Sheep Round-Up

Iceland Shorts Iceland: (IT-ICRT14)
URL: http://www.hiddentrails.com/tour/iceland_sheep_roundup_is.aspx

Introduction
Iceland Shorts Iceland
Melrakkaslétta:
This part of Iceland is inhabited by only few people, most of them living in little fishing villages along the coast and on farms. There is a lot of diversity in this tour starting with beautiful mountain views from the wide Öxarfjörður Fjord. The Peninsula of Melrakkaslétta, which stretches almost to the Arctic Circle, is a paradise for birdwatchers and people with geological interest. Here we are right on top of the Mid Atlantic Ridge where the North-American and Eurasian plates drift apart.
On this special tour we join the farmers in north Iceland as they round up thousands of sheep from the mountains. We gather the sheep from Núpasveitafréttur and Melrakkaslétta peninsula and drive them into Katastaða communal sheepfold so the farmers can sort out their flock and take them to their farms. Local farmers have been rounding up sheep in this area for centuries. Learn from them how to manage the flock, drive sheep down hill sides, across rivers and out of sheltered valleys to their resting place for the night, only to head off again the next day to round up more.
Hosts for this tour are Halldór and Elín with their family from Bjarnastaðir Farm, known to many Icelanders for their excellent breeding of horses. Halldór is a respected member of his community and among other things he is a “mountain king” when the time calls for gathering up the sheep in autumn.

Landmannaafréttur:
Rounding up sheep with the farmers in Landmannalaugar, Jökulgil and near Volcano Hekla.
On this special tour we join the farmers in South Iceland as they round up thousands of sheep from the mountains. We gather the sheep into the Landmannaafréttur communal sheepfold close to the famous Landmannalaugar geothermal area. The yellow, reddish and greenish hue of the rhyolite mountains give this area a magical touch. Here, under the stately gaze of Mt. Hekla, we drive the sheep across the black sands, which is the ash spewed by this volcano over centuries. Local farmers have been herding sheep in this area for centuries. Learn from them how to manage the flock, drive sheep down hill sides, across rivers and out of sheltered valleys to their resting place for the night, only to head off again the next day to round up more.

Being amongst the farming community and lending a helping hand in this age-old tradition of the autumn round-up is as close as you can get to the heart and soul of this nation. As participants you are joining an annual tradition and not a customized riding tour. Therefore an open mind, good physical health and the ability to work as a team is essential. Expect to be treated as one of the crowd, be prepared to pull your weight each day and enjoy the camaraderie of all those
participating.

When you participate in the Round Ups you are experiencing the Real Thing! You will be one of the group to herd and sort the animals. Of course that means long hours outside in sometimes cold weather. Iceland in autumn has many colours and types of weather. Anticipate to be in golden sunshine one moment and to ride in rain and even sleet during the next. We therefore recommend to dress well during these tours, to bring long woolen underwear and lots of woolen socks and gloves. It is also good to bring some 'quick energy supplier' like chocolate. A warm rider is a happy rider!                                                

Accomodation

Accommodations

Please bring your own sleeping bag as linen is not provided in any of the accommodations used on these tours.

For  Landmannaafrettur:

Landmannahellir Mountain Cabin
Landmannahellir is located in a peaceful area in Fjallabak and  has for many years been one of the main dwelling place for sheep gatherers when they round up the sheep each autumn that have been grassing in this area during the summer.
•Number of rooms:  1
•Number of beds:  24
•Outdoor jacuzzi:  No
•Number of showers:  2 in separate building
•GSM connection:  No
•WiFi: No
•Made up beds: No
•Number of WC:  2 (in the building)


For Melrakkaslétta:

Bjarnastaðir farm
Bjarnastaðir Farm, home of Halldór Olgeirsson and Elín Maríusdóttir is situated in the low bushy area of Kerlingaskógur, close to the glacial river Jökulsá á Fjöllum and Dettifoss Waterfall. You will enjoy great view over the Fjord Öxarfjörður and the famous Lake Skjálftavatn which suddenly appeared over night after a strong earthquake 28 years ago. Halldór and Elín, breeders of both horses and sheep will welcome you with open arms and their warmth and hospitality is indeed second to none.
•Number of beds:  18
•Outdoor jacuzzi:  Yes
•Number of showers:  2
•GSM connection:  Yes
•WiFi: No


Meals
During the ride full board is provided. Our menu consists of a large breakfast and traditional Icelandic meals (fish or lamb). Vegetarian meals are available if requested when booking. All riders make their own packed lunch from the breakfast table.

This trip includes and can accommodate special dietary requests.

Riding

Riding Experience
This tour is a great riding experience that is suitable for intermediate riders. You need to be comfortable and in control at all paces, have a firm seat, and feel comfortable riding for up to 7 hours per day. Riders are expected to ride regularly and be capable of handling horses in an open country. Riding days can be as long as up to 35 km in the saddle so you should be in good physical condition and have a basic knowledge of horsemanship. You will get a thorough introduction into the gaits of the Icelandic horse and feel the Tölt, the extremely soft traveling gate of the Icelandic horse.

Riding Gear – Disinfect!
Riding gear (riding trousers, jackets, etc.) needs to be washed (40°C) or dry cleaned. Items which cannot be washed or dry cleaned (riding boots, riding hats) need to disinfected at least 5 days prior to arriving in Iceland. The Icelandic Veterinary Authority recommends the broad-spectrum disinfectant Virkon S for disinfection. Used riding gloves, whips, saddles, bridles, chaps and other used leather gear may not be brought into the country.
Please understand that these precautions are necessary because there are no contagious animal diseases in Iceland. Horses are not vaccinated and are therefore susceptible to infectious agents from abroad. Please help us to protect Iceland’s fragile nature!
We provide saddle bags, rain wear and safety helmet.

Tack & Riding Style
The tack used for Icelandic horses is slightly different then the tack ordinarily used for other breeds.
The saddle is built close to a dressage saddle and has a relatively flat seat. Saddles come with plain or quilted seats. On longer rides, a crupper helps keeping the saddle in place. Riding style used on Icelandic horses is close to English riding style, but stirrups are worn long.
Bits used are mostly simple snaffles. Bridles have a detachable noseband and clip on reins.

The Farmers
The real connoisseurs of the local terrain and history. We make sure that each tour has its own charm and is organized by the local expert, the farmer, and his family. They use their own horses and ride through the part of the country they know so well.
Our farmers have over 30 years of experience in leading riding groups through Iceland.

Herd of Horses
On this ride, you will be riding several days (except for two days) with a free running herd of horses. Herding along free running horses is the traditional way of travelling in Iceland, since horses are changed at least once a day on longer tours. You get to ride a variety of horses. 

Horses
The Icelandic horse is best known for its four-beat smooth gait, the “tölt”, which is very comfortable for the rider, especially on a longer tour.  Riding an Icelandic horse in its native habitat land is an authentic riding experience. The horses are especially chosen for this trip and are suited even for riders who have not had much riding experience. 

Itinerary

Itinerary sample - Sheep Round Up - Melrakkaslétta (approx. 130km total)

Thursday: Reykjavík – Húsavík – Ásbyrgi Canyon – Dettifoss Waterfall - Bjarnastaðir
Pick up between 07:00 – 07:30 from pick up points in Reykjavik www.busstop.is. Morning flight from Reykjavik Airport to Húsavík. Bus transfer to Bjarnastaðir Farm, where we meet up with the guides and horses and have a late lunch. On the way we will stop at Dettifoss, Europe’s largest waterfall and Ásbyrgi National Park. Ásbyrgi is one of the wonders of nature, a wide, horseshoe-shaped canyon with sheer cliff faces up to 100 m high. According to legend, Sleipnir, the Norse god Odin's eight-legged horse, put one of his hooves down as the god rode by. After a short introduction to the horses we set out on a 2 -3 hours ride through Kerlingaskógur´s low bushy area and enjoy great views over the Fjord Öxarfjörður and the famous Lake Skjálftavatn which suddenly appeared over night after a strong earthquake 28 years ago, when the land had been lowered by 4 meters overnight. Overnight at Bjarnastaðir.
Riding approx. 30km

Friday: Rounding up the sheep in Núpasveit
We start early and each rider will join a local farmer and his dog to be his (her) mentor and guide during the tour. This area is rich with vegetation, green valleys and small lakes and we continue until late afternoon, leave horses and sheep at a remote old hut and return back to the farm for a hearty dinner and a good night’s sleep.
Riding approx. 35 km

Saturday: Rounding up the sheep on Melrakkaslétta
The Peninsula of Melrakkaslétta, which stretches almost to the Arctic Circle, is a paradise for birdwatchers and people with geological interest. Here we are right on top of the Mid Atlantic Ridge where the North-American and Eurasian plates drift apart. The vegetation is ideal for the sheep and the local farmers are very proud of their stock.
We meet up with our horses and continue driving the sheep down to Katastaðarétt communal fold, where they are kept for the night together with the horses. Overnight at Bjarnastaðir.
Riding approx. 30 km

Sunday: Day of the round-up
This is the final and well celebrated day of the round-up. In the morning the sorting of the sheep starts and lasts until each sheep has been returned to its owners. Participate in sorting the sheep, "pass the flask around" and join in the singing and celebrating after a successful ride into the mountains. Once the sorting is finished we join the farmers from Daðastaðir Farm and Presthólar Farm and help them drive the sheep home. Overnight and a farewell dinner at Bjarnastaðir.
Riding approx. 35 km

Monday: Bjarnastaðir – Húsavík – Reykjavík
We say good bye to horses and staff and before we drive to Húsavík airport to catch the flight to Reykjavik we stop at Húsavík for a while. Arrival in Reykjavík in the afternoon.

Optional (available at an extra charge): Whale Watching
At Húsavík harbour a boat is waiting to go out on a whale watching cruise. Enjoy the cruise on Skjálfandaflói bay with, hopefully, whales swimming alongside. 

--Itinerary subject to changes--
 
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Itinerary sample - Sheep Round Up - Landmannaafréttur

Friday: Transfer to Landmannahellir – Landmannalaugar
Pick up between 09:00 – 10:00 from pick up points in Reykjavik www.busstop.is. Please be ready at the earliest pick up time already in riding clothes. Transfer from Reykjavík in the morning to the Íshestar Riding Centre. Receive details about the adventure ahead of you. On to Landmannahellir where we meet the horses and fellow riders. We ride into the famous Landmannalaugar area with its natural hot pool, surrounded by colorful mountains and black lava fields. This is a short riding day which gives us time to get acquainted with the terrain and to learn about the task which lies ahead. Overnight stay in Landmannalaugar.
Riding 3 – 4 hrs

Saturday: Jökulgilið – Landmannalaugar
Jökulgilið, a long and shallow valley with multiple colors and rock formations, is our destination for today. The valley is surrounded by mountains and glaciers, mostly barren yet covered with grass here and there. This is what attracts the sheep who seek into this remote area far away from any human contact. A glacier fed river makes it hard to access the valley during the summer time and it is only now that we can ride in and look for the sheep that have been grazing there all summer.
Riding 8 – 9 hrs

Sunday: Landmannalaugar – Landmannahellir
Today we cover the area between Landmannalaugar and Landmannahellir. Even though not too far apart the area is covered with lava fields, craters and lakes and sheep can be found widely. Therefore it is important to keep your place in the human chain to make sure that no sheep stays behind. Another and final night in Landmannalaugar.
Riding 8 hrs

Monday: Landmannahellir and surroundings
We leave Landmannalaugar in the morning, pack our belongings into a transport vehicle and ride back to Landmannahellir, driving our spare horses along in a free running herd. Today we explore the surroundings of Landmannahellir, which has a long tradition as a night rest for those gathering sheep. Originally two caves there were used as a shelter for horses and men.
Riding 8 hrs

Tuesday: Mt. Hekla volcano
Green grass turns into black ashes as we approach Mt. Hekla volcano. Mt. Hekla is an active volcano and has erupted regularly, spewing lava, pumice and ash into the sky. Sheep can be found in sheltered valleys and we make sure that they all return home. While some of us are out in this wilderness looking for sheep others drive the flock to Mt.Valahnjúkar. Overnight in Landmannahellir.
Riding 10 hrs

Wednesday: Áfangagil – Hrólfstaðahellir
Áfangagil is the final destination for our flock today. Here is the round pen where the sheep will be sorted tomorrow. On our way we search the area to make sure that no sheep stays behind. We spend our last night at Hrólfstaðahellir.
Riding 8 hrs

Thursday: Day of the round-up
This is the final and well celebrated day of the round-up. At noon the sorting of the sheep starts and lasts until each sheep has been returned to its owners. Participate in sorting the sheep, pass the flask around and join in the singing and celebrating after a successful ride into the mountains. Once the sorting is finished we drive back to Reykjavík where this great tour ends at approx. 6:00pm.

--Itinerary subject to changes--


Rates and Dates for Sheep Round-Up

Rates include:

Accommodation: Sleeping bag accommodation in simple mountain cabins shared by the local farmers participating with you in rounding up the sheep, meals, saddle bag, raingear, water bottle, safety helmet

Packages and Options



  • SeasonYearDescriptionEUR ~US$
    A
    20195 day trip, AP Melrakkaslétta #23€1800$2160
  • B
    20197 day trip, AP Landmannaafrettur #24€2450$2940
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:



 Description
2019 Pick up at BSÍ Bus station or at Reykjavik official bus stops near your accommodation on Day 1 between 9:00-10:00am for Landmannaafrettur

Dates Note:

Rates do not include:

Sleeping bag, Alcoholic beverages (can be bought at Duty Free ahead of time)
Optional: Whale watching for Melrakkaslétta tour for 80 Euro per person.

Other Info
Meeting: Reykjavik hotel
Airport: Keflavik Airport
Transfer: Reykjavik

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: 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 saddle bag (where you can keep the picnic lunch, a small camera, extra pair of gloves etc.).

Bring bags rather than hard cover suitcases. Pack light because transport space is limited.
You should be ready for all kinds of weather as the weather can change very quickly.

We recommend that the following items are included when preparing for our longer tours.

• Knee high riding boots -  water resistant/ waterproof
• 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 against chafing).
• For the ladies – sports bra.
• Riding trousers.
• Track suit.
• A pair of slippers to wear in the accommodation (Icelanders take off their shoes when entering a house).
• Swim suits, towels, soap etc.
• A small camera to take with you on the ride.
• Band aids and second skin plasters for chaffing.
• Insect repellent, gnat net head cover.
• Chocolate or glucose sweets for strenuous riding days.
• Sun lotion for face and lips (with high sun factor).
• Sunglasses.
• For those with sensitive eyes/contact lenses, goggles.
Sleeping bag
• Small pillow to sleep on.
• Ear plugs. Some people snore!

Disinfecting of the riding gear
It is important to follow the regulation regarding the disinfecting of used riding clothes. Riding gear (riding trousers, jackets, etc.) needs to be washed (40°C) or dry cleaned. Items which can not be washed or dry cleaned (riding boots, riding hats) need to be disinfected at least five days prior to arriving in Iceland. The Icelandic Veterinary Authority recommends the broad-spectrum disinfectant Virkon S for disinfection. Used riding gloves, whips, saddles, bridles and other used leather gear may not be brought into the country.
Please understand that these precautions are necessary because there are no contagious animal diseases in Iceland. Horses are not vaccinated and are therefore susceptible to infectious agents from abroad. Please help us to protect Iceland's fragile nature! For further information please take a look at: http://www.mast.is/english/frontpage/import-export/import/ridingequipment/ 

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.