The route.
courtesy Expedition Iceland 2013, SOURCE
No other horse breeds are allowed entrance to Iceland.
courtesy Expedition Iceland 2013, SOURCE
Heads up: Trekking across Iceland with Icelandic horses

Posted: Feb 22, 2013 11:40 am EST
(Newsdesk) 4 Friends, 3 Horses, 2 Cameras, 1 Path, is the short description the team gives about their expedition. Dave Greene, Adrien Greene, Dan Rinard and Jay MacMillan sent over word about their trekking trip across Iceland.

The team plans to walk 756km from the most western point to the most eastern point with the assistance of Icelandic Horses to carry their food, film and camping gear for the duration of the trip. "This trip melds the historic use of an incredible animal with our spin on exploration through a wild country. Without the horses, this would simply be a hiking expedition. Instead, we will team up with the Icelandic Horse to pay tribute to the countless animals used in exploration and to make the very nature of this trip possible."


Expedition leader Dave Greene completed two major expeditions: a 3100 km human-powered adventure from Georgian Bay, Ontario to the Labrador coast, and, with his wife Adrien, a 3300 km trek across Canada via canoe.

Jay MacMillan has spent years trekking on foot and by canoe and made two award-winning documentaries. Dan Rinard's passion for wild things has taken him from working in education and tourism, to countless technical backcountry rescue missions across Nova Scotia and the Northeastern US.

Read more about the team here.

Icelandic horses

Contrary to what their size may suggest, the iconic equine breed of Iceland is by no means a pony, writes the team in their blog. "Their capacity for weight bearing, endurance and temperament easily classifies them as horses."

They add, "No other horse breeds (or horses for that matter!) are allowed entrance to Iceland. Even a horse bred and raised in the country may never return once it is exported. It is this strict regulation that has allowed the breed to develop over hundreds of years untainted and completely unique."

Route (courtesy of the website)

Section 1: The Westfjords [Latrabjarg – Staoarskali (247 km)]

The Westfjords of Iceland are spectacularly beautiful yet sparsely populated. With only 7200 people inhabiting an area of over 22 000 square kilometers, the Westfjords are one of the least populated areas in the whole country. We will travel 247 km from the Latrabjarg Bird cliffs in western Iceland to the small town of Staoarskali. This route will be full of high treeless mountains, deep fjords, endless sea cliffs, and small communities holding on to their traditional way of life.

Our journey begins at the Bjargtanger lighthouse, on the edge of the famous Latrabjarg bird cliffs. This spot marks not only the westernmost point of Iceland, but also all of Europe. The Latrabjarg bird cliffs represent the largest bird cliffs in all of Europe, topping out at over 450m high and over 14 km long. They are home to millions of birds including the puffin. From here our team will begin our journey east.

The last part of this section will take the team along the F586 – a taste of things to come. The F series roads in Iceland demand four wheel drive vehicles. But in our case, they’ll be the perfect place to walk our horses. Stakes in the ground will be the only thing that distinguishes these tracks from the surrounding landscape.

Section 2: The Highlands: [Staoarskali – Dreki hut, Askja (260 km)]

Once we leave the small community of Staoarskali, we will leave the road behind and head into the highlands of Iceland. Our goal is Dreki Hut, Askja, Iceland. This terrain will be like nothing any of us have ever seen. The desolation and emptiness for which the highlands are famous will be our reality for 260 km – nearly two weeks, likely longer.

We will cross dozens of glacial rivers including the Blanda River, Iceland’s second largest, which will be one of our biggest challenges. We will navigate around the north end of Hofsjokull glacier, a trackless, seldom travelled, wasteland of river crossings and volcanic debris. Finally we’ll travel the old Gaesavatnaleid track (F910), through 59 km of volcanic desert.

Section 3: The Eastfjords [Dreki hut, Askja – Gerpir Peninsula (249 km)]

Many challenges still lie ahead by the time we reach the Dreki hut at the Askja crater. Headed east, we will be forced to travel along marked tracks until we cross the bridges spanning the Jokulsa A Fjollum and Kreppa rivers. These mighty rivers drain the northern half of Vatnajokull Glacier. They grow in size throughout the day, creating a formidable obstacle that we don’t want to mess with.
As we push further east we will travel through the Hallormsstaoaskogur, Iceland’s largest forest. It has a healthy population of reindeer brought to the country in the nineteenth century as a source of food.

The Gerpir Peninsula, Iceland’s easternmost point marks the end of our expedition. We will reach it after a final push based out of a survival shelter in Sandvik bay. A single day’s hike through steep terrain will lead up to the Gerpir Cliffs. Far away from any tourist trails, there will be no fanfare waiting for us at the end. The Eastfjords of Iceland are scattered and rural. These fjords are softer and gentler than their western counterparts – a perfect fit for the end of an expedition.

Related links

ExWeb interview with Jaakko Heikka, “Vatnajökull is a great destination for a little expedition”

ExWeb interview with Christopher Herwig: “For the best Iceland pictures, stay up late, wake up early, nap in the middle of the day”

ExWeb Interview with Alastair Humphreys: Wild Iceland

Expedition Iceland 2013 website

South Pole ski: Iceland's Vilborg Arna Gissurardottir at the Pole

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