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

You'll visit the magnificent sights of Iceland; the Blue Lagoon, Geysir Hot Spring area and Gullfoss Waterfall. During two riding days the tölt, the special gait of the Icelandic horse, will be introduced to you. This tour is equally suited for riders and non-riders as there is always the option of taking part in non-riding activities. You can expect 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 tour includes visits to the Secret Lagoon and 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.

Comfort Tour option
For those who want to travel with a bit more comfort, you have the option of staying in hotel accommodation during this tour where all rooms are equipped with shower/wc for a little bit of extra privacy. 

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 AM of Mallow on 11/10/2018

Ride Summary

What was your overall impression of the holiday
Amazing scenery and amazing horses
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)     (   ) 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
Great cooking!
Horses and Tack
Condition of Horses     (X) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor
Condition of Tack     (X) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor
Performance of Horses     (X) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor
Additional Comments

Meals
Meal Quantity     (X) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor
Meal Quality     (X) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor
Meal Punctuality     (X) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor
Accommodation
Camping Equipment     (   ) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor     (X) N/A
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     (X) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor     (   ) N/A
Other ride staff     (   ) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor     (X) N/A
Weather     (   ) Excellent     (   ) Good     (X) Fair     (   ) Poor
Was this trip accurately described to you beforehand?
    (   ) NO     (X) YES
Please give more details to explain your response:
Everything went to plan. Got collected and dropped off on time. Days riding went to schedule
Was there anything you should have known and were not told?     (X) NO     (   ) YES
Please give more details to explain your response:

What could we do to improve this ride?
N/A
How would you rate the difficulty of this ride out of 10 where 1 is very easy and 10 is very advanced?
3
Please explain why you scored it as you did:
Flat landscape and easy going pace
Would you recommend Unicorn Trails to your friends?
    (   ) NO     (   ) 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     (   ) YES
Any other comments:

Unicorn comments: Thanks for the super review and glad it was amazing :)

Day 1: Reykjavík – Blesastaðir Guesthouse 
Pick up at 17:00 from BSÍ bus station in Reykjavik. We drive to the Guesthouse at Blesastaðir where we will meet our guide and staff. After we have found our bedrooms we will enjoy a delicious dinner at Blesastaðir and get to know our fellow riders and staff. We can enjoy the nice hot tub outside and look up into the sky for dazzling Northern Lights. Then get good night sleep before we start our ride the next day.

Day 2: Kálfhóll Farm – Þjórsá – Secret Lagoon
We will drive to the Farm Kálfhóll where our guide will introduce us to the Icelandic horse and its special gaits. This first riding day is a perfect way to get to know Icelandic winter riding in a relaxed atmosphere along the mighty river Þjórsá (the longest river in Iceland 212 km). We enjoy the southern countryside with an impressing view of mountain ranges, pastureland in its winter coat and the queen Hekla volcano watching over us in distance. After a magical day in the winter wonderland, we will go and visit the Secret Lagoon where you can relax in the mineral-rich water. Dinner will be served at Blesastaðir and afterward, you can take an evening stroll with your guide and host to look for the Northern Lights again. Overnight at Blesastaðir Guesthouse. (Approx. 15 km)

Day 3: Kálfhóll Farm – Hvítá   
We start the day with a short ride in the winter fields by the farm before we have lunch. Our ride then takes us to the glacier river Hvítá with the milky water that streams from the glaciers in the highland.  We ride through lava and moss-covered terrain and enjoy the view we have all around us. After a short break near the river, we saddle up again and head back through the beautiful countryside to Kálfhóll farm to have a lovely 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 hope for the Northern Lights to show up. Overnight at Blesastaðir Guesthouse. (Approx. 15 km)

Day 4: Kálfhóll – Þjórsá – Geysir – Gullfoss – Þingvellir
After breakfast, we take our last ride along the Þjórsá river and take in the breathtaking winter pastures one last time. After a light lunch, we say goodbye to the horses and hop on to 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, you will have a chance to witness the mighty waterfall, and you can feel the power from the water coming down the canyon as you stand near the cliffs. Then we drive to Thingvellir National Park and see an 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. We will be back in Reykjavík at approx: 18:00. (Approx. 15 km)

Northern Lights Comfort Tour (available on selected departure dates)

Day 1: Reykjavík – Kálfhóll farm
Pick up between 16:00 – 17:00 from BSÍ bus station in Reykjavik. You will be transferd to Kálfhóll farm to meet the farmers for a "baðstofukvöld" with an Icelandic tradional dinner and Icelandic songs. Late at night look out for your first glimpse of the Northern Lights. Transfer and overnight at Fosshótel Hekla .

Day 2: Riding in the morning – Þjórsárdalur – Northern lights hunt from horse back
After breakfast you'll drive over to Kálfhóll Farm. After a short intodouction to the horses, you'll go for a ride along the banks of the mighty glacial river Þjórsá. (Alternative for non-riders: individual walk along the river). After a warming Icelandic soup you'll take the bus for a trip to the Þjórsárdalur valley where you can visit the spectacular Hjálp waterfall. A short hike in the Skriðudalurforest takes you to the hidden grave of a Mountain King and his beloved horse, Blesi. At the farm you'll feast on a typical Icelandic Buffet before heading outside to look for the Aurora Borealis. As soon as you've spotted them you'll take to the saddle and go for a short ride in the dark beneath the Northern Lights. (1 hour). Alternative for non-riders: Northern Lights spotting from the HotPot at Kálfhóll. After the ride: return to Fosshótel Hekla for the night.

Day 3: Kálfhóll farm – Reykjavik
After breakfast, transfer to Kálfhóll farm. You'll go for another 2-3 hour ride through the lovely countryside (alternative for non-riders: visit to the small ccuntryside Samansafnið Museum at Sólheimar) before having lunch at the farm and heading back to Reykjavík.

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

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

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.


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), 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 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. 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 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).



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. The earliest flight possible would be 8pm on day 3 (last day). 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.


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!

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

Bring sufficient film, batteries, etc. with you because there are no oportunities 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
• Warm, waterproof jacket or overcoat
• Warm (woollen or fleece) sweater
• Warm socks and gloves (at lest two pairs) scarf (or muffler) and a cap or hat
• Warm underwear, long if possible
• Riding trousers
• Track suit or casual, loose clothes
• A pair of slippers to wear in the accommodation
(Icelanders take off their shoes when entering a house)
• Swim suits, towels, soap, toiletries, etc.
• A small camera to take with you on the ride
• Band aids and second skin plasters for chaffing
• Insect repellent, gnat net head cover.
• Chocolate or glucose sweets for strenuous riding days
• Sun lotion for face and lips (with high sun factor)
• Ear plugs
• A sports bra for the ladies usually comes in useful!
• Sunglasses

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.

The host provides:
• Saddle bags (but only a few amongst the group)
• Rain wear (heavy/industrial so best to have your own and use this gear only in the worst of weather)
• Safety riding helmet
• Sleeping bag (and sheet) and pillow

Programmes

This is a 3 day/2 night programme with 2 days riding. We recommend riders to arrive a day early and stay in a hotel in Reykjavik the night before the ride starts, and after the last day of riding.

Departure Dates

2020 Short Break: Jan 29; Feb 19, 26; Mar 4, 11, 18; Apr 8; Sept 16, 30; Oct 7, 28; Nov 4, 18, 25.
2020 Comfort Tour Short Break: Mar 26; Apr 2; Oct 15, 22.

Pricing
No single supplement payable if willing to share with someone of same sex. Should you wish to book a single room, please see supplement price below.


No of   
days/nights
Riding days Product item description £
20193d/2n2double pp879
20193d/2n2Child under 12659
20204d/3n2double pp879
20204d/3n2Child under 12659
2020 - Comfort Tour3d/2n2double pp1,315
2020 - Comfort Tour3d/2n2Child under 12985
2020 - Comfort Tour3d/2n2single supplement135
No of   
days/nights
Riding days Product item description
20193d/2n2double pp999
20193d/2n2Child under 12749
20204d/3n2double pp999
20204d/3n2Child under 12749
2020 - Comfort Tour3d/2n2double pp1,495
2020 - Comfort Tour3d/2n2Child under 121,125
2020 - Comfort Tour3d/2n2single supplement149
No of   
days/nights
Riding days Product item description $
20193d/2n2double pp1,185
20193d/2n2Child under 12889
20204d/3n2double pp1,185
20204d/3n2Child under 12889
2020 - Comfort Tour3d/2n2double pp1,639
2020 - Comfort Tour3d/2n2Child under 121,229
2020 - Comfort Tour3d/2n2single supplement165
No of   
days/nights
Riding days Product item description SEK
20193d/2n2double pp10,989
20193d/2n2Child under 128,239
20204d/3n2double pp10,989
20204d/3n2Child under 128,239
2020 - Comfort Tour3d/2n2double pp16,445
2020 - Comfort Tour3d/2n2Child under 1212,335
2020 - Comfort Tour3d/2n2single supplement1,649
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

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 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:
2020: Included from BSÍ bus station or closest designated bus stop to your hotel in Rekjavik at 17:00 (16:00-17:00 for Comfort Short Break).
Flight Guide:
London - Reykjavik return from £110
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