They did it in saga times. They did it through the centuries.
Then intrepid tourists arrived and since there were no roads, only trails across desert and mountain, they did it some more.
Now, even though there are roads, there’s an opportunity to follow those early travelers by trekking through Iceland by horse.
An internet search shows that there are numerous companies such at Íshestar providing an opportunity to see Iceland from the back of one of those famous Icelandic horses we keep hearing about.
There are day trips for the inexperienced rider. You can go for a half hour but you can also go for an hour and a half or longer. You can ride through deserted lava fields or at famous tourist spots.
For the experienced rider, there is a wide variety of choices. You can go on countryside tours, highland tours, roundup tours.
In the countryside tours, you can visit Gullfoss and Geysir. You can make an overnight tour. Imagine riding on the sands of Snaefellsness. What a way to experience the landscape, ocean, sand beaches, countryside. The beach is the perfect place to experience the famous “tölt”.
The Highland tours are for more experienced riders. There are numerous areas to visit including Goðafoss, Mývatn, and Þeistareykir.
If you are in Iceland at the right time of year, you can even join in the annual sheep round-up. In the past, home fields needed to be kept for harvesting winter hay so the animals were moved to the mountains for the summer. In the fall, the sheep needed to be brought back from the mountains, sorted out and returned to their owners. This ritual is still followed and it is possible to join in the roundup and get a sense of what life was like in the past.
If all this horse talk intimidates you, relax. Iceland is the best place in the world for a horse riding holiday. The horses are small and sturdy. It’s easier for older people to mount them. The horses themselves are sure-footed as mountain goats and are known for their gentleness. If you manage to fall off one, it’s not so far to the ground.
If you’ve got old bones or are just not used to riding, you can arrange a ride where you return to the comfort of a room, bed and hot tub every evening. If you’re a bit sprier or more used to riding, you can go on tours with more rustic accommodation, sleeping in sleeping bags, sharing rooms, sleeping in bunk beds.
You don’t need to bring any riding gear. It is all supplied. As a matter of fact, because of the fear of disease, you can only bring new, unused equipment.
Many people have been to Iceland without ever having ridden on Iceland’s famous horses. When you are visiting Iceland, it is an opportunity not to be missed. Many years later, you’ll be able to say “When I went horseback riding in Iceland.” It will be one of those unforgettable experiences. Icelanders are in love with their horses. Although they are no longer essential to daily life as they once were, there are still 80,000 horses in a country with 320,000 people. Go for a ride. See Iceland the way your ancestors saw Iceland.