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Iceland - Mountain Challenge
For experience riders who have less time, or who want to combine a challenging ride with a longer self-drive exploration of Iceland, the Mountain Challenge short break is a great choice.
On these trails you ride with a hand horse, so you can change horses during the day. The trails take you through narrow valleys and canyons, across rivers into high mountain country, and along smooth grassy paths ideal for long, fast tölts. The horses stay out on the trail each evening whilst you return to the comfort of the Hestasport Cottages, and the welcome hot tub.
For non-riders in the group, other activities in the area include river rafting, boat trips, bird watching and sea angling. The village of Varmahlíð, with a small supermarket, hotel and restaurant is just 1 km away.
The Icelandic horse is a pure-bred descendant of those brought to Iceland by the Vikings over a thousand years ago. Horses remain an important part of Icelandic culture; they are used on remote farms to round up livestock and are still the best means of getting around in many parts of the island. Although small (the average height is 13hh to 14hh), the Icelandic is a powerful horse with great stamina and strength of character.
What makes the Icelandic Horse extra special is its fourth gait, the tölt, which is comparable to a running walk. Most riders can master it fairly quickly; it's fast, comfortable and enables the horse to cover great distances.
The daily rides will be between 12 to 35 km. You should be fit enough to spend between two and six hours in the saddle a day. You may be required to lead a spare horse, but if you are not comfortable with this then an alternative plan will be made.
Riders are expected to care for their horse (grooming and tacking up) but help is always on hand should you need it.
Children over the age of ten years, who are competent riders, are welcome on this ride. This holiday would also be suitable for non-riders.
Riding style is English.
Hard hats are mandatory on these rides.
You stay in one of seven comfortable self-catering cottages close to Varmahlíð with made up beds, towels and bath robes provided for the hot tub. The cottages have twin, triple, four and six-bed rooms, private facilities (one or two bathrooms per cottage) and a kitchen. Two people booking will usually have a cottage to themselves. Single cottages may be available at a supplement.
The cottages are about 1km from Varmahlíð and 8km from the stables.
This holiday is on a self-catering basis. There is a shop in Varmahlíð, although you may wish to bring some of the essentials (coffee, tea, cereal) with you. You may also wish to treat yourself to a meal or two at the Varmahlíð Hotel, which is within easy walking distance from the cottages.
The normal arrival day is Tuesday and you stay three nights departing on Friday. Alternative dates are on request and can be confirmed for a minimum of two guests.
Sample Itinerary for Mountain Challenge
Select your preferred arrival date:
MOUNTAIN CHALLENGE (3 nights)
$1,100.35 per person sharing.
INCLUDES Accommodation in a cottage (self catering); riding; transfers during the trail.
PAYABLE LOCALLY Meals; drinks; additional activities; tips.
NEAREST AIRPORT Keflavik.
TRANSFERS Included from Varmahlíð.
These rides take place in northern Iceland in the famous horse region of Skagafjörður.
The climate in Iceland is milder than its name and latitude suggests. However, the weather can change very quickly, especially in the mountains, going from warm and sunny to freezing cold in a few hours, and it is often very windy. Therefore, you must be prepared for all types of weather. In the summer months of June and July there are 24 hours of daylight.
If you don't have the time for a longer mountain tour this is the ideal way to explore off the beaten track on horseback.
Try to leave enough time to see Reykjavik or to extend your holiday to see other parts of Iceland. Don't miss the Blue Lagoon!