Snaefellsnes Beach Ride

Ishestar offers a  riding tour on Snaefellsnes peninsula, where over 100km of the 4 or 6 day ride is on the beach at low tide. Its usually around 20 riders with over 100 horses, and the sight of a free-running herd over the never-ending sand is one you’d never forget.

Snaefellsnes beach ride

Snaefellsnes beach ride

The ride starts at Stóri-Kálfalækur farm, with the Icelandic cowboy Siggi and his staff. There are dogs running around and children playing everywhere you look, and it´s hard to keep track of who is who is Siggi´s family or friend circle. But noone ever forgets his wife Ólöf, who manages to cook up the most delicious food and stuff us to the brim with every home-cooked meal.

happy riders

happy riders

We ride into the mountains and valleys on the first couple of days, where its normal to be eaten alive by midgle flies, but a fly-net can solve most of your problems, except when you want to eat and youre not sure if you should lift the net over your mouth to take a bite (which may include a midge or two) or just shove the sandwich inside the net too.

low tide

low tide

It rained alot on our week-long ride, but we didn´t mind since we got wet anyway with the splash of seawater from the horse hooves running around us. There were a few deep rivers we had to cross, and we didn´t bother to lift our feet since our boots were filled with water already.

nearly swimming

nearly swimming

The rain was also a relief from the flies, and dry weather would have caused alot of dust, so the grey skies and calm winds really made the trip perfect for me. I made alot of new friends, both horses and people, and sometimes had to pinch myself to remember this wasn´t a dream… just my dream job.

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Thorsmork Riding Trips

 

rainbow over Þórsmörk

rainbow over Þórsmörk

Ishestar offers a 3 day riding trip into the famous nature reserve, Þórsmörk in Iceland. Its usually a popular hiking destination, but why walk when you can ride? I went as a guide for the first 2 trips with Kiddi from Eyvindarmuli farm, along with 12-15 riders, and I don´t think I´ll ever go back without a horse. We were able to ride where even the biggest jeeps had problems going, like the big glacial river Krossá. We also rode into the steep, narrow gorges hidden in the mountains around, and slept both nights at Volcano huts, complete with a barrel sauna and hot pool… well, actually more like a luke warm puddle.

river crossing

river crossing

I took two of my horses with me, one for me and one for the guests, and Þór ended up being a guest favourite twice. My Mjölnir had a bit of spring fever, but was wonderful to have along. The herd was about 50 horses strong, and they all had a bit of spring fever. I think we had 3 fall offs, one from the staff who ended up knocking herself unconscious. We knew she was ok when we ran up to her, lifeless, but snoring, so still breathing.

Þórsmörk

Þórsmörk

There´s an onsite masseuse and yoga teacher, who holds classes in a small circus tent outside that they heat up with stones. There´s also an onsite chef who cooks the most amazing food for hungry hikers and riders, which is always ready when you come in cold, wet and/or tired. But luckily we had pretty dry weather, although the deep river crossings got us wet anyway, but then the sun peeked out at all the right moments to warm us up and brighten all the green fields and forests.

There are a few 6 day trips that go past Thorsmork and into Landmanalaugar or Lákagigar with Kiddi, and going on this Thorsmork trip just makes you want more so I guess thats the next step. If you want to join me on a tour, come to the east to west Power of Creation tour in August.

horse change

horse change

Lithuania loves Iceland, Basketball, and Dill

Trakai Castle

Trakai Castle

Iceland was the first country to recognize Lithuania´s independence from the former Soviet, and they´re still really happy about that even though everyone else also followed suit. There´s a street in the Old Town named Iceland street, and it has a plaque commemorating the event on February 11, 1991. It´s not a very long street, but its packed with bars and nightclubs, so the street turns into party central until the wee hours every morning.

I couchsurfed in Vilnius with a tiny Lithuanian artist, who especially loves Iceland, and we spent most of our time together talking about Icelandic music and drinking Lithuanian beer. I met some of her friends and then collectively we made more friends, and one of them was working at a Medieval festival in Trakai, the former Lithuanian capital and an important medieval town. We went horse back riding there, under some strange angel totem poles, and enjoyed the view over the water to Trakai castle while larpers fought with swords nearby.

riding some big horses

riding some big horses

It was really summery in Lithuania, my allergies as proof, so I wanted to go to the beach. There´s a coastal town 3 and a half hours away from Vilnius called Klaipeda, but I didn´t realize the Baltic weather would be similar to Reykjavik. It was grey, rainy and barely 12°C, and even the wind started blowing so locals disappeared into the warmth of their houses whiles I wandered around an empty town and a half-stocked market. The actual port was cozy, even in the bad weather, but I was there all alone and wasn´t sure I should hop on the next ferry or just turn around and go back inland.

Kaunas

Kaunas

I decided to take the next bus to Kaunas, the second biggest city in Lithuania, 100km away from Vilnius. The weather improved and so did the number of people, and since it was a Friday night right after the local basketball team had won the National championship, it became a huge crowd, filling the streets and bars, and the skies with fireworks and green smoke. Lithuanians love basketball, more than Americans love NBA, and it must have something to do with the tall people. There aren´t that many, but the ones who are tall, are a lot taller. I also noticed that Lithuanians were all pretty good-looking people, and the grandmas are even cuter than Russian babushkas. I could barely take my eyes of them, which became a problem near the markets, since they all stand or squat on the side of the road holding a handful of either flowers or dill for sale. I don´t know how long it took them to sell one bunch, or how much money they got for it, but I guess it must be one form of retirement that´s working out.

one of the many newlyweds

one of the many newlyweds

They also love dill in Lithuania, the smell of it pouring out of every traditional kitchen. Every single produce vendor sold dill, and even though I don´t usually eat it, I made an exception and eventually started to like the taste of it. Lithuanians also love to get married on the first summer Saturday, which was apparently June 7 this year. I saw atleast 20 brides in Vilnius, and every church I passed had rose petals scattered all over the entrance. The limousines and beautiful bridesmaids hid behind every corner, and I actually stopped one local to find out it there was a movie being filmed or if there really were this many weddings that day.

Roadtrip Westfjords

Rauðasandur

Rauðasandur

Day 1: Steve, Liv and I packed up my rusting Kia jeep and left Reykjavik around 10:30. The car was full with sleeping bags, tents, food, rain clothes and eventually some firewood, but we tried to save room for a hitch-hiker. We had a few other to-do’s on our list, like hottubbing every day, summiting a mountain, making a campfire and one of us had to kiss a tourist. We had a slow start, stopping in Akranes and Borgarnes for our last doses of civilization, and then hiked to the top of a volcano in Bifröst.

our home and transport

home

We took route 60 north, stopping in Reykjadalur for our first hottub stop, Grafarlaug. There was a dirt road all the way to it, but we didn´t see it and hiked in past the sheep round-up pen. It has 3 different pools, around 20°, 30°, and 40°C, all filled with slimey green algae that must do wonderful things for your skin. We continued north, past Búðardalur, to Laugar, where we bathed in another hottub named Guðrúnarlaug, which wasn´t quite as comfortable at only 35 or 36°. We met two other tourists there, one which we tried to take with us, but after failing, we set up camp at the tip of Fellströnd and named it Camp Charlie.

Pollurinn

Pollurinn

Day 2: We ate breakfast near Dagverðarnes (which means the peninsula of breakfast, appropriately), and drove along Skarðsströnd to finally reach the Westfjörds, All of the islands and islets in Breiðafjörður grew and shrank with the changing tides, and our next stop was at Hellulaug, a 38°C hottub right on the beach. We went sea-swimming and shared the hottub with some Swedish tourists, and then bathed at Krosslaug, another hottub right on the sea with a 35°C pool beside it.

Krosslaug

Krosslaug

We then drove to the most westernmost part of the westfjords (which is also the westernmost part of Iceland… and Europe), and watched the penguins dance around at Látrabjarg. We set up our Camp Midnight somewhere off route 612, and managed to make another fire from scrap wood we stile from Ásgarður.

our breakfast beach

our breakfast beach

Day 3: We made breakfast on the beach below our camp, before meeting the landowner we didn´t know existed who asked us nicely not to poop anywhere on his land. We daytripped to Rauðasandur, a beach with such blue waters you´d believe you were in the Caribbean. We swam next at Patreksförður´s public pool and had our first real shower in days, and then bathed at the natural hottubs ‘Pollurinn’ in Tálknafjörður. Without revealing any incriminating details, we then set up Camp Threesome in the town´s campsite.

Day 4: We decided to change things up a bit and dip into a glacier river. Underneath the farm Foss (which means waterfall), we ran into the waterfall spray and luckily had the sun to airdry ourselves. Then we spent the entire day having a pool party at Reykjafjarðarlaug, a huge warm pool with a hotter, muddy hottub in the grass above. It was like a scene from Coachella, a bunch of foreign hipsters, a boom box and a full bar, but set in the dramatic westjords, which happened to be sunny and warm for the first time on our roadtrip.

Reykjarfjarðarlaug pool party

Reykjarfjarðarlaug pool party

Day 5: We woke up at the edge of the westfjords, and took down our Camp Forest which was sheltered well from the wind, but not the heavy raindrops that started to leak through our $20 tent. We warmed up at Djúpidalslaug with the family of the owners, then got invited into their barn to check out some sheep, the new-born late comers of the season. One pair was only a few hours old, still covered in yukky stuff, and the mothers were clearly getting stir crazy from still being locked up inside.

We tried to bathe at the end of the road in Reykjanes, but both pools were closed at Reykjhólar and Laugaland has been abandoned and turned cold. Liv had a driving lesson on the way back, as well as some 5 year old kid we passed driving a tractor, and then we finished our roadtrip with a little educational stop at the Settlement exhibit in Borgarnes, Landnámssetur Íslands.

We never got our hitch hiker, but we managed to complete all our other to-do’s. Me, Liv and Steve are leaving for another roadtrip along the south coast next week, s perhaps we’ll find one then.

Patreksfjörður

Patreksfjörður´s airport