Wilderness Expedition | Horse Riding Holidays in Iceland | Globetrotting

Wilderness Expedition, Iceland

7 NightsStrong Intermediate to AdvancedFrom €6,500 EUR?Tour costs €6,500 EUR which is approximately $10,540 AUD

Right, we’ve made an executive decision: Iceland should now be referred to as WOW-land.

WOW-land. That’s what we’re going to call Iceland from here on out. Credit goes to our globe-tölter Lizzie Cullam, who coined this phrase after completing our debut Wilderness Expedition. She’s right – every moment of every day, we were lost for adjectives and could only utter WOW.

Firstly, in terms of horse culture, Iceland is off the richter scale. The Icelandic horse (not pony, even though they don’t stand higher than 14 hands) – is enchanting with his plucky demeanour, wild eyes, free-flowing mane, and not to mention that fifth gait – the tölt. This gait is best described as a four-beat lateral amble and is awesome for explosive acceleration and speed, while being SUPER comfortable for the rider.

Astride these big-hearted horses you’ll explore dramatic, raw and unkempt Nordic landscapes of volcanoes, geysers, hot springs and lava fields with a free-running herd of Icelandic horses. Our riding partners in Iceland are the country’s oldest riding tour operator. Established for over forty years, their reputation precedes them.

The Wilderness Expedition is an eight day, seven night itinerary, with seven full days in the saddle. If you prefer untouched, stunning nature over luxury, then this is your tour! In true Icelandic style, you’ll drive a free-running herd of horses across vast grasslands, stony mountains and a moon-like volcanic landscape towards the glacier.

Fast Facts

  • Horse Breed:Icelandic horses - the jewel in the crown of this ride!
  • Pace:The pace varies on a daily basis but it’s a fast-paced ride. Expect to mostly trot and tölt with the occasional fast-paced canter.
  • Weight Limit:A maximum of 100kg / 220lbs (depending on height, physical condition and riding ability).
  • Type of tack:English all-purpose saddles.
  • Seasons:August.
  • Group size:A maximum of 12 guests.
  • Time in Saddle:Approximately 6 to 8 hours in the saddle per day (this is also dependent on the weather, which could see you in the saddle for up to 10 hours).
  • Riding Ability:Suitable for strong intermediate to advanced riders who are up for an adventure and can handle riding up to 6 to 8 hours each day. You need a good level of all-round fitness as well as riding fitness to wholeheartedly enjoy this ride. The more training you put in beforehand, the more fun you'll have on tour. Not sure what your riding ability is? Watch THIS video to find out.
  • Accommodation:Throughout the 8 day itinerary you’ll stay in varying accommodation. On nights 1, 2 and 7, you’ll stay in comfortable cottages made up of 2 to 3 bedrooms, each with a shared bathroom. Although you may share a bathroom with just 1 other guest, please be prepared to share with up to 5 other guests. Assignment of rooms is at the hosts’ discretion, although special requests will be considered.
    For the remaining 4 nights guests will be staying in remote, rustic, single-room mountain huts with bunk beds. This is communal living, no privacy, with up to 14 riders in a hut. There is no hot water for showering in these mountain huts. If you would prefer your own privacy (away from possible snorers), you’re more than welcome to opt for your own tent (at no extra charge).
    *Sleeping mats and bags are provided at no extra charge.
  • Ride Length:8 days, 7 nights, with 7 riding days.
  • Inclusions:

    The price includes all ground transportation throughout the riding tour, private bus transfers to and from the capital of Reykjavík on the first and last day of the tour, and full board during the tour, starting with a light meal for lunch on the first day and ending with breakfast on the final day. Sleeping bags, mats, helmets, rain gear and saddlebags are provided.

  • Exclusions:

    The price does not include alcoholic beverages, international flights, travel insurance and any additional activities outside the itinerary.



NEW! Secure your saddle seat NOW with a 10% deposit - as part of our 10x 10% payment plan!

The price includes all ground transportation throughout the riding tour, private bus transfers to and from the capital of Reykjavik on the first and last day of the tour, and full board during the tour, starting with a light meal for lunch on the first day and ending with breakfast on the final day. Sleeping bags, mats, helmets, rain gear and saddlebags are provided.

The price does not include alcoholic beverages, international flights, travel insurance and any additional activities outside the itinerary.

Accepted payment is by credit or debit card only. Depending on the ride you choose to book and your country of residence, there will be a 1.2% to 2.9% surcharge.

Click HERE to read more about our fees and charges.
Click HERE to read our recommendations on which cards are best to use to avoid international transaction fees.
With our riding destinations, the currency is dictated by our ride partner in that country. Therefore due to fluctuating exchange rates we have to quote in the same currency.


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*Please note, this is a suggested itinerary only and subject to change at the discretion of your guides due to weather and other influencing factors.

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  • Day 1

    You will catch a private bus to Varmahlíð where you’ll be met by your guides and taken to the cottages where you’ll be staying on days 1, 2 and 7. Here you’ll settle into your rooms and have a light lunch before you head to the stables and meet the much-anticipated mob of Icelandic horses for your FIRST ride on Icelandic terrain! {insert squeals of delight!}

    For your first ride, your guides will take you to the amazing natural paradise of the river delta of Héraðsvötn. The terrain offers the best possibilities to fully experience the gaits of the Icelandic horse, especially the famous tölt.

    After an exhilarating ride, you’ll enjoy dinner before taking a relaxing bath in the natural hot tub under a dusky night sky (it doesn’t get dark until 10pm). I think it will be this moment that you’ll pinch yourself just to make sure that all of this isn’t a DREAM.

    (Riding time: two to three hours)

  • Day 2

    Today is the beginning of your EPIC Icelandic adventure. After a long sleep and a good, hearty, stomach-sticking breakfast you’ll be driven to the stables, saddle the horses and, together with your herd of free-running horses, start your seven day riding adventure. The accompanying herd of Icelandic horses allows your group to change mounts during the day, so the horses can have a well-deserved rest and run free with their friends.

    Today you’ll ride along a low-traffic road towards the south, deeper into the valley. You will end the ride at the farm Breið, where your horses stay overnight. You’ll then drive back to the cottages. A hot shower, flushing toilets and WiFi will be available.

    (Approximately 25 kilometres = six to seven hours in the saddle.)

  • Day 3

    From Breið, you’ll head further south. Soon the last farms are left in your wake and all signs of civilisation disappear as the Icelandic wilderness takes over. Ahead looms the gleaming glacier Hofsjökull.

    You will be following the West Glacial River until you reach a remote mountain hut, Skiptabakkaskáli, in the late afternoon. The lush meadows on the verge of a canyon are a welcome treat for the horses. Running cold water is the extent of the luxuries in this charming cabin but ‘central heating’ is guaranteed since you’ll all be sleeping together in one room furnished with bunk beds! No hot showers, and a long-drop toilet.

    *If you prefer your own space and privacy, a tent is also available.

    (Approximately 25 kilometres = six to seven hours in the saddle.)

  • Day 4

    After breakfast at this charming, valley-perched cottage, you’ll prepare for an adventurous day. Today, the majestic glacier Hofsjökull dominates the horizon while you ride west along the river Vestari Jökulsá. The herd will expertly find its way across the stony, barren landscape of the highlands. You’ll encounter your first huge glacial river crossing, and once all the horses are safely on the other side, you’ll continue on to reach the hut Ingólfsskáli, located in the ancient lava field Lambahraun, only a few kilometres from the roots of the glacier!

    Basking in the surrounding tranquility, you will spend the evening together in your simple accommodation. No hot showers, and a long-drop toilet.

    (Approximately 35 kilometres = seven to eight hours in the saddle.)

  • Day 5

    Today you have a shorter day of riding to reach your destination, the cabin Laugafell. Riding on the border of Orravatnsrústir, you head to the bridge above the glacial river Austari Jökulsá. In the distance, the mountain Illviðrahnjúkur is emerging from the shadows of the ever-present glacier Hofsjökull. The geographical heart of Iceland is not far from the east side of this mountain. The winters in this area are extremely harsh and almost devoid of wildlife except for ravens and the arctic fox.

    Riding through the pristine, raw and rugged wilderness, you’ll head towards the cabin Laugafell, a true oasis in the centre of this desert. A steaming hot tub awaits to help you relax your weary bones and saddle-sore muscles. You’ll enjoy a blushing sunset while bathing in the hot tub, another pinch-yourself moment. Special treat: there is a hot shower and flushing toilet on offer!

    (Approximately 35 kilometres = five to six hours in the saddle)

  • Day 6

    Day six is one of the longest days of your riding adventure, so a hearty breakfast is a must! With stomachs filled to the brim, you and your mount will descend from the highland plateau down into the valley Hölknádalur. The scenery around you is stunningly beautiful and serene! You’ll ride along the river Hölkná, where once again you’ll admire the strength and agility of these Icelandic horses in such difficult terrain.

    As you approach the East Glacial River, the surrounding nature turns greener and more verdant; you’ll hear the common snipe and might get a glimpse of a ptarmigan (a type of bird). You’ll skirt the alpine streams decorated in willowherb and angelica (wild flowers) that rush down the mountains into the fast-flowing river.

    You’ll enjoy long trots through dwarf birch and blueberry bushes as you flank the raging, alpine river. This is a true highlight of the ride where you’ll gasp at the ever-changing vistas until you reach your final destination, a rustic hut called Hildarsel in Austurdalur Valley. No hot shower, and a long drop toilet.

    (Approximately 38 kilometres)

  • Day 7

    On your final day of riding, you’ll head north through the valley until you reach the remains of the turf farm Ábær and a tiny church. This place holds many stories about the lives of past generations. After a short stop, you’ll ride towards the breathtakingly dramatic Merkigil Gorge. On horseback, you will descend into the gorge and take a moment to observe the unique beauty of the pristine surroundings.

    From here you will ride on to your final destination, the farm Kelduland. Here you’ll say a VERY SAD farewell to the trusty Icelandic horses that carried you safely across the raw and rugged beauty of Iceland. You then drive back to cottages you stayed in on day one, where you’ll enjoy a farewell dinner and a last soak in the hot tub, while reminiscing about the lifelong memories you’ve made in the Icelandic wilderness. You’ll then return to a hot shower and flushing toilet.

    (Approximately 25 kilometres = six to seven hours)

  • Day 8

    After breakfast, you’ll say goodbye to your wonderful guides and hosts, who will undoubtedly become lifelong friends. You’ll then be transferred back to Reykjavik via private bus.

  • The difference between the Wilderness Expedition (W.E.) and the Touch of the Highlands Ride (T.O.H.) in a nutshell

    W.E. – stony underground, steep hillsides, long walking distances, close to glaciers, up in the highlands so fewer changes of scenery
    T.O.H – long soft riding trails, more changes between grassy landscape and stony underground
    W.E. – 3x nights at cottages, 4x nights in rustic mountain huts (often no running water, 1 room only)
    T.O.H – 5x nights at cottages, 1x night at mountain hut (with running water, hot showers, 2-4 person rooms)

    Hours in the saddle:
    W.E. – 7 to 8 hours per day *a high level of saddle fitness is required
    T.O.H – 4 to 6 hours per day

    W.E. – 8 days / 7 nights with 7 riding days
    T.O.H – 7 days / 6 nights with 6 riding days
  • Transfer Information

    We recommend guests arrive in Reykjavik, the capital of Iceland, one to two days prior to the start of your ride, so that you have time to recover from jet lag and have a look around this gorgeous city before heading off into the wilderness. On our exploratory trip to Iceland, we fell in LOVE with Reykjavik and can recommend a range of things to do.

    Private return bus transfers between Reykjavik and Varmahlíð (where the ride is located) are included in the ride price.

    You’ll be picked up in Reykjavik between 9-10am on day 1 of your ride (a specific meeting location and time will be provided by your hosts via email a week before your trip).

    You’ll arrive in Varmahlíð around 2pm where you’ll be met by your Icelandic guides and enjoy a light lunch before heading to the riding stable, which is located 8km outside of Varmahlíð. This will be your first glimpse into the world of the Icelandic horse culture.

    On day 8, you’ll be transported back to your Reykjavik accommodation, arriving between 2-4pm. Should you wish to begin your return journey home this day, you’ll be dropped off at the Flybus Airport bus stop where you’ll be able to make your own way to the airport. Please don’t book departing flights home before 8pm this evening.

  • More on Riding Ability

    On this Wilderness Expedition you’ll be riding no less than 25 to 30 kilometres per day (approximately seven to eight hours in the saddle per day) and therefore you need to be an accomplished rider who can handle a horse in open terrain at a fast canter. Please don’t take these guidelines lightly, as your riding ability will have a flow-on effect on your enjoyment of your riding experience in Iceland. This particular itinerary is not about the off-the-horse comforts, that’s for sure; it’s for the die-hard riders who are all about the adventure and the horses. Because of the speed and daily distances covered, you’ll be riding between two to three horses a day. The accompanying herd of around 30 to 40 horses will allow you to change horses up to three times throughout the day.

  • The Horses

    The Icelandic horse is a unique breed of smallish horse that came to Iceland with the first settlers from Norway 1,100 years ago. Archeological digs in Europe have revealed that the breed is a descendant of an ancient breed that is now extinct outside of Iceland.

    The Icelandic, as it is commonly referred to, is known for being sure-footed and able to navigate rough terrain with ease. It displays two gaits in addition to the typical walk, trot, and canter/gallop commonly displayed by other breeds. The first additional gait is a four-beat lateral ambling gait called the tölt. The tölt is known for its explosive acceleration and speed; it is also comfortable and ground-covering. The breed also performs a pace called skeið, or “flying pace”. Skeið is used in pacing races, and is fast and smooth, with some horses able to reach speeds of up to 50 kilometres per hour. It is not a gait for long-distance travel. The Icelandic horse comes in almost every imaginable colour, and the Icelandic language includes more than 100 names for the various coat colours and patterns.

    The Icelandic breed is extremely popular internationally, and for good reason: you need to ride these horses to understand. A sizeable population exists in Europe and North America, but NOTHING beats riding Icelandic horses in their natural habitat, Iceland. In their native country they have few diseases, and as a result Icelandic law prevents horses from being imported, and exported animals are not allowed to return. In Iceland, the breed continues to be used for farm work in addition to showing, racing and recreational riding.

What our valued Globetrotters say about the The Wilderness Expedition

Wilderness Expedition, Iceland - Globetrotting horse riding holidays

Julie York

‘The Icelandic Wilderness Expedition was everything I hoped for and more. The views of the glaciers were impressive. My daughter and I discovered the bliss of washing our faces in an ice cold glacial river and awed at the volcanic terrain that extended as far as the eye could see. Getting a taste of wild Icelandic weather was contrasted with blissfully dipping into a natural hot spring at the end of a long day. Accommodations in the highlands were tight and rustic, yet brimming with hospitality thanks to the effort of our guides and hands. They treated us like friends and family, not just as paying guests, and goodbyes were said with hugs and tears. We were also delighted to gain some new friends among the other guests and are already planning our next riding adventures together, which may very well include a return to Iceland!”

Wilderness Expedition, Iceland - Globetrotting horse riding holidays

Ryan Butler

‘The Icelandic Wilderness Expedition was the best trip of my life, and I travel abroad at least once a year! There are no words worthy enough for our guides – some of the best humans I have ever known. The level of trust I have in them after such a short time is remarkable. The horses are some of the most impressive I have had to the pleasure to ride, and experiencing so many personalities really made me a better rider. Between the city of Reykjavik, the tour itself, the staff, food, friendship, and of course the horses, this trip will change your life. The only downside is having to come back to reality when it ends!’

Wilderness Expedition, Iceland - Globetrotting horse riding holidays

Sarah Verschoor

‘The Icelandic Wilderness Expedition is truly an unforgettable, amazing, jaw dropping experience! The staff, horses, the food, the scenery, the accommodation – everything was amazing, and the amount of time and effort put into planning and preparing it really showed. I am so thankful for the whole team, and so grateful to have been able to take part in this incredible journey. The Icelandic horses are so special in their spirit and strength. I was amazed by their confidence and surefootedness across some very difficult terrain, and their tölt was very comfortable. It was truly a joy to ride these small but powerful horses!
I told the staff that I would be back and I intend to keep that promise! I will be dreaming about this ride until my next visit!’

The Wilderness Expedition, Iceland - Globetrotting horse riding holidays

Janice Maurer

‘The Icelandic Wilderness Expedition is one of a kind. I would highly recommend this ride to any adventurous soul. Mind you, this is a herding, camping, roughing-it style trip. No cell phone, no internet, truly off the grid, which I loved. Every day we rode different terrain and different horses. I didn’t have a favorite day, they were all perfect! The Icelandic horses constantly amazed me: strong, patient, surefooted, and they never ran out of energy. Each and every one of the guides and support staff were absolutely wonderful and we had a great group of globetrotters. We all became the best of friends. I will forever have special memories of this holiday.’

Wilderness Expedition, Iceland - Globetrotting horse riding holidays

Leanne Goodluck

‘The Icelandic horses were all great to ride and handle. The saddle I had was really comfortable, I didn’t have a sore bum at all! I absolutely loved the first afternoon ride when we all tölted for the first time. The delight shown by everyone was great to experience as a group, it was so much fun! If the stunning scenery, the gorgeus, sweet-tempered Icelandic horses, and riding with a herd of fifty horses towards a glacier doesn’t tempt you to join the Wilderness Expedition in Iceland, then riding a horse at a flat out tölt surely will! One of the best riding feelings ever! Well worth the cost.’

Wilderness Expedition, Iceland - Globetrotting horse riding holidays

Rosie Stroud

‘The highlight of the trip was riding with the herd of 70+ brave horses. Each horse I rode was incredible! We swapped horses up to three times a day and each one looked after me over rough and difficult terrain and had the sweetest nature. I now want an Icelandic horse – I would have bought one if I could get it back home!’

Sharon Rowles

‘The whole trek was a standout experience. I was happy with all the horses I rode. Such surefooted, willing, safe and affectionate wee souls. I loved the experience of all riding and being together. I felt included even before we set foot in the stirrups. Our guides, Nele, Gracina, Martin plus owner guides Hjalti and Magnus were all superb. Always fun, helpful and patient. Iceland is a very expensive destination; however, this ride was above and beyond what I expected, so I feel I had value for money, especially when you consider the high standards of the food, accommodation, tours, flights, horses, riding, etc.

Take the tölt and sign up for a ride in Iceland. Let Globetrotting handle the details. They will not disappoint.’

Kat Spencer

‘Since I’ve come back from Iceland, whenever anyone asks me anything about it, all I can say is ‘amazing’. I find it so hard to put my feelings into words. Every single part of the holiday was incredible. The horses were beautiful little beings with such character, who gave everything they had for you – they taught me to trust again. The landscape is awesome, so enormous it makes you feel very small and insignificant. The people were so friendly, knowledgeable and passionate about their country. I absolutely loved Iceland – amazing.’

Kathy Edgell

‘Everyone in Iceland was friendly, helpful and wonderful. The guides were amazing. They provide remarkable service and experience. Each horse has his/her own personality and I enjoyed changing horses to experience so many. The last day of riding was my favorite. It became green and the rivers and steep declines/inclines were awesome. All the food was amazing. Kate and Laura were great in providing detailed, helpful information!’