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8-Day Horse & Sheep Gathering Tour in Iceland | Highlands, Golden Circle, Snæfellsnes Peninsula & Whale Watching

Overview

Combine breathtaking nature with authentic culture on this 8-day tour. Travel around the untouched Highland region of Iceland, explore the high seas on a whale-watching tour, and take part in the ancient tradition of gathering sheep and Icelandic horses from the mountains. If you’re an animal lover, you won’t want to miss this unforgettable wildlife vacation. 

On this tour, you will also get to explore the attractions found on the Golden Circle route and the Snæfellsnes Peninsula, and hunt for the elusive Northern Lights in the evening. Not only that, those looking for some geothermal relaxation on their holiday can add a visit to the exclusive Blue Lagoon Spa during the booking process.

All transportation and accommodations will be taken care of before you arrive; this includes farm stays and a night in a mountain hut in the Highlands. Also included is a whale watching tour from the Snæfellsnes Peninsula, and an opportunity to participate in an ancient Icelandic custom of sheep and horse gathering, called ‘réttir’.

In the summer, Icelandic horses and sheep roam free around the countryside, grazing on fresh grass and herbs. Each autumn, they are rounded-up from their pastures in the Highlands to a corral where they can be claimed by their owners. ‘Réttir’ is part of an age-old tradition in Iceland which still lives on today, and participating is a unique opportunity not many get to take.

Experience ancient traditions, amazing wildlife and beautiful nature this autumn with this 8-day tour. Book now to secure your spot. 

Departures

– 9th to 16th of September 2020

Included

  • 6-day small group guided tour (Max 10 passengers)
  • 5 nights in countryside accommodation (breakfast included, private bathroom)
  • 2 nights of accommodation in Reykjavik (different levels available; breakfast included for Comfort and Quality levels; more details in accommodation tab)
  • Whale Watching tour
  • Professional local English speaking guide
  • Airport transfers (Arrival and Departure)
  • Northern Lights hunting
  • Detailed Itinerary with fun and practical information on the nature, history and culture of Iceland
  • Hands-on travel agent to oversee your itinerary
  • Taxes

Not included

  • Flights to/from Iceland
  • Personal travel insurance
  • Meals & drinks (unless otherwise stated)
  • Any services not listed as “Included”

Itinerary

You’ll arrive at Keflavík International Airport, located in the middle of a lava field on the Reykjanes Peninsula. Once you’ve collected your bags, hop aboard a bus which will take you to Iceland’s capital, Reykjavík. 

If you want to start your holiday off with a bang, you can add a visit to the Blue Lagoon on this day during the booking process. The luxurious spa is located midway between the airport and the city, and it provides weary travellers much-needed relief and relaxation in the form of geothermal waters and silica mud masks. 

After checking into your accommodation in Reykjavík, you can explore the city a little before heading to bed. We recommend seeing the light display at Harpa Concert Hall or checking out a concert or show at one of the many pubs and bars found in the downtown area. 

 

Highlights:

  • Reykjanes Peninsula – a dark lava field you’ll travel through on your way to Reykjavík
  • Reykjavík – Iceland’s colourful and energetic capital

Optional Activities:

  • Visiting the Blue Lagoon Spa

Hraunfossar waterfall with turquoise glacial water from Langjökull forming the Hvítá river

After an early pickup in Reykjavik capital we are headed towards Snæfellsnes Peninsula. Our first stop will be in the rift valley of Þingvellir National Park, which should already be in the autumn colours and therefor one of the most beautiful sights on the island during this time of year.

Leaving the national park we will drive through the highlands of Kaldidalur or the Cold Valley, passing Langjökull glacier. We will have lunch in Húsafell. Hraunfossar is next on the itinerary, amazing waterfalls that come to life from underneath the lava field Hallmundarhraun. Barnafossar are close by with the glacier river Hvítá running through.

In good time we will enter the Snæfellsnes Peninsula were we will make several stops until we reach your hotel in the area. Northern lights lookout after dinner.

Highlights:

  • Þingvellir National Park – Meeting place of two tectonic plates
  • Langjökull Glacier – Iceland’s second-largest glacier
  • Hraunfossar – A series of trickling waterfalls that come from under a lava field.
  • Barnafoss – A rapid waterfall which rushes through a narrow gorge.

Optional Activity:

  • Viðglemir Lava Cave

Kirkjufell mountain view across a lake in the west of Iceland on the Snæfellsnes peninsula

The beautiful Snæfellsnes Peninsula is on your itinerary today. The area is known for inspiring novels, its mystical energy, and stunning beauty.

Your first stop is in the little village of Arnarstapi. Here, you’ll find rugged cliffs, stunning mountains, and rich history which your guide will tell you all about. Then it is off to explore the massive Lóndrangar rock stacks where hundreds of guillemots and kittiwakes nest and raise their chicks. 

You will then walk through a natural labyrinth of lava rocks to get to the beautiful black pebble beach of Djúpalónssandur. Amongst the smooth, black stones are the remains of a fishing trawler which perished in these treacherous waters more than 50 years ago.

You will have lunch in the town of Ólafsvík before setting your sights on the high seas. At Ólafsvík’s harbour, you’ll board a whale-watching boat and search for these gentle giants for the next three hours. 

Once you reach shore again, you’ll head to the nearby Grundarfjörður town to take a few photos of its iconic landmark; the mountain Kirkjufell. This majestic feature served as “the Mountain like an Arrowhead” in the HBO TV show, Game of Thrones. 

After dinner, you’ll head back to your accommodation.  

Highlights:

  • Arnarstapi – A charming fishing village surrounded by beautiful nature
  • Lóndrangar – Massive rock pillars which rise high out of the ocean
  • Djúpalónssandur – A stunning black pebble beach hidden in a little cove
  • Kirkjufell – A majestic pyramid-shaped mountain
  • Whale-watching in Faxaflói

Today after breakfast, you’ll hop aboard the comfortable 4×4 vehicle and follow the coastline north. You will spend the morning by the ocean, spotting seals by the massive rock stack, Hvítserkur. 

Today, you will participate in the annual gathering of sheep or ‘réttir’. Icelandic sheep spend their summers roaming free around the countryside, grazing on fresh grass and herbs. In the autumn, farmers on horseback herd them from the plateaus and into a sorting fold called Hamarsrétt.

Here, farmers and other helping hands begin sorting the sheep. The lambs were carefully marked in the spring to make the sorting easier. If you wish, you can help out wrestling the sheep. Alternatively, you can sit back and enjoy the scene, perhaps taking part in the singing and drinking, which often accompanies these events. 

Once the sheep have been sorted, you will head to a nearby farm called Ósar, where you will have dinner and spend the night.

Highlights:

  • Hvítserkur Rock – A 15 meter’s high monolith which some say resembles a dragon or elephant.
  • Vatnsnes Peninsula – Here, you can find a black pebble beach where seals can often be found lounging.
  • Sheep Gathering or ‘Réttir’ – The annual collection of sheep from the mountain, an ancient tradition in Iceland.

The age-old tradition of rounding up horses in the autumn is only kept alive in North Iceland. Much like the sheep, Icelandic horses roam the countryside in the summer. They are only brought back to the stables in the autumn. 

Now it is time to bring hundreds of free-spirited horses down from their grazing pastures in the Highlands so their owners can reclaim them. Once down from the mountains, they will be herded into the Skrapatungurétt corral where the sorting begins. 

Just like yesterday, you can help out or just observe if that’s more your speed. And remember, singing along with the other observers is always encouraged. 

You will then spend another night at the Ósar farm. If the sky is clear and you are not too tired after the day, you can head out to hunt for the northern lights before retiring for the night.

Highlights:

  • Horse Gathering or ‘Stóðréttir’ – You’ll witness hundreds of Icelandic horses coming from the mountains.
  • Northern Lights Hunting – If the sky is clear of clouds, you’ll go out and search for the dancing, green lights.

Today, you’ll explore the Icelandic Highlands where you’ll spend the night in a mountain hut surrounded by nothing but the untouched nature.

On your way there, you’ll travel on gravel roads through black sand deserts, seeing glaciers, volcanoes and geothermal areas. You’ll spend the day in Hveradalir valley where you can hike amongst the rust-colour mountains and pillars of white steam. 

You will end the day in a mountain hut surrounded by the mountain range, Kerlingarfjöll, located between the glaciers Hofsjökull and Langjökull. The uninhabited area is the perfect spot to look for the northern lights in the evening. 

Highlights:

  • Kjölur – A gravel road which stretches across the Icelandic Highlands
  • Hveradalir – A geothermal region filled with colourful mountains, bubbling mud pools, and steam vents.
  • Kerlingarfjöll Mountains – A vast mountain range named after a troll woman

You’ll wake up among the mountains, but now it is time to return to the city. First, however, you will visit two of the attractions that make up the Golden Circle along with Þingvellir National Park. 

Your first stop is the waterfall Gullfoss. This beautiful feature drops 32-metres into a canyon, resulting in a cloud of mist in which you can often see a rainbow. Then it is off to Geysir Geothermal Area where you’ll find the iconic geyser, Strokkur. This erupting hot spring goes off every 5-10 minutes, creating a 15-20 metre high water column each time.

Before being dropped off in Reykjavík, you will then stop at a local farm where you will have lunch and learn about farm life in Iceland. After you’ve bid farewell to your guide, you will have the rest of the day to explore the city. 

Highlights:

  • Gullfoss Waterfall – A stunning cascade fed by Langjökull Glacier.
  • Geysir Geothermal Area – Here, you’ll find bubbling mud pools and erupting geysers
  • Strokkur – Iceland’s most active geyser 

Optional Activities:

  • Snowmobiling on Langjökull

Women in the silky blue waters of the blue lagoon in Iceland with smoke in the background

Now it is time to pack your bags and return to Keflavík Airport. When it is time to leave, you’ll board a bus which will take you through the lava fields of the Reykjanes Peninsula in time for your flight. 

If you have an afternoon or evening flight, you will have some time to explore Reykjavík first. We recommend walking down Laugavegur Street to see where the sights and sounds take you. Here, you’ll find fascinating museums, colourful buildings, quirky cafés, and perhaps a souvenir to take home. 

Alternatively, you can opt for a relaxing visit to the Blue Lagoon. The mineral-rich waters are sure to soothe aching muscles you might have after days on the road. Afterwards, you’ll hop on a bus that will take you straight to the airport.

Highlights:

  • Laugavegur Street – Reykjavík’s main shopping street
  • Hallgrímskirkja Church – The city’s iconic landmark building
  • Harpa Concert Hall – A beautiful structure located by the harbour

Optional Activities:

  • Relaxing at the Blue Lagoon

Accommodation

You’ll have a choice of three accommodations levels. See details about each one in the boxes below. Accommodations in Reykjavík have been hand-picked by our local travel experts.

Single rooms will be allocated to bookings for one person. Shared twin/double or triple room(s) will be arranged for two or more people. Groups with an odd number of participants will be allotted a single room in quality-level. Children and teenagers will be arranged in the same room as their parents. Additional cost may occur if additional room(s) is needed.

For this tour, the levels reflect the choice of accommodations in Reykjavík. Accommodations outside of the capital cannot be upgraded and therefore the levels below do not apply. The accommodations outside of Reykjavík all include a private bathroom and breakfast. We do our best to accommodate special requests, but additional costs may incur.

Rooms in three-star hotels or quality guesthouses, very close to popular attractions. Private bathroom and breakfast included.

Rooms in four-star hotels or superior rooms in quality three-star hotels at fantastic locations near popular attractions. Private bathroom and breakfast is included.

Map

Optional Activities

Women in the silky blue waters of the blue lagoon in Iceland with smoke in the background
Blue Lagoon Comfort Entrance
Includes entrance to the Blue Lagoon, silica mud mask, use of towel and 1st drink of your choice.
 
Blue Lagoon Premium Entrance
Includes entrance to the Blue Lagoon, silica mud mask, use of towel, 1st drink of your choice, second mask of choice, slippers, use of bathrobe, table reservation at Lava Restaurant, and sparkling wine if dining.
 
View of the entrance of the Viðgelmir lava tube cave with wooden stair going down
 
Viðgelmir Lava Cave
One of the largest caves in Iceland. Tour includes an English speaking guide and use of caving equipment such as a helmet and headlamp. No age limit.
Snowmobiling on Langjökull
An exhilarating tour on top of a glacier, no previous riding experience needed. Included is a one-hour snowmobile ride with a guide and use of overalls. Two people share a snowmobile and the driver needs to bring their driving licence. Age limit for passenger is 8 years.

Good to know

  • Please note that the Northern Lights are a natural phenomenon, so sightings cannot be guaranteed. However, outside of Reykjavík, you will be staying at rural hotels which increases your chances of seeing them when the weather allows.
  • Note that the itinerary may have to be rearranged to fit your arrival date and time better.
  • The itinerary is dependent upon road and weather conditions and so it may be altered if conditions are not favourable. This includes optional activities as well. If extreme weather affects your travel plans, you will be notified and we will be our best to assist you with rearranging or booking other activities when applicable.
  • Some optional activities may need a valid driving licence, or you may need to send additional information to your travel agent. For snorkelling, you will need to know how to swim and fill out an online medical document.

What to bring

  • Warm and waterproof clothes
  • Good winter shoes that have soles with a good grip, or crampons
  • Swimsuit and towel
  • Camera

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Enquire about this tour

Our Off-The-Beaten-Path Tours have limited availability because they are subject to specific dates and we prioritise small groups. To enquire about dates and prices, please contact us by using the form below.

We look forward to hearing from you!

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