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Winter Riding and Northern Lights

Overview

Winter in Iceland means a countryside ablaze with colours and the Northern Lights dancing in the Arctic night sky. Enjoy visiting the best-known sights in Iceland, riding an Icelandic horse along fine bridle paths and viewing a dazzling display of Northern Lights after a great day in the saddle. Ri…

Highlights

  • Search the sky for the dazzling northern lights
  • Tolt through the dramatic winter landscape
  • Ride alongside glacial rivers and view Hekla volcano
  • Relax in the mineral-rich Secret Lagoon
  • Marvel at Gulfoss waterfall, Geysir and Thingvellir

Essential Facts

  • 2 itineraries available
  • Max 20 riders per group
  • Average of 2 - 4 hours riding per day
  • Weight limit: 110kg / 242 lbs / 17 stone 4 lbs

Description

Winter in Iceland means a countryside ablaze with colours and the Northern Lights dancing in the Arctic night sky. Enjoy visiting the best-known sights in Iceland, riding an Icelandic horse along fine bridle paths and viewing a dazzling display of Northern Lights after a great day in the saddle. Riding during wintertime is an Icelandic tradition and a wonderful experience.

Both these rides operate from Kalfholl Farm which also hosts our Southern Comfort rides in the summer months. Situated within view of Hekla volcano, the rides take you past glacial rivers and along paths where you can discover the special gait of the Icelandic horse - the tolt.

Ease aching muscles with a visit to the Secret Lagoon where you can relax in the mineral-rich waters, before looking skywards where, with luck, you can view the aurora borealis in all its glory.

For those who prefer a bit more comfort, then our Comfort Tour offers that little extra privacy requested by many guests. Non-riders are also welcome on this one which offers some hiking options.

Daylight hours are short in Iceland in winter, so whilst the rides will be exhilarating, there is plenty of relaxation time to gaze skywards and observe the wonders of the Northern Lights.

Horses & Riding

Tack

The tack used for Icelandic horses is slightly different to the tack ordinarily used for other breeds. The saddle is similar to a dressage saddle and has a relatively flat seat which is either plain or quilted. On longer rides a crupper helps keep the saddle in place. Riding style is close to English but the stirrups are long.
Bits are usually simple snaffles and often have detachable nosebands and clip-on reins.

Horses

Icelandic horses, which are c. 12-14 hh 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 are 2 itineraries:

  • Autumn/Winter Riding Adventure is a based ride
  • Northern Lights Comfort Tour is a based ride

Ages

12 years and over if competent in the saddle

Health

Fit and healthy

Weight

110kg / 242 lbs / 17 stone 4 lbs

Food & Accommodation

Food

During the ride full board is provided. The menu consists of a large breakfast and traditional Icelandic meals (fish or lamb). Vegetarian meals are available if requested when booking. All riders make their own packed lunch from the breakfast table.

Accommodation

Guesthouse accommodation in twin rooms on the Autumn/Winter Riding Adventure, but three star hotel on the Northern Lights Comfort Tour.

Itineraries

Autumn/Winter Riding Adventure Standard accommodation.

Northern Lights Comfort Tour Standard accommodation.

Other Activities

The Northern Lights Comfort Tour welcomes non-riders who can hike during the riding portions of the day.

Visits are included to Gullfoss and Geysir on both tours, as well as other possible visits to local sites - see individual itineraries for details.

Travel

You are collected from the BSI bus station in Reykjavik and transferred to the ride. Extra nights in Reykjavik are not included but are possible.

Itinerary & Pricing

Day 1 - Reykjavik - Blesastadir Guesthouse

Riding: No riding.

You are collected from the BSI bus station in Reykjavik at 6pm and transferred to your guesthouse in Blesastadir where you'll meet your guides. After being allocated your rooms, you enjoy dinner whilst getting to know your fellow riders. Then step outside to make use of the hot tub whilst looking up into the sky in search of the dazzling Northern Lights.

Day 2 - Kalfholl Farm - Pjorsa - Secret Lagoon

Riding: 2 - 3 hours

Transfer to Kalfholl Farm where your guide will introduce you to the Icelandic horse and its special paces. This first day is the perfect way to get to know Icelandic riding in a relaxed atmosphere as you head alongside the mighty Pjorsa river (the longest in Iceland at 212km). The southern countryside has some impressive views of mountain ranges and pastureland in its winter coat, with Hekla volcano watching over you in the distance. After a magical day of riding you visit the Secret Lagoon where you can relax in the mineral-rich waters. Transfer back to Blesastadir for dinner and afterwards you can take a stroll with your guide to look for the Northern Lights again.
Riding c. 15km

Day 3 - Kalfholl Farm - Hvita

Riding: 2 - 3 hours

Start the day with a short ride in the winter fields near the farm before lunch. Then head to the glacial river Hvita with its milky water that streams from the glaciers in the highlands. Ride through lava and moss-covered terrain before stopping for a short-break near the river. Then saddle up again to head back to Kalfholl farm for dinner. After a wonderful day in the saddle you can relax in the steamy hot tub, watching the clear sky and hoping for the Northern Lights to show up.
Riding c. 15km

Day 4 - Kalfholl - Pjorsa - Geysir - Gullfoss - Pingvellir

Riding: 2 - 3 hours

After breakfast take a final ride along the Pjorsa river to take in the breathtaking winter pastures one last time. After a light lunch, say goodbye to the horses and hop onto the bus to visit the Golden Circle - the three most impressive natural sights in southern Iceland. The Golden Circle consists of the Geysir geothermal area, golden waterfall Gullfoss and Thingvellir national park. Geysir offers boiling mud pits and the lively geyser Strokkur which spouts water 30m in the air every few minutes. At Gullfoss you can view the might waterfall, and then Thingvellir is a geological phenomenon which is a UNESCO World Heritage site for its uniqueness and historical significance. 

After all this sightseeing, you transfer back to Reykjavik, arriving at c. 6pm. Accommodation not included this evening.
Riding c. 15km

Accommodation

Guesthouse accommodation, featuring shared twin bedrooms.

Experience Intermediate / Experienced

Intermediate riders who are comfortable in all paces.

Minimum group size 1
Maximum group size 20
Departure windows

Oct. 27, 2021 - Oct. 30, 2021

Nov. 3, 2021 - Nov. 6, 2021

Nov. 10, 2021 - Nov. 13, 2021

Nov. 17, 2021 - Nov. 20, 2021

Nov. 24, 2021 - Nov. 27, 2021

Dec. 1, 2021 - Dec. 4, 2021

Dec. 8, 2021 - Dec. 11, 2021

Dec. 15, 2021 - Dec. 18, 2021

Jan. 26, 2022 - Jan. 29, 2022

Feb. 2, 2022 - Feb. 5, 2022

Feb. 9, 2022 - Feb. 12, 2022

Feb. 16, 2022 - Feb. 19, 2022

Feb. 23, 2022 - Feb. 26, 2022

March 2, 2022 - March 5, 2022

March 9, 2022 - March 12, 2022

March 16, 2022 - March 19, 2022

Oct. 26, 2022 - Oct. 29, 2022

Nov. 2, 2022 - Nov. 5, 2022

Nov. 9, 2022 - Nov. 12, 2022

Nov. 16, 2022 - Nov. 19, 2022

Nov. 23, 2022 - Nov. 26, 2022

Nov. 30, 2022 - Dec. 3, 2022

Dec. 7, 2022 - Dec. 10, 2022

Dec. 14, 2022 - Dec. 17, 2022

Pricing

2021/2022
Rider sharing
£840 $1160 €995
Included 3 nights accommodation in shared rooms, all meals from dinner on arrival day until lunch on departure day, soft drinks with meals, 3 days of riding, set-time return transfers from Reykjavík bus terminal.
Not included Flights, travel insurance, alcoholic drinks, 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.

Day 1 - Reykjavik - Kalfholl Farm

Riding: No riding.

You will be collected from the BSI bus terminal in Reykjavik at 5pm and transferred to Kalfholl farm. Here you meet the farmers for a "badstofukvoid" with traditional Icelandic food, singing and stories from the countryside. Later you head outside to look for the Northern Lights before transferring to the Fosshotel Hekla to overnight.

Day 2 - Riding - Pjorsardalur - Northern lights hunt on horseback

Riding: 1 - 4 hours

After breakfast you transfer back to the farm for a ride along the banks of the mighty glacial river Pjorsa (non-riders can take a walk along the river).

Return to the farm for warming Icelandic soup and then take a bus trip to Pjorsardalur valley to view the spectacular waterfall Hjalp and possibly the Open Air Museum Pjodveldisbaer. Take a short hike in the Skridudalur forest to the hidden grave of a mountain king and his beloved horse Blesi. Visit the Secret Lagoon and relax in the mineral-rich waters. 

Back at the farm, feast on a typical Icelandic buffet and then head outside to search for the Northern Lights. As soon as you spot them, mount up for a short ride (c. 1 hour) in the dark beneath the aurora borealis (non-riders continue viewing at the farm). Transfer back to Fosshotel Hekla for the night.

Day 3 - Kalfholl farm - Reykjavik

Riding: 2 - 3 hours

After breakfast transfer to the farm for a ride of 2-3 hours through the lovely countryside (non-riders can visit the small countryside Samansafnid museum at Solheimar). Have lunch at the farm before transferring back to Reykjavik, with a stop to visit Gulfoss waterfall and Geysir hot springs if time allows.

NB. The itinerary may run in reverse

Accommodation

Three star hotel accommodation with private en-suite bathrooms.

Experience Intermediate / Experienced

Intermediate riders who are comfortable in all paces

Minimum group size 1
Maximum group size 20
Departure windows

Oct. 14, 2021 - Oct. 16, 2021

Oct. 21, 2021 - Oct. 23, 2021

Pricing

2021
Rider sharing
£1255 $1740 €1495
Included 2 nights accommodation in shared rooms, all meals from dinner on arrival day until lunch on departure day, soft drinks with meals, 2 days of riding, set-time return transfers from Reykjavík bus terminal.
Not included Flights, travel insurance, alcoholic drinks, 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.