Horse riding vacation in Iceland, 5 days
£1555 excluding flights
Description of Horse riding vacation in Iceland, 5 days
2021: 30 Sep
As the pioneers of responsible tourism, we've screened this (and every) vacation so that you can travel knowing it will help support the places and people that you visit, and the planet. Read how below.
PlanetIt is hard to travel to Iceland sustainably. You either must come by boat or aeroplane, both of which have high emissions. We encourage our clients to consider the environmental policies of the airline they choose as a factor not just price. Once you are are in Iceland, you can take steps to minimise your footprint. What more sustainable way of traveling than on a breed of horse native to the area in a country whose national energy policy is to capture power directly from geysers. No carbon fuels are consumed which means crystal clear air; good for you, good for your photos and good for everyone else!
The food that is served on this trip inspired by traditional Icelandic cuisine and revolves around typical Icelandic ingredients. Wherever possible, we source our food locally and much of our produce is grown in the town of Hveragerši, less than 2 km from the hotel where you will be staying farm Vellir. Meat and fish are supplied by farmers and fishermen in the area. All this helps reduce the carbon footprint of the food eaten by importing as little as possible.
We ensure our clients know there is no need to buy bottled water in Iceland. There is clean water in abundance, and the water from the tap is everywhere good enough for drinking. Many rivers also have water you can drink from. By bringing your own bottle and filling it yourself, you help reducing litter as well as the overall carbon footprint of Iceland.
The accomodation that is used along the way takes into consideration the water and waste management with a focus on renewable resources. One of the lodges we use as our accommodation was the first lodging in Iceland to receive the Nordic eco label – the Nordic swan which demonstrates that the building process and the daily operations follow strict ecological guidelines.
Much of Iceland has a fragile eco system easily damaged so the rides are always small groups, headed by trained guides and kept to defined trails. The guides we hire have a sound knowledge of the ecology, geology, plants and animals of the area. They have many insights into the remarkable flora and fauna of Iceland but will also remind the riders not to stray from the trail onto the delicate mountainside causing erosion.
Sometime around the year 900 AD Norsemen brought horses to Iceland from Scandinavia, and thus began the distinctive breed that we know today. Natural selection due to the harsh climate, coupled with selective breeding, has moulded a resilient, multi-purpose horse. The breed society was established in 1904. The ranch we use has about 300 horses which include riding horses, stallions, brood mares and young stock. For the last 5 years the ranch has been involved with a first class structured breeding program. The goal is to breed top riding horses—suitable for both riding pleasure and producing well-gaited riding horses that are physically strong and full of stamina.
The quality of life that the horses have is exemplary. The young horses grow up in large meadow expanses and diverse landscapes, where hillocks and hills, brooks and rivers and lakes are part of their everyday experience. In summer and autumn, all the young horses are together, from foals up to 4-year-olds, along with the breeding mares.
On the rides the horse is always respected. There are 3 horses used per person per day so that each horse has a rest. When a horse is not being ridden it runs freely with the other horses so remains part of the herd. English saddles and snaffle bits are used as they are comfortable for horse and rider. The bridles have detachable nose-bands and clips on the end of the reins so they can be easily removed when grazing. Most of the horses get a well deserved break at the end of the riding season they are let out into the endless fields as part of a herd. Some stay at the ranch a little longer for the for the winter rides.
PeopleWe are acutely aware of the economic, ecological and ethical impact tourism should have on indigenous communities and fragile environments. Although riding is a form of transport that is gentle on the environment and supports a long culture and tradition it still needs to be undertaken with care.
The horse is a vital part of traditional Viking culture which is rich in sagas that date from around this time and there are frequent references to horses. The stables we use are actively involved in a breeding program that is ensuring the survival of the Icelandic horse and thus an important part of Icelandic culture. We feel we are supporting the traditions of Iceland on this trip where travelers will hear stories and learn lots about the role of the horse in Icelandic culture.
The ranch we use on this trip hires local people to work. For many of the people working on the ranch riding and horses are their passion and they supplement the income generated in the riding months by having other jobs in the winter
In addition we support the local economy by using locally run and owned farm house and stables. The environmental policy of the ranch encourages recycling of water, waste management, use for renewable resources and uses locally grown organic products and offers home cooking which in turn supports the local growers and provides employment.
The guides we use not only have knoledge of local flora and fauna but have also undertaken safety training. These skills are put to good use on the rides but are also transferable skills for those seeking employment outside the riding season.
Before our clients travel we issue them with a Field Manual which has information in it to encourage travel in an culturally and environmentally aware manner. For example reminding people that ''Used boots, riding wear, helmets, saddlebags etc., must be disinfected before arrival in Iceland and why to reminding people not to pick up rocks as little souvenirs of their ride and why. We also ensure people know the water in Iceland is of a good quality and to refill bottles on their ride rather than using bottled water.