Riding under the Northern Lights
Northern lights on the beach
Riding on the beach
Aerial view of the islands
The mountains of Lofoten
The Lofoten islands
Exploring Lofoten beaches on horseback
Mountains on the islands
Beaches of the Lofoten islands
Northern lights at the lodge
The dining room
The lodges at night
Lodge living room

Discover the Lofoten islands on this 6-day ride on a remote Norwegian archipelago known for it's mild climate, distinctive scenery and wildlife. Situated well above the Arctic Circle in the Norwegian Sea, thanks to the Gulf Stream and its offshoot the Norwegian Current it is the most northerly location with average temperatures above freezing all year round. It offers staggeringly beautiful scenery; majestic mountains, deep fjords, huge seabird and penguin colonies, long, white sand beaches and the world's largest know deep water coral reef.

Riding in this extraordinary location is exclusively on Icelandic horses, sure-footed and reliable on the steep terrain. You'll be exploring various islands on ancient Viking roads, riding for 4-6 hours per dayup mountains and along beaches. Depending on the time of year will be able to ride under the Northern lights (September to mid April) or the midnight sun Late May to mid July). 

Accommodation is provided by warm and cosy lodges, complete with wood-burning stoves and traditional dinners are served in the on-site restaurant. The itinerary includes visits to a local Viking museum and organic goat cheese farm to taste the local produce. This destination is ideal for intermediate riders onwards who want to discover unusually beautiful yet unknown destinations. 

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 AL of Birmingham on 04/11/2019

Ride Summary
I absolutely loved it. I have done a long review on Trip Adviser and a video of my photos which is on my Facebook page.
What was your overall impression of the holiday

Unicorn Trails sales staff
Professionalism     (   ) Excellent     (X) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor
Friendliness     (   ) Excellent     (X) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor
Speed of response     (X) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor
Efficiency     (   ) Excellent     (X) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor
Knowledge     (   ) Excellent     (X) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor
Other(please specify) Only real issue I had was not being able to pay on my credit card.     (   ) Excellent     (   ) Good     (X) 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
The guides were first class. They all spoke perfect English and were relaxed, friendly and humorous with the perfect amount of professionalism thrown in.
We were matched to our horses and given advise on whether they could tölt or not and how to get the best out of them. They also entertained us with stories about the local history and traditions and ensured we were always comfortable. Safety was important, but so was having a good time.
They were an integral part in creating the perfect atmosphere, always had a smile on their face and nothing was too much trouble. We loved spending time with them during and after the rides.
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
The amazing Icelandic Viking horses loved the adventures. The horses were well cared for, well behaved and as excited as us to be coming on our adventure. The saddles and tack were comfortable and in slippery conditions the horses had studs added to their shoes. This turned them into mountain goats. We had rear fitting saddle bags provided for anything we wanted to bring on the ride and to hold our bottles of water.
We chose to tack and untack our own horses. We each rode two horses during our stay, and we thought our horses perfectly matched our riding preference. I like a forward going horse with a lot of personality. My riding companion preferred one that was a bit more laid back but responsive and forward going when asked. We were both very happy with our mounts.
We were lucky to experience some fantastic tölts and flying pace. These are the additional gaits the Icelandic horses are best known for. Not all the horses can tölt, but if you get a chance, try it. It’s incredible. It feels like you are floating with almost no motion whilst the horse moves below you. It’s such a comfortable way to ride and they can do it for long periods and at incredible speeds.
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     (   ) 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?     (   ) NO     (X) YES
Please give more details to explain your response:
There was some additional items I would recommend people bring.
• Torch for walking to the restaurant in the dark
• Long laces or ties for tying your coat to the front of the saddle
• Dry bags x 2 for the saddlebags. Mine were 7 litres
• Waterproof bag for phones and cameras. Ones that hang around your neck are perfect
• 1 or 2 refillable water bottles for the saddlebags
• Favourite tea bags

What could we do to improve this ride?
The ride was fantastic.
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:
Mostly it would be a 5, however we had one amazing day scrambling over the mountains on horseback, sometimes dismounting to lead the horse down more difficult parts. We were experienced riders and up for the challenge. There were easier routes we could have taken but we liked the adventure.
Would you recommend Unicorn Trails to your friends?
    (   ) NO     (X) YES
Please give more details to explain your response:
Good choice of holidays
May we use you as a reference for other people wishing to go on this ride?
    (   ) NO     (X) YES
Any other comments:
I have photo's I'll upload.
Unicorn comments: Thank you for your feedback. Glad you had a great time! We will update the packing list :)

Day 1
Travel to the Lofoten Islands, 95 miles north of the Arctic Circle and arrive at either Leknes or Svolvaer airport. You'll be collected by your hosts and transferred (a one hour drive) to the lodges, your base for the next 6 days. Check in to your warm and cosy lodge and meet your fellow riders and guides over dinner at the farms' on-site restaurant. Meet the horses and take part in a short 2 hour ride where depending on the time of year (September-March is most likely) you may be able to spot the northern lights.

Day 2
Today you'll be exploring the island of Gimsøy, one of the  nothernmost islands of the archipelago. You'll be spending up to six hours in the saddle today, riding along the old Viking roads. Stopping in a traditional lavvu (a yurt/tent structure) for lunch in the valley. Once the riding is done, you'll be driven back to the lodges in time for dinner in the on-site restaurant.

Day 3
Today's full-day tour takes you from the Viking Museum in Borg to Aalan Gård; a local organic goat farm. You'll have lunch at the farm hich serves organic produce and you'll also be able to taste plenty of the goats cheeses produced on-site. Continuing on in the afternoon you'll have impressive views of the North Sea. After a total riding time of between 5-6 hours you'll be driven back to the lodges for dinner and overnight.

Day 4
Today will be another full-day ride (5-6 hours) on  the island of Gimsøy. You'll travel from Gjendalen to the picturesque beach of Vinje on horseback. The beaches on Lofoten almost tropical in appearance with white sand and crystal clear turquoise water. You'll have lunch in a local, traditional cafe and after your afternoon ride will be driven back to the lodge for dinner and overnight.

Day 5
The ride today takes you through some of the islands most spectacular, and contrasting, scenery. You'll be in the saddle today for between 4-5 hours exploring the largest and easternmost island of the Lofoten chain, Austvågøya, a mountainous island with some of Lofoten's highest peaks.

Day 6
After a hearty breakfast at the lodge it's time to pack up and say goodbye. You can be transferred to either Leknes or Svolvaer airport for the journey home.

 

There is also a spectacular 18-hole championship course which is beautifully situated in nature making this holiday ideal to share with a golfing partner.

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

This stables has 50 horses to choose from, all of them are Icelandic horses, a unique breed of horse that originated in Norway and arrived in Iceland with the first Norwegian settlers. The Icelandic breed is known for being sure-footed and able to cross rough terrain. Your mount for this ride is also able to display an extra gait in addition to the typical walk, trot, and canter, gallop commonly displayed by other breeds. The gait is a four-beat lateral ambling gait called tölt. The gait is known for it's acceleration and speed and is also a comfortable pace for covering plenty of ground. The horses range in height from 132 to 147 cm high. The stables have some horses which are more spirited and ideal for more experienced riders. They also have quieter horses ideal for nervous riders. You will be matched with a suitable horse each day and will ride a variety of the horses during the holiday.



The pace of the ride is variable according to the groups wishes and the terrain. There are some sections when it is possible to go faster and other sections where riders will need to lead their horse (maximum 10 minutes) through steep ascents and descents.


Rider requirements

This ride is for intermediate riders onwards. All riders need to be able to walk, trot and canter in open countryside and must be happy to mount and dismount unassisted. Some sections of the ride require riders to dismount and lead their horse due to steep climbs. The minimum age for this ride is 12 years old although occasionally participants as young as ten can be accepted if they are good riders and able to spend up to 6 hours per day in the saddle. The maximum weight is 90 kilos.

Weight Limit

The weight limit for this ride is 198 lb/90 kg, please enquire if you are an experienced rider exceeding this weight.

You'll be spending the duration of the holiday staying in a warm and cosy Norwegian lodge. These purpose-built, brand new lodges are made up of a shared living room with wood-burning stove, a kitchen and terrace complete with sea view. Just off the beach, they make the perfect place for your northern lights base camp. The lodges are equipped with complimentary WiFi, hairdyers and towels. After a days riding you'll be able to come back to enjoy the northern lights (visible between Sept-April) from the comfort of the sofa and warmth of the fireplace. The lodges are north facing with a spectacular view towards the northern lights and the ocean.



A short walk from the lodges is the on-site, rustic restaurant Låven at Hov Gård. The restaurant is where your breakfast and other meals during your stay will be served. Lunch is either a picnic taken in the saddle bags each day or at a local cafe during the ride. The Restaurant Låven offers traditional local food as well as a modern cuisine. There is a changing menu which also features fish, meat and a vegetarian option. The restaurant can also cater for vegan or gluten-free guests but require advance notice so please let your travel advisor know if you require this. Delicious home baked cakes are available at the restaurant every day.


Vegetarian or other dietary requirements can be accommodated with advanced notice. Please contact Unicorn Trails with requests.

Documents - Visa and Consulate Info

A valid passport is required for travel to Norway but no visa for European Citizens.

Royal Norwegian Embassy in London
25 Belgrave Square
London SW1X 8QD

Phone: +44 (0) 20 7591 5500
E-mail: emb.london@mfa.no

Embassy Opening hours
Monday - Friday 09:00 - 16:00

Consular services:
Phone enquiries: +44 (0) 20 70528500
Monday-Friday 10.00-11.00

Climate Summary

The Lofoten Islands are quite an anomaly when it comes to climate, as they experience relatively warm temperatures for their high Arctic latitude thanks to the warm Gulf stream. This warmth makes them an ideal place for exploring in summer as you can make the most of the midnight sun. Between mid-May and mid-July, the sun provides its warming light while you can experience the Northern Lights from September to mid-April.

Climate Chart

Health

In Norway, all public hospitals are funded from the national budget and run by four Regional Health Authorities owned by the Ministry of Health and Care Services. In addition to the public hospitals, a few privately owned health clinics are operating.

Electricity

Norway uses the Europlug (Type C & F), which has two round prongs. 220 volts.

Film and Camera Equipment

Electricity is available in your accommodation each night for charging cameras and batteries. There is free Wifi available in the lodges and in the restaurant.

Packing List

You should be ready for all kinds of weather as the weather can change very quickly. We recommend you pack the following items:

• Riding hat (also available to borrow).
• Warm jacket or overcoat.
• Warm (woollen or fleece) sweater.
• Warm socks and gloves.
• Riding trousers.
• Casual clothes for evenings
• Camera
• Sun lotion for face and lips (with high sun factor).
• Sunglasses
• Torch
• Dry bag/s for the saddle
• Waterproof bag for phones/cameras
• Refillable water bottle/s for the saddlebags

Programmes

This is a 6 day/ 5 night programme available on set dates between April and October

Departure Dates

2020: 8, 15 Mar; 5, 19, 26 Apr; 10, 17 May; 5 Jun; 27 Sept; 4, 11 Oct.

Pricing
No single supplement is charged if the rider is willing to share with someone of the same sex, and a sharer can be found.
No of   
days/nights
Riding days Product item description £
20206d/5n5double pp1,419
20206d/5n5single supplement Mar - May265
20206d/5n5single supplement Sept - Oct285
No of   
days/nights
Riding days Product item description
20206d/5n5double pp1,645
20206d/5n5single supplement Mar - May309
20206d/5n5single supplement Sept - Oct329
No of   
days/nights
Riding days Product item description $
20206d/5n5double pp1,915
20206d/5n5single supplement Mar - May359
20206d/5n5single supplement Sept - Oct385
No of   
days/nights
Riding days Product item description SEK
20206d/5n5double pp17,725
20206d/5n5single supplement Mar - May3,309
20206d/5n5single supplement Sept - Oct3,535
Recommended Reading

Johan Bojer's novel The Last of the Vikings (1922) tells the story of the Lofoten cod fishermen


Other Activities

Norway's diverse landscapes offer unparalleled opportunities for hiking, skiing, fishing, marine rafting or diving. The islands are also ideal for surfing - they are among Norway's best and the world's northernmost surfing spots.

Wildlife

Thanks to its varied topography, the Lofoten Islands are home to a huge variety of wildlife both on land and out to sea. The southern islands actually lie on the Røst Reef which boasts the world’s largest deep water coral reef. Other wildlife that can be seen includes birdlife such as sea eagles, cormorants and puffins and otters which are common throughout the fjords. Look out for moose and other bird species that nest in the mountains and cliffs. During the summer, the islands are a great location for whale watching with minkes and sperm whales being seen off the coast.

Other Information

There is also a spectacular 18-hole championship course nearby which is beautifully situated in nature making this holiday ideal to share with a golfing partner.

Travel Summary

Meeting-point (getting there):
Svolvær Airport (SVJ) or Leknes Airport (LKN), Norway
Transfer:
2020: Included from either Svolvær (SVJ) or Leknes Airport (LKN)
Flight Guide:
London to Leknes from £288 return
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