Riding on horseback through a lava field at sunrise, has to be one of the most incredible ways to experience the natural beauty of Iceland.
I’ve always had a passion for animals. I love playing with them, watching them and getting completely engrossed in their personality. So when I learned that Iceland is home to the petite Icelandic Horse , a breed unique to Iceland, that is incredibly strong, I immediately decided I would learn to ride a horse in Iceland. I knew I had to get as close as I could to these majestic creatures and what better way to learn, than riding through the snowy trails of Iceland!
After a little bit of research I came across Íshestar Riding Centre which offered a good selection of tours that included various levels of riding experience…so I wouldn’t feel shamed by being in a strictly beginners group. After seeing pictures of all the scenic tours they offered, we opted to take the morning Lava Tour which would take us through Icelands lava fields and last for about 4.5 hours.
The tour officially started with a pick up at our hotel and a drive to the riding center. Íshestar Riding Centre has some of the most beautiful facilities we’ve come across. It’s set in beautiful mountainous surroundings just outside the town of Hafnarfjörður, about 10 minutes drive from Reykjavík. Although other actives are offered (hiking and mulit day tours) the horse back riding was perfect for us…it was kind of like we were hiking, just on the back of a horse :)
Getting Our Icelandic Horse
Before we could meet the horses, we were shown a short instructional video that gave us a glimpse of what our day looked like and several safety tips. Following the video, we were taken to the dressing rooms, where we were given insulated suits to wear. Although you don’t have to wear the suits, I strongly recommend it, especially if you’re visiting during winter! Make sure to keep on any sweaters, scarfs and warm apparel you have underneath. I made the mistake of taking off my wool sweater and gloves, thinking the insulated outfit would be enough, I have never been more wrong. About half way through, I felt completely frozen!
Once we were property dressed, we made our way to the horses. As it is very important to bond with your horse and form a friendship of sorts, we all spent some time walking around the stables getting to know our horse and praciting how to use the reigns. After a few hilarious attempts of trying to get in my saddle, I finally made it up and we were off.
Riding Through The Lava Fields
Riding through lava fields just after sunrise, on the back of an Icelandic Horse was the perfect way to learn how to ride. I sat on this beautiful horse for several hours as he galloped around in freezing temperatures, carrying my weight around. I respect that. Eventually we were split off into groups, where the experienced riders could go at their own pace and the beginners could take it easy. We were taken along trails through the lava fields which were covered with a fresh coat of snow and the sun rising in the distance. Although windy and cold, it was a really clear sunny day and the rustic views of Iceland were stunning. We came across little cottages, natural flowing rivers and even saw a proposal.
Our time with Ishestar was memorable and scenic. These creatures truly were fascinating and full of so much personality, not to mention beauty. I can’t wait to come back to Iceland in warmer climates and visit Ishestar again. If you’re looking for cool way to see the countryside of Iceland, horseback riding is the way to go!
Practical Information About The Tour
- 8:30 - 9:00 AM Pick up from hotel
- 9:15 Arrive at the riding center and watch a brief instructional video followed by getting dressed into your rain gear
- 9:45 Horse bonding time
- 10:00 Set out on the trails for 2 hours of horseback riding through the lava fields
- 12:00 A home made lunch is served at the end of your ride for a small fee
- 12:30 Back in the van, for the ride back to your hotel in Reykjavik
Tips & Notes
- If it’s during the winter, make sure you dress warmly. The center offers insulated onesies but makes sure you’re layered up underneath! and don't forget to bring a beanie to wear under your helmet.
- The Lava Tour is offered twice a day, at 10AM and 2PM.
- Although the tour starts at 10 AM, pickup from your hotel begins at 8:30AM and you will visit other hotels to pick up other passengers.
- This ride is perfect for beginners. If you're a more experienced rider, there are options throughout the tour to venture with another guide for a more fast paced experience.
For more information about Ishestar or to book a tour, visit their website below: