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Back to german version                                                                                 updated 28.09.2007

Island - Kjölur ride -  4x4 adventure tour - 25. August - 9.September 2007

220 km with 1 HP from North to South                                       More Pictures of the Kjölur ride
 Kjölur - the movie

The reason for this year's pre-vacation-diet-crash-course was not the swimsuit or the tight pants but the thoughts of looking into plaintive and accusing eyes of a pony which would carry me 220 km thru Iceland. A Challenge for the back of the animal and my direct extension of it. 

 The allocation of the horses on site made it clear: max. allowance per animal is approx. 100 kg, where I am happily far away of.. And it is not a pony but rather a midget horse, since it is probably one of the toughest and thoroughbred worldwide (sorry Arabians). No saddlecloth, no yummy oats, no stables - praised is what hardens(-ed). The import of other breeds is strictly forbidden and therefore - once an Icelandic horse has been to another country - it can never return. The fear of effeminacy and disease is to big and that is why we were told to bring with us only washed or new clothes. On the first day 13 persons , well disinfected and internationally conglomerate, a  group of  horse whisperers of every age with different miles under their saddles are waiting more or less confident in front of the corral. We are band together by the whish to cross Iceland in six days from north to south on six feet (where the goal is to use our own as little as possible) and by an averseness to sheep flavor, which was the first meal served in the form of an Iceland Stew.

 There are about 90 horses, but only a few will be used to carry us, the others just want to return home, this is their last tour this year. The horses and the tourists are driven by 8 guides making sure we all pass safe thru the Kjölur highlands.

 At noon there is the 'changing of the horses', unfortunately there are no spare riders, which has been taken amiss by my bottom in the course of this week.

 The scenery is stunning and alien, rocky desert all over the highlands as far we can see, for days no streets, no cars, no house only mountains with glaciers left and right. It looks like the highlands in Nepal - a good alternative for people with altitude sickness. We sleep mostly in huts with shared rooms, which makes it difficult to look after the most strained parts of the body, but other than that it means lots of fun.

The weather is mostly nice and sunny with a few rainy parts and during the six to seven hours long rides we can imagine how hard life was for the people which crossed Kjölur without Jeeps with seat heating. We got to know the legends of brothers, shepherds and sheep frozen to death and we were really encouraged after we were told the story of the guide who made his fellow passengers move on by pulling out his knife mentioning 'he would never leave something alive in this desert'.
And a love story about one of the numerous outlaws, which was hiding in the highlands, followed by his lover, was only romantic until that lullaby was sung, where they disposed of their kids in crevasses in order for them to survive themselves, - praised is what hardens(-ed)..  

We are moving fast, due to the five gears, which we master differently and we make the 40 km a day in about six hours Drop outs do not happen often, only bill our gentle Briton with his black humor entertains us with four „unconventional dismounts“.

 Fields of lava, screes but also green valleys, the six days pass by to quick. Shortly after the ^Toelt^ works more or less and the backside does only hurt a little we have to say good bye to horse, guide and to an awesome group. We liked the riders, the kind host, our nice and competent guide Asta,  the whole crew and the delicious farewell dinner.

2500 km with 320 HP round the island                                     More pictures of the Offroad Tour
Offroad Tour - the movie

 For the second week we add a substantial amount of horsepower, from 90 to about 320. The Hummer H2, which Peter has chosen as a mean of transportation for this week, is  mere contrast to the first week: Big, snobbish, bulky, - I was a kind of embarrassed. Taking a price of 2.50 Swiss francs for the fuel its obvious why this vehicle has no area-wide penetration. But in the highlands we start enjoying it, we drive hundreds of miles on gravel roads with road holes, puddles thru sand- and windstorms strong enough to blow away forests. But since the times of the Vikings there are no trees any more, broad areas were struck by eco-disasters in the passed centuries like clear-cutting, soil erosion, streams of lava, screes carried down by rivers and huge glaciers; to admire this is a little bit similar to taking a canvas chair after hearing the word 'global warming'. But exactly these 'devastations' made Iceland so interesting, tough, strange, challenging, adventuresome and really unique. In the Askja mountains Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin did test the moon buggy. It seems that the conditions were very similar to the ones of our satellite.

Peter was like a child given the permission to go outside into the rain with its rubber boots, when he was driving thru potholes and rivers. Our Vehicle quickly gets a camouflage paint and the light does not shine thru the windows any more.  Speaking of mudlarks, - according to a saga God wanted to see Eve's children, Eve only showed him the clean ones hiding the dirty kids. God was so angry that he/she decided these kids could not be seen any more by nobody, - they became elfs, spread all over the country, living in cages, making themselves visible only if they like. I personally had them in mind as little shiny flying creatures, but it seems that they are little creatures with rubber boots. Another nice story is the one of an Icelandic Farmer. His was farmyard was called 'England. Being asked where the name came from he answered: ' England is not only in Copenhagen. Any more questions ? 

What else can be learned when traveling in Iceland: The plain Highlands cause some problems when peeing, which should be done with the wind for boys and against the wind for girls. Because of the extremely high prices it is recommended to stay in youth hostels or guesthouses, and a glass of wine (0.178 CL for 15 Swiss Francs) is really tasty even the one from the tetrapack. (General rule: food, drinks and accommodation is double the price of Switzerland, which is not really cheap). We hear numerous sagas and stories, which document the roots of every single Icelander back to their Viking ancestors. People are proud of their roots and their country, since it was actually them which discovered America (Leifr Eiricson was there way before Christopher Columbus, but preferred to go back to the island after a short stay). And the island is located on the two tectonic plates building a bridge between the continents.  

 Reykjavik then shows another face of the country, really trendy and hip, we are knocked over how all the designer clothes walking on the streets do not care about the high prices, the cold, rain or wind. .

 Not always dreams come true, reality seldom catches up with expectations. But this was not the case for my old wish of once visiting Iceland. It has exceeded all my expectations.

 And last but not least: There was this small victory of the American car industry when Peter - on the occasion of returning of our Mega-American rental car - damages the radiator cowling of a small Toyota and thereby restores a little revenge to our western colleagues over the driving rice bowls.


More nformation and reservations call Sabrina Kunz. She set up this journey for us: Sabrina Kunz, Helvetic Tours, Volkiland, 044 947 50 60 or book riding tour directly at Pferd+Reiter.