Tour 19 - Sprengisandur

Between Glaciers into the Desert Wilderness

We ride along the ancient Sprengisandur route that crosses Iceland, exploring some of the most fascinating and extreme contrasts of the Icelandic landscape. In the South, we ride on soft green paths along the riverbanks of the Thjórsá River and through a lava valley created by an 800-year-old eruption of the volcano Hekla. The spectacular wilderness of Iceland emerges as we follow the sand and rock plains across Sprengisandur between the glaciers Vatnajökull and Hofsjökull. In stark contrast to this barren landscape, we stop at a hot spring, where we have the opportunity to relax in the geothermal water. During the tour, we pass Arnarfell Mountain, Iceland’s geographical centre. We arrive in North Iceland at the bottom of Eyjafjörður Fjord, one of the longest fjords in Iceland.

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 3 or 4 different horses each day, which develops riding skills.

This is a great way to learn about the Icelandic horses. The breed has not changed in over 1000 years.

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Duration

7 days and 6 nights – 6 days on horseback.

Availability & Price

see overview at the end of the page

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Riding distance

260 km – 25 – 60 km (5-9 hours) per day.

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Included

English speaking guide, riding and safety equipment and transfer from/to Reykjavik.

Accommodation 1 night in Guesthouse Eldhestar in shared rooms, 5 nights sleeping bag accommodations in farms and/or simple mountain huts in shared rooms, full board.

Full board (traditional Icelandic home cooking).

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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

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Notes

The second tour goes in the opposite direction (the first tour starts in the south, the second in the north).

Please note that this tour requires many years of riding experience, a good physical condition and stamina.

DAY BY DAY

Day 1: Arrival

The tour starts in the evening. Tour members who arrive the same day in Iceland should take the “Flybus” from the airport to the final bus station BSÍ in Reykjavík. 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 Guesthouse Eldhestar. We will get to know each other during dinner at our Hotel Eldhestar. The day will end with a detailed description of the tour (might be in the morning).

Day 2: Hveragerdi – Fellsmúli – Hólaskógur

From Hveragerdi, in the Ölfus municipality, we drive to the farm Fellsmúli near the Mt. Hekla volcano. The riding tour starts there, and we follow soft paths through a birch forest, to the old farm Skarfanes. Most of the day we ride along the banks of the mighty river Thjórsá (the longest river in Iceland). On our way to Tröllkonuhlaup, we pass the waterfall Thjófafoss and the striking mountain Búrfell, which was once home to giants and trolls. From there, we drive to the hut Hólaskógur where we spend the night.

Riding time and distance: 25 km, 5 hours.

Day 3: Hólaskógur – Hrauneyjarfoss – Hólaskógur

We continue north-east of the Thjórsá River. The landscape changes steadily into the wilderness. The horses will spend the night in a meadow close Hrauneyjar, near one of the largest hydroelectric power plants in Iceland. The riders will spend the night in a hut at Hólaskógur.

Riding time and distance: 35 km, 7 hours

Day 4: Hrauneyjarfoss – Versalir

Today we start early to ride a long distance from Hrauneyjarfoss Falls to Versalir, a resting place at the beginning of Sprengisandur, known from the song “Á Sprengisandur” (Ridum, ridum…). On this route, we see many mountains and the glaciers Vatnajökull and Hofsjökull. We spend the night in a large, comfortable mountain hut.

Riding time and distance: 50-60 km, 9 hours.

Day 5: Versalir – Nýi Dalur

On this day we also cover a long distance on our way North. The landscape is similar to that of the previous day, but we approach the glaciers and ride between them. East of us we can see Mt. Arnarfell, a green mountain which is known to be the center of Iceland. At this point, we enter Sprengisandur. We pass the dwellings of some of the most famous Icelandic outlaws, for example, that of Fjalla-Eyvindur. We spend the night in a big mountain hut in Nýi-Dalur. 

Riding time and distance: 60 km, 10 hours.

Day 6: Nýi-Dalur – Laugafell

On our way from Nýi Dalur, we ride on big sand dunes. We have spectacular views of the landscape of North Iceland begins to open before us, and we leave the three biggest glaciers in Iceland behind. We spend the night in the Laugafell mountain hut where we can bathe in a hot spring.

Riding time and distance: 45 km, 8 hours.

Day 7: Laugafell -Halldórsstadir in Eyjafjördur

We ride from Laugafell in the direction of Eyjafjördur Fjord, where the green natural surroundings, lush with bushes and some woods, start to dominate the landscape more. We start to glimpse a most beautiful view over Eyjafjördur and Akureyri. The tour ends at the Halldórsstadir Farm in Eyjafjördur. From there we will be driven to Akureyri Airport and fly back to Reykjavik. Our planned arrival there is around 18:00 p.m.

Riding time and distance: 35 km, 6 hrs.

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