For anyone who has been planning a visit Iceland, let me share with you one of best experiences from my last visit to the country.
During the summer of 2019 I was invited to join author and adventurer Nancy Marie Brown on an incredible trek across Iceland where we explored ancient saga sites, Viking settlements, museums, and of course the legendary home of none other than the great medieval poet and historian, Snorri Sturluson.
As part of our adventure, Nancy connected me with Guðmar Þór Pétursson and his sister Linda Rún Pétursdóttir, both champion Icelandic riders and riding instructors who also happen to own Hestaland, an Icelandic horse farm and guesthouse. Located in the West of Iceland in central Borgarfjörður near the town of Borgarnes, Hestaland was the perfect place to serve as our base operations. Its location was excellent: not too far from Reykjavik and even closer to many of the most legendary Viking sites in the country. Location, plus incredible views, comfortable accommodation, and warm hosts (Guðmar and Linda welcomed us like we were practically family) make Hestaland a perfect place for those looking to get away from it all and experience the rugged beauty of Iceland on horseback.
For me, Hestaland was more than just a vacation. It was the entry point for my full immersion experience in Iceland. The mornings usually began with the sound of sheep being herded across the fields outside, which was soon after followed by the sound of Hestaland’s inimitable chef and sage, Inga Hilmarsdottir as she and her helpers prepared a hearty breakfast for everyone. For those of us who were there for a master’s class in Icelandic riding, breakfast was followed by riding instruction by Guðmar himself in the facility’s professional riding arena. For me and a handful of others, we followed our fearless leader Nancy into the Icelandic highlands to explore outlaw caves and other sites of historic and literary interest, including several incredible private museum tours.
After long days hiking volcanoes and trekking, we happily reconvened back at the Hestaland guesthouse where Inga had laid our appetizers in preparation for incredible, hearty home-cooked meals and complimentary Icelandic craft beers from the Einstök and Borg Brugghús breweries – some of the best (and strongest) beers available anywhere. When dinner was done, we were regaled by Inga’s telling of old Icelandic fairy tales before a soaking in the hot tub where we easily lost track of time watching the lazy midnight sun hovering over the horizon before rising again.
A little more than a year has passed since my first visit to Hestaland and, in that time, I’ve traveled across Ireland, France, Germany, Austria and Hungry, having incredible experiences and meeting lovely people everywhere I went. But there’s something about Iceland in general and Hestaland in particular that has stayed with me. As cliché as it may sound, Iceland simply felt like home and so, as a sort of tribute to my time there, I went back briefly to shoot a short film on the experience, but nothing could ever capture the essence of the place without being there in person.
For more information about Hestaland, go to hestaland.net.