Iceland Cliff Ride
Do you trust your mount? You’ll want to be sure that you do on a windy cliff ride in Iceland.
by Darley Newman
On a horse trek in Iceland, my bubbly guide Asa wanted to take me on a different route on the way home, so we drove the herd of horses back towards the farm, but then split off from the rest of the group for our own private ride. If you are afraid of heights, I do not recommend a cliff ride.
The wind was gusting really hard, as we ventured to the edge of a very high cliff to take in milky blue, glacial fed waters far below. The scenery was dramatic, daunting and beautiful. Riding through the mossy lava fields alongside a major drop off, I was happy that my horse was both experienced and seemingly sturdy.
Some people have compared Iceland’s terrain to the surface of the moon. Its landscapes have been cut by giant glaciers and charred by molten lava. In fact, NASA sent Apollo astronauts to Iceland to prepare them for missions to the moon.
On first encountering this rough terrain, you may think... "this a treacherous place to ride!" Keep in mind that Icelandic horses have no problem navigating these rocky and rugged landscapes. They have adapted to the land after traveling here for over a thousand years and are sure-footed.
We rode further along at a tolt to a spot where Asa showed me an old Icelandic road sign, basically a pile of rocks. Historically in the Highlands, where there weren’t traditional road signs, these rock road signs, called varda, were the only way to navigate.
They were laid out strategically, so one could stand by a varda and spot the next one in the distance. Modern-day riders may use GPS, but many Icelanders still relish the feeling of navigating in the wild. Asa pointed out a few more of these rock signs as we rode back to her farm for some smoked lamb and homemade pancakes.
I really liked hanging out with the Icelandic farmers. They were so welcoming and fun. I also experienced quite a thrill riding Icelandics, away from the city of Reykjavik in pure Icelandic nature.
Learn about horse riding vacations in Iceland, including upcoming trips, at EquitrekkingTravel.com.