Vindel mountains riding expedition
Being confronted with the silence and vast open spaces of this completely unspoiled mountain landscape is enough to make your head swim. You cover a distance of 110 kilometres in 6 days during this one-week tour in this totally road free area.
The expedition starts at Ammarnäs, a small mountain village at the beginning or end of the road, depending on how you look at it. You have lunch together, then roll up your sleeping kit bag, pack your saddlebags and mount the ponies. Icelandic ponies are so placid and well behaved that even beginners can ride them and everyone will want to try the Icelandic pony’s trademark: the gait called the rack.
The Vindel mountain region is one of Europe’s largest nature reserves with places where hardly anyone has ever set foot. The ride goes through the mountain birch forest up to the barren mountains above the tree line. The first day’s ride is not so long and the pace varies in accordance with the conditions underfoot. Up in the mountains there are large Sami wooden wigwams where you can spend the night. These are situated in places that for generations have belonged to the family that owns the horses and leads the tours. Everyone gathers round the fire in the middle of the wigwam and helps to prepare the dinner that usually consists of minced meat with pasta, a hash of smoked reindeer meat fried with diced onions and potatoes or fresh salmon trout.
After a good night’s sleep, the ride continues over the mountains and on past Marsivagge, a bird sanctuary where you can see numerous kinds of wading birds and wild ducks, ptarmigan, mountain gulls and rough-legged buzzards. Even golden eagles are spotted occasionally. You continue your ride through the beautiful mountain valley of Skebleskal where you spend the night beside a couple of mountain lakes above the tree line, at an altitude of 850 metres above sea level. The following day you ride northwards to the Jonsson family’s old summer home beside the Dukkejaure, a lake teeming with fish. From there you turn east, wade across the Vindel river on horseback, past the old homestead of Dalovardo and the Björkfjäll mountain where it is easy to practise racking. When the weather is good you can see far into Norway from here. The path up to the beautifully situated Framak wigwam goes along a comfortably flat mountain ridge with a lovely view of the dramatic Vindel valley. This is the wide U-shaped valley through which the Vindel river meanders.
The following day the ride continues above the Vindel river valley, then after lunch you start your descent through the mountain birch forest, which has some difficult places where you have to dismount and lead the horses. When you get to the Rävfall cottage by the river you have the opportunity to enjoy a log-fired sauna and a dip in the water.
On the last day you follow the Vindel river over a stretch of territory, good for both racking and galloping, all the way to Ammarnäs where a sauna and farewell dinner await you.