Iceland: travel preparation
For those who perform HORSETREKKING Iceland is certainly an ambitious destination Iceland.
Iceland: waterfalls, lava, deserts, natural reserves, glaciers, lakes, geysers, and cold North Sea.
Perfect for nature lovers, as the sights of this spectacular Nordic land seem endless.
What do the horses have to do with this spectacular land?
THE ICELANDIC HORSES, are famous for being small, robust, with a very large mane and to move with five gaits, the walk (fetgangur), the trot (brokk), the gallop (stökk), the pace/amble (skeið), and the “ambling” gait known as tölt.
An old legend tells that over a thousand years ago the mare Fluga, seeing the green landscape of the Iceland, jumped into the water from a Viking ship, reached the beach and run away, giving rise to the breed of the Icelandic horses. Thanks to this robust and resistant equine breed the Vikings had colonized Iceland, reaching even the most difficult and inaccessible areas.
The Icelandic horse is a protected species. Since 1909 it is forbidden to import horses, even if they are horses native to the island and then exported, it is also forbidden to import bridles and saddles used, so that, no disease can endanger the health of these horses.
Nowadays many European magazines mistakenly speak of Icelandic horses like ponies, but Icelanders are rightly proud of this breed and consider this definition to be an offense.
Thus, I’m intrigued by these horses with particular gaits, and the idea of crossing a such particular country riding in the saddle.
I start to inform me and I realize that there are many horse trekking in Iceland.
How I choose the one that most interests me?
I start from the Trekking made in August, the only possible period for me.
After reading various proposals of different tour operators, I am overwhelmed by the presentation that the English Tour Operator (already used by me for the trip to the Azores) “In the Saddle”: https://www.inthesaddle.com/
Iceland – The Great Crossing – Kjolur
An extraordinary riding adventure: 225 km along the historic path of the Kjölur plateau, a path that crosses the country from South to North, used for centuries during the summer by the Icelanders to reach the Parliament. During this horse trekking you will explore the heart of Iceland, a wild and contrasting hinterland known for its extraordinary natural beauties. Riding the agile Icelandic horses through desert and remote areas, you will cross rivers, admire extinct volcanoes, natural lakes, glaciers, and what is most surprising is the green of the grasslands in an area where snow and ice reign for the most of the year.
Strengths of this trekking is undoubtedly riding for days with a herd of 60 horses – an experience to be very exciting, to say the least, offering, among other things, the advantage of being able to change horses several times in order to have always fresh and snappy adventure companions. Another particularity is the number of participants; up to 20 riders plus 5 guides … We form a good team!
To face and appreciate in the best way this type of journey, is necessary to have a good spirit of adventure and adaptation. During the trekking you sleep in simple mountain huts, the rooms are often dormitories, there are shared bathrooms, and the hot water is limited. You will not miss the opportunity to swim in natural springs, and it is also included a visit to the famous Gullfoss waterfalls.
Very interesting… I start to dream…
Your traveling companions are small and resistant Icelandic horses, known for their fifth natural gait, the tölt: a variant of the amble. The peculiarity of this gait is that the horse always has at least one hoof on the ground, comfortable for the rider as it avoids the typical jog of the trot.
Riding with a herd of horses the rhythm is often sustained.
Only experienced and trained riders can participate in this horse trekking. The difficulty level is high: long hours in the saddle await you, an average of about 5/7 hours; it is a particular day during which you ride about 50 km.
Well, as usual, I start asking for more detailed info and above all understanding what it really means:
PROTECT the ISLANDIC HOURSES!
Visitors are asked to adopt strict biosecurity measures! It is strictly forbidden to import the following equipment:
- Used riding equipment, such as saddles, bridles, nosebands, pads, rugs, whips, etc.
- Used riding gloves
Cleaning and disinfection:
- Used riding clothes and boots should be washed in a washing machine or dry cleaned prior to entering the country.
- Used clothes and riding boots that can not be machine-washed or dry-cleaned should be cleaned and disinfected as follows: – Rinse thoroughly with detergent – Dry – Spray with 1% VirkonS® (10 g per liter d water) – Store for at least 5 days before bringing clothes in contact with horses in Iceland.
Icelandic horses are not vaccinated and are therefore susceptible to infectious agents from abroad!
All true, but not so restrictive. The only real restriction is not wearing old leather boots.
For the rest, it is enough to arrive with all equipment washed and disinfected.
CLOTHING AND CLIMATE
As for clothing, read carefully my post on “winter clothing” because the weather is cold and gives all information you need.
“Summer is very cool all over Iceland. Maximum temperatures exceed 10° C only in the months of June, July, and August. In Reykjavík, the hottest months, July and August, have a minimum of around 9° C and a maximum around 14*C, while on the northern coast the temperature is around 10-12° C.”
We had mornings with 0° C and sunny days with 15° C. You have to get dress as a “cabbage” but when it is cloudy and windy I assure you that it is really cold!!
You have to prepare psychologically yourself for the idea of riding the whole week in the rain. The heavy water suits are provided, but it is always better to be equipped.
SUNSHINE AND SUNSET
In August, in Iceland, the sun sets at 11.15 p.m. and rises at 04.00 a.m.
Prepare eye masks for sleeping and even earplugs because you sleep in a dorm of 10 people, each of them with own sleeping bag on bunk beds.
FLIGHT + FLOWERS
Iceland is very expensive, because of the climate and daylight in reality they work just a little over eight weeks by year, so in proportion to each service, the tourism costs.
From Reykjavík International Airport, public courier services are available; they are organized very well. Taking a taxi in Iceland makes no sense (it costs almost more than your flight ticket).
Before departure, you can book and pay on-line for the transfer, indicating the day and hotel booked (all about 40 euros).
Some couriers cannot arrive in the city center, so they arrive at the bus station and then it is a smaller bus getting close to your hotel. In Reykjavík the bus stops are marked by numbers – from one to ten – depending on where you have to go they will tell you the nearest stop to reach your hotel. You get used immediately, and then it becomes so easy to use public transport.
I finished working, I prepared the luggage following my “super list” with some additional measure for the so particular climate, I went to the airport and depart for this new adventure …
Always enthusiastic, curious, and a little worried about this “tölt” gait, typical of Icelandic horses that I do not know, but sure it will be a triumph as always!
I’m on the plane, from Frankfurt to Reykjavík, I start thinking about who I’ll meet, who will be my adventure companions, the guides, the horses … I look out the window of the plane and instead of seeing the sunset I start to see the sunrise… It is evening. …A very special feeling.
I AM READY. TOMOROW STARTS MY ADVENTURE … YIPPEE!