Icelandic Winter Experience

East and South Iceland: (IT-ICRT-E8)
URL: https://www.hiddentrails.com/tour/iceland_winter_experience.aspx

Introduction
East and South Iceland
On this tour we combine riding with visiting some of the most popular highlights in South Iceland and activities such as hiking, bathing and whale watching. We ride 6 half-day tours, enjoy a relaxing bath in the hotel´s hot tubs or even in a natural warm river and visit the beautiful Golden Circle (Gullfoss waterfall, the hot springs at Geysir and Thingvellir national park).

At night, when the sky is clear and the Aurora Borealis forecast promising, you can just walk outside to observe the stunning phenomena or we drive where the chances to watch the Northern Lights are the best.

Accomodation

Accommodation
This is a stationary ride so all nights are spent at the same location. 

Description
Your can opt to stay at a guesthouse or a hotel.

Hotel
You will sleep in a cozy countryside hotel that features 37 spacious rooms (all with private facilities), a warm, light-filled restaurant and traditional hot tubs to relax in at the end of the day. The hotel’s interior is inspired by the colors and materials found in Icelandic nature, genuine craftsmanship and age-old traditions. It was built in accordance with ecological guidelines and is the first lodging in Iceland to be awarded the Nordic Swan Ecolabel.
The rooms have double or twin beds and some of them are available as triple rooms. All rooms are outfitted with the luxurious Hästens beds, unrivalled sleep comfort handcrafted from sustainable, natural materials, such as genuine hypoallergenic horsehair, cotton, wool, flax and Swedish pinewood. Each room has a door to the garden, allowing you to step outside and observe the northern lights, weather and season permitting.
Wi-Fi access is available in all rooms.

Guesthouse
The guesthouse offers a comfortable living room, shared bathroom facilities, tea kettle that can also be used to make instant coffee, and small refrigerator. Guests that stay at the guesthouse are welcome to use all facilities and services of our nearby hotel, including the hot tub and restaurant.
The guesthouse offers private twin, triple and quadruple rooms. Each room has washbasins and soap, bed linens, towels and Wi-Fi access.

Room Occupancy
If we are unable to find another rider to share the room with you, a single supplement fee applied.
Single room accommodations are subject to availability.


Meals
All meals are included.

The food we serve is inspired by traditional Icelandic cuisine and revolves around typical Icelandic ingredients. Wherever possible, we source our food locally and much of our produce is grown in the town of Hveragerði, less than 2 km from our farm. Meat and fish are supplied by farmers and fishermen in our area. Specialities include fish, kjötsúpa (an icelandic soup, with meat, vedgetable and rice) and BBQ.

Dietary Restrictions
We are able to cater to most dietary needs with prior notice. However, we are unable meet the needs of those who have food allergies which cause anaphylaxis.

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.

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.

Itinerary

Sample itinerary - subject to changes

NOTE: Please, note that this tour is dependent on weather and Northern Lights sightings are not guaranteed.


Day 1 (Monday): Arrival
The tour starts in the evening. Tour members who arrive the same day in Iceland should take the “Flybus” (operated by Reykjavik Excursions) from the airport to the final bus station BSÍ in Reykjavík (not included in package). We will greet you at the bus station or at your hotel / guesthouse in Reykjavik for 17:30-18:00 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 dinner. The day will end with a detailed description of the tour (might be the following morning).
Meals included: Dinner
Overnight at the Guesthouse


Day 2 (Tuesday): Riding through meadows and mountains
After breakfast, your guide meets you for a short introduction in the stable. The guide will provide the necessary riding equipment (riding helmet, warm overall or rain gear) and start with a short riding demonstration before you get to know the horses during a few rounds in the paddock. Today we ride on soft trails along the meadows surrounding our farm, a good opportunity to get familiar with the special gait of the Icelandic horse, the “tölt”. We then follow the river Gljúfurá, head towards the volcanic mountains and ride on an old route along the slopes of the mountain Reykjafjall. Our reliable horses take you up and down the trail, while you enjoy nice views of the diverse landscape between the ocean and the volcano Hengill.
Back at the farm, we warm up with light lunch before we choose horses for the afternoon program. We spend another hour on horseback before driving to the thermal swimming pool in Hveragarði to soften up in soothing, warm geothermal water, relax in the steam sauna or take a swim in the comfortably warm outdoor pool. Imagine sitting in a steamy hot tub as a light snowfall turns the grass around you white. Afterwards, coffee and home baked cake will be served in the cozy environment of your accommodation. We check the Northern Lights forecast and get some useful information about this natural phenomena. If the forecast is favorable, and the sky is clear, we look out for the lights at the farm or go on a hunt!
Riding 2.5-3 hrs.
Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner
Overnight at the Guesthouse


Day 3 (Wednesday): Ride through Gufudalur valley & Hike through Reykjadalur valley
We start the day by riding on excellent trails along the slopes of Reykjafjall Mountain and through a green forest. We pass by many hot springs in the colorful geothermal area of Gufudalur valley. This area is situated just above the village of Hveragerði and expanded dramatically during the big South Iceland earthquake in 2008. The path continues along the volcanic hills above the village, which is know for its beautiful location between the green mountains of volcano Hengill and wide plains. We stop close to the stable area for some refreshments and learn more about the Icelandic horse before riding back to our farm for lunch. We then drive about 5 minutes through Hveragerði, passing the area where we went riding in the morning and start hiking upwards into the magnificent geothermal valley of Reykjadalur. On our way up, we will see the beautiful waterfall Djúpagilsfoss and many colorful hot springs. You also have the opportunity to take a relaxing bath in a warm river, an unforgettable experience! On our way down, we can enjoy a spectacular panorama over volcanic mountains, the village Hveragerði and all the way down to the coastline, where we might see the Westman Islands, weather permitting. The tour ends with some refreshments at the accommodation. We will check the Northern Lights forecast and have a chance to watch a spectacular movie about this phenomenon.
Riding 2.5-3 hrs.
Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner
Overnight at the Guesthouse


Day 4 (Thursday): Ride around the farm & Whale Watching
Today you will have the chance to experience two big beautiful animals on the same day: the horse and the whale!
We start the day with a nice ride on trails crossing meadows, lava fields and a small river. On our way, we enjoy the nice scenery of volcanic mountains and farmland, passing several farms which give us an idea of how agriculture has developed in the last decades. After our ride, we warm up with a light lunch.
In the afternoon, you will be taken to the old harbor in Reykjavik for a 3 hours whale watching in Faxaflói bay, with a good chance to see whales and a nice view of Reykjavik and the mountains surrounding the capital. Our bus will take you back to back to your accommodation. Back at our farm coffee and home baked cake will be available and you have the possibility to relax in our hot pots before dinner.
Riding 1.5 hrs.
Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner
Overnight at the Guesthouse


Day 5 (Friday): Ride along the rivers
Depending on the weather and wind, we will ride for 1.5-2 hours through the surroundings of our farm. Afterwards we will have a light lunch and then go out to the stable again to prepare our horses for the afternoon ride. In the afternoon, we follow the river Gljúfurá  to an old cemetery and further down to the soft river banks of the mighty glacial river Ölfusá.  From there, we have a view of the river and if the weather allows the famous volcanoes Hekla and Eyjafjallajökull. Upon your return to the farm, dinner will be served.
Riding 4-5 hrs.

Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner
Overnight at the Guesthouse


Day 6 (Saturday): Ingólfs trail & Golden Circle Tour
The final day starts with a ride on the Ingólfs trail. You will ride in the footsteps of the first settler Ingólfur Arnarsson, who settled in Iceland in the 9th century. On our way on the ancient Viking route on the foot of the table mountain Ingólfsfjall, you will learn more about Iceland’s history and the interesting geology of this area. After the ride and checking out of your room we warm up with a light lunch, coffee and home baked cake. Then you will be picked up to visit the three most impressive natural sights in South Iceland (Golden Circle): The famous Geysir geothermal area, the “golden waterfall” Gullfoss and Thingvellir National Park. The Geysir geothermal area boasts spouting springs, including Strokkur, the most active geyser in Iceland. At Gullfoss you are given the opportunity to stand next to the amazing waterfall, watching enormous quantities of water tumble violently into a deep canyon. You also spend time encountering a cross-section of Iceland’s natural wonders and geological phenomena at Thingvellir National Park, an area of historical and geological significance. You will be back in Reykjavík around 6:00 pm.
Riding 1.5-2 hrs.
Meals included: Breakfast & Lunch


Rates and Dates for Icelandic Winter Experience

Rates include:

Accommodation in guesthouse (possible to upgrade to hotel with supplement), All meals (from dinner on day 1 to lunch on the last day), 5 riding days, Activities as described in the itinerray, English speaking guide & Transfers from/to Reykjavik city center
Helmets, warm overalls, rubber boots & rain gear is provided

Packages and Options



  • SeasonYearDescriptionEUR ~US$
    A
    20206 day trip, AP€1375$1555
    • Upgrade to hotel room, dbl, pp€100$115
      Upgrade to hotel room, sgl, pp€150$170
      single supplement in guesthouse€95$110
The US Dollar Rate is Based on Exchange Rate of 1.13

* prices are per person based on double/twin occupancy

Transfer and Other Charges:



 Description
2020 Transfer from Reykjavik BSI bus station is included
2020 Children discount (14 and younger) - 20% off

Season Tour Dates  Min / MaxReserve
A 2020 09/28 - 10/03 6d / 5n 6 day trip, AP 8 /16 Reserve
A 2020 10/05 - 10/10 6d / 5n 6 day trip, AP 8 /16 Reserve
A 2020 10/19 - 10/24 6d / 5n 6 day trip, AP 8 /16 Reserve
A 2020 11/02 - 11/07 6d / 5n 6 day trip, AP 8 /16 Reserve
A 2020 11/16 - 11/21 6d / 5n 6 day trip, AP 8 /16 Reserve
A 2020 11/30 - 12/05 6d / 5n 6 day trip, AP 8 /16 Reserve

Dates Note:

Rates do not include:

Airport transfer (take the Flybus), Alcoholic Drinks & Gratuities

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).
•Thin hat to wear under the helmet, gloves and “buff” is well suited. You can buy a “buff” locally.
•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