We did a full-day experience with Eldhestar called the "Riding and Relaxation" package. It was a morning of horseback riding, a light lunch, bathing at a local geothermal pool in the afternoon, and then finishing up with coffee and cake.
We were picked up promptly in the morning from our hotel in Reykjavik in a minibus with others and taken to the Eldhestar stables. It was about a 35 to 40 minute ride, with beautiful scenery to look at out the window along the way. Once at the stable, we were divided into groups. Our group only had myself, my husband, and two other ladies, so it was great to have such a personal experience. They had boots, overalls, and gloves you could borrow (we dressed warmly so did not), and lockers to store your belongings. The only thing I took with me on the horse was my cell phone in my pocket so that I could take pictures.
No one in our group had experience riding horses before. I rode a horse named "Krabi" (sp?), while my husband rode Tremur (sp?). The horses weren't terribly responsive. Mine basically just followed whatever the one in front of him did. The guide kept instructing us to kick the horses to get them to go faster into the "tolt", but our horses wouldn't respond. All four of us were having similar trouble. So we were only occasionally able to tolt when the horses would cooperate, but mostly we stayed at a pretty steady walking pace the entire time. Frankly, this slow pace was fine by me because I'm a novice and wasn't looking for anything super fast. An experienced rider would probably have been bored though. However, for me and my husband, it was a good pace and lovely ride.
The first half of the ride (about 1.5 hours) has you wandering through the fields near the stables, with lovely mountain views in the background. Then you cross a small stream onto the other side of a highway and ride beneath the mountain, which was very beautiful (also more interesting, riding-wise, because you're going up and down some hills). Once we crossed the stream, the guide also stopped and took pictures for us on our horses, which was a very nice touch. I do wish at this point we were able to dismount our horse and have a little break, since my butt and legs were starting to go a little numb after 1.5 hrs of riding (but again, I'm a complete novice!). But anyway, after pictures we kept riding under the mountain, which was about another 1 or 1.5 hours. The total time on the horse was close to 3 hours, which I thought was more than enough (my legs were jello by the end! :)
After we got back to the stable, my husband and I were directed to the hotel near the stables for a light lunch. For lunch, they had soup -- at first the waitress said meat soup, which I was bummed about because I don't eat a lot of meat. But alas, it was actually LEEK soup, which was delicious. We were both so hungry from riding that we each had seconds of the soup. There was also a station set out with some bread and a few cold cuts included in the light lunch as well.
Lunch was about an hour, and then we were driven to the local geothermal swimming pool for the "relaxation" part of our tour package. The driver asked us when we would like to be picked up for coffee and cake -- we opted for two hours at the swimming pool, which left one hour for coffee and cake back at the stable. Our time at the pool was wonderfully relaxing after our morning of riding. It was great to partake in a local Icelandic custom and definitely enjoyable.
We were picked up promptly when we had requested, and taken back to the stable for "coffee and cake." This was the only part of the package that I was disappointed with. First, the "coffee and cake" is served in the cafeteria that is attached to the stable (not the hotel that we had lunch at). So you have to walk through a foul-smelling area to get to the cafeteria, which is not very appetizing. Then there were flies all over the cafeteria because of its proximity to the stable, which again, is not very appetizing. Also, their selection of cakes consisted of two small brownie-like bars and that was it. I was expecting a bit more variety and quantity. Also, with all of the flies buzzing around, I hope that the food was kept covered. They really should move the coffee and cake portion of this to the hotel where we had lunch. Anyway, so this was the last hour of our tour before the bus left to go back to Reykjavik. Honestly, I wish that we would have just stayed at the pool for another hour, or had been taken back to town an hour earlier, because having cake and coffee in the cafeteria with the flies for an hour wasn't all that great.
But otherwise, it was a fantastic day and we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. Everything was very well-organized, the staff were super warm and friendly, and we loved riding the horses and bathing at the pool. Definitely recommend for beginner horse riders!
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