Tour 13 – Golden Highlights of the South
Attractions and Wilderness
This tour features a variety of landscape and takes us not only to the most famous natural sights in the south of Iceland but also to remote part in the highlands. We follow narrow paths between moss-covered lava and green hills around volcano Hengill to the hidden Valley of Horses and continue through soft grass to the beautiful and shimmering Lake Thingvallavatn. We visit the ancient site at the Thingvellir gorge, where Icelanders gathered from 930 to hold their parliament, and ride through forests and across the heather towards the hot springs at Geysir. After a stop to visit the giant waterfall Gullfoss we continue into the uninhabited highlands, with Langjökull glacier in the background. On the way to the east we cross the highland desert between the glacial rivers Hvitá and Þjórsá, Iceland’s longest river. We then ride through black lava fields, visit the waterfall of the Thieves and enjoy soft trails in a beautiful forest. The tour ends with a ride through the grassy hills alongside the majestec volcano Hekla.
This tour has a free running herd of horses
Experience the diversity of the Icelandic horse in its natural environment, far from civilization, and how Icelanders travelled in the old days with a herd of free-running horses. Every rider gets the chance to try 2 or 3 different horses each day, which develops riding skills.
As an experienced rider I am ALWAYS looking to ride when I travel but so often the rides are not catered to different levels and I end up on a brain-dead robot in a line with 14 other people. Not at all what I want. I was SO THRILLED that not only does Eldhestar have a ride specifically available for experienced riders but my horse was ACTUALLY A HORSE who responded to cues and even had some opinions of her own. It was a beautiful tour and our guide allowed our small group of 6 to set the pace and had a general attitude of “you know horses, do what you want just be safe”. It was awesome. I was a very satisfied horse girl.
8 days, 7 nights – 7 days on horseback
Availability & Price
see overview at the end of the page
Riding distance: 215 km. Around 20 – 45 km (4 – 9 hours) per day.
English speaking guide, riding and safety equipment and transfer from/to Reykjavik.
Accommodation 2 night in a guesthouse in shared rooms, 5 nights sleeping bag accommodation in farms and simple mountain huts in shared rooms.
Full board (traditional Icelandic home cooking)
What to bring
Good shoes, comfortable pants (riding pants not necessary), gloves and a buff is recommended and if you want to bring a camera, please bring a small waist bag as backpacks cannot be taken on horseback.
See more detailed information here.
The last tour of the summer goes in the opposite direction.
DAY BY DAY
Day by day tour program
Day 1: Arrival
The tour starts in the evening. Tour members who arrive the same day to Iceland should take the “Flybus” from the airport to BSÍ final bus stop in Reykjavík (not included). We will greet you at the bus station or at your hotel/ guesthouse in Reykjavik between 17:30- 18:00 and drive you to our farm Vellir near Hveragerði. There you will be lodged at our guesthouse. We will get to know each other during the dinner at Hotel Eldhestar. The day will end with a detailed description of the tour.
Day 2: Hveragerdi – Kolvidarhóll
We start the day by getting to know the horses in the paddock. After lunch, we follow the old route from Hveragerdi to Hellisheidi. When we reach the moor, we continue to the Hengill volcano along the Kristnitökuhraun lava field. This lava came from the eruption of Hengill in the year 1000, the same year Iceland officially became Christian. The old folktales say that the eruption was the revenge of the old gods Thór, Ódinn and Freyr. We continue on the track between lava and hills (“milli hrauns og hlidar”), down to Kolvidarhóll, where people have stopped to rest for hundreds of years. The night will be spent at the farm.
Riding time and distance: 21 km, 4 hrs.
Day 3: Kolvidarhóll – Heiðarbær
We continue North below the Húsmúli and Hengill mountains. We dismount and lead the horses through the narrow cleft to Marardalur (Valley of Horses). We ride through Dyrfjöll (Door mountains) and alongside Sköflungur. When we reach the mountaintop, we have a view over Lake Thingvallavatn, the largest lake in Iceland. After arriving near Heiðarbær, we will end the day with the sightsseeing at the old Althing (Icelandic Parliament). From here, it is not far to Skógarhólar, where we spend the night in a mountain hut. Iceland’s national horse competition Landsmot was held at Skógarhólar until 1978.
Riding time and distance: 38 km, 6-7 hrs.
Day 4: Skógarhólar – Geysir/Myrkholt
Today we ride across the Thingvellir National Park. From Gjábakki we have an exceptional view over the park, lake Thingvallavatn and the stunning volcanic landscape around it. This is the area where the North American and European continental plates meet. The plates are drifting apart about 2 cm per year on average, which has created a beautiful valley. We cross Lyngdalsheidi Moor, and stop at the Laugarvatnshellir lava caves before we finish the day’s ride outside the village of Laugarvatn, named after the nearby lake. The lake is heated by underwater hot springs. The bus takes us to Guesthouse Myrkholt and than on a sightseeing tour to the famous “golden waterfall” Gullfoss, and to the Geysir hot spring area in Haukadalur.
Riding time and distance: 35 km, 6-7 hrs.
Day 5: Geysir/Myrkholt – Helgaskáli
From Myrkholt we continue up towards the Icelandic highlands, leaving the inhabited farmlands. On our way into the desert-like landscape we have a magnificent view over the glacial river Hvítá (“white river”), and we can see how the river, over hundreds of years, has shaped the mountain, flowing deeper and deeper into it. We spend the night in a mountain hut called Helgaskáli beside the Litla-Laxá River.
Riding time and distance: 35 km, 6-7 hrs.
Day 6: Helgaskáli – Hólaskógar
We continue riding through the fascinating, wide landscape in the highlands where we can actually listen to the silence until we reach Háifoss, which is with its 122 meters the second highest waterfall in Iceland. Our destination is the Hólaskógar hut, which is located in a very special and varied environment.
Riding time and distance: 20 km, 4 hrs.
Day 7: Hólaskógur – Fellsmúli
The tour continues along Iceland’s longest river Thjórsá. We pass the Mt. Búrfell, which, in the old days, was the home of trolls, and Tröllkonuhlaup (the place where a troll woman jumped over the river). After some kilometres along the river, we get a magnificent view over Thjófafoss (the Waterfall of the Thieves), about which many stories are told. We can see the Mt. Hekla volcano when we leave the horses at the Fellsmúli Farm. We spend the night at the old community center Brúarlundur.
Riding time and distance: 45 km, 8 hrs.
Day 8: Fellsmúli – Fellsmúli
We go on along Eystri-Rangá River and enjoy riding on soft grass. The whole day we have the Hekla volcano in view, Iceland’s most active volcano which was once called the entrance to hell. We ride in a circle, leaving the horses at Fellsmúli. Around 15:30 the bus takes us first to Eldhestar for some refreshments and later to Reykjavik, where the tour ends.
Riding time and distance: 24 km, 4 hrs.