There is no better way to visit the hot springs area of Geysir and the Golden Waterfall – Gullfoss – than by riding through the lovely countryside of South Iceland. On our way to the farm we witness the great scenery at Thingvellir National Park.

This popular tour is ideal for families and those who do not have the required riding experience for our highland tours. Still riding days can be long so you should be in good physical shape and have a basic knowledge of horsemanship.

On the first riding day you get acquainted with the Icelandic horse and its special gaits on a relaxed ride along majestic Thjórsá River. We then ride towards magnificent Gullfoss Waterfall and the hot springs area of Geysir. After a relaxed riding day in that area we experience riding along the edge of civilisation. We cross the highland moor of Hrunaheiði and enjoy good riding tracks when riding past Hrepphólar basalt columns on our way back to Kálfhóll Farm.

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 SL of Buckhurst Hill on 25/06/2018

Ride Summary

What was your overall impression of the holiday

Unicorn Trails sales staff
Professionalism     (X) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor
Friendliness     (X) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor
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Efficiency     (   ) Excellent     (X) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor
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Riding tour leader
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Horsemanship     (X) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor     (   ) N/A
Pacing of Ride     (X) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor     (   ) N/A
Concern for Safety     (X) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor     (   ) N/A
Leadership     (X) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor     (   ) N/A
Friendliness/availability     (X) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor     (   ) N/A
Knowledge of local Culture     (X) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor     (   ) N/A
Knowledge of local Flora/Fauna     (   ) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor     (X) N/A
Concern with Environment     (   ) Excellent     (X) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor     (   ) N/A
Language skills     (   ) Excellent     (X) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor     (   ) N/A
Additional Comments

Horses and Tack
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Performance of Horses     (X) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor
Additional Comments

Meals
Meal Quantity     (   ) Excellent     (X) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor
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Accommodation
Camping Equipment     (   ) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor     (X) N/A
Hotels/Lodges/Inns     (   ) Excellent     (X) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor     (   ) N/A
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Miscellaneous
Transfer arrangements     (   ) Excellent     (X) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor     (   ) N/A
Other office staff     (   ) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor     (X) N/A
Other ride staff     (   ) Excellent     (X) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor     (   ) N/A
Weather     (   ) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (X) Poor
Was this trip accurately described to you beforehand?
    (   ) NO     (X) YES
Please give more details to explain your response:
Very accurate description of everything from the horses to the accomodation
Was there anything you should have known and were not told?     (X) NO     (   ) YES
Please give more details to explain your response:

What could we do to improve this ride?
It was a pity the weather was bad not only while we were there but the month before and we could not do the usual river crossings. This meant more roadwork than normal - would be good if some alternative routes not involving so many roads could be worked out
How would you rate the difficulty of this ride out of 10 where 1 is very easy and 10 is very advanced?
7
Please explain why you scored it as you did:
Horses not difficult to handle, but some long days with long distances (40km)
Would you recommend Unicorn Trails to your friends?
    (   ) NO     (X) YES
Please give more details to explain your response:

May we use you as a reference for other people wishing to go on this ride?
    (   ) NO     (X) YES
Any other comments:

Unicorn comments: Thank you for your feedback. Glad you enjoyed your trip! :)

Day 1
Reykjavík – Thingvellir – Kálfhóll – Réttarholt Guesthouse
Pick up between 18:00 – 19:00 at BSI Bus Station or your accommodation in Reykjavik. 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. Transfer from Reykjavík to Réttarholt Guesthouse where the horses and staff will greet you. Enjoy the outdoor hot tub at Réttarholt Guesthouse before a hearty dinner.

Day 2
Réttarholt Guesthouse - Thjórsá glacier river.
After an introduction to the Icelandic horse and its special gaits you start our ride along the pleasant trail at Thjórsá glacier fed river. You leave the horses at Sandlækjarmýri field and drive back to Réttarholt Guesthouse for dinner (approximately 15 km).

Day 3
Réttarholt – Hvítárdalur
You leave Réttarholt and drive back to the horses. From there you head off to the fertile farmlands of neighbouring community Hrunamannahreppur. You drive spare horses along in a free running herd, enabling you to change our mount regularly and traveling at a brisk space. We cross the well know Salmon River Stóra-Laxá and stop for your picnic lunch at Hrunaréttir, a corral used for the annual sheep round-up in autumn. You ride to Hvítárdalur Farm where you spend the night(approximately 30 km).

Day 4
Hvítárdalur – Gullfoss – Myrkholt/Hvítárdalur
You continue your ride on soft trails ideal for tölting towards the majestic canyon Brúarhlöð where the water passes through bizarre rock formations. Alongside Hvítá River you follow the ever deepening canyon on to the impressive Golden Waterfall Gullfoss and continue to the famous Geysir hot spring area (20 km).

Day 5
Geysir – Haukadalur – Haukadalsheiði – Myrkholt/Hvítárdalur
Your ride today takes you through Haukadalur valley with its beautiful birch forest. Cross clear little streams on the way and enjoy the rich vegetation of wild mountain flowers that bloom during high summer. While you ascend to a highland plateau you will notice the changes in nature as you reach higher ground. A breathtaking view of the mountain ranges and glaciers of the highland around awaits you when you reach the top of Haukadalsheiði. Rest of the day is spent at the Geysir area. You have plenty of time to explore this highly interesting area with its countless bubbling hot springs (15km).
Optional (available at an extra charge): Snowmobile drive on Langjökull glacier
Enjoy the white ice field of Langjökull glacier up-close. A 4x4 vehicle picks you up and takes us to a base camp where we change into warm gear. After safety instructions we drive into the white world of ice and snow. Two people share a snowmobile during the 1 hr. drive and both get to drive the vehicle (a valid drivers license is necessary to drive a snowmobile, younger participants and children can ride in the back). Minimum: 6 participants.

Day 6
Geysir – Tungufellsdalur – Kaldbakur – Réttarholt Guesthouse
You leave the Geysir area and ride along green pastures back to the bridge at Brúarhlöð canyon where you cross mighty Hvítá River. Now you head towards the interior and follow beautiful Tungufellsdalur valley onto Hrunaheiðar heath plateau and you experience riding along the edge of civilisation. Your horses spend the night at Kaldbakur Farm, you drive to the Secret Lagoon for relaxing bath in the geothermal pool and then drive to Réttarholt Guesthouse and spend the night (approximately 30 km).

Day 7
Réttarholt Guesthouse – Kaldbakur – Hrepphólar – Kálfhóll – Reykjavík
Your last day of riding includes yet again terrific scenery. Today you follow good riding tracks past Mt. Galtafell and see the amazing basalt columns at Hrepphólar. You cross River Laxá before you reach Sandlækjarmýri. You turn towards the banks of Thjórsá River and follow them to Kálfhóll Farm. (approximately 40 km) Here you say goodbye to your guides, staff and horses and return to Reykjavík. You will be dropped off at your accommodation or the bus station. Approx, arrival at 19:00. Depending on flight times guests may wish to stay an extra night in Reykjavik – please see the Accommodations information for recommended hotels.

This popular tour in Iceland is ideal for families and those who do not have the riding experience necessary for our highland tours. On the Canyon Trail, accommodation is in made up beds throughout the tour. 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 suitcases and pack lightly because transport space is limited.

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. Clients ride the traditional Icelandic horses (called horses not ponies despite being pony sized!) which have a special gait known as the tölt which is very comfortable and 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 it 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 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 5 riders up to a maximum of 20 riders per trip: so you could be riding with up to 70 loose horses! You ride on sturdy native ponies - the preferred mode of transport for many Icelanders, still.

Rider requirements

Although you do not need to be an expert rider for this tour, riding days can be long so you should be in good physical condition and have a basic knowledge of horsemanship.

5 to 8 hours per day, this ride is mainly intermediate to advanced – novices can be catered for - all paces including tölt (instruction is given).
There is a 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. The minimum age for this ride is 8 years.

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 Canyon Trail accommodation is in made up beds throughout the tour. Indoor WC, warm showers and/or hot pools are available at most 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 lunches up from the large food selection at the breakfast table (a tip: bring a small box, Tupperware or similar, to pack it in). Luggage will be transported in the kitchen van. Please bring bags rather than hard cover suitcases and pack lightly because transport space is limited.


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.

Documents - Visa and Consulate Info

Please note that it is your responsibility to ensure you have the correct documentation in place for your trip. If Visa’s are required the requirements can change from year to year depending on diplomatic relations. Please request information from the appropriate Consulate in your home country. Unicorn Trails will assist with any questions you have or supply any necessary supporting documents as required by the consulate on request.

General information:

Visa are not required for U.K. or other European nationals. In the UK the British Foreign Office gives travel advice on travel insurance, passport and visas, health and vaccinations, legal issues and emergency issues. They can be reached on 0207 008 0232/0233 or at www.fco.gov.uk.

The British Embassy in Reykjavik is at Laufásvegur 31, 101 Reykjavík. Postal Address: PO Box 460, 121 Reykjavík. Tel: + (354) 550 5100. Email: britemb@centrum.is.

In the U.K the Embassy of Iceland is at 2A Hans Street, London SW1X 0JE. Telephone: (020) 7259 3999. Email: icemb.london@utn.stjr.is

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

No special health precautions are required for visits to Iceland, for further details please see your local doctor.

For up to date information on specific health concerns please contact the Medical Advisors For Travellers Abroad. Their website can be found at www.masta.org.

Health (ride specific)

No special health precautions are required for visits to Iceland.

Electricity

Voltage is the same as in the UK and most appliances such as battery chargers for videos, hair dryers etc. can be plugged in with appropriate adapters. These are available for purchase at most airports and travel shops.

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 tour.

• Riding Boots - knee-high, preferably rubber, because of the rivers you cross.
• Warm jacket or overcoat.
• Warm (woollen or fleece) sweater.
• Warm socks and gloves, at lest two pairs, scarf and a cap or hat.
• Warm underwear, long if possible.
• Riding trousers.
• Tracksuit or casual, loose clothes
• A pair of slippers to wear in the accommodation. (Icelanders take off their shoes when entering a house).
• Swim suit, towels and soap
• A small camera to take with you on the ride.
• Band aids and second skin plasters for chaffing.
• Fly net
• Chocolate or glucose sweets for strenuous riding days.
• Sun lotion for face and lips (with high sun factor).
• A sports bra for the ladies usually comes in useful!
• Sunglasses
• Bum bag or similar to carry water, cameras etc.
• Ear plugs. Some people snore!


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.

Items provided:
• Saddle bags
• Rain wear (heavy/industrial so best to have your own and use the Íshestar 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 lightly because transport space is limited.

Programmes

This is a 7 day/6 night programme with 6 days riding available on set dates throughout the year.

Departure Dates

2019: 17*, 24 August (* denotes high season)
2020: 30 May; 6, 13 June; 11*, 18*, 25* July; 1*, 8*, 29 August (*denotes high season)

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 £
2019 Low Season7d/6n6double pp1,959
2019 Low Season7d/6n6Child under 121,469
2019 High Season7d/6n6double pp2,099
2019 High Season7d/6n6Child under 121,575
2020 Low Season7d/6n6double pp1,969
2020 Low Season7d/6n6Child under 121,479
2020 High Season7d/6n6double pp2,159
2020 High Season7d/6n6Child under 121,619
No of   
days/nights
Riding days Product item description
2019 Low Season7d/6n6double pp2,079
2019 Low Season7d/6n6Child under 121,559
2019 High Season7d/6n6double pp2,229
2019 High Season7d/6n6Child under 121,675
2020 Low Season7d/6n6double pp2,089
2020 Low Season7d/6n6Child under 121,569
2020 High Season7d/6n6double pp2,289
2020 High Season7d/6n6Child under 121,719
No of   
days/nights
Riding days Product item description $
2019 Low Season7d/6n6double pp2,465
2019 Low Season7d/6n6Child under 121,849
2019 High Season7d/6n6double pp2,645
2019 High Season7d/6n6Child under 121,985
2020 Low Season7d/6n6double pp2,479
2020 Low Season7d/6n6Child under 121,859
2020 High Season7d/6n6double pp2,715
2020 High Season7d/6n6Child under 122,035
No of   
days/nights
Riding days Product item description SEK
2019 Low Season7d/6n6double pp22,925
2019 Low Season7d/6n6Child under 1217,195
2019 High Season7d/6n6double pp24,565
2019 High Season7d/6n6Child under 1218,425
2020 Low Season7d/6n6double pp23,035
2020 Low Season7d/6n6Child under 1217,275
2020 High Season7d/6n6double pp25,239
2020 High Season7d/6n6Child under 1218,929
Recommended Reading

WH Auden and Louis MacNeice 'Letters from Iceland'; Mark Cowardine 'Iceland Native's and Meeting Places'; David Roberts 'Iceland Land of the Saga's'; Terry Lacy 'Ring of Seasons'.
For a broad selection of equestrian travel books, many previously unavailable visit www.HorseTravelBooks.com - inspiring adventure!

Other Activities

Blue Lagoon, Whale Watching (Reykyavik)

Wildlife

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

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):
BSI Bus Station or closest designated bus stop to your hotel in Rekjavik
Transfer:
2019/20: Included from BSI Bus Station or closest designated bus stop to your hotel in Rekjavik.
Flight Guide:
London - Reykjavik return from £110.
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