This special one way trail only for 2018 is ideal for anyone who has already been on one of our Iceland tours, or for everyone who would like to challenge themselves in a venturesome 9-day riding tour in the most beautiful places in Iceland.
This ride follows the famous Fjallabak´s route, the most colourful and diversified highland route in Iceland. The trail passes alongside glaciers, over green valleys and along sandy stretches. There are also opportunities to bath in the famous hot springs and witness magnificent scenery.
Accommodation is in simple mountain cabins with dormitory-style rooms and shared facilities. Riders are asked to provide their own sleeping bags.
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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 Skarð-Rjúpnavellir
Pick up at BSÍ Bus station in Reykjavik or at Reykjavik official bus stops near your accommodation (see: www.busstop.is) between 09:00 and 09:30, where the bus will transfer you and your fellow riders to the farm Skarð in Landsveit. There you will meet the horses and staff and get a lovely introductory meal as you prepare for the adventure ahead. On this first riding day you ride up to Skarðsheiði heath along the mighty river Þjórsá to Rjúpnavellir where the volcano Mt. Hekla towers over the region. There you will have refreshment and head up to Fossabrekkur a unique natural river source. When you have admired the amazing scenery you head back to Rjúpnavellir cabin where you will spend the night ( approx. 35km).
Day 2 Rjúpnavellir-Foss
On this riding day, you will ride over Ytri-Rangá river and down to Næfurholtskaga. From there you ride past Heklubæir where farmers have spent many years planting seeds and making the land green after the mighty eruption from Hekla Volcano. From there you continue to Pálsstein and spend the night at the farm Foss in Rangárvöllum where you soak in the incredible nature surrounding you (approx. 40km).
Day 3 Foss-Hungurfit
From the farm Foss, you ride past the abandoned farms Þorleifsstaðir and Rauðnefsstaðir after the mighty volcanic eruption in Hekla 1947. Your path continues upwards and over Eystri-Rangá river up to Dalöldur which has an elevation of 511m. Up you go along the river Blesá all the way up to Hungurfit mountain cabin where you will spend the night (approx. 30km).
Day 4 Hungurfit-Hvanngil
On this exciting riding day your path continues the famous Fjallabak rout over the mighty glacier river Markarfljót. Markafljót flows from the glaciers Eyjafjallajökull and Mýrdalsjökull. From there you ride past the mountain Torfatindur with is amazing bright green moss all over and is truly a sight to see. Continue your ride along Álftavatn to our overnight cabin Hvanngil (approx 35km).
Day 5 Hvanngil-Strútur-Hvanngil
This is truly an extraordinary day. Ride over the hidden gem Kaldakvísl river to Mælifellsandur sand stretch to Strút where you walk to the hot natural geothermal pool Strútslaug. There you can relax and soak in the beautiful nature surrounding you. After the relaxation in Strútslaug, you ride past Hrútagil gorge all the way to Sléttafell mountain past Útigönguhöfði mountain towering over and
back to Hvanngil where you spend your second night (approx. 35km).
Day 6 Hvanngil-Landmannahellir
From Hvanngil you ride the southern Fjallabak route over the Markarfljót river and along the gorge to the beautiful rhyolite mountain Laufafell to the waterfall that has no name. You continue past Rauðufossafjöllum mountain and down to Rauðufossakvísl where you can actually see a pond of water, a beginning source of water flowing into a river. It truly is a magnificent sight. Overnight at
Landmannahellir mountain cabin (approx. 45km).
Day 7 Landmannahellir-Landmannalaugar-Landmannahellir
On this day you ride between the two mountains into the magnificent Landmannalaugar, a true nature paradise where you can soak in the hot natural pool while looking at the astonishing rhyolite mountains and lava from the year 1480. On the way back you ride through Dómadalshraun, a lava field surrounded by towering mountains (approx. 38km).
Day 8 Landmannahellir-Hólaskógur
From Landmannahelli cabin you ride up to the lake Herbjarnafellvatn along a varied landscape, across sands, lava and green fields all the way to the mighty river Tugnaá which flows from the largest glacier in Europe Vatnajökull. From there you ride to Hólaskógur cabin which farmers used when they gathered sheeps from the mountains in the autumn (approx. 32km).
Day 9 Hólaskógur-Réttarholt
On the last day of this adventure, you ride back towards civilization. You ride to Stöng, a ruin of a Viking Settlement age farm and take a look at Gjáin, a remarkable valley with waterfalls running in small ponds and beautiful nature all around. Down you go to Þjórsárdal valley a green and nature rich valley that got deserted in the Hekla eruption the year 1104. Your riding ends at Réttarholt were you say goodbye to the horses and your friends you rode all this way with and head back to Reykjavik in the evening (approx. 37km). 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.
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
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.
Clients ride the traditional Icelandic horses (called horses not ponies despite being pony sized!) who have a special gait known as the tölt. The tölt 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 and how to ride the tölt before setting off. All the guides are English-speaking.
Usually the horses are changed once or twice a day and the spare horses are taken along in a free running herd, the traditional way of riding in Iceland.
Riders should be able to control a horse in open countryside at walk, trot and canter. Riding days can be long so you should be in good physical condition and have a fair knowledge of horsemanship. Hours per day in the saddle ranges from three to six. The minimum age for this ride is 7 years.
A sense of adventure is important as is an open and positive frame of mind due to the nature of the trip.
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
The weight limit for this ride is 17 st/242 lb/110 kg, please enquire if you are an experienced rider exceeding this weight.
Accommodation is in simple mountain cabins. Beds and bunk beds are provided in dormitory style accommodation (sometimes all riders will be sharing 1 room) - please bring your own sleeping bag. An indoor toilet and warm showers are available and usually 1 or 2 are shared between the group.
Large breakfasts are traditional and 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.
Alcoholic beverages are not included in the tour price and are hard to get in the highlands. They can be bought at a reasonable price in the Duty Free Store at Keflavik Airport upon arrival.
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.
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.
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: firstname.lastname@example.org.
In the U.K the Embassy of Iceland is at 2A Hans Street, London SW1X 0JE. Telephone: (020) 7259 3999. Email: email@example.com
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.
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.
No special health precautions are required for visits to Iceland.
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.
There are a few plug sockets around the farmhouse where it is possible to charge cameras etc but it may not be possible to charge equipment whilst out on the tour so please take along plenty of batteries.
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!
• Bum bag or similar to carry water, cameras etc.
• Small pillow to sleep on.
• Ear plugs. Some people snore!
• Sleeping bag
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.
• 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.
This is a 9 day/8 night programme with 9 days riding available on one set date. We recommend riders to arrive a day early and stay in a hotel in Reykjavik the night before the ride starts and the night it ends.
2018: 17 - 25 August
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Blue Lagoon, whale watching (Reykyavik)
Disinfecting of used riding gear: 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. Please help us to protect Iceland's fragile nature!
For further information please take a look at: www.mast.is
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.