opportunities to buy these out on the trail.

Packing List

You should be ready for all kinds of weather as the weather can change very quickly.
We recommend that the following items are included when preparing for this long tour.

• Sleeping bag
• Riding Boots - preferably rubber, because of the rivers we cross
• Warm, waterproof jacket or overcoat
• Warm (woollen or fleece) sweater
• Warm socks and gloves (at lest two pairs) scarf (or muffler) and a cap or hat
• Warm underwear, long if possible
• Riding trousers
• Track suit or casual, loose clothes
• A pair of slippers to wear in the accommodation
(Icelanders take off their shoes when entering a house)
• Swim suits, towels, soap, toiletries, etc.
• A small camera to take with you on the ride
• Band aids and second skin plasters for chaffing
• Insect repellent, gnat net head cover.
• Chocolate or glucose sweets for strenuous riding days
• Sun lotion for face and lips (with high sun factor)
• Small pillow to sleep on
• Ear plugs
• A sports bra for the ladies usually comes in useful!
• Sunglasses

You may bring your own riding gear (eg helmet) but it needs to be dry cleaned or disinfected; officially, a written certificate is needed to prove at the airport that this has been done, but it is rarely asked for.

The host provides:
• Saddle bags
• Rain wear (heavy/industrial so best to have your own and use the host's gear only in the worst of weather)
• Safety riding helmet


Luggage will be transported in the kitchen van. Please bring bags rather than hard cover suitcases and pack light because transport space is limited.

Programmes

This is a 7 day/6 night programme with 6 days riding, available on set dates. Alternative departures for this riding holiday are operated from North to South. We recommend riders to arrive a day early and stay in a hotel in Reykjavik the night before the ride starts.

Departure Dates

2017 Low Season: 25 (FULL) Jun
2017 High Season: 2 (FULL), 9 (FULL), 10 (FULL), 16 (FULL), 23 (FULL), 30 (FULL) Jul; 6 (FULL), 13 Aug

Pricing
No single rooms available (on some or all nights). Riders must be prepared to share with someone of the same sex.


No of   
days/nights
Riding days Product item description £
2017 - Low Season7d/6n6double pp1,949
2017 - Low Season7d/6n6Child under 121,459
2017 - High Season7d/6n6double pp2,059
2017 - High Season7d/6n6Child under 121,545
No of   
days/nights
Riding days Product item description
2017 - Low Season7d/6n6double pp2,089
2017 - Low Season7d/6n6Child under 121,569
2017 - High Season7d/6n6double pp2,359
2017 - High Season7d/6n6Child under 121,769
No of   
days/nights
Riding days Product item description $
2017 - Low Season7d/6n6double pp2,509
2017 - Low Season7d/6n6Child under 121,885
2017 - High Season7d/6n6double pp2,655
2017 - High Season7d/6n6Child under 121,989
No of   
days/nights
Riding days Product item description SEK
2017 - Low Season7d/6n6double pp20,549
2017 - Low Season7d/6n6Child under 1215,415
2017 - High Season7d/6n6double pp21,729
2017 - High Season7d/6n6Child under 1216,299
Wildlife

Enjoy geothermal pools, outdoor hot tubs, bird watching and exploring the lava fields and fauna in the evenings.

Other Activities

Blue Lagoon, Whale Watching (Reykyavik)

Other Information

DISINFECTION: Riding gear (riding boots, riding trousers, jackets, hats, gloves, etc.) needs to be washed (40°C), dry cleaned or disinfected with Virkon S before arriving in Iceland. Saddles, bridles and other leather gear may not be brought into the country.
Please understand that these precautions are necessary because there are no contagious animal diseases (i.e. rabies or foot and mouth diseases) in Iceland and therefore important to protect the animals of the country.

Other Country Information

Iceland is a volcanic island in the North Atlantic. It is three hours flying time from London and two from Glasgow. Geologically speaking, it is the youngest country in the world. The Icelanders live in a beautiful, but rather fierce natural setting with extremes in the weather, and are continually reminded of the often-harsh natural elements with earthquakes and volcanic eruptions relatively commonplace. Iceland enjoys the midnight sun in summer and extensive darkness in winter, with the northern lights adding a touch of magic on clear winter nights.

In addition to its expansive landscape, it has a rich history and folklore tradition. Iceland was the last country in Europe to be settled, by Vikings and Celts, in the 9th and 10th century AD. The nation converted to Christianity in 1000. From the Middle Ages she was a Norwegian and later a Danish colony. She gained Home Rule in 1904 and then separate sovereign status under the Danish crown in 1918. During WW II, the country was benignly occupied, first by British and then by US forces. Iceland became an independent republic on 17 June 1944.

DISINFECTION: Riding gear (riding boots, riding trousers, jackets, hats, gloves, etc.) needs to be washed (40°C), dry cleaned or disinfected with Virkon S before arriving in Iceland. Saddles, bridles and other leather gear may not be brought into the country.
Please understand that these precautions are necessary because there are no contagious animal diseases (i.e. rabies or foot and mouth diseases) in Iceland and therefore important to protect the animals of the country.

Iceland is on GMT and they use the metric weights and measures system, so kilometres and kilograms instead of miles and pounds. There is approximately 1.6 kilometres in a mile and 2.2 pounds in a kilogram. The dialling code for the country is +354.

Travel Summary

Meeting-point (getting there):
Your hotel or closest designated bus stop (central zone) in Rekjavik (own booking)
Transfer:
2017: Included from your hotel or closest designated bus stop in Rekjavik.
Flight Guide:
London - Reykjavik return from £110. Please see "getting there" for flight information
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