River Rafting in Iceland

|May 22, 2017
Anthropologist, social media guru, Icelandic nature and food enthusiast.

River Rafting in Iceland is somewhat of a local sport and also a way to explore glaciers. Find out why!

Iceland is all about adventures. Living on an isolated island far in the North the habitats have had to be creative when it comes to activities. But when you have hiked the same mountain a hundred times you get the urge to do something different.

In the 1980s an adventurous Icelandic couple went to Nepal for a river rafting experience. When they returned they were so in love with the sport that they started a search for the perfect river here in Iceland. They found one, Hvítá river in the South to be exact and started Iceland’s first adventure tour operator Bátafólkið and it is through Bátafólkið that Arctic Adventures started its operation

River Rafting is a whole different sport to others. It’s fast, wet, adrenaline pumping but above anything else fun!

River Rafting tours is probably for many, not the first thing you picture when you say the word Iceland but it sure is a great place to try it and let me try to explain a little bit why!

Icelandic glacier explored differently

When you think of Iceland you often think of glaciers. Visiting Iceland, you want to walk on or at least see a glacier. Well, river rafting gives you a whole different way to explore a glacier.

The water that the rivers that the rafting is operated on actually originates from glaciers. So when you are rafting you are on glacier water and when jumping into the water you are bathing in glacier waters. Talk about a cool story to tell when you get home!

Hvítá river (the river in the South) originates at Langjökull. Langjökull glacier is the second largest glacier in Iceland and is also known for its ice caves and snowmobiling tours. It’s quite far from the rafting base and has traveled far before reaching your rafting location. FUN FACT: it, for example, travels through Gullfoss canyon, creating the ever so beautiful Gullfoss waterfall along the way. Gullfoss waterfall is one of the three stops along the famous Golden Circle.

…Then we have Jökulsá Austari (the river in the North) which originates at Hofsjökull glacier. Numerous rivers flow from Hofsjökull glacier many of them called Jökulsá. Jökulsá actually translates Glacier River.

So one might say that you haven’t fully explored the glaciers until you have been river rafting.

Icelandic Local Activity

You know when you meet a tourist and they have been doing all the things in your country that you have always thought about doing but never done? Well, the same does NOT run for river rafting here in Iceland. River rafting is one of the few tours that almost every Icelander has done at least once in their lives. In spring when graduations, work-groups, bachelor & bachelorette parties and just friends want to celebrate they often do so by going river rafting in the south or in the north.

It’s kind of a tradition for example for teenagers who are graduating “grunnskóli” (at 16 years) celebrate by joining for this incredibly fun, River Rafting in Iceland; a local’s way to have fun active and joy-bringing experience.

Family friendly activity in Iceland

Up in the North of Iceland, Viking rafting offers special family river rafting tour for kids from 6 years old. River rafting on Vestari-Jökulsa tour is designed for adventurous families, where they can all join for a fun day on the river. The guides are experts at what they do and everyone is provided with the proper gear, life vest, suit and helmets so there is no need to worry about safety.

This is the perfect family activity as everyone is together in one boat and can have a splashing blast together.

In the South, the river is calmer so the age limit for tours is only 11 years. So many families can join that tour as well.

Both the North and South base offer a possibility of having a BBQ after the tours and bars and the South Base has a sauna.

Perfect for meet on location/ self-driving in Iceland

The two locations where you meet up for river rafting tours in Iceland are Drumbó (South) and Hafgrímsstaðir (North).

River Rafting in South Iceland:
When you are doing, for example, the Golden Circle, Drumbó is right there so anyone looking to self-drive and adds a little extra fun Gullfoss Canyon Rafting is perfect for you!

River Rafting in North Iceland:
For those of you who have gone a bit further in your Iceland explorations and have found yourself in the North of Iceland, Akureyri area now have the opportunity to join for a river rafting tour and no ordinary tour; River Rafting in Jökulsá Austari is a level 4 river (OUT OF 5) and it’s OH so much fun. The age limit is pretty high but for those planning to have the whole family no worries, they also have a different tour on a different river like talked about above.

So now I hope I have explained River rafting in Iceland a little better. It sure is the perfect summer activity while visiting Iceland in the summer.

SOUTH ICELAND – Hvítá river

River rafting in Iceland's Gullfoss canyon

NORTH ICELAND level 4 river – Jökulsá river Austari

East Glacial River - Rafting in Iceland (Viking Rafting Promo 2015)

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