Join the farmers in this great autumn adventure. Ride along when they drive the herd, sort the horses and celebrate the successful return of horses and men. The varied terrain on this horse riding holiday includes the highland moors, green valleys just turning into their autumn colours of burning red and yellow, deep blue lakes and rivers and Kolugljúfur gorge where a troll woman resided in the old days.
A short first ride is already scheduled on the arrival day in Hafnarfjörður. This is a good opportunity to get to know the Icelandic horse and prepare for the coming days. From Bjargshóll Farm in the North you follow good riding tracks until you meet the Icelanders who have been gathering horses already for some days. You join them and help driving the herd down to the Víðidalstungurétt corral. When this task has been fulfilled the locals celebrate the successful round-ups with a ball “réttardansleikur” and you are welcome to join in the fun. The next day the horses get sorted. Experience the excitement of horses and men when the horses and foals are selected from the herd and returned to their rightful owners.
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 MD of London on 22/10/2014
Due to the early start on Day 1, it is recommended that guests arrive in Reykjavik the day before the round up begins and stay in a hotel in the city. Please see 'Accommodation' for recommended hotels.
Day 1: Reykjavík – Hvammur – Vatnsdalur – Stóra-Giljá
Pick up between 07:30 - 08:30 from pick up points in Reykjavik www.busstop.is in the morning. Please be ready at the earliest pick up time and be ready in your riding clothes. Transfer by bus to Hvammur Farm, where we meet horses and guides. On our way to the north we visit a factory outlet for woollen goods. We start our ride in Vatnsdalur valley. This beautiful valley is the setting of the Vatnsdæla-Saga. We ride on the eastern side of Vatnsdalur valley, past Hvammsfoss waterfall, surrounded by impressive basalt columns. The horses rest close to Stóra - Giljá Farm and we return to Hvammur Farm, home of our host Haukur, for our overnight stay. (Approx. 20 km)
Day 2: Stóra-Giljá – Björnsólfsstaðir – Hvammur
After rejoing our horses we start our ride along the shore of Lake Húnavatn, follow the expensive salmon fishing river Laxá á Ásum and continue to Blönduós village. Here we cross the glacier fed river Blanda on a bridge and continue to Björnsólfsstaðir Farm in Langadalur valley. This farm belongs to Haukur’s grandfather who is known for his storytelling and warm personality. Overnight stay at Hvammur Farm. (Approx. 30 km)
Day 3: Gathering horses in Laxárdalur – Skrapatungurétt
We meet up with our horses again at Farm Strjúgsstaðir. Today we meet the farmers coming down from the mountains where they already spent some time gathering the horses in their summer pastures. Hundreds of horses are coming down from the highlands and we participate in herding them to the round up place Skrapatungurétt. Join in the singing of the farmers, celebrating this great event of the fall during this long riding day. (Approx. 45 km)
Optional (not included in the tour price): "Stóðréttardansleikur" dance at Blönduós, where everybody relaxes after the excitement of the day and celebrates yet another successful round up.
Day 4: Sorting of the horses and driving the herds to their home pastures
Our day starts at the round up place Skrapatungurétt where horses are sorted out. Experience the excitement and view beautiful horses while joining in this great event. When the horses are sorted we participate in returning some of them to their meadows at their home farms. Dinner at Hvammur Farm and time to share our personal experience on this riding adventure with our fellow riders. (Approx. 25 km)
Day 5: Return to the South - Reykjavík
Departure from the North and return to your accommodation in Reykjavík. Approx. arrival at 13:00.
Day 1: Reykjavík – Hvammur – Sveinsstaðir – Hvammur Farm
Pick up between 07:30 – 08:30 from your accommodation. Please dress already in riding clothes. Transfer by bus from Reykjavík to Hvammur Farm, where we meet horses and guides. We start our ride through Vatnsdalur valley. This beautiful valley is the setting of the Vatnsdæla-Saga. We ride along the banks of River Vatnsdalsá before crossing over to the western side of the valley. Our ride ends at Sveinsstaðir Farm and we return to Hvammur Farm for our overnight stay. (approx. 25 km)
Day 2: Sveinsstaðir – Dæli – Hvammur
This long and exciting riding day takes us alongside the Hóp and across the Gljúfurá River. Through the friendly countryside of Vestur-Hóp and into the beautiful valley Víðidalur. We follow Víðidalsá River to Dæli Farm where we will leave the horses. We return to Hvammur farm for our overnight stay. The outdoor hot tub is waiting, as well as a hearty dinner. (approx. 40 km)
Day 3: Dæli - Kolugil – Víðidalstungheiði – Hvammur
Today we ascend towards the highland plateau Víðidalstunguheiði and meet the horses coming down from their pastures in the highlands. We enjoy a warm lunch at a mountain shelter before we join the farmers in driving the herd down from the mountains. Before ending our ride at Dæli Farm we stop at Kolugili Farm for refreshments. (approx. 32 km, during 8-9 hours including lunch and coffee breaks)
Day 4: Víðidalstungurétt – Lake Hóp – Hvammur
Our day starts at the round up place Víðidalstungurétt, where horses are sorted out. An auction is held right on the spot and we can join the farmers in their joyful singing, celebrating the return of their horses. In the afternoon we join up with our horses close to Borgarvirki and ride towards Lake Hóp. Feel the excitement of the horses as they reach the open plain. Our trail leads us right across Lake Hóp, Iceland’s fifth biggest lake, on a safe track across the water. We ride past Thingeyrar, a place of great historic importance and into Vatnsdalur valley. It is time to say good bye to the horses and we return to Hvammur. (approx. 30 km)
Optional (not included in the tour price):
"Stóðréttardansleikur" dance at Víðihlíð, where everybody relaxes after the excitement of the day and celebrates yet another successful round up.
Day 5: Return to the South – Reykjavík
Departure from the North and return to Reykjavík at approx. 14:00.
The hosts reserve the right to change the itinerary if necessary.
Please note that it is not possible to book a single room during the riding tour.
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 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.
Riding days can be long so you should be in good physical condition and have a basic knowledge of horsemanship. Hours per day in the saddle ranges from three to ten. 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 242 lb/110 kg, please enquire if you are an experienced rider exceeding this weight.
Accommodation is in simple yet cosy mountain cabins shared by the local farmers participating with you in the Horse Round Up. Three nights are spent in cabins that are situated in their own little area sheltered by low trees / bushes. They all have a table and chairs and bunk beds, but they try to only put 2 people in a 4 man cabin so there is no need to use the top bunks. They are heated and have lighting and power points. Showers are just across the grass (less than 1 minute walk) and towels and sleeping bags are provided. Hot tubs are available on some nights. Please note that it is usual for people to shower before using them. Large breakfasts are traditional (lamb and fish are the staple dinners) though special diets (vegetarian, etc.) can be provided if advance notice is given. Lunches are brought to you each day by the back up vehicles. Luggage will be transported in the kitchen van. Please bring bags rather than hard cover suitcases and pack light 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.
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.
Bring sufficient film, batteries, etc. with you because there are no opportunities to buy these out on the trail.
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 special event takes place just once a year, in the autumn for 5 days / 4 nights / 4 days riding - 120km. We recommend riders to arrive a day early and stay in a hotel in Reykjavik the night before the ride starts.
2020: 17 September (Skrapatungurétt), 30 September (Víðidalstungurétt)
2021: 29 September (Víðidalstungurétt)
|Riding days||Product item description||£|
|2020 - Skrapatungurétt||5d/4n||4||double pp||1,669|
|2020 - Skrapatungurétt||5d/4n||4||Child under 12||1,249|
|2020||5d/4n||4||Child under 12||1,195|
|Riding days||Product item description||€|
|2020 - Skrapatungurétt||5d/4n||4||double pp||1,789|
|2020 - Skrapatungurétt||5d/4n||4||Child under 12||1,345|
|2020||5d/4n||4||Child under 12||1,285|
|Riding days||Product item description||$|
|2020 - Skrapatungurétt||5d/4n||4||double pp||2,229|
|2020 - Skrapatungurétt||5d/4n||4||Child under 12||1,669|
|2020||5d/4n||4||Child under 12||1,595|
|Riding days||Product item description||SEK|
|2020 - Skrapatungurétt||5d/4n||4||double pp||19,089|
|2020 - Skrapatungurétt||5d/4n||4||Child under 12||14,319|
|2020||5d/4n||4||Child under 12||13,679|
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!
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.