One of the things we really wanted to try in Iceland was horseback riding. Starting in the 10th century, Iceland decided to stop importing horses which is how you get the unique horses you have today! One of the things you will notice is their different gaits. Unlike other horses, Icelandic horses have 2 additional gaits: tölt and skeið (flying pace). The tölt has a cadence like a trot but totally different than a trot as well. It’s hard to explain! We didn’t get to experience skeið but since that translates to flying pace, I’m sure that was for the best 🙂
We tried to do our best to research different horseback riding companies. We wanted to have knowledgeable guides and find a place that takes good care of their horses. We found both with Eldhestar. They have a huge variety of tours and after much deliberation, we picked the Riding and Hiking tour. We had a 2 hour ride in the morning, followed by lunch. Then, a van took us to geothermal valley of Reykjadalur where we had a 2.5 hour hike.
As you can see in the photos, the area surrounding Eldhestar farm has a variety of views. I think for our first time riding Icelandic horses, this was a good ride for us. It wasn’t too short to feel like we didn’t go anywhere or too long to be taxing on people who haven’t ridden for a while. If you want to do a longer ride than 2 hours, there are lots of other options! My horse was super gentle and calm. I’ve ridden some stubborn horses in my day so it was nice to have one that was so agreeable. haha! We got to tölt several times which was so fun.
Hiking in Reykjadalur
After lunch, we put our swimsuits on under our clothes and headed off in the van. Make sure to pack one of those wicking towels to get as dry as you can for the hike back down.
The hike was moderately challenging in the beginning as you are climbing up for about the first 1/2 to 2/3 of the hike. At the top, you are rewarded with views (and a flatter surface!) that make it worth the climb.
Due to geothermal activity, there were a couple of places where the air quality is poor and it was suggested that we try to hold our breath. If you do this hike without a guide, I would recommend doing this when you walk through any of the areas where the steam covers the path.
Then, we reached the river and it was time to relax for a bit. As you can see, there were a lot of people enjoying the river. However, we were easily able to walk a bit further down and find our own spot to relax in. The river was like bath water! Also, you can see the changing areas below and that there are people on all sides of them. So, if you aren’t comfortable changing in that environment, make sure to have your suit on already like we did.
We really enjoyed our day of horseback riding and hiking with Eldhestar!
If you have any questions, let me know in the comments below.