A self-support rafting expedition down the entire East Glacial River from its source at the Hofsjökull glacier in the Northern highlands.
A 3-day rafting expedition down the East Glacial River in Iceland is an incredible grade 4+ white water adventure. This tour is perfect for those who wish to have a real rafting experience!
Jul. - Aug.
Meet on location
Departs from Overwrite
- Tour highlights
- Super-Jeep Drive Through the Sprengisandur Desert
- Hofsjökull Glacier
- Night in a Mountain Hut at Laugafell
- Swim in Natural Thermal Pools
- Rafting the Upper Section of the East Glacial River
- Rafting the Lower Gorge of the East Glacial River
- BBQ Fiesta
- White Water Rafting
- All Rafting Equipment
- Experienced Professional Rafting Guides
- Safety Kayakers
- Drybag for Personal Gear
- Natural Hot Spring Bath
- 2 nights of backcountry hut accommodation
- All Meals and Snacks (except breakfast on day 1)
We will travel down the 55 km long river through a winding gorge surrounded by moonlike landscape. We take off from the source of the river, at the foot of Hofsjökull glacier after a journey over Sprengisandur desert and a night in remote mountain cabins at Laugafell. Two action-packed days of rafting await us on the only grade 4+ river in Iceland. The trip wraps up on the third evening at our rafting base at Hafgrímsstaðir with a celebration of our achievements, barbecue feast, and a farewell fiesta with your guides and fellow rafters!
Although we recommend previous rafting experience, it is not essential. An ability to swim, fitness and enthusiasm for hard physical work (paddling & swimming), and a passion for true adventure and wilderness experiences are all you need to qualify for the River Rush!
What to bring:
River clothing: warm, lightweight, layered clothing made of synthetic materials, fleece, or wool (no cotton).
Hut clothing: warm and comfortable, waterproof/windproof jacket, footwear for hiking around the camp, 3 pairs of extra socks, sleeping bag, personal hygiene kit/ toiletries, any personal medications (asthma inhalers, etc.), swimsuit and towel for thermal pools, camera (optional but recommended).
Day 1: Arrival and Introduction
The tour starts at our basecamp at Hafgrímsstaðir in the North of Iceland. Here you will meet your guides and the rest of your group to gear up and go over the tour plan and safety issues. After collectively packing our vehicle we drive towards the interior over 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.
- Introduction to Rafting
- Dinner at Laugarsfell
- Thermal hot pool
- Certified rafting guide
- Guided trip to Laugarsfell
- Swim in hot pool
- One night at Mountain cabins
Day 2: Upper Section of the East Glacial River (Grade 3-4)
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!
- East Glacial River
- Off road Excursion
- Water Rafting grade 3-4
- Riverside Cabin at Hildarsell
- Breakfast at
- Certified Rafting Guide
- 4 hours of Rafting
- All nessecary rafting equipment
- Dinner at Hildarsell
- One night in Riverside Cabin
Day 3: Famous lower gorge of the East Glacier River
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 renowned 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 kilometers 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 tubs and a mouth-watering barbecue feast back at our rafting base– the perfect end to this adventure of a lifetime!
- Austurdalur Valley
- Magnificent Canyon
- White Water Rafting grade 4+
- Optional cliff jumping
- Breakfast at cabin
- Certified Rafting guide
- White water rafting
- All nessecary rafting equipment
- Barbecue fest at Rafting base
Hafgrímsstaðir is located about 350 kilometers from Reykjavík. See map for directions.
Warm, lightweight, layered clothing made of synthetic materials, fleece, or wool (no cotton if possible and not jeans), warm woolen socks, any necessary medications (asthma inhalers, etc.) and a change of clothes for after the river.
Yes, absolutely, each paddler on a rafting boat has to know how to swim.
On the Gullfoss Canyon Rafting the minimum age is 11 years if accompanied by a guardian.
On the Wonderful West the minimum age is 6 years if accompanied by a guardian.
On the Beast of the East the minimum age is 18 years.
On the 3 Day River Rush the minimum age is 18 years.
Yes, you can bring your camera if you like, but if it is not waterproof then it will 100% get ruined.
At Drumbó your options are bringing a waterproof camera, renting a GOpro from us or buying a disposable waterproof camera.
At Hafgrímsstaðir your options are bringing a waterproof camera or getting a copy of the photo/photos one of the guides takes during the tour. A photographer/guides is not a guaranteed thing though so should you wish to arrange photos in advance, please let us know and we will make sure to have a photographer along on the trip.
Yes, we provide life jackets for everyone.
Yes, there is a specially trained and certified river guide in every boat.
GRADE 1: EASY
Fast moving water with very small waves and without obstructions. Passages are obvious and easily navigated. Risk to swimmers is slight; self-rescue is easy.
GRADE 2: NOVICE
Simple rapids with regular small waves, easy eddies, and gradual bends. Wide, clear channels make navigating easy without scouting. Little manoeuvering is required, and rocks and obstructions are easily avoidable. Rapids that are at the upper end of this difficulty range are designated Class II+.
GRADE 3: INTERMEDIATE
Rapids with strong currents, large waves, powerful hydraulics, and obstructions that may be difficult to avoid. Controlled manoeuvres are often required to navigate, although passages are simple and have relatively little objective danger. Scouting is advisable for inexperienced parties. Rapids at the lower and upper end of this difficulty range are designated Grade 3- and Grade 3+ respectively.
Grade 4: ADVANCED
Difficult yet predictable rapids with large, irregular waves, boiling eddies, powerful hydraulics, steeper gradient, and some unavoidable obstructions. Passages are often difficult to recognize, and require precise boat control and skillful manoeuvering to navigate. Scouting is likely necessary for safe passage, and self-rescue is difficult. Rapids at the lower and upper end of this difficulty range are designated Grade 4- and Grade 4+ respectively.
GRADE 5: EXPERT
Long, powerful, obstructed, and unpredictable rapids that expose paddlers to significant danger. Rapids are steep with large, unavoidable waves and major hydraulics, congested chutes, and many obstructions. Complex, demanding routes require precise boat control, “must make” moves, and a high level of mental and physical fitness. What eddies exist may be small, turbulent, and difficult to reach. Scouting is necessary but may be difficult. Swims are dangerous, and rescue is often difficult even for experts. Proper equipment, extensive experience, and practiced rescue skills are essential.
GRADE 6: EXTREME
All previous difficulties increased to the absolute limit of practicability, suitable for teams of specially prepared experts only. Runs of this classification are rarely attempted and often exemplify the extremes of difficulty, unpredictability and danger. The consequences of errors are very severe and rescue may be impossible.
Our multi-day tours are operated in a minibus which will give you a small group experience and a better connection with the guide.
Accommodation is included during your multi-day tour which is often booked far in advance. By booking with us, you don’t have to worry about finding an accommodation during the time of the tour. Staying overnight in the countryside gives you the opportunity to explore Iceland further and experience places that you would normally not be able to on a one day tour. Note that Adventure packages do not include accommodation.
You’ll have an English speaking licensed adventure guide throughout the tour that will be able to tell you about everything you will see along the way and knows where the best locations to stop by are to give you the absolute best experience.
When booking with Arctic Adventures, you are guaranteed an accommodation at a nice country hotel and/or a guesthouse. The hotels we have partnered up with are all of the same standard and offer nice rooms with made-up beds. The rooms come with private or shared bathrooms, depending on your booking. The standard room is a twin room but it’s possible to request a double room or a triple room, with no extra charge.
If you are traveling solo, you will have to add the single room fee if you wish to have a single room.
All hotels have free Wi-Fi. Towels, a hairdryer and a kettle are accessible at all of the hotels. Hotel breakfast is included!
A single supplement is available if you want to have your own room, but you are not required to pay a single supplement. If you are a single traveler and do not wish to book a single room, you’ll be roomed with another traveler of the same gender.
If your tour includes an accommodation, breakfast is included during the tour at the hotel/guesthouse restaurant. Meals and beverages are otherwise not included on your tour. However, we will be making stops at restaurants and convenience stores where you will be able to purchase all necessities.
You should count on spending around 8,000 ISK (80$) on food each day per person. Cash is not necessary, as credit cards are almost always accepted. Having a small amount of cash doesn’t hurt though.
Breakfast is included at all the hotels we stay in during the tour. The breakfast will be a typical breakfast buffet, offering bread, toppings, cereal, yogurt, fruits, coffee, and tea etc.
Your guide will also find a good place for the group to eat lunch. We always try to choose places that have a wide selection of dishes on the menu, so there will be options available for everyone. The dinner is usually at the hotels we stay at for the night.
For multi-day tours, each participant is allowed to bring a small backpack and 1 piece of luggage weighing a maximum of 20 kg (44 lbs).
* The combined dimensions of each bag must not exceed 158 cm (62 in).
* It’s possible to store your luggage with us in Reykjavík while you are on your tour, for a small fee. We highly recommend storing the luggage in Reykjavík to help us reduce our carbon footprint.
* Please note that luggage storage is not refundable.
We do welcome participants of all ages older than the listed minimum age for each tour. We have people of ages ranging from 8-99 years joining our multi-day tours. Our average group usually consists of participants between the age 20-55 years. We do get a lot of solo travelers joining our tours, as well as families and friends.
If you have difficulties participating in any of the activities included in the tour, for example, a glacier activity, you are more than welcome to skip it. You can explore your surroundings in the meantime or wait elsewhere. Our guide should be able to drop you off at a nearby place where there are some services available.
We drive on average around 300 km (186 miles) per day on our multi-day tours. You will be spending approximately 4-5 hours in the car each day. We do of course stop on multiple locations throughout the tour for sightseeing, activities, bathroom breaks and lunch stops.
If you are not sure that you have suitable gear for your tour, we offer some necessary items for rent. For most of our multi-day tours, we rent out waterproof jackets and pants as well as hiking boots. You can book these items and more under the selection “Extras” in the booking widget when booking your tour on our website.
If you have already booked the tour and wish to add some rental gear to your booking, you can do so at least 24 hours prior to your tour starts.
For further information about rental gear:
Most of the hotels we use during our tours are remotely located and therefore ideal to spot the northern lights. If the forecast is in your favor, then it is more than likely that you will be able to see the magical show put on by the dancing northern lights during your tour with us. Most of the hotels offer a Northern Lights wake up call up on request if they lights are spotted.
The Northern Lights are a natural phenomenon and therefore we can unfortunately never promise that they will be seen. Their appearance depends upon atmospheric and weather conditions. The best time to see them is between September and March when it’s dark and clear. The sky needs to be as dark as possible, so the best places to see them are well away from city lights (that’s where we are going!).
For more information on the Northern Lights, please have a look at our Northern Lights information.
We always recommend booking a multi-day tour starting at least one day after arriving in Iceland. If you’re flying in from the US or will be landing early (4-6:30 am) you should be able to join the tour, but some risks would follow (i.e if the flight gets delayed) and could, therefore, miss out on the tour.
- The combined dimensions of each bag must not exceed 158 cm (62 in).
- It’s possible to store your luggage in Reykjavík while you are on your tour, for a small fee. We highly recommend storing the luggage in Reykjavík to help us reduce our carbon footprint.
- Please note that luggage storage is not refundable.
All our tours are undertaken on the responsibility of its participants. Arctic Adventures does not assume any responsibility for accidents that are caused by its customers or can be traced to their own actions. Participants have to sign a waiver before undertaking all trips stating that they realize that all outdoor activities carry an inherent risk.