Iceland has blossomed into one of the most exciting and preferred holiday destinations around the globe. It is eye-candy for every tourist, hiker, camper, explorer, and adventure enthusiast. This beautiful northern country has mesmerizing natural surroundings that are eye-captivating and boosting tourism. The country is home to some gigantic volcanoes, tall mountains, mysterious hiking trails, breath taking northern lights, blue lagoons and rich culture. The best thing about travelling to Iceland is that it always has something new that one can uncover and explore. Not just this, Iceland also embraces some of the most exciting museums, art galleries, studios and human caves.
This European country caters to the interest of every individual by offering the best of nature and adventurous activities. Be it summer, spring, autumn, or winter, this northern country’s beauty enhances with each weather and season. Iceland never ceases to compromise on a magnificent sight; the country offers some eye-appealing and must-visit locations in the cities as well as the remotest areas. When in Iceland, you can try your hands-on different sports and exciting activities, including horseback riding, ice skiing, river rafting, fishing, and dog sledding. Dog sledding is one of the most fun and thrilling activity to enjoy with your family, especially kids. You can have a great time experiencing the stunning landscapes by racing around snow or dryland areas.
What is Dog Sledding?
To explain this most simply, it is an activity in which a sled is pulled by one or more dogs over snow or dry land to offer you maximum fun and excitement. It is like spending some exciting time with the fluffiest and most active dogs around. The friendly dogs will make your ride super amazing by maintaining a high speed for maximum adventure. The whole ride is closely monitored by a musher who is a dog sled operator. The musher will guide and instruct dogs to run faster and when to stop. You will get to see the whole new side of Iceland by riding a fun ride with your cutest chauffeurs.
Interestingly, dog sledding is available throughout the year. Depending upon the season you chose to travel, you will experience a different type of dog sledding – on dry land or snow. Nearly the ride lasts for around 45 minutes to one hour; at this time, you will travel through the beautiful trails, mountains, and waterfalls. The pack usually has Greenland dogs, but you can get a chance to scratch a few Alaskan and Siberian huskies as well. Experiencing a dog sled ride will be one of the unique experience you can have in Iceland, which you will cherish throughout your life.
The dog sledding trips can be more exciting if you request the musher to take the charger. They are often very humble and allow passengers freer reign. You will also get many photo opportunities; even some of the mushers will give you some time to click pictures halfway through the ride. Normal sleds can hold two passengers and a musher, but if you’re traveling with your family and kids, you can request a bigger sled to accommodate more people. There are not that many tour operators that offers dog sledding tours in Iceland. However, they are very popular and are therefor usually fully booked. We therefor recommend that you book your dog sledding tour well in advance. You can find dog sledding tours in north Iceland around Lake Myvatn and in the areas around the capital city, Reykjavik. You can book the ride from the website and choose if you would like to drive on your own to the location, or get a pick up in the city. Most service providers around Reykjavik offer to pick up service from your accommodation and take you to the sledding location. Once you’re done with your ever-exciting ride, you can cuddle and play with the dogs for some time. Sled dogs are very friendly and trained to behave well with passengers.
Know the Popular Breeds
There are three breeds that are extremely popular when it comes to dog sledding in Iceland. As mentioned above, you will find Greenland dogs, Alaskan Huskies, and Siberian Huskies in most of the sleds. Alaskan Huskies usually have rich black, sable, and specked appearance. They are crowned as the top sled dogs in Iceland. Alaskan Huskies lead the pack with their high speed, slender bodies, and long, strong legs. As the name suggests, Greenland dogs came from Greenland. They are trained to be leaders; they are among the most loyal and hardworking breeds. Greenland dogs make the best pets even better than being the sled dogs. The dusted fur and black tips make them look like the Siberian Huskies. The friendly relationship between humans and Siberian Huskies is long said in history. People use them as hunting dogs because of their stronger body and swift movements. Siberian Huskies are mostly preferred as sled dogs due to their ability to survive in extreme weather conditions. All these three breeds are tailor-made for dog sledding and to offer you a memorable experience by keeping you safe at the same time.
Wonder, What Is the Best Time for Dog Sledding?
Well, there is no specific time for exploring this adventurous way of traveling through Iceland. Dog sledding is an activity that takes place throughout the year in different seasons. You can choose any season or month to enjoy this absolutely thrilling ride. According to the season or month, the things that will change are some of the attractions and the scenic site. You will experience riding through mountains covered with the blanket of snow in winter, whereas in summer, you will experience a peeping sun, luscious green trails, and rhythmic waterfalls. You will also have a different experience when you travel on snow or dry land:
On Snow / In Winter
Snowfall in Iceland majorly starts in December and remain till the beginning of April. You can take a sled tour in the Golden Circle as it merges with different landscapes around the South Coast. Riding on the sloppy snowy surface promises great adventure while keeping the scenic beauty on point. The popular routes include taking you through breathtaking places like Gullfoss waterfall, Thingvellir National park, and active geysers. The thrill doubles up in winter or snow when you ride at high speed, and partial water drops touch your face to give you a nice icy experience. If you’re lucky enough, you can get a chance to have a glimpse of some popular sets from the famous HBO series, Game of Thrones. Select your sledding route smartly to get the most out of your adventurous trip. Another interesting route is going towards northern Iceland and visiting the incredible lake Myvatn and Dimmuborgir lava fortress. You can plan things smartly to get a chance to catch a glimpse of an active geothermal area and striking lava formations.
On Dry Land/ In Summer
Traveling in summer and indulging in dog sledding doesn’t mean you will miss out on the fun because summer dog sledding is as exciting as you would experience in winter. If your trip is between the month of May and November, then take a day out and experience dog sledding. This will be your brand-new introduction to Iceland as you will witness some of the best attractions of Iceland (if you plan the route accordingly). Mostly in summer or on dry land, you will only have four or a maximum of eight huskies pulling a wooden cart instead of a sled. You will experience a fantastic ride and witness the sun peeping through hazy mountains, birds chirping in the wilderness of the forests, a clear rhythmic sound of the waterfalls, and a magical ambiance covered with a natural green blanket. To add to your excitement, plan the trip in Autumn so that you can have a great riding experience with colorful leaves around.
The prices in both the conditions or seasons are mostly similar. Both the experiences will be new to you, so don’t worry about missing the other. What remains intact is the beautiful and mystical beauty of Iceland, which remains the same throughout the year. Look for the most convenient option that suits your timing and preferences.
Watch Out The Weather
The weather in Iceland is unpredictable. You might have come across this phrase a million times because it is so true. You can never predict what weather you will get once you reach Iceland. Activities like dog sledding get affected due to poor weather conditions. On days with heavy snowfall, you will not see dog sledding being conducted in the area for the safety of the passengers. Kids are vulnerable to extreme cold and heat, so make sure you carry all the necessary items to keep them comfortable throughout the ride. The weather also affects the availability of dog sled tours and mushers. Keep an eye on the forecast before hitting the camps for booking the sled ride.
Few Things to Carry Along
No matter in which season you’re traveling, make sure to pack wisely to remain prepared for any weather conditions. There are a number of things that you would require during your ride with four-legged partners, so make sure you pack everything carefully. Remember this pro tip, even if you’re traveling in summer, make sure to carry along some winter clothes, including a jacket, pair of socks, and warmer. When packing the shoes, look for ankle-high ones to completely cover your foot and protect it from snow and other harmful elements. Do not forget to carry or wear waterproof shoes before hitting the sled location. Always wear a soft layer of clothing to remain warm and cozy. If you are traveling in winter and sledding is on your bucket list, don’t forget to pack along with your waterproof jackets, windshield, and warm coats. Remember to wear a woolen cap and gloves that you can easily take off if needed. In summer, you can carry good sunglasses and a hat. Don’t forget to pack your sunscreen lotion and moisturizer to protect your skin against the shining sun. Traveling to Iceland and experiencing a sled ride is a big thing, so don’t forget to pack your camera and the necessary equipment to capture any precious moment.
The Ethical Debate Related to Dog Sledding
The ethical debate revolves around how humans treat furry pals. Dog sledding is a well-planned industry and a responsible industry in Iceland. There is a countless number of veterinarians available to take care of our four-legged workers at every sled location. Many people and activists believe that dog sledding is a way to exploit dogs and use them for business. But the doctors have confirmed that the selected breeds are active and love to run; hence they can be used in such activities and sports. Icelandic mushers genuinely care for their dogs.
The huskies share a deep bond with their little friends and ensure their safety and health. A proper medical examination and other tests are done to ensure that the dogs are healthy for sledding. To offer enough rest to the dogs, sledding timing is kept not more than one hour in many areas. All the pets/dogs are trained to remain in a pack and strong enough to take up such a big responsibility. Huskies are born to run; their strong body type and leg strength make them ideal candidates for the job. Tourists or passengers are also asked to treat the dogs nicely and not to harm them in any way.
Though many tourists assume dog sledding to be a risky adventure, others feel it’s the best and unique way to explore Iceland. These dogs are trained to be friendly with the passengers, which means even if you’re traveling with your family, you don’t have to worry about their safety. Be responsible around the furry companions, and if you’re scared of them, don’t forget to give them a nice starch on the belly after your thrilling ride. With your kind act, you can draw the line between what is ethical and what’s not.
Iceland is a country that is full of surprises hidden in magical and incredible natural surroundings. You can’t get enough of this mystical place that has so much to offer to humanity. Each corner is beautified with eye-captivating natural elements. Among all the exciting things is dog sledding, which guarantees uncompromised fun and adventure. It is a unique experience that tourists live for the rest of their life. You have to be careful and responsible while enjoying the ever-exciting ride alongside some cuddly friends. The dogs are trained to be fierce and fast to offer you speedy fun that enables you to catch a glimpse of the natural beauty and some of Iceland’s most popular landmarks. Let yourself loose to experience the greatness of nature amid melodious waterfalls, a white blanket of snow, mystical man caves, fierce volcanoes, clear blue sky, sun-kissed mountains, and warm breezes for the hot springs.