Golden South

West Iceland: (IT-ICRT-E13)
URL: http://www.hiddentrails.com/tour/iceland_golden_south_eh.aspx

Introduction
West Iceland
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 majestic volcano Hekla. The last tour goes in the opposite direction.

Accomodation

Sleeping bag accommodation (bring your own sleeping bag or pillow) with full board is included. Lodging is in mountain huts, community centres, and guesthouses. The acommodation often has heating. A sleeping bag for zero and above will be fine.

You can choose to stay the first night in our hotel with private rooms instead of in sleeping bag accommodation (additional charge).

The chefs try and provide a nice variety of foods.  Specialities include fish, kjötsúpa (an icelandic soup, with meat, vedgetable and rice) and BBQ.

This trip includes and can accommodate special dietary requests.

Riding

Riding Experience
This ride is suitable for intermediate riders, with a secure, balanced seat and a good physical condition. We ride up to 45 km per day mostly in the gait tölt and take a herd of free-running horses with us part of the tour, which requires a certain speed.

Pace
We cover about 215km total over 7 riding days. On average, we ride between 4-9 hours every day, covering approx. 20 - 45 km.

Tack and Riding Style
The riding style in Iceland is similar to English riding. We use simple snaffle bits, bridles with detachable nosebands and clips on the end of the reins so they can be easily removed when grazing. Our saddles are comfortable with soft, rather flat seat, it is not necessary to bring saddle seat pads.

Riding Gear – Disinfect!
Used boots, riding wear, helmets, saddlebags etc. must be disinfected before arrival in Iceland.  Chaps, bridles and other used leather gear must not be brought to Iceland. That is because infectious, contagious diseases can easily be brought into the country, which poses a great threat for the horses, as they are not vaccinated. Riding wear is normally washed and shoes and are washed and cleaned with VirkonS, Iodine or some other fluid disinfectant.
We can lend you a riding helmet for the length of the tour.
Backpacks, large cameras, selfie sticks and other bulky items cannot be taken on horseback tours. Small waist bags are allowed.

Horses
Since 2007, our breeding program has followed two fundamental ideas. First, we strive to breed well-behaved and well-gaited riding horses that ought to suit most of our guests. Second, we breed horses with experienced riders in mind, suitable for riding classes and the company’s horse shows. As our greatest challenge has always been combining well-behaved and reliable horses with soft and simple gaits, we invested in mares that are likely to produce the expected results. Another important factor in achieving the desired outcome is choosing the right stallion for those mares.

Free running herd of horses
Experience the diversity of the Icelandic horse in its natural environment, far from civilization. On this trip, we travel with herd of free-running horses, as Icelanders used to travel in the old days. You may switch horses from time to time.

Itinerary

Sample itinerary- Subject to changes

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 for 17:30 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 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 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 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 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 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 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. Drop off ion Reykjavik and end of tour.
Riding 24 km, 4 hrs.

--Subject to changes--


Rates and Dates for Golden South

Rates include:

Accommodations- 1 night in a guesthouse, 6 nights sleeping bag accommodation in farms and simple mountain huts, all meals, 7 riding days

Packages and Options



  • SeasonYearDescriptionEUR ~US$
    A
    20198 day trip, AP€2235$2685
The US Dollar Rate is Based on Exchange Rate of 1.2

* prices are per person based on double/twin occupancy

Transfer and Other Charges:



 DescriptionEUR~US$
2019 Transfer from Reykjavik BSI bus station is included 0 $0
2019 Upgrade to hotel accommodations for first night, dbl, pp 65 $80
2019 Upgrade to hotel accommodations for first night, single 120 $145

Season Tour Dates  Min / MaxReserve
A 2019 07/02 - 07/09 8d / 7n 8 day trip, AP 6 /16 Expired
A 2019 08/18 - 08/25 8d / 7n 8 day trip, AP 6 /16 Expired
A 2019 08/28 - 09/04 8d / 7n 8 day trip, AP 6 /16 Sold Out

Dates Note:

Rates do not include:

Airport transfer into town - take the Flybus !

Other Info
Meeting: Reykjavik
Airport: Keflavik Airport
Transfer: Reykjavik BSI central bus station on Day 1 at 5:30PM or hotels/guesthouse

Climate:
                                                Reykjavík area


Month

Jan

Feb

Mar

Apr

May

Jun

Jul

Aug

Sep

Oct

Nov

Dec

Average High Temperature (°F)

37

37

39

43

49

54

57

57

51

45

40

37

Average Low Temperature (°F)

27

28

29

33

39

44

48

47

42

36

31

28

Average High Temperature (°C)

3

3

4

6

10

12

14

14

11

7

4

3

Average Low Temperature (°C)

-3

-2

-2

1

4

7

9

8

6

2

-1

-2

Average Precipitation (days of rain)

13

13

14

11

10

9

9

12

12

12

12

14

Source: NOAA
 

Seasons
As its name suggests, Iceland is cold, but not as cold as might be expected; thanks to the passing warm waters of the Gulf Stream, which regulate the climate. Its average mid-winter temperatures are no lower than those in New York City. The city's coastal location does, however, also mean it is prone to wind, and gales are common in winter. Reykjavik is also a very wet city, having on average 213 rainy days out of the year, with spring having slightly more sunny days! The south is the wettest part of the country. Coastal areas tend to experience winter gales and are generally windy.

Icelandic weather is known to be unpredictable and changing several times a day. A beautiful day can suddenly turn windy and rainy (and vice versa). Travelers to Iceland should be prepared for anything and dress in layers.

Winter
The average January temperature is 31°F (-0.5°C). From mid-November until the end of January, in the darkness of winter, the country only experiences a few hours of daylight each day.

Summer
The summer temperatures in Reykjavík range from 41°F (5°C) at night to as high as 77°F (25°C) during the day.  During the summer months there is almost continuous daylight; early spring and late autumn feature long twilights. 
 
The Northern Lights are often visible in autumn and early winter.

What To Bring:
We provide the following:
·Safety helmets
·Rainwear
·During the wintertime we also provide winter overalls
·Rubber boots

You should bring:
•Warm clothes in layers (long underwear, woolen socks, scarf, gloves, woolen sweater or fleece, wind- and waterproof jacket). Eldhestar provides good rain gear. Please have in mind that you might experience “T-shirt weather” as well as temperatures close to 0°C, especially on Wilderness tours!
•Thin hat to wear under the helmet, “buff” is well suited. You can buy a “buff” at Eldhestar.
•Sleeping bag. We recommend a small pillow and a bed sheet if you use your sleeping bag as a blanket. A sleeping bag is not needed for tours with all nights at Hotel or Guesthouse Eldhestar.
•A small waist bag (not a backpack!) for using when riding. (Backpacks are bumpy when you are riding and may hurt you if you fall off).
•Swimwear and towel.
•Riding pants (If you don’t have riding pants, any seamless tight garment will do), for long tours you should bring two pants suitable for riding.
•Riding or hiking boots which should be comfortable with a thick sole for walking over rocks. Hiking boots are fine if they are not too broad for the stirrups. High riding boots might get uncomfortable, rubber boots are not necessary.
•Sun lotion
•Sun glasses (also for long tours to protect eyes from dust).
•Fly net (can be purchased at Eldhestar).
•Band-aids and second skin plasters for chaffing.
•Some comfortable clothes and shoes (slippers) for using in the evening, after the riding. Normal street clothes are not necessary except for your stay in Reykjavik the last night.
•Your travel insurance card/information.

Please note: Please do not use large and bulky suitcases as we have limited space in the trailer. If you need more luggage for travelling in Iceland before / after the tour you are welcome to store it at Hotel Eldhestar during the tour.

Cameras:  
We recommend to bring a small camera that can be taken in a pocket, a waist/hip bag or in the saddle bag.
Large camera equipment we can not allow on the horses for security reasons. Tours are operated with a free running herd - at speed of tölt or trot for most of the day. We take breaks to relax the horses and then it is possible to take pictures. While on the horse taking pictures is rather difficult since the horses are constantly moving. Because of the herd instinct it is not possible to stop an individual horse, they all will follow each other.
You can leave larger Digital SLR with your luggage at the farm or put it in their luggage that will be transferred to the new accommodation. 
It is not yet legally mandatory that riders need to wear riding helmets. Nevertheless we strongly recommend clients wear one. Clients will be experiencing a new breed of horses in new terrain, involving gravel, stones and rocks. Therefore it is in the clients best interest to take precautions. If they feel they do not want to wear a helmet after the first few days it is up to them. However, some insurance companies in Europe refuse to pay in case of an accident if the client has not been wearing a riding helmet. We provide helmets here in Iceland which clients are welcome to use but if you want to bring your own it is fine with us. If you bring your own it has to be sterilized before bringing it into Iceland.

Regarding the sterilization: What can be washed in a washing machine at medium temperature or dry cleaned is fine (even riding trousers). But what can not be washed or dry-cleaned or is a full leather garment needs to be sterilized.

You should be ready for all kinds of weather as it can change very quickly. We provide you with good rain-clothes, a riding helmet and at winter time a thermo overall, gloves and rubber boots. 
Luggage that is not needed on the tour can be left at the office and recovered at the end of the tour.

Caution: Used boots, riding wear, saddlebags etc. must be disinfected before arrival to Iceland. That is because infectious diseases can easily be brought into the country, which pose a great danger for the horses. Riding wear is normally washed and shoes and cleaned with iodine or some other fluid disinfectant. All used leather articles are prohibited.
 
This list is only a guideline for you

 

Hidden Trails Travel Documents and TripVoucher (contains important local tour contact info.)
Flight tickets
Passport
Visa (check with your consulate)

 

RIDING GEAR
Riding pants or Jodhpurs
Riding boots (rubber is best)
Riding helmet  (provided, but bring your own if you like)
Riding gloves

 

PERSONAL CLOTHING
Jacket or sweater for cool evenings, long underwear, scarf
Comfortable T-Shirts/Shirts
Jeans
Underwear and warm socks
Pyjamas and slippers (Icelanders take off their shoes when entering a house)
Bag for dirty clothes
Comfortable shoes
Swimsuit and towel
 
For Camping trips:
Sleeping Bag and Pillow!! (not provided)
Towel and small bar of soap
 
 
ADDITIONAL THINGS TO BRING
Personal Toiletries
Insect protection
Personal medications
Sore cream and bandaids/ second skin plasters for chaffing
Sewing kit
Handkerchiefs
Adapter for electric appliances
Camera and extra film or batteries
Waist pack
Address book and pen (for postcards!)
Sun glasses with strap
Sun tan lotion and lip balm