Horses, Lava Fields and Snow: The Rest of Iceland, IMG CreD: Tom Johansmeyer

There are Vast Expanses of Volcanically Sculpted Landscape


When you go to Iceland, Reykjavik tends to be the focus. Two thirds of the country’s people live in or around the city, leaving Iceland with one of the lowest population densities in (at least) the developed world. What does this mean in real terms? Much of Iceland is empty. There are vast expanses of volcanically sculpted landscape with a feel that pushes past foreign to alien. You really need to see it.

On my recent trip to Reykjavik, I decided to take a look at what’s going on outside the city, aside from the bus ride to and from the airport in Keflavik. Having seen the scenery from the road, I was eager to get closer.

To do this, I booked an excursion with Is Hestar (“Ice Horses”). The tour company picked me up at my hotel and whisked me away to the ranch, giving me yet another view of the tundra I’d soon be traversing.

Is Hestar has a number of horseback tours available and can accommodate a wide range of rider experience. I’d only been on a horse once before, in much different conditions (on a beach in Los Cabos), and I still felt safe and comfortable the whole time with Is Hestar.

The ride, which lasted around an hour and a half, treated me to the stunning landscapes for which Iceland is famous. We rode through the snow, absorbing the mountain-ringed desolate countryside, dotted by the occasional house and illuminated by a beautiful setting sun in the early afternoon. My horse, whose name I can’t remember and could never pronounce, guided me easily, and with little effort on my part.

When you book a flight to Iceland and book a winter horseback tour with Is Hestar, be sure to dress for the occasion. The guides provided helmets and warm, thick jumpsuits, but you’ll still need a hat, gloves, thick socks (definitely) and boots. It gets cold out on the tundra, and I did start to feel it in my toes by the middle of the ride.

There’s more to Iceland than Reykjavik, and to understand the country and the people, you need to see and feel the conditions that have been shaping them for more than a thousand years. The only way to do this is to get out of town and explore it intimately. Hop on a horse, and treat yourself to a personal connection with the forces that have made Iceland what it is today.



Photo: Tom Johansmeyer

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