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. Enjoy the scenery at Thingvellir National Park along the way.
This popular tour is ideal for families and those who do not have the required riding experience for the highland tours. Riding days can be long, so riders should be in good physical shape and have a basic knowledge of horsemanship.

On the first riding day riders will get acquainted with the Icelandic horse and its special gaits on a relaxed ride along majestic Thjórsá River. Head towards magnificent Gullfoss Waterfall and the hot springs area of Geysir. After a relaxed riding day in that area, experience riding along the edge of civilisation as the route crosses the highland moor of Hrunaheiði along excellent tracks past Hrepphólar basalt columns on the 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 SJ of Burlington on 08/09/2021

Ride Summary
What was your overall impression of the holiday
Overall impression
Unicorn Trails sales staff

Riding tour leader

Additional Comments
Horses and Tack

Additional Comments
Meals

Accommodation

Miscellaneous

Was this trip accurately described to you beforehand?
YES
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Was there anything you should have known and were not told? NO
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What could we do to improve this ride?
How would you rate the difficulty of this ride out of 10 where 1 is very easy and 10 is very advanced?
9
Please explain why you scored it as you did:
Very long days and fast paced horses.
Would you recommend Unicorn Trails to your friends?
NO
Please give more details to explain your response:
They don’t ride horses.
May we use you as a reference for other people wishing to go on this ride?
YES
Any other comments:
Unicorn comments: Thank you for your feedback! :)

Day 1 Reykjavik – Kálfhóll Farm
Pick up at BSÍ Bus station in Reykjavik at 18:00 for the transfer to the farm Kálfhóll to meet the horses and staff.. After a welcoming meal and getting to know the group, relax and rest in preparation for the adventure ahead.

Day 2 Kálfhóll - Thjórsá glacier river – Blesastaðir Guesthouse
After an introduction to the Icelandic horse and its special gait, start our ride along the pleasant trail at the Thjórsá glacier-fed river. Leave the horses at the Sandlækjarmýri field for the night and drive to Blesastaðir Guesthouse (or similar). Today was the perfect ride to get to know the horses and the tölt. Enjoy the outdoor hot tub at Blesastaðir Guesthouse before a hearty dinner. (approximately 15 km)

Day 3 Kálfhóll – Myrkholt
Leave Blesastaðir and drive back to the horses. From there, head off to the fertile farmlands of neighbouring community Hrunamannahreppur. Drive the spare horses along in a free running herd. This enables riders to change mounts regularly and traveling at a brisk pace. Cross the  Salmon River Stóra-Laxá and stop for a picnic lunch at Hrunaréttir, a corral used for the annual sheep round-up in autumn. Continue the ride on good trails toward the majestic canyon at Brúarhlöð, where milky green water passes through bizarre rock formations.The ride ends at Brúarhlöð and we drive to the Myrkholt Farm (or similar), where we spend the night. (approximately 30 km)

Day 4 Myrkholt – Gullfoss – Myrkholt
Continue the ride on soft trails, ideal for tölting, alongside Hvítá River and follow the ever deepening canyon on to the impressive Golden Waterfall Gullfoss. Enjoy a lunch break at Gullfoss before winding back to Myrkholt to spend the night. (approximately 20 km)

Day 5 Haukadalur – Haukadalsheiði – Myrkholt
The ride follows the Haukadalur valley with its beautiful birch forest. Cross clear streams on the way and rich vegetation of wild mountain flowers that bloom during high summer. On ascending to a highland plateau riders will notice the changes in terrain as the trails reaches higher ground offering breathtaking views of the mountain ranges and glaciers of the highland as the trail steadily reached the crest of Haukadalsheiði. Rest of the day is spent at the Geyser area where there is plenty of time to explore this interesting area with its countless bubbling hot springs. (approximately 18 km)

Day 6 Geysir – Tungufellsdalur – Kaldbakur – Kálfhóll
Leave the Geyser area and ride along green pastures back to the bridge at Brúarhlöð canyon to cross mighty Hvítá River. The ride now heads towards the interior and follows the beautiful Tungufellsdalur valley onto the Hrunaheiðar plateau. This is riding along the edge of civilization. The horses spend the night at Kaldbakur Farm, while the group drive to the Secret Lagoon for relaxing bath in the geothermal pool before driving to Kálfhóll farm and spend the night. (approximately 30 km)

Day 7 Kálfhóll – Kaldbakur – Hrepphólar – Kálfhóll – Reykjavík
The last day of riding includes terrific scenery along the riding tracks past Mt. Galtafell. Cross the Laxá river before reaching Sandlækjarmýri. Turn towards the banks of the Thjórsá River toward the Kálfhóll Farm. Say goodbye to our guides, staff and horses and return to Reykjavík, approx. arrival at 20:00. (approximately 40 km).

The hosts reserve the right to change the itinerary if necessary.

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

The riding season only lasts for 4 months in the land of the midnight sun; June, July, August and September,  but the rides provided offer plenty of variety of scenery. Guests 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 and 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) and up to 35/55km has to be covered each day, so riders need to be 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.


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 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, no buses are allowed in the central part of the City.. Instead, vehicles with group licenses will 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.

NB: Be sure to check the COVID status of the country you plan to visit including entry procedures and requirements while travelling.

When visiting Iceland, your passport should be valid for at least 3 months from the date you arrive.

Passport and Visa requirements can change regularly 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 should you need a visa.

In the UK the British Foreign Office gives advice: https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/iceland

In the USA: https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/international-travel/International-Travel-Country-Information-Pages/Iceland.html

In Canada: https://travel.gc.ca/destinations/iceland

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

COVID: Be sure to check the latest COVID regulations for travelling in any country you visit.

Please refer to your country’s latest health guideline for travel in Iceland and contact your own GP for up to date advice on vaccinations and prophylaxis prior to travel.

You should make sure you have sufficient medical supplies (including prescription medicines) for the duration of your stay and any unforeseen delays, adequate travel insurance and accessible funds to cover the cost of any medical treatment and repatriation.

Sunscreen and insect repellent is advised.

No special health precautions are required for the rides.

If you need to contact the emergency services, call 112.

Health (ride specific)

No special health precautions are required for visits to Iceland.

Electricity

In Iceland the supply voltage is 230V. If the appliance is a single voltage rated appliance, it will need to operate at the same voltage as the supply voltage of the country i.e. 230V. If this is not the case it should be used alongside a voltage transformer or converter to allow the appliance to work safely and properly.

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

2023: 27 May; 3, 10, 17 June; 15* July; 19, 26 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 £
2023 Low Season7d/6n6double pp2,219
2023 Low Season7d/6n6Child under 121,665
2023 High Season7d/6n6double pp2,245
2023 High Season7d/6n6Child under 121,685
No of   
days/nights
Riding days Product item description
2023 Low Season7d/6n6double pp2,449
2023 Low Season7d/6n6Child under 121,839
2023 High Season7d/6n6double pp2,479
2023 High Season7d/6n6Child under 121,859
No of   
days/nights
Riding days Product item description $
2023 Low Season7d/6n6double pp2,809
2023 Low Season7d/6n6Child under 122,109
2023 High Season7d/6n6double pp2,845
2023 High Season7d/6n6Child under 122,135
No of   
days/nights
Riding days Product item description SEK
2023 Low Season7d/6n6double pp28,135
2023 Low Season7d/6n6Child under 1221,099
2023 High Season7d/6n6double pp28,479
2023 High Season7d/6n6Child under 1221,359
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 in Reykjavik.
Transfer:
2023: Included from BSI Bus Station in Reykjavik.
Flight Guide:
London - Reykjavik return from £90 pp.
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