A Horseback Expedition through Iceland
An island carved by glaciers, set high in the Atlantic Ocean. Volcanic activity has shaped Iceland over the millenia, creating a landscape unlike anywhere else on Earth. And then a thousand years ago, in the 9th century, the Vikings arrived, bringing with them a hardy breed of ponies, which developed into the world-famous Icelandic Horse - smaller, rugged animals suited for the environment.
Iceland sits atop every "must-visit" travel magazine list, and for good reason. In July, 2019, we went off the beaten path - literally - with an expedition on horseback through one of country's the most beautiful regions: Skagafjörður, the only county in Iceland where horses outnumber people.
This trip was designed to accommodate riders from beginner through intermediate, with enough excitement for seasoned riders, too. Upon arrival to the ranch for the start of the ride, each Bolt member was introduced to their two horses. We then spent 3.5 days atop these horses, traversing through a landscape of rivers, glaciers, valleys, and hot springs (!!). By night, we camped under the stars, with the horses hitched up and grazing nearby.
Day 1: Arrival to Reykjavik in the morning from your flight. Members took the day to explore Iceland's largest city. For the more ambitious and less prone to jet lag amongst us, there was adventure further afield to the Golden Circle surrounding Reykjavik. Coming back together for dinner, we stayed in an Airbnb apartment downtown for an early next-day departure.
Leaving Reykjavik at 8:30am, we'll traveled four hours to Varmahlíð (N 65°32,744' W 19°26,338'). From there, we met our horses before saddling up and riding about 3 hours to our first campsite along a river.
An early wakeup for the ride over a mountain range, we enjoyed a beautiful view back down into the valley. Our day ends at a meadow close to the West glacier river (Vestari Jökulsá), where our horses stayed overnight and we put up our tents. Walking down into the gorge, we found hot springs at the river bank of the glacial river, and dug into the rocky riverbed to divert hot water into our pool. Magical at the end of a long day of riding.
We rode into the valley "Austurdalur“, enjoying the view of the mountains around us. We crossed the East Glacier River on a high bridge, and headed for the Merkigil gorge, a hidden nature pearl only accessible by foot or horse. At this point, we discovered the full capabilities of the Icelandic Horses. This demanding day end on the farmland at Kelduland, where the horses got some rest and we set up our tents for our last night under the stars.
Our last day on the horses. Through the river delta of Héraðsvötn we rode homewards. We were surprised how fast the horses became once they were on their way home. Returning to the ranch, we stayed in a comfortable cottage, just a short walk away from the natural hot springs.
Refreshed from a full night of sleep, we headed back to Reykjavik in time for afternoon flights. Some members extended their trip in the country to see other parts of the island, with new friends made to share the journey.
$1850 per person, all inclusive of horses, riding gear, expedition leaders, food during the 3.5 day horseback expedition period, transportation to and from Varmahlio, one night of cottage accommodation after horseback expedition ends.
Not included: camping gear rental (if needed), meals before or after horseback expedition begins and ends, alcohol, activities (outside of horseback expedition), airport transfers
Sign up here and we'll send you an email once in a blue moon with the latest experiences and tales of adventures past, present, and future.