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Kjolur

Overview

Step back in time and ride along the ancient Kjolur Trail as Icelanders did over the centuries when travelling to the annual summer parliament at Thingvellir, first held in 930 AD. Travelling from south to north (or vice versa) right across the heart of Iceland you will find yourself traversing …

Highlights

  • Ride the iconic Kjolur trail across Iceland's highlands
  • Enjoy riding different Icelandic horses along the way
  • The thrill of riding within a herd of loose horses
  • Ride across rivers and lava fields
  • Admire the mighty mountains & glaciers you ride past

Essential Facts

  • 1 itinerary available
  • Max 20 riders per group
  • Average of 5 - 6 hours riding per day
  • Weight limit: 110kg / 242 lbs / 17 stone 4 lbs

Description

Step back in time and ride along the ancient Kjolur Trail as Icelanders did over the centuries when travelling to the annual summer parliament at Thingvellir, first held in 930 AD.

Travelling from south to north (or vice versa) right across the heart of Iceland you will find yourself traversing sandy deserts and lava fields before reaching the lush green valleys of the north. You'll pass between the mighty Langjokull and Hofsjokull glaciers and visit the geothermal area of Hveravellir in the highlands.

If you want to see as much of the unspoiled Icelandic highlands as possible then this tour is a perfect choice. It has been running since 1983 and is probably the most well-known trail in Iceland.

Throughout the ride, you'll have a herd of horses running with you. This means you can change horses regularly throughout the journey - each horse gets a rest and you get to ride a fresh horse. The result is that a decent pace can be maintained and larger distances can be covered each day. Riding with the herd is also a thrilling experience and you'll leave the trip with a multitude of fantastic memories.

Horses & Riding

Tack

Specific Icelandic tack. Saddles are similar to dressage saddles with a relatively flat seat which is either plain or quilted. Cruppers may be used to keep the saddle in place. Stirrups are usually kept long but the riding style is similar to English. Bridles are normally simple snaffles with detachable nosebands and clip-on reins.

Horses

Icelandic horses, which are c. 12-14hh but tough and surprisingly strong.

Icelandic horses are renowned for their extra gait - the tolt - which has similar footfalls to a walk but is much faster and usually very smooth. Most people love the tolt, but it can feel a bit unusual to start with.

Native Icelandic horses are the only horses allowed on the island, and once exported they are not allowed to return. Icelandic horses are therefore not exposed to some of the diseases that are prevalent elsewhere in the world. Please note that in order to ensure the safety of the Icelandic horse breed, there are some restrictions on what riding clothing and equipment you can bring into the country and we will supply full details when you book.

Riding

There is 1 itinerary:

  • Kjolur Trail is a trail ride

Ages

No specific age limit but children must be experienced enough for the long riding days

Health

General good health and fitness

Weight

110kg / 242 lbs / 17 stone 4 lbs

Food & Accommodation

Food

During the ride, full board meals are provided. The menu consists of a large breakfast each morning and a traditional Icelandic meal (usually made with fish or lamb) each evening. All riders then make their own packed lunch to take with them for the riding day, using items from the breakfast table. Vegetarian meals are available if requested when booking.

Alcoholic drinks are not included and are sometimes difficult or expensive to source, so we recommend buying them at the Duty Free store on arrival at Reykjavik airport and carrying them with you.

Accommodation

For most of the trail, you will be staying in simple mountain huts which may contain up to 25 bunks in one room. You will need to bring a sleeping bag! On some nights there are showers and/or hot tubs, but not on all nights. There is always at least one toilet.

Itineraries

Kjolur Trail Basic accommodation.

Other Activities

During the riding tour, you will be spending some long hours in the saddle. There is little opportunity for other activities in that case. However, some of the accommodations you stay at will have hot tubs to use in the evenings after the riding day has finished.

We would certainly recommend staying in Iceland for a few extra days and planning to see more of the country if you are able to. Please contact us for ideas and help with itineraries.

Travel

You are collected from Reykjavik bus station on the morning of Day 1. You will need to take a shuttle bus from the airport if you arrive on an early flight - these are easily booked in advance or when you arrive. However, the best option is to plan to arrive at least the day before and stay overnight in Reykjavik so that you are ready for the shuttle bus collection the following morning.

Extra nights in Reykjavik are not included but we can advise you if you wish to spend extra time or make the transfers more relaxed.

Itinerary & Pricing

Day 1 - Reykjavik - Myrkholt - Gullfoss - Fremstaver

Riding: 5 - 6 hours

You'll be collected in Reykjavik at about 8-8.30 am, in the morning and transferred to the farm Myrkholt where you meet your horses. If you are not able to book an early morning flight then we would advise planning to arrive the night before and staying overnight in the city.

On arrival at the farm, you will meet the horses and mount up to head to the beautiful waterfall Gullfoss. After a photo stop, you will ride away from civilisation and onwards to the highlands. Ride through cultivated fields that have been created by local farmers in the former black volcanic sands. Just after crossing Sanda river, you will stop to rest and have a chance to change horses. On fresh mounts, you continue your ride towards the Blafell (Blue mountain); mythical the residence of the half-troll, Bergpor. Cross Grjota river (Rock river) just before reaching your cabin at Fremstaver on the slopes of Blafell. Here you will spend the night.

Day 2 - Fremstaver - Arbudir

Riding: 5 - 6 hours

After breakfast this morning you will mount up and set off riding around Blafell. You will appreciate your smooth gaited and sure-footed little horses as they tackle the most challenging terrain. On a clear day, there are some great views across to Langjokull glacier on your left, as well as Mt Kerlingarfjoll and Hofsjokull glacier to your right. After a rest stop and changing horses, you will cross Hvita (White river) on a bridge and witness the phenomenal panorama to the glacier-fed lake Hvitarvatn. The ride continues along the banks of Svarta river (Black river) on excellent riding paths until you reach Arbudir cabin where you spend the night.

Day 3 - Arbudir - Hveravellir

Riding: 5 - 6 hours

Start the day by crossing Svarta and aim your horse's nose towards the mighty Langjokull. The first few kilometres of your ride today will be across the black sands until you reach the lava field and Fulakvisl river (Foul river). As you ride through the rough lava field of Kjalhraun, you can almost feel the presence of mighty Mt Hrutfell standing proud on the edge of the glacier. From here you will have another fantastic opportunity to spot the two striking glaciers of Langjokull and Hofsjokull. After a rest and changing horses, you will leave the rest of the herd on the slopes of Mt Pjofafell (Mountain of Thieves) and take a ride through the Pjofadalir valley. Reunite with the herd for the last sprint of the day that brings you to Hveravellir (hot springs) where you spend the night. The geothermal hot tub is located just outside the cabin so a dip after dinner is a must!

Day 4 - Hveravellir - Strangakvisl

Riding: 5 - 6 hours

Today you will find yourself in the centre of Iceland with mountains to the north and a clear view of Mt Maelifellshnjukur - where your tour will end as your final destination rests on its slopes. But there are still a few good days of riding to go! Your route leads you further north over the quiet river Seydisa where the horses run free alongside you, enjoying the soft paths of this mystical highland area. You will cross three glacial rivers today. A change of horses, before crossing the mighty Blanda river (Mix river), then Svartakvisl (Black river) and lastly Strangakvisl river (Strong river) before finally reaching your spacious cabin on the opposite banks.

Day 5 - Strangakvisl - Galtara

Riding: 5 - 6 hours

After breakfast today you will meet the horses and set off riding once more. Todays' ride will see your descent from the highlands and reaching the marvellous paths across green fields in the lowlands. you will head off riding along the banks of Strangaviska before turning away onto the grassy heathland full of sheep. Today will be a day for fast-paced riding in open country. In the afternoon you will arrive at your overnight stop at Galtara cabin,

Day 6 - Galtara - Maelifell

Riding: 5 - 6 hours

As you get closer to the green valleys and the endpoint of your ride, you will feel your horses tolt with a light and free spirit! They are conscious that their destination is just up ahead. At Heidarhaus (Heathhead) you will take a rest and a final change of horses before descending into the valley of Maelifell (Mt Landmark). All good things must come to an end as you reach your final destination, the vicarage Maelifell, where you say goodbye to your horses. A short bus transfer takes you to Hlin guesthouse where you celebrate a successful trail with a great farewell dinner, storytelling and music.

Day 7 - Skagafjordur - Reykjavik

Riding: No riding.

Say goodbye to your hosts and guides after breakfast and head to the town of Skagafjordur for a visit to the museum before heading back to Reykjavik. You'll arrive back in Reykjavik at c. 5 pm. Accommodation in Reykjavik this evening is not included.

NB. Please note that this itinerary may run in reverse, running from north to south (Skagafjordur to Reykjavik) instead. On this occasion, you will arrive back in Reykjavik at c. 7 pm, after the final riding day.

Accommodation

You will be staying in simple mountain huts, with shared bunkrooms and shared bathrooms. You will need to bring your own sleeping bag for this trail.

Experience Experienced

You should be a competent rider, fit and in control in all paces across varied terrain. You will swap horses often and will be riding with a herd of loose horses.

Minimum group size 1
Maximum group size 20
Departure windows

July 17, 2022 - July 23, 2022  (South to North)

July 23, 2022 - July 29, 2022  (North to South)

Pricing

2022
Rider, sharing
£1945 $2460 €2290
Included 6 nights accommodation in shared rooms, all meals, soft drinks with meals, 6 days of riding, set time transfers from Reykjavik.
Not included Flights, travel insurance, bus tickets/travel to Reykjavik in time for the transfers, alcoholic drinks, sleeping bag, tips & other personal expenses.
Note: All programmes and itineraries are weather dependent; in the face of adverse, or unexpected, weather conditions reasonable attempts will be made to provide equivalent riding. All programmes are accurate at the time of writing. However, the team may adapt or modify details, whilst aiming to provide a similar experience.