Iceland is aptly called the Land of Fire and Ice because of stark contrasts from active volcanoes to glacier diamond lakes. The avid traveler who ventures into Iceland is in for an amazing treat. There are many activities distinctive to this country but most notably dog sledding. If you are looking for a unique experience and are an animal lover you can go on a dog sledding tour. This fun and exhilarating activity will leave you breathless and in awe. Plus you will see the beautiful Icelandic landscape rush past your face and can imagine soaring in the air.
Dog Sledding in Iceland
Tourists can connect with many Iceland travel companies and find the best dog ride tour package to suit their needs. There are various packages to suit your needs such as individual, small group, or big group tours. Please note tours aren’t permitted for anyone who is pregnant, under 7 years old, and individuals weighing over 209lb (95kg).
Dogsledding Iceland tour packages are available all year but it will be a slightly different experience based on seasons. There are two types of dog ride tours. One is on pristine snow in winter and the other is on bright dry land in the warmer months. Either tour will provide a wonderful and long-lasting memory. Read on to learn all about dog sledding in Iceland.
The Three Sled Dog Breeds
What are the three sled dog breeds in Iceland? Iceland draws an impressive crowd for the popular Atlantic Puffins and their aquatic life. But most people cannot name the sled dog breeds. The three breeds are Alaskan Huskies, Siberian Huskies, and the Greenland Dogs.
Alaskan Huskies were found in the Americas roughly 12,00 years ago. They have a direct connection to the Alaskan Malamutes and the strong grey wolves. Their appearance varies because the fur color can span from sable, rich black, or speckled. Alaskan Huskies take the crown as the top sled dog. They are literally made for speed with their slender bodies, long strong legs and powerful endurance. They can run for 19mph (31km/h) for days during sprint races. Alaskan Huskies are the most valuable breed and in their prime cost 3,000 to 10,000USD (2,720 to 9,067EUR).
The ancient Chukchi people in eastern Siberia deliberately bred Siberian Huskies to help them hunt. You can see the evidence of their training by how fast Siberian Huskies can run and their friendliness to humans. The Siberian Husky is characterized by having soft tan and white fur and having bright blue or brown eyes. Sometimes they have one of each color, which can be quite striking. They are mid-sized and bigger than the Alaskan Husky. They weigh approximately 35 to 60lb (159 to 29.4kg). Siberian Huskies are great sled dogs because they are very strong, durable, and can survive extreme temperatures. These beautiful dogs are also genetically linked to the original sled dog.
Greenland Dogs unsurprisingly originate from Greenland and have a strong pack mentality. They need to have strong leadership and training from their owner in order to function. When this dynamic is in place these dogs are very loyal and hardworking. They make great pets but even better sled dogs. They are medium-sized like the Siberian Husky and have tan fur dusted with black tips. Overall, all three of these dogs are tailor-made for sledding.
Iceland Dog Sledding Trips
Iceland dog sledding trips are a truly amazing experience designed to ensnare your senses and create lasting memories. You’ll always have this great story to relive when you tell your friends about your trip. From the sensation of brisk wind on your face as the terrain whipped past to seeing the enthusiastic dogs mush. When you organize your husky tour there are two options, on dry land or over fresh snow. This is based on the season you arrive.
When you are on the sled the operator will be in control and you will be on the side as a passenger. If you are in a group each person will rotate to the front so everyone can experience being in the front. When you stand by the operator you can easily watch the dogs mush.
But some dog sledding companies might allow you to learn how to mush by steering for a short time. When the tour is halfway completed you will stop and have an opportunity to take scenic pictures. Dog lovers will adore posing with the dogs and taking photos with a gorgeous background. You can also give each dog a belly rub. They love to be cuddled but don’t make them feel smothered or threatened.
What to Expect
Dog sled tours can last from 2 to 5 hours but have only one hour of actual mushing. The routes can be about 5 to 8km (3 to 5 mi) over rugged land. The topography can include snow-filled fields, mountain roads and icy plains. Be prepared for any sudden weather changes because Iceland has unpredictable weather. Dress warmly by layering with waterproof clothes, sturdy hiking boots, heavy gloves, and scarves. If you dress warmly and for any weather condition you will be free to have fun on your trip.
Also, the weather can prevent dog sledding tours from happening if there are any severe snowstorms. But if only the level of snow is low the show will go on. However, instead of a full team of 8 to 16 dogs, it’s only to 4 to 8 dogs. This happens when the weather is warmer than usual during the winter season. A good rule of thumb for Iceland is to always check the weather reports.
Dog Sledding on Snow
Traditional dog sledding on snow happens in December through April. This is when snow season is the strongest and is also the best time to see the swirling Northern Lights. This natural light show brings people from all over the world to Iceland.
Most tours are close to Reykjavik but you need to confirm if the tour you select provides transport. If they don’t provide hotel pickup and drop off you can secure your own ride by taxi or renting a car. The cost for pickup from your hotel is generally 352USD (319EUR) and the cost for just meeting them is 236USD (214EUR).
Selecting your route is very exciting because all of the options are attractive. The length of the trip can be as short as a day excursion to over the course of five days. The Golden Circle sled tour is quite popular as well as through the dynamic South Coast. When you arrive to the Golden Circle you can see three notable Icelandic attractions. The first is the UNESCO World Heritage Site, Thingvellir National Park. It’s where the Icelandic parliament met for the first time. Then you can admire the cascading Gullfoss Waterfall and at last witness the steam rise from the Geysir Geothermal Area.
Another well-known route is going to North Iceland to visit Akureyri. In the north you can find Lake Mývatn and see Dimmuborgir or the Dark Fortress. It is a set of striking lava formations. You can also visit Hverir, which is an active geothermal area at the bottom of a volcanic mountain. This steaming area has mud pools releasing sulfur bubbles into the air and looks like the surface of Mars. Any of these routes are eye-catching and will complement the dog sled tour.
Dog Sledding on Dry Land
When you book a dog sledding tour during the months of April through November it will be on dry land. Unlike during high snow season, you will not need a full sled team. You will have 4 to 8 huskies pulling you in a wheeled cart instead of a sled. No matter the season, these strong dogs love to run and will have fun on your excursion.
There’s no significant price difference between the two options, being on dry land versus snow. Both choices are memorable and depend on your preferences. Regardless you will have a genuine Icelandic experience and can take fantastic photos.
Book Your Trip Now
Dog sledding in Iceland is the experience of a lifetime. You will cherish the memories and recall the feeling of crisp wind brushing your face. And who wouldn’t want to cuddle joyful dogs that had the time of their lives running along the stunning Icelandic countryside?