Type of horses:
Nature of horses:
Powerful, gentle and honest
Height of horses:
Icelandic saddles are similar to English saddles but are straighter at the front and more similar to a dressage saddle. They have well padded seats and you tend to ride quite long in them. Stirrups are often wide to accommodate chunky boots. Some horses will wear cruppers to stop the saddles slipping forwards as they can be quite barrel shaped! Bridles are usually simple snaffles or Icelandic curbs and may not have a noseband.
There is nothing more authentic in Iceland than joining one of the annual Round-Up tours and bringing sheep or horses down from their summer pastures to their winter grazing. Imagine thousands of sheep heading down the mountains, appearing as one large white blanket, before being herded into corrals for sorting. The sheep/horses are allowed to graze the highlands during the summer months in vast herds, but during the harsh winters they are gathered back closer to home and each owner becomes responsible for their own small herd.
The ancient tradition of rounding up the livestock is kept alive in Iceland and you will be working with real farmers and will have a real job to do. You may be pushing the herds/flocks or you may be chasing strays, or blocking paths to prevent them from taking a wrong turn. The farmers will tell you where they need you to be, and will involve you in the entire process. There is a camaraderie amongst everyone involved and you will feel part of the whole experience.
Each area has it's own round-up and we offer possibilities in different parts of the country. Each has it's own landscape and sights to discover so you may choose sheep round ups in the south one year, and return the following year to round-up horses in the north!
Each round-up happens only once a year, so book early to avoid disappointment as spaces are strictly limited.
Accommodation varies depending on the itinerary, but you stay in the farms of your hosts, in comfortable made-up beds with shared bathrooms. Staying with your hosts enables you to truly immerse yourself in the experience and authenticity of the round-ups.
Hot tubs are usually available at the farms as well, so you can relax at the end of the day, and hopefully spot the Northern Lights dancing above you.
Icelandic food has many Nordic and European influences and includes plenty of fresh fish as well as local lamb. Vegetarians and special diets can be accommodated with advance notice, but vegetables in Iceland are either grown in greenhouses or imported as the climate is too harsh for many to grow outside.
Breakfast will be at your accommodation each morning and is usually a buffet selection including cold meats/cheeses and bread/toast and fruit.
Lunch will be a picnic in your saddle bag as you are usually out on the hillsides somewhere!
Dinners are home-produced and will be hearty and warming after a day helping the farmers.
When not riding there are hot tubs in which to relax and ease those aching muscles.
If you are lucky then the Northern Lights may show themselves through the night.
These rides are not suitable for non-riders.
Health requirements: You need to be in good physical health
Age limit: None, but bear in mind you could be mounted for many hours in sometimes harsh weather, so is not ideal for children.
Included: Accommodation as per itinerary, food as per itinerary, riding, transfers
Not included: Flights, travel insurance
Flights to Reykjavik are possible with Icelandair, British Airways, Iceland Express and EasyJet. Flights are possible from London Heathrow, London Gatwick, London Luton, Bristol and Birmingham (although some airports are not offering daily flights).
From Reykjavik airport you should take the FlyBus to your Reykjavik hotel (hotel and transfer not included, but we can book the hotel for you). The FlyBus travels between hotels in the centre and the airport regularly throughout the day and tickets can be bought online or at the airport.
You are collected from your Reykjavik hotel on Day one of each itinerary and returned there at the end of your holiday.
Join the ancient tradition of sheep round-ups in this stunning part of southern Iceland. This itinerary visits two different farms for two round-ups.
Day One: Reykjavik - Sydra-Langholt
You will be collected from the BSI Bus terminal in Reykjavik at 8am, or from you hotel between 7-8am. We recommend arriving the day before and spending a night in Reykjavik - this is not included but we will happily book it for you.
You are transferred directly to the farm of Sydra-Langholt where you are introduced to the horses and their tack. Your first riding day takes you through the lovely green fields of the Hrunamannahreppur community. This area is known for its idyllic rolling hills and small family farms scattered amongst beautiful surroundings. There are splendid views of Langjokull glacier with Mt Hekla in the background with plenty of perfect tracks for tolting. As soon as you reach Skipholtsfjall mountain you will hear the sheep! Accompanied by their herders and dogs there are roughly 5,000 sheep moving down the mountains, which are spectacular in their autumn colours. Follow the flock to their paddocks and leave the horses in a nearby field before transferring back to your accommodation. After dinner you can relax in the hot tub and with luck, admire the Northern Lights.
Riding distance c. 18km
Day Two: Hrunarettir Sheep Round-Up
After breakfast head back to the horses. Today you start sorting the sheep - they each have an identification number tagged on their ears and if you are feeling courageous you can try and catch and sort one with the locals. If you don't want to get into the thick of it then it's fun watching the farmers working together. After the sorting, help the farmers to push their flocks back to their individual farms - there will lots of singing along the way! Return to your accommodation for another delicious meal and evening in the hot tub.
Riding c. 18km
Day Three: Reykjarettir Sheep Round-Up - Farmer's Ball
After a hearty breakfast you create your own lunch using food from the breakfast table and then head out again - this time southwards towards Reykjarettir - a beautiful and historic sheep paddock built from lava rocks. Along your route you will cross the salmon-rich river Stora-Laxa a couple of times.
In the evening there is the option to go to the Farmer's Ball, where everybody joins together to have a few drinks and celebrate the round-up. If you wish to attend the ball then the entrance ticket and transfer are payable locally. For those who don't wish to attend, the hot tubs and Northern Lights will hopefully put on their own show!
Riding c. 15km
Day Four: Secret Lagoon
There is a chance to lie-in this morning after the Farmer's Ball with all its singing and dancing. After a gourmet brunch, saddle up and ride to the Secret Lagoon - a natural hot spring. The pool's steam rises into the air and gives the place a magical feel and the water remains at a constant 38-40c all year round. Whilst relaxing in the pools you can watch a small geysir which erupts nearby every 5 minutes. There are changing rooms and showers on-site and after a relaxing bath you saddle up and ride back to the farm for dinner.
Riding c. 20km
Day Five: Thjorsardalur Viking Valley - Eyrarbakki black beach - Reykjavik
After breakfast say a fond farewell to your hosts and horses and travel by bus into the Thjorsardalur valley with its beautiful waterfall Hjalparfoss and visit the viking farm reconstruction at Thjodveldisbaer and the excavation of the old viking farm of Stong that was buried under ash after the eruption of Mt Hekla in 1104. Take a stroll through the beautiful Gjain valley with its numerous waterfalls and splendid basalt columns and perhaps walk further to the secret grave of the mountain king and his beloved horse.
Your transfer then continue to the coastal town of Eyrabakki with it's quaint old houses and visit a beautiful black lava beach where you can look for seashells or seals! Your drive back to Reykjavik takes you along the mountain pass of Prengslin. On arrival in Reykjavik you check into your hotel and head out for a meal and evening stroll through the city.
Day Six: Departure
After breakfast, take the FlyBus to Reykjavik for your flight home. Or continue your holiday in Iceland (we are happy to help you book an extension).
Four nights in double/twin rooms with shared facilities at the farm, which also has a hot tub.
One night in double/twin rooms with private facilities in a hotel in Reykjavik.
Accommodation in Reykjavik before the riding tour is NOT included.
|Minimum group size:||4|
|Maximum group size:||10|
|Ability description:||Good intermediate and experienced riders in good physical shape. It's useful if you've previously ridden in Iceland and are already familiar with the horses, tack and gaits.|
|Type of ride:||Round-up|
|Total riding time:||6 days / 4 riding days|
|Departure dates:||2017: 14-19 September|
£2591 per person sharing
Includes: five nights accommodation, all meals and drinks, transfers from Reykjavik, entrance to Secret Lagoon and the viking museaum
Excludes: Flights, transfers from the airport to Reykjavik, travel insurance, Farmer's Ball entrance and transfer (payable locally)
Experience the thrill of a traditional horse round-up in the spectacular north of Iceland.
Day One: Reykjavik - Thingvellir - Gullfoss - Geysir - Hveravellir
You will be collected from the BSI bus terminal at 9am or from your hotel in Reykjavik between 8 and 9am. We recommend arriving in Reykjavik the day before and are happy to help you with this extra nights accommodation.
You will then be transferred northwards, stopping first at Thingvellir national park which is situated atop the mid-atlantic ridge - you can clearly see the land drop caused by the plates shifting. Your guide will explain the geology and history of this area to you. Continue your journey to Geysir geothermal field with its numerous hot springs and the geysir Strokkur which erupts every c. 10mins with a 30m high water fountain. Your next visit is Gullfoss waterfall and there is plenty of time to view this natural wonder from the walkways and look-outs.
Stop for soup and coffee at the cafe before continuing your route north through the uninhabited wilderness, going over Blafellshals pass and alongside the glacial lake Hvitarvatn. Eventually you arrive at Hveravellir, a geothermal field in the middle of the highlands where you overnight in a small hut beside a natural hot pool. With luck you can view the Northern Lights whilst resting in the geothermal pool.
Day Two: Hveravellir - Skagafjordur
In the morning, take a step back in time by following in the footsteps of Eyvindur the Outlaw by taking a walk to his cave and over the geothermal field with it's little geysers and bubbling hot springs. Board the bus again and continue your journey north to Skagafjordur where your hosts will meet you at their farm, Dyrfinnustadir.
After coffee and cake you meet the horses and go for a short ride through the beautiful area of Skagafjordur to get accustomed to your horses. In the evening after dinner you can relax in the hot tub and look out for the Northern Lights again.
Riding c. 10km
Day Three: Towards the Mountains
After breakfast head out on your first full day of riding towards the mountains of Dyrfinnustadir. This area is famous for its horse breeding and names such as Flugumyri, Kolkuos, Vidvik and Svadastadir will sound familiar to many who know Icelandics well. You should have perfect views of the endless mountain range stretching to Skagafjordur fjord.
Riding c. 20km
Day Four: Towards Heradsvotn
Let's go river riding! Today's ride takes you to Heradsvotn - a lake-like river formed by the glacial rivers Austari and Vestari Jokulsa. Ride along the banks of the small rivers flowing into Heradsvotn, crossing them several times.
Riding c. 20km
Day Five: Stadarrettir Horse Round-Up
An early start today so you can witness the young horses running down the steep hills of Stadarfjoll to be driven into the Stadarrett corral for sorting. Sorting wild young horses involves some daring moves from the local farmers - they are not as easily to handle as the sheep in the south! Enjoy watching the spectacular performance by the young Icelanders as they find and sort their horses from the excited herd. After sorting, help the farmers to drive their herd back to their home farm - an exhilarating experience!
In the evening, after dinner, their is the option of joining the Farmer's Ball where there will be lots of singing, dancing and drinking! The entrance fee and transfer is payable locally. For those who prefer not to go, the hot tub will be waiting.
Day Six: Return to Reykjavik
After breakfast you transfer back to Reykjavik by bus, arriving in the late afternoon. You can either take the FlyBus to the airport for an evening flight home, or we can arrange an extra night in Reykjavik for you (at extra cost).
4 nights in double/twin rooms with made-up beds, shared facilities and a hot tub.
One night in sleeping bags in a mountain hut with indoor toilets. There is a natural hot pool beside the hut for bathing.
Accommodation in Reykjavik before and after the ride is NOT included but we are happy to book this for you.
|Minimum group size:||4|
|Maximum group size:||10|
|Ability description:||Good intermediate and experienced riders in good physical shape. There can be long days out in sometimes harsh conditions and some long hours in the saddle.|
|Type of ride:||Round-Up|
|Total riding time:||6 days / 4 days riding|
|Departure dates:||2017: 19-24 September|
£3152 per person sharing
Includes: 5 nights accommodation, riding, meals on the riding tour, transfers from Reykjavik
Excludes: Flights, travel insurance, transfers from the airport to Reykjavik, accommodation in Reykjavik before/after the ride.