The Independent Parent: 'I would like to take my daughter riding in Iceland as a treat after she finishes her exams. Is this possible?'


Q I've heard that Iceland is a great destination for horse riding. I'd love to take our daughter on a riding holiday as a treat after her GCSEs. Could you give me some more information?

Q I've heard that Iceland is a great destination for horse riding. I'd love to take our daughter on a riding holiday as a treat after her GCSEs. Could you give me some more information?

M Vickers, via e-mail

A Iceland is a spectacular place. With a dramatic landscape consisting of remote mountain ranges, forests, glaciers, lava fields, rivers, lakes and beaches, there is certainly plenty to see. Geothermal activity is also a major feature of the island, and as a result, it is dotted with spectacular geysers, hot pools and bubbling fumaroles. In summer, the daily temperatures should be around 20ºC, although it is cooler in the evenings. In addition, from mid-May to the end of July, Iceland experiences almost round the clock daylight, so you'll be able to make the most of your time there.

Icelanders are extremely proud of their pure-bred native horses, which at an average height of 13 hands would be described by anyone else as ponies. Despite their stature they are incredibly strong and are capable of carrying grown men over long distances. They have their own "fifth gait" called the "tolt", best described as something between a trot and a canter, which is perfectly suited for covering the windswept terrain - although it does take a bit of getting used to.

You don't specify what type of riding holiday you would prefer - whether you would like to spend just a few hours riding each day, or whether you'd want to tackle something a little more challenging. Generally speaking, riders should be relatively experienced and fit in order to tackle longer trips, as you can be riding for up to six hours a day. But there are also plenty of more leisurely options for the less confident and those wanting to relax. For longer journeys, riders change horses two or three times a day so the ride is often accompanied by a herd of loose animals.

For longer trips, the companies I spoke to offer varying levels of basic accommodation on the trails. If a hot shower every day is important to you, check the exact facilities available before you book. Depending on the company, food is normally picnic lunches, with smoked fish and meat for dinner, but vegetarians can normally be catered for if you give advance notice.

Most tour operators in the UK can organise flights for you if you do not want to do it yourself. It's best to reserve these well in advance as they book up quickly for the summer months. Flights to Reykjavik with Icelandair (0870 787 4020; www.icelandair.co.uk) cost from around £140 return from London Heathrow and £150 return from Glasgow. Iceland Express (0870 850 0737; www.icelandexpress.com) also offers return fares from around £160 from London Stansted. It is also important that you get insurance for a riding holiday, for obvious reasons. You should always specify that your trip will involve horse riding or you might not be covered should you have a fall.

In the Saddle (0870 013 3983; www.inthesaddle.com) is a well-established company that offers three tours in Iceland, two of which can be booked during the school summer holidays. Its "Kjolur" itinerary, for example, passes glaciers, deserts, hot pools, rivers and the stunning Gullfoss waterfall as it traverses the country. An eight-night holiday will cost £1,080 per person and includes shared accommodation, all meals on the trail, a guide, entry fees where necessary, and all road and air transfers within Iceland. Meals, drinks and flights will cost extra. In the Saddle also offers a trip exploring the mountains and coast in the north of the country called "Forward to the Past". This costs £840 per person for six nights on the same basis. On these tours you will not be able to have a hot shower every day, but you have the option of washing in streams if you remember your biodegradable soap.

Discover the World (01737 214214; www.arctic-experience.co.uk) offers a seven-day "Golden Circle" tour. The cost of £1,262 per person includes flights from London Heathrow on Icelandair (add a £15 supplement if you are flying between 15 June and 14 August), transfers, five nights' full-board accommodation on the trail, two nights B&B in Reykjavik, and all riding equipment. The route takes in some of Iceland's most breathtaking scenery including mountains, lava fields, hot springs and the Gullfoss waterfall.

Icelandair can also tailor-make itineraries, including flights and any of the tours offered by the Icelandic company Ishestar (00 354 555 7000; www.ishestar.is), which generally works out cheaper than booking the flights and tour independently. For instance, it offers a four-night holiday visiting Gullfoss and the geysers of the same region for £756 per person, which includes return flights from London Heathrow, transfers, a night in Reykjavik and farmhouse accommodation while riding. It can combine any of the itineraries offered by Ishestar, ranging in length from a couple of hours to 12 days.

To soothe your aching muscles, make sure you plunge into the turquoise geothermal waters of the Blue Lagoon (00 354 420 880; www.bluelagoon.com) just outside Reykjavik in Grindavik. It opens daily from 9am to 9pm and admission costs Iceland Kronur 1,200 (£9) per adult and ISK600 (£4.50) for teenagers (aged 12-15), and is an unmissable part of a visit to Iceland.

The website www.visitreykjavik.is gives information on smaller tour operators in Iceland. For further information contact the Icelandic Tourist Board on 020-8391 4888 or go to www.icetourist.is.

Send your family travel questions to The Independent Parent, Travel Desk, The Independent, 191 Marsh Wall, London E14 9RS or email crusoe@independent.co.uk

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
Suited and booted in the Lanvin show at the Paris menswear collections
fashionParis Fashion Week
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Kara Tointon and Jeremy Piven star in Mr Selfridge
tvActress Kara Tointon on what to expect from Series 3
Voices
Winston Churchill, then prime minister, outside No 10 in June 1943
voicesA C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
News
i100
News
An asteroid is set to pass so close to Earth it will be visible with binoculars
news
News
Travel
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    Old Royal Naval College: ORNC Visitor Experience Volunteer

    Unpaid voluntary work: Old Royal Naval College: Join our team of friendly volu...

    Recruitment Genius: Customer Service / Sales Assistant

    £8 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This airport parking organisation are looking...

    Recruitment Genius: PCV Bus Drivers

    £8 per hour: Recruitment Genius: Do you enjoy bus driving and are looking for ...

    Ashdown Group: IT Support Technician - York

    £18000 - £20000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: IT Support Technician - Y...

    Day In a Page

    Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

    Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

    One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
    The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

    The enemy within

    People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
    'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

    'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

    Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
    Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

    Autumn/winter menswear 2015

    The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore
    'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

    'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

    Army general planning to come out
    Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

    What the six wise men told Tony Blair

    Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
    25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

    25 years of The Independent on Sunday

    The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
    Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
    Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

    Smash hit go under the hammer

    It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
    Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

    The geeks who rocked the world

    A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
    Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

    Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

    Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea
    America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

    America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

    These days in the US things are pretty much stuck where they are, both in politics and society at large, says Rupert Cornwell
    A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

    A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

    A veteran of the Fifties campaigns is inspiring a new generation of activists
    Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

    Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

    A C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
    Growing mussels: Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project

    Growing mussels

    Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project