To the Centre of the Earth,

Horse Trekking Snefellsnes in Iceland



"The pleasure of riding on horseback through unknown country put me in good mood for the start of our journey.  I gave myself up to the happiness of the tourist, compounded of desires and freedom, and began to make the best of the expedition.


…Our horses instinctively chose the best way without ever slackening their pace.…a centaur with six legs.  'Good horse! Good horse! he kept saying.  'You will see, Axel, that there is no animal more intelligent than the Icelandic horse.  Snow, storms, impassable roads, rocks, glaciers- nothing can stop him.  He is brave, steady, and reliable.  He never stumbles, never shies.  If there's a river or a fjord to cross - and there'll be plenty, I can tell you that - you will see him plunge straight into the water as if he were amphibious and swim across to the opposite bank.  But we mustn't hurry him; just let him alone and we shall do our thirty miles a day.' "


-Jules Verne, horse trekking in Iceland

Journey to the Centre of the Earth (1864)


Doug writing: I took nearly the same tour in 2000,   This route is a crossroads of history more than just the way to the Centre of the Earth.  The Sneffels trek on horses I took crosses over the highlands and mountains at the head of the Sneffels peninsula similar to the route Verne took in the 19th Century prior to writing his book, Journey to the Centre of the Earth. 


            This same area adjoins the areas of several of the old sagas of Iceland dating back to medieval times.  For instance, along the ride is the church Lundur where an early Christian Bishop in Iceland originally brought the Latin alphabet introducing reading and writing to Iceland.  Along the same route is Baer, formerly a monastery site and then further along a school both initiated by this same Bishop in the same era.  These seats of learning brought the written language to Iceland introducing literature to the Icelandic poets of the era who from then set about writing their own legacy of Saga. 


Some reading for this neighborhood could include: Snorri Sturluson's Snora Edda:


Egil's saga


Laxardal Saga


 Then also about the man Snorri Sturlson himself:


A terrific museum to this Icelandic Saga era is nearby the way in Reykholt,


A study of Icelandic character and this region also comes in Halldor Laxness' book, Under the Glacier.  This book makes a fun read prior to visiting the Sneffels area.



This all is with Snefels and the journey to the Centre of the Earth.   In our modern times I found the horse riding tour that I took to be really well provided.  The guide is a farmer horseman of the area, Sigurdur Oddur Ragnarsson  a third generation farmer of sheep and horses on a centuries old farm estate Oddsstadir in the Lundareykjadalur valley.  They graze in mountain pastures their sheep and a herd of horses for their family livelihood.  (see article about this family and farm life in Iceland: )



A feature of this riding Sneffels tour is that part of the lodging for several of the days is from their comfortable farm in the glacial river valley of the Grimsa river.  In living on the farm and riding the valley you get to see inside 10 or more centuries of culture and farm lifestyle in Iceland.  This Snefellsnes riding tour is very special that way really.  Where the riding is closer to the glacier the lodging stays are there under the glacier.

            (See this link for the Snefellsnes riding tour description:





-Doug Hamilton

Fairfield, Iowa  USA





Other reading to prepare for a tour of the area:


Penguin Classics has recently published a compilation of Icelandic Sagas, The Sagas of Icelanders putting the major and several lesser of them under one cover.


Dover has also recently published a translation entitled The Poetic Edda, The Mythological Poems, translated by Henry Bellows.  I am really enjoying Bellows' particular care attending to the rhythm and rhyme of the original.  These are very readable.  The annotated foot notes are very interesting in themselves.

ISBN: 0 486 43710 8



Naming names for Icelandic horses, there are lots of good names to be gleaned from this book, the Poetic Edda translated by Bellows.
The footnotes hold many names that Bellows includes which become helpful in following the stories of the Edda. Derivative names of Men and women, dwarfs, giants, elves, immortals, places and such. We're having fun drawing a short list of names we should like to use. Also finding/learning fun revelations about some of the names that have come along with some of the horses coming from

(In reading the 'Eddas' you can see where Tolkin originally
wet his own teeth for the saga telling of his Lord of the Rings. In
small deference towards the realm of saga telling authenticity, it
is too bad they could not have filmed some of the 'Rings' in
and thereby also have included the horses.)