Autumn in Iceland means colourful countryside and the Northern Lights dancing in the black night sky. Enjoy this horseback riding vacation visiting the best known sights in Iceland, riding Icelandic horses along fine bridle paths and, weather conditions permitting, see the dazzling Northern Lights after a good day in the saddle.

Visit sights like the Secret Lagoon, Geyser Hot Spring area and Gullfoss Waterfall. During the journey riders will learn the tölt, the special gait of the Icelandic horse.This tour is equally suited for non-riders as there are numerous non-riding activities on offer.

Expect great horseback riding and relaxing in geothermal water underneath the Icelandic winter sky, ablaze with dazzling stars and the dancing Aurora Borealis. Evenings will be filled with traditional stories and great Icelandic food. This equestrian tour includes a Northern Lights hunt in the saddle after dark. Accommodation is in cozy summer cottages, each sleeping two to four people with shared bathroom facilities.

 

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 KW of Gort on 13/03/2024

Ride Summary
It was absolutely fantastic! Our guides/host were lovely and very knowledgeable about the local area.
The horse were amazing and obviously well loved.
Stunning landscape, wonderful rides and great company!
What was your overall impression of the holiday
Overall impression
Unicorn Trails sales staff

Riding tour leader

Additional Comments
Horses and Tack

Additional Comments
Horses were very well looked after and enjoyed working with people.
Meals

Accommodation

Miscellaneous

Was this trip accurately described to you beforehand?
YES
Please give more details to explain your response:
The sample itenary matched the actual holiday. Plenty of riding and sightseeing, as promised.
Was there anything you should have known and were not told? NO
Please give more details to explain your response:
What could we do to improve this ride?
All good in my opinion.
How would you rate the difficulty of this ride out of 10 where 1 is very easy and 10 is very advanced?
4
Please explain why you scored it as you did:
The ride is slow paced a lot of the time. Uneven terrain and ice needs to be navigated, but a well-balanced rider should have no trouble on these sure footed horses.
There is a lot of tölting which also shouldn't be a problem for an intermediate rider. It's a comfortable and very steady gait.
Would you recommend Unicorn Trails to your friends?
YES
Please give more details to explain your response:
Very straight forward booking process, quick responses and comprehensive information provided.
May we use you as a reference for other people wishing to go on this ride?
YES
Any other comments:
Very happy with my trip. Highly recommend it!
Unicorn comments: Thank you for your feedback. Glad you had a great time! :)

Day 1  
Reykjavík – Kálfhóll Farm: Meet at 18:00 from BSÍ bus station in Reykjavik and drive to the Horse farm Kálfhóll where the guide and staff will welcome the group. After check-in, enjoy a delicious dinner and get to know the fellow riders and staff. Relax in the outside hot tub and look up into the sky for dazzling Northern Lights before settling in for the night.

Day 2  
Kálfhóll Farm – Þjórsá – Secret Lagoon: After breakfast the riders will be introduced to the Icelandic horse and its special gaits. This first riding day is ideal for getting to experience the Icelandic winter riding on a relaxed trail along the mighty river Þjórsá (the longest river in Iceland 212 km). Enjoy the southern countryside with its impressive view of mountain ranges and pastureland in its winter coat. The Queen Hekla volcano watches over the landscape from a distance. After a day in the winter wonderland, visit the Secret Lagoon and relax in the mineral-rich water. Dinner will be served at Blesastaðir and afterward, there is an evening stroll with the guide and host to look for the Northern Lights again. Overnight at Kálfhóll. (Approx. 15 km)

Day 3  
Kálfhóll Farm – Hvítá: Start the day with a short ride in the winter fields next to the farm before enjoying lunch. The ride heads to the glacier river Hvítá with milky waters that streams from the glaciers in the highlands. Ride through lava and moss-covered terrain and enjoy the surrounding view. After a short break near the river, saddle up again and head back through the beautiful countryside to Kálfhóll farm for dinner. There is nothing better after a wonderful day in the saddle than to relax in the steamy hot tub, watching the clear sky and hoping for the Northern Lights to show up. Overnight at Kálfhóll. (Approx. 15 km)

Day 4  
Kálfhóll – Þjórsá – Geysir – Gullfoss – Þingvellir: After breakfast, take the last ride along the Þjórsá river to enjoy the winter pastures one last time. After a light lunch, say goodbye to the horses and hop on the bus to visit the Golden Circle, the three most impressive natural sights in South Iceland. Golden Circle consists of the Geysir geothermal area, golden waterfall Gullfoss and Thingvellir National Park. Geysir is a geothermal area with boiling mud pits, the lively geyser Strokkur which spouts water 30 meters into the air every few minutes. At Gullfoss visitors experience this mighty waterfall, and the power from the water coming down the canyon while standing near the cliffs. The third stop is Thingvellir National Park and see its amazing nature and geological phenomena at Thingvellir. Since 2004 Thingvellir has been listed on UNESCO‘s World Heritage List for its geological the uniqueness and historical significance. Arrive back in Reykjavík at approx: 18:00. (Approx. 15 km)

 

Thre are no packing restrictions on this ride.

Please don't bring a long riding raincoat as they tend to flap. A short riding jacket will suffice.

It is advisable to riders to bring their own snacks for the ride (chocolate, energy bars etc.).

Please bring cash for purchases at the riding centre. 
 

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!) 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.



Riders must be comfortable and in control at walk, trot (tölt), and canter on a good horse


Rider requirements

Happy in walk, trot and canter on open ground on a good horse. Novices with an adventurous spirit are welcome. The riding is at all paces including tölt (instruction is given), 110kg 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 7 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.

Whilst on the ride accommodation is in small summer cottages on farmland. Each cottage sleeps two to four people and there are shared bathroom facilities. Single supplements are available for single rooms but please note that this does not include a private bathroom, please enquire for more information. Alternatively, you can stay in hotel accommodation (on selected departure dates) during this tour, where each room has private bathrooms and there is an option to have a single room (for a supplement, see Prices). Please speak to your travel advisor about which option you would prefer.



Large breakfasts are traditional. Lamb and fish are the staple ingredients at dinners, although 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).



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 Cabin Hotel and Brim Hotel



As part of an initiative to improve the centre of Reykjavik for locals and travellers, the local authorities have banned buses from driving within 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 avalible bus stops here http://www.busstop.is/ to find the stop closest to your intended accommodation. 



 


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.

Passport and Visa 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 should you need a visa.

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

In the US: 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!

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.

Mobile, WiFi and charging

Bring sufficient film, batteries, etc. with you because there are no opportunities to buy these out on the trail. If using a GoPro please get the permission of the group to be filmed.

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.
Please note, leather items shoes/riding boots etc are only permitted if disinfected with Virkon S 5 days before arrival.
Riding Boots - We strongly recommend knee-high, rubber boots to avoid getting wet feet and for ease of disinfection.
Warm jacket or overcoat.
Warm (woolen or fleece) sweater.
Warm socks and gloves, at least 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).
Swimsuit, towels and soap.
A small camera to take with you on the ride.
Band aids and second skin plasters for chaffing.
Chocolate, snacks like energy bars or glucose sweets for strenuous riding days (not available at the riding centre).
Sun lotion for face and lips (with hight UV factor).
A sports bra for the ladies often comes in handy.
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 provided gear only in the worst of weather)
Safety riding helmet

Programmes

This is a 4 days / 3 nights with 3 days riding.

Departure Dates

2024: 27 Feb; 5, 12, 19, 26 Mar; 8, 15, 22, 29 Oct; 5, 12, 19, 26 Nov; 3, 10 Dec.

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 £
20244d/3n3double pp1,119
20244d/3n3Child under 12839
No of   
days/nights
Riding days Product item description
20244d/3n3double pp1,299
20244d/3n3Child under 12975
No of   
days/nights
Riding days Product item description US $
20244d/3n3double pp1,489
20244d/3n3Child under 121,119
No of   
days/nights
Riding days Product item description SEK
20244d/3n3double pp15,199
20244d/3n3Child under 1211,399
Recommended Reading

WH Auden and Louis MacNeice Letters from Iceland

Chris Casseldine Most Unimaginably Strange: An Eclectic Companion to the Landscape of Iceland 

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

Optional (available at an extra charge): whale watching

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 known as the ‘Land of Fire and Ice’ and is a large island in the North Atlantic Ocean, close to the Arctic Circle. It has close ties with Scandinavia and is part of Europe. Historically, Iceland was settled by Vikings and later came under Danish rule. Known for having the world's first parliament during Norse times, Iceland passed an act centuries ago banning horse imports, leading to today's pure breed. In 1944, Iceland gained full independence. Iceland also boasts a rich horse culture, with nearly every Icelander being a rider or adept at horseback riding.

Iceland is a true gem in the world of travel. With its incredible landscapes that seem to come straight out of a storybook, this destination is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful places on Earth. The opportunity to witness volcanoes, stunning beaches, geothermal springs, rocky formations, and mineral-packed pools sparkling with color is truly unique. Plus, its wild landscapes are home to some of the world's most awe-inspiring natural phenomena, such as the midnight sun in June where you can experience almost 24 hours of daylight. And there's no better way to immerse yourself in this natural wonderland than by taking a horseback ride through the glacial river valleys and ancient routes. With its vast uninhabited land, Iceland is an adventure waiting to happen for those who are willing to explore off the beaten path. Only approximately 15% of Iceland is populated and most people choose to live around the coast, leaving the rest of the country's rugged beauty to be discovered by travellers.

Reykjavik, the world's northernmost capital, is picturesque with modern architecture and commerce mixed with traditional colourful wooden houses. The nearby geothermal hot springs have been harnessed to provide a cheap natural heating system. This leaves the air pristine and pollution free. Your photographs will benefit from the fabulous clear sharp light. The sea also plays a vital role in Icelandic life, supporting the fishing industry. The coast and fjords are rich in bird species, especially sea fowl.


Travel Summary

Meeting-point (getting there):
BSI Bus Station in Reykjavik.
Transfer:
2024: Included from BSÍ bus station in Reykjavik at 18:00.
Flight Guide:
2024: London - Reykjavik return from £95pp
Riders who booked this ride also considered
Horses drinking at a village fountain en route
France, Carcassonne Pyrenean Trail

Explore the Pyrenean Read more >

from US $1,379
Riding in Andalusia
Spain, Andalusian Mountain Retreat

This equestrian vacation offers beautiful finca accommoda...Read more >

from US $255
Riding through the Central Sierra
Mexico, Central Highlands Adventure

See the real Mexico on this equestrian Read more >

from US $2,405