lake side
lake
Climb to the top
two horses
into the lake
herd
steep climb
penni
seals
four horses
saddles
rock formation
landscape
View from coach window

On this trail riders follow an exciting route through the varied landscapes of the north west of Iceland. Covering distances of 20-40km a day, riders return to the comfortable Hvammur farm house each night while the horses stay out on the trail, meaning the scenery is different every day.

Hvammur farm itself is located in Vatnsdalur Valley, an ancient extinct volcanic crater. Incredible panoramic views are on your doorstep and the outdoor hot tub is a welcome place to relax after a long day in the saddle. From this stunning base location you begin the trail, riding out through the valley and getting used to the special gaits and riding style of the Icelandic horse. You will ride alongside the rest of the herd, with some of the group in the lead and others at the back to herd the horses along to their overnight stop. In the following days you will ride a wide loop around the surrounding countryside, traversing rivers, crossing mountains and riding through a huge lagoon. The terrain throughout is a mixture of volcanic sand and soil - perfect for riding.

This is one of the shorter Icelandic itineraries but the varied scenery and distances covered mean you will experience some of the most incredible sights the island has to offer.

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 JH of Marnhull on 10/10/2019

Ride Summary
An absolutely wonderful experience! Beautiful scenery, fantastic horses and welcoming and caring hosts. The accommodation and food were superb. Unicorn never fail to pick the right holiday for me.
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) I always go direct to Sarah (King)     (X) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor
Riding tour leader
Professionalism     (X) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor     (   ) N/A
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     (X) Excellent     (   ) 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

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

Meals
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Accommodation
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Hotels/Lodges/Inns     (X) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor     (   ) N/A
Hygiene standards     (X) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor
Miscellaneous
Transfer arrangements     (X) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor     (   ) N/A
Other office staff     (   ) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor     (X) N/A
Other ride staff     (X) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor     (   ) N/A
Weather     (X) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor
Was this trip accurately described to you beforehand?
    (   ) NO     (X) YES
Please give more details to explain your response:

Was there anything you should have known and were not told?     (X) NO     (   ) YES
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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?
8
Please explain why you scored it as you did:
The horses are super and very reliable and the leaders do check your experience and match you with a suitable mount. You are in the saddle for 4 + hours a day and need to be fairly fit but they are comfortable to ride and you can get on and off easily as they are small! You are also herding quite a large number of horses which could be daunting for less experienced riders.
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 had a great time! :)

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: Reykjavík – Hvammur – Vatnsdalur – Sveinsstaðir
Pick up between 07:30 and 08:30 in the morning from pick up points in Reykjavik www.busstop.is. Please be ready at the earliest pick up time and be ready in your 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: Hvammur – Sveinsstaðir – Hóp – Borgarvirki – Þverá - Hvítserkur
We leave Sveinsstaðir Farm and ride alongside the lagoon Hóp. The black sand at the beach is ideal for riding tölt, the special gait of the Icleandic horse. This trail along the shore gives us an idea of the beautiful lagoon we are going to cross tomorrow. We ride along the banks of Víðidalsá River and cross over it. We take a break at Stóra-Borg where our lunch break is and drive to Borgarvirki, a fascinating fortress from the Viking ages. Then we continue our ride to the sheep pen Þverárétt. It is used by local farmers to sort the sheep in the autumn. Before returning to the guesthouse we take another excursion to the shore where we see Hvítserkur, a basalt rock formation, nesting place to many seabirds. This area is home to large numbers of seals and hopefully we see many of them resting and playing on the beach. We spend the night again at Hammur Farm. (Approx. 30 km)

Day 3: Hvammur – North Atlantic – Thingeyrar
Today we explore the beauty of the Vatnsnes peninsula and follow black dunes on Sigríðarstaðasandur towards the North-Atlantic. We have our lunch brake on top of the ridge Nesbjörg where we enjoy the great view. Today we cross the lagoon Lake Hóp and follow a save trail through the water on our way to Thingeyrar Farm, once the site of a monastery founded in the 12th century. For sure this day is one of the highlights of this ride. Relax in the outdoor hot tub at Hvammur Farm before a hearty dinner. (Approx. 40 km)

Day 4: Hvammur - Thingeyrar – Húnavatn – Hvammur
We start the day with a visit to historic Thingeyrar Church. This is our last day of riding and we bring the horses back to Hvammur Farm. We cross Lake Húnavatn on a save trail in the water and enjoy the excitement of the horses once they have returned to the black sand on dry land. We ride on the eastern side of Vatnsdalur valley, past Hvammsfoss waterfall, surrounded by impressive basalt columns. Celebrate the successful return in the evening with great farewell dinner. (Approx. 25 km)

Day 5: Hvammur – Reykjavík
It is time to say good bye to our guides and drive back to your accommodation in Reykjavík. Approx. arrival at 12:30 in Reykjavík.

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

Please note that knee-high rubber riding boots are recommended for this ride.

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

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

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.


Rider requirements

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 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

Weight Limit

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

Hvammur farm is situated in the beautiful Vatnsdalur valley which is so full of the old Sagas and has the famous salmon fishing river Vatnsdalsa running down the middle. The farmhouse was renovated 4 years ago and has a hot tub with views over the river. 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.htm.

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

There are a few plug sockets around the farmhouse where it is possible to charge cameras etc.

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.

• 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.

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 5 day/4 night programme with 4 riding days available on set dates. We recommend riders to arrive a day early and stay in a hotel in Reykjavik the night before the ride starts.

Departure Dates

2019: 18* August (*denotes high season).
2020: 7, 14 June; 19* July; 23 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 Season5d/4n4double pp1,309
2019 High Season5d/4n4double pp1,405
2019 High Season5d/4n4Child under 121,055
2020 Low Season5d/4n4double pp1,319
2020 High Season5d/4n4double pp1,425
2020 High Season5d/4n4Child under 121,069
No of   
days/nights
Riding days Product item description
2019 Low Season5d/4n4double pp1,489
2019 High Season5d/4n4double pp1,599
2019 High Season5d/4n4Child under 121,199
2020 Low Season5d/4n4double pp1,499
2020 High Season5d/4n4double pp1,619
2020 High Season5d/4n4Child under 121,215
No of   
days/nights
Riding days Product item description $
2019 Low Season5d/4n4double pp1,765
2020 Low Season5d/4n4double pp1,775
2020 High Season5d/4n4double pp1,919
2020 High Season5d/4n4Child under 121,439
No of   
days/nights
Riding days Product item description SEK
2019 Low Season5d/4n4double pp16,389
2019 High Season5d/4n4double pp17,585
2019 High Season5d/4n4Child under 1213,189
2020 Low Season5d/4n4double pp16,485
2020 High Season5d/4n4double pp17,819
2020 High Season5d/4n4Child under 1213,365
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)

Other Information

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

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:
2019/20: 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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