Egilsstadir Saga Tour
East and South Iceland: (IT-ICRT08)
East and South
Discover the incredible wild beauty of East Iceland in an area not known by many people. Even among Icelanders this part of the interior is a well-kept secret. An endless variation of landscape, from fertile valleys and deep canyons to some of Iceland’s highest mountains, will warm the heart of every nature lover.
Our hosts, Jón Thór and his wife Margaret, are not able to operate our tours this summer. Instead their friend and neighbor Steingrímur (Denni) will take care of the rides. He loves the rough landscape of the East and has travelled the area both as a staff member on our riding tours and on foot. During past years he was guiding some of our other rides as well and we are sure that Denni will take good care of our guests. The horses will mostly be the same as in previous years and will take you through the rugged wilderness with determination and power. The surefooted Icelandic horse is the best way of transportation in the untamed nature.
The ride ascends from sea level to the great highland plateau where vegetation and landscape bear an arctic character. Hrafnkelsdalur Valley is where the Hrafnkels Saga unfolded in the Middle Ages. We hear about these historic events and view Faxafoss Waterfall, named after Faxi, a horse with a mane of a special colour. The gigantic Hafrahvammagljúfur Canyon is an unforgettable sight. The ride leads towards Snæfell – the second highest mountain in Iceland – where a 4wheel-drive vehicle takes us to Vatnajökull, the largest glacier in Europe. We enjoy watching large herds of reindeer roam free before we follow Jökulsá River that runs down Norðurdalur Valley in a number of beautiful waterfalls until we reach green meadows again.
True to the character of this ride accommodation is in rustic mountain cabins with limited facilities. In these remote surroundings a natural hot pool is waiting for us and the last night of the ride is spent at a comfortable guesthouse. Two nights at a guesthouse with shared facilities in Reykjavík are included, one night before and one after the tour.
Accommodation: 2 - 4 bed units in Reykjavík. Sleeping bag accommodation in shared rooms during the ride.
Participants praise our meals, which consist of traditional Icelandic food (fish and lamb dishes). Vegetarian meals are available upon request.
Important: Meals during guesthouse stay in Reykjavík/Hafnarfjördur: only breakfast!
Sample of accommodations during the ride- subject to change!
Garður: Guesthouse Hotel Garður, - Situated close to the center of Reykjavík at the University Campus. Double and triple rooms without private facilities, made up beds, breakfast included. Short walk to the city center with numerous restaurants.
Fjallaskarð: Simple mountain cabin. Two buildings, one room each, bunk beds (partly shared by 2 clients per bed), one long-drop toilet, no running water in the hut, but a river running by.
Aðalból: Holiday Farm - Several rooms, beds, bunk beds and matresses on the floor, one toilet, one shower.
Sauðá: Simple mountain cabin, only 5 km away from Vatnajökull Glacier. One room, bunk beds (partly shared), long-drop toilet, no shower, no running water in the hut, but a river running by.
Snæfell: popular mountain cabin (other groups at the accommodation). Several rooms, bunk beds (partly shared by 2 clients per bed), two toilets, running water, one shower.
Laugarfell: Simple mountain cabin. Two buildings, several rooms, 2 – 4 beds and bunk beds, one long-drop toilet, no running water in the hut, but a natural hot tub on site.
Útnyrðingsstaðir: Holiday Farm - Several rooms, beds, shared facilities, indoor toilets, showers.
A very special experience seldom to be experienced anywhere else but in Iceland - except maybe on some of our horse drives. On this ride you will be riding each day with a free running herd of horses. You may switch horses from time to time.
You should be a strong intermediate rider capable of handling horses in open country.
The Icelandic Horse
The origin of the horse in Iceland is exactly the same as the arrival of the first settlers from Scandinavia in the ninth century. Clearly, the horse was the catalyst that allowed the settlement of Iceland to go forward and prosper. Since no other breed of horse has ever been imported to Iceland, this special animal is a pure-bred "Viking Horse".
The horse was used for everything. They worked tilling the farmlands from dawn to dusk and provided transportation between the farms as they were settled. They went on scouting expeditions into this new territory in search of everything from water to grazing areas. Strong and sure footed, the Icelandic horse adjusted and adapted to this new land certainly as fast and most likely faster than the new settlers.
Viking battles were fought on horseback and the animal quickly adjusted to any situation that was presented to it. Is it any wonder that many of the slain Vikings warriors of the many battles in earlier times were often buried with their horses as a sign of honor and respect.
The Icelandic horse has many characteristics unique unto itself. Perhaps the most noticeable would be its intermediate size and the mane of shaggy hair. The five gaits of the horse are also one of the special features that sets it apart form all other horses. These gaits are the fetgangur, the walk or step, the brokk or trot, the tölt, which is a faster type of walk, the skeið or the pace and the stökk, or gallop.
On large farm areas, perimeter fences keep in most of the horses, but many are also simply allowed to run free. This most naturally accounts for the spirited nature of the animal. All of them seem to adapt to the personality of their owner. It is essential to establish a trust between the Icelandic horse and the rider. Doing so literally guarantees a friend for life. The passion and spirit of the Icelandic horse is never broken only brought under control. As a result, the Icelandic pure-bred horse remains one the world's most unique animals to this day.
Sunday: Arrival in Iceland - Keflavík Airport - Reykjavík
Transfer from Keflavík Airport to a hotel in Reykjavík. We will invite you to a Welcome Meeting including traditional Icelandic soup. Receive details of your tour and meet your fellow riders.
Monday: Reykjavík – Egilsstaðir – Skriðuklaustur – Fjallaskarð Mountain Cabin
Flight to Egilsstaðir town in the morning and a drive to Skriðuklaustur Farm where we meet horses and staff. After a short introduction to the Icelandic horse and its special gait we start our ride. We ascend from a valley at nearly sea level to the great highland plateau, where vegetation and landscape have already an artic character. Enjoy magnificent views on this ride. We stay overnight at the mountain cabin Fjallaskarð, at the foot of the mountain Eyvindarfjöll. (40 km)
Tuesday: Fjallaskarð – Aðaldalur - Skjöldólfsstaður Farm
We ride from Fjallaskarð mountain cabin to Aðaldalur valley. In this area the famous Hrafnkelssaga took place during the Viking Ages. Imagine life at the adventurous Saga times while our guides will tell you about historic events and make the Saga come alive. We leave the horses behind in the valley and drive to our accommodation at Skjöldólfsstaðir Farm. (30 km)
Wednesday: Skjöldólfsstaðir – Hafrahvammagljúfur – Sauðá Mountain Cabin
A highlight of today is the ride to the gigantic canyon Hafrahvammagljúfur. This huge, narrow, steep canyon is an unforgettable sight. Enjoy far-reaching views over Iceland's rugged interior, when we ride across the fertile landscape of Vestur-Öræfi, home to countless numbers of pink-footed geese. Overnight stay at Sauðá Mountain Cabin, situated 5 km north of Vatnajökull glacier, in the main summer pastures of reindeer in Iceland. (45 km)
Thursday: Sauðá – Mt. Snæfell – Laugarfell Mountain Cabin
During today’s ride we enjoy the view of Mt. Snæfell towering above the area. Get a glimpse of this impressive mountain from an ever changing angle. We follow good riding tracks while we ride towards the new and spacious mountain cabin at Laugarfell. Here we spend two nights. Relax in a natural hot pool after your ride. (35 km)
Friday: Laugarfell – Sanddalur – Laugarfell
Today we ride through Sanddalur, the valley of sand. Be impressed by the harsh and dark valley with barren hillsides reaching into the sky. Through a mountain pass we reach the open plain and enjoy lush green vegetation, the outskirts of the Eyjabakka area. Another night’s stay at Laugarfell Mountain Cabin. (30 km)
Optional (available at an extra charge):
In the morning we change to 4Wheel-drive transportation and drive to
Vatnajökull glacier. View endless stretches of ice and snow, smell, feel
and touch the ice. Vatnajökull is the largest ice cap in Europe and
covers 8.100 km². Seven volcanoes are hidden underneath. Experiencing
the majestic glacier up-close is a truly thrilling experience.
(Price per person: ISK 5.000)
Saturday: Laugarfell – Skriðuklaustur – Fjótsdalsgrund Guesthouse
View beautiful waterfalls in the glacier fed river Jökulsá in Fljótsdalur as we descend to Norðurdalur valley. The riding tour ends at Skriðuklaustur Farm where we say good bye to the horses. Overnight at Fjótsdalsgrund Guesthouse. (35 km)
Sunday: Fjótsdalsgrund – Egilsstaðir – Reykjavík
Flight back to Reykjavík in the morning with arrival at approx. 10:30 at Reykjavík Domestic Airport. Overnight stay at a hotel in Reykjavík.
Monday: Departure from Iceland - Reykjavík - Keflavík Airport
Transfer to Keflavík Airport in time for the return flight home.
Note: Unforeseen circumstances made it necessary to change the itinerary for our last 2012 departure AUG 5 - 13. This departure will follow a different route ... ask for details if interested
Subject to changes
Rates and Dates for Egilsstadir Saga Tour
Accommodation: Hotel in Reykjavík. Sleeping bag accommodation in shared rooms during the ride, most meals, sleeping bag, saddle bag, raingear, safety helmet, 6 riding days - 215 km
Transfer and Other Options:
Transfer from Keflavic airport on Day 1 included
Sunday - Monday
Rates do not include:
Meals in Rykjavik except breakfast.
Meeting: Keflavík Airport
Airport: Keflavik Airport
Transfer: Keflavik Airport
From the end of May to the end of August it's the time of the midnight sun; of the never-dark nights. Iceland is famous for its thermal pools, and you can count on never being more than a few nights away from their warmth and relaxation.
What To Bring:
As its name suggests, Iceland is cold, but not as cold as might be expected because of the passing warm waters of the Gulf Stream, which regulate the climate. The summer temperatures in Reykjavík range from 41°F (5°C) at night to as high as 77°F (25°C) during the day. The average January temperature is 31°F (-0.5°C). The south is the wettest part of the country, but snow is rare. Coastal areas tend to experience winter gales and are generally windy. During the summer months there is almost continuous daylight; early spring and late autumn feature long twilights. From mid-November until the end of January, in the darkness of winter, the opposite is true, with the country only experiencing a few hours of daylight each day. The Northern Lights are often visible in autumn and early winter.
Despite its extreme north Atlantic situation, Reykjavik's climate is not as cold as might be expected, its average mid-winter temperatures being no lower than those in New York City. This is because the Icelandic coastal weather is tempered by the warm waters of the Gulf Stream. 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.
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 a sleeping bag and sheet. Also a saddle bag (where you can keep the picnic lunch, a small camera, extra pair of gloves etc.).
Normal street-clothes are not necessary except for your stay in Reykjavík before or after the tour.
We recommend not too much luggage on the tour and you can leave extra luggage at the guesthouse if you want to.
This list is only a guideline for you
Travel documents and Voucher
Visa (check with your consulate)
Riding pants or Jodhpurs (used if possible!)
Riding boots (Knee high riding boots - preferably rubber, because of the rivers we cross)
Riding helmet- provided
Warm jacket or overcoat
Warm (woolen or fleece) sweater
Warm socks and gloves, at least two pairs, scarf and a cap or hat.
Warm underwear, long if possible (protects also from chaffing).
Jogging suit or other comfortable cloths to wear in the hutsFor the ladies – sports bra.
Bathing suit and flip flops
Slippers for the huts (Icelanders take off their shoes when entering a house)
ADDITIONAL THINGS TO BRING
A small camera to take with you when riding
Personal toiletries (soap etc.)
Earplugs (some people snore!)
Small flashlight, i.e: headlamp
If interested, duty free alcohol at Iceland airport
Chocolate or glucose sweets for strenuous riding days
Insect repellent, gnat net head cover.
Band aid and second skin plasters for chaffing
Sore cream (for the emergency)
Sun lotion for face and lips (with high sun factor)
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.