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Arctic Horseback Expeditions

About

In the very Northwest of Iceland, surrounded by the waves of the North Atlantic Sea and the icecap of Drangajökull glacier, nestled in the mountain valley of Skjaldfannadalur is our sheep and horse farm Laugarholt.

Here the horses have been used for hundreds of years to gather the sheep down from the mountains in autumn before the winter storms arrive and the sun disappears behind the glacier for a couple of months. The grazing land is rough and steep so only the most sure-footed and reliable horses are suitable for these conditions.

For over twenty years we have offered nature-lovers and horse enthusiasts the opportunity to discover the wild and unique fjord landscape in the north of our farm in the most special way – on horseback alongside pack horses and a free running herd, as our fore-fathers have travelled for centuries.

This region was abandoned by the last settlers more then 50 years ago – due to its isolation life was just too hard here for year round occupants. Now nature has reclaimed the area. Here we can find many sub-arctic flora and fauna, which are unique in Iceland. There is a large variety of sea birds, ground nesting and cliff dwelling birds. White tailed sea eagles are not uncommon and as arctic foxes cross our path, seals lie relaxing on the rocks in the sunshine. The vegetation of the coastline varies continuously, from barren mountain plateaus to richly coloured flower meadows.

This is a circular tour around the magnificent Drangajökull icecap. We follow ancient routes over mountain passes and through abandoned farmland, cross rivers and fjords, soak in hot springs and on the final day we trek across the Drangajökull glacier! In these vast tracts of uninhabited land you can lose yourself in the wilderness and feel your insignificance in comparison to such mind-blowing forces of nature. In the valleys we meet former settlers and their descendants, who spend the summer in seclusion. We enjoy their hospitality and listen to stories from the old days.

The vulnerable vegetation, the narrow paths and the limited accomodation mean that groups need to remain small (generally 6 people and 2 guides). Because of this it soon becomes a supportive, friendly and familiar atmosphere, where everybody gets to know each other well. Every participant is an important member of the group and gives his contribution to the success of the tour.

All the equipment must be carried on horseback because in this area there are no roads and therefore there is no vehicle support. We stay in old farm houses which have been modificated into basic sleepingbag accommodation by the former settlers and on two nights in a traditional communal tent (teepee).

SVAÐILFARI is a family business. Thórður Halldórsson is the guide on each tour, always supported by an experienced friend or relative. His wife Dúna takes the bookings, organises and packs and welcomes the guests on the farm. Ása, Thórðurs mother, is an expert in preparing traditional Icelandic food and provides the expeditions with homemade specialities.