Tour 20 - Kjölur
Varied Wilderness Up Close
The Kjölur route is an ancient riding trail crossing Iceland´s uninhabited highlands, intimately associated with many dramatic events in Icelandic history. We visit the popular attractions of Gullfoss waterfall and Geysir hot springs before heading to the interior of Iceland, passing glaciers, hot springs and the fascinating wilderness of the highlands. We ride North between glaciers and spend a night close to a creeping glacier tongue. Hot springs await us at Hveravellir, like an oasis in the desert. We continue towards Northern Iceland until we reach one of its many green and beautiful valleys, our final destination.
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.
The Kjölur tour was one of the most amazing things I have done in my life. I will come back soon I hope!
7 days and 6 nights – 6 days on horseback.
Availability & Price
see overview at the end of the page
Ca. 240 km, or 20 – 45 km (4 – 8 hours) per day.
English speaking guide, riding and safety equipment and transfer from/to Reykjavik.
1 night in Guesthouse Eldhestar (2-4 beds per shared room) and 5 nights sleeping bag accommodation in farms and simple mountain huts (bunk beds 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. Bring your swimsuit and towel!
See more detailed information here.
The first tour starts in the South, every second tour goes in the opposite direction (every second tour starts in Vatnsdalur).
DAY BY DAY
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 the 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 the next morning).
Day 2: Hveragerdi – Myrkholt
We start the day with a detailed introduction and get to know the horses during a short ride. After an early lunch, we go by car to a place near the farm Reykholt in the beautiful area Biskupstúngur. We ride on soft paths until we reach a river, which we cross. We end our tour at the farm Myrkholt, close to the hot springs at Geysir.
Riding time and distance: 20 km, 4 hrs
Day 3: Myrkholt – Fremstaver
We start the riding from Myrkholt, and our first stop will be at Gullfoss. From Gullfoss, we ride into the wilderness, in a black desert of stones and sand. We follow the river Hvítá to the West until we reach Mt. Bláfell, 1160 m above sea level, which gives us a beautiful view over the southern part of the Kjölur route. Weather permitting, we see three glaciers, the famous Eyjafjallajökull, Hofsjökull and Iceland’s second largest glacier Langjökull, as well as the volcano Hekla and Mt. Hlödufell. We spend the night south of Bláfell in the mountain hut Fremstaver.
Riding time and distance: 27 km, 5-6 hrs
Day 4: Fremstaver – Árbúdir
We continue east along Mt. Bláfell. We then cross the Hvítá River on a bridge and pass the waterfall Ábóta, where the ancient Kjölur highland route starts. Kjölur is the oldest road between South and North Iceland, it is mostly even and on average about 700 m above sea level. On our way, we enjoy panoramic views over the Langjökull and Hofsjökull glaciers and the picturesque Kerlingafjöll mountains – Kjölur’s flagship. We follow the Svartá River to the mountain hut Árbúdir, where we spend the night.
Riding time and distance: 30 km, ca. 6-7 hrs.
Day 5: Árbúdir – Hveravellir
This day starts with the ride toward Hvítárnes, a grass-rich area changing its character in the summer when the green flower Fífa turns white and fluffy. We come to the lava field Kjalhraun, which many people think gave Kjölur its name. It looks like the keel of a ship. West of Kjalhraun we ride through a narrow cleft to the valley Thjófadalur (the Valley of Thieves). The valley is circular and hidden behind the mountains. It is one of the few places along Kjölur rich with grass. From the valley, we ride over a little mountain comb called Thröskuldur, and from there, we follow a smooth path to Hveravellir, where we can enjoy a relaxing bath in the hot springs.
Riding time and distance: 45 km, 8 hrs.
Day 6: Hveravellir – Áfangi
Today we have enough time to explore the beautiful nature surrounding Hveravellir before we saddle the horses. Hveravellir is one of the biggest geothermal areas in Iceland. There was an outlaw hideout here in the old days, and south of the area, we pass the ruin of the hut of the outlaw Fjalla-Eyvindur. We continue north over the river Seydisá and along the mountains Sandkúlufell, Hanskafell and Saudafell, and spend the night in a mountain hut called Áfangi.
Riding time and distance: 32 km, 6-7 hrs.
Day 7: Áfangi – Vatnsdalur
We continue north over the Eyvindarstadaheidi Moor. We are now not very far from civilization in North Iceland. We ride with the mountains behind us and the glaciers all around us. On our right, we have the big lake Blöndulón, which was created when building the hydroelectric power plant by the Blanda River. We continue on soft riding paths and mountain roads and end the tour in the green valley Vatnsdalur. From there we return by bus to Reykjavik, where the tour ends.
Riding time and distance: 28 km, 5-6 hrs.