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Iceland offers some world-class whitewater rafting. This 3 day whitewater rafting Iceland trip takes you through some of North Iceland’s most pristine wilderness.
An epic self-supportwhitewater rafting iceland adventure taking in the legendary East Glacial River as well as desert landscapes, hot springs, remote mountain cabins and fantastic fresh riverside cuisine. This is a part of Iceland that is otherwise quite inaccessible and therefore few have seen – a truly wonderful wilderness escape.
From the base at Hafgrímsstaðir you’ll take a tough Super-Jeep drive through the arctic Sprengisandur desert along an ancient pass which is only accessible in summer due to snow and floods the rest of the year. The first night will be spent in mountain cabin set around a thermal oasis near the foot of the Hofsjökull glacier and source of the East Glacial River (Austari-Jökulsá). Here you can enjoy a soak in the natural thermal pools and get a good nights sleep in preparation for your thrilling trip. Then its a fast and furious 2 day decent of Iceland’s best rafting river, racing through its twisting valleys, canyons and relentless rapids all the while surrounded by breathtaking scenery. The trip wraps up with a BBQ feast back at the rafting base to celebrate.
Previous rafting experience is recommend but not essential as long as you can swim, have a decent level of fitness and enthusiasm for hard physical work (paddling & swimming)!
DAY 1: Arrival & introduction.
Drive through the Sprengisandur desert with views over Hofsjökull glacier. Night at Laugarfell in remote highland cabins with a soak in some natural hot pools.
Upon arrival at our Hafgrímsstaðir Rafting Base, you will meet your guides and fellow rafters and go over the general plan for the trip. Here we fit you with a dry suit and supply you with all necessary rafting equipment and a dry bag for your personal gear. Once fully packed and prepared, we load up and begin our adventure! We spend the next 4 hours traveling remote roads out of the Skagaföjður valley and into the sprawilng expanses of the Sprengisandur desert. With views of the nearby Hofsjökull glacier spanning the horizon, we negotiate rivers and streams as we traverse the rugged highlands, arriving at Laugarfell in time for a hearty meal and a relaxing soak in the thermal pools under the late evening sun. A restful night in the mountain cabins will be our final preparation for the adventure that lies in the days ahead.
DAY 2: Upper section of the East Glacial River (Grade 3-4). Night in the secluded riverside hut at Hildarsell in the upper Austardalur valley.
Wake up to the smell of freshly made coffee and energize yourself with a hot breakfast feast. A 20-minute off-road excursion takes us to our put-in on the shores of East Glacial River’s uppermost reaches. While the guides load the equipment and rig the rafts, your trip leader will give you a full safety briefing and necessary rafting instruction. As we hit the water, we commit ourselves to the adventure ahead– there’s no turning back! Our first hour is a gentle float through the milky waters of the desert moonscape, a time each raft will use to practice the teamwork and technical skills they will need to successfully run the rapids that lie ahead. As we round the last bend, the river dramatically disappears around a corner and plunges into the first of many steep-walled valleys it follows on its course to the ocean far below. We find ourselves committed to relentless, fast, and technical “boulder garden” rapids that will challenge your nerves as much as your stamina! After about 3 hours, the river’s gradient eases up and provides us with a beautiful lunch spot where we can rest and refuel! Another stretch of rapids greets us immediately as we set off again, and then an hour-long cool-down float takes us to the doorstep of our riverside cabin at Hildarsell. Here we share a relaxing evening in good company with a well-earned dinner and warm drinks, and a peaceful night’s sleep before our second round of whitewater action tomorrow!
DAY 3: Famous lower gorge of the East Glacial River (Grade 4+). Deep canyons and world-class whitewater followed by BBQ dinner and farewell fiesta!
Today’s rafting begins with an easy float along the braided floor of the lush and majestic Austurdalur valley. After about an hour, the valley walls begin to steepen dramatically as we approach the reknowned lower gorge of the East Glacial River. As we commit ourselves to the depth of this magnificent canyon, the river narrows and steepens, and its character changes strikingly from what we faced on the previous day. This 100m deep volcanic gorge is not only a geological marvel in itself, but is also home to some of Iceland’s most spectacular whitewater. We face a nonstop rush of crashing overhead waves and steep “pool-drop” rapids that will be sure to get your adrenaline surging! After making it through the last of the major rapids, we pull over for a riverside lunch in the canyon and an optional cliff jumping session. The remaining few kilometres of the river offer the perfect opportunity to unwind amongst beautiful surroundings and digest the experiences of the last few days, or to take one last invigorating dip in the cleansing glacial waters! As we complete the river’s course and emerge from the last of its canyons, we culminate our trip with a soak in the local hot pots and a mouth-watering barbecue feast back at our rafting base– the perfect end to this adventure of a lifetime!
Price per person: from 189,990 ISK (199,990 from Akureyri)
Departure dates: Wednesdays throughout July and August. Private groups of 6 or more can also be catered for on alternative dates.
Trip difficulty: Challenging (4 out of 5)
Group size: 4-6 persons
Minimum age: 18 years
Included in the price:
- All rafting equipment: drysuit, PFD, helmet, booties, gloves
- Qualified, professional raft guides and safety kayakers
- Transportation into the highlands & to and from the river
- 2 nights accomodation in backcountry lodges
- All meals/snacks from lunch on Day 1 to dinner on Day 3
Not included in the price
This trip begins and ends at the rafting base at Hafgrímsstaðir in North Iceland. For those wishing to add transfers to and from Reykjavik or Akureyri there are a number of options available. Please contact us for details and prices.
Flights are not included in the price. Please contact us if you would like us to help you book your flights.
- 1 set of river clothing (warm, lightweight, layered clothing of fleece, wool, or synthetic materials– NO COTTON. We reccommend a set of thermal underwear/base layers, warm fleece top & pants, and thick wool/hiking socks.)
1 set of hut clothing: warm and comfortable, waterproof/windproof jacket, footwear for walking around camp.
- 3 pairs of extra socks
- Sleeping bag
- Personal hygiene kit, toiletries
- Any necessary medications (asthma inhaler, EpiPen, etc.)
- Swimsuit and towel for thermal pools
- Camera (optional but recommended)
- Thirst for adventure & sense of humour!
Whitewater rafting Iceland
- Trip Code: AWA042
- Dates: Weekly departures through July & August
- Price: from 189,990 ISK
- Depart: Hafgrímsstaðir, Iceland
- End: Hafgrímsstaðir, Iceland
- Length: 3 Days
- Adventure: Whitewater rafting