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.
You will be provided with a life vest, wetsuit and helmet for the tour and also any other necessary equipment that you may need for rafting.
Meet on location means travelling to the location of the tour yourself and then meeting our tour guides rather than being picked up and taken to the location.
This is a great question. We ask all participants to be ready from the start of the pickup time indicated. This is because you may well be the first pick up of the day. Please be at your assigned location at the start time that you chose when booking the tour.
Here you should wait for your guide.
Have your email and phone number listed with us so we can contact you if we run into any trouble finding you.
View our pick-up locations in Reykjavík.
Before and during activities on the multi-day tours consumption of alcohol is prohibited. If we suspect that a participant is intoxicated, we will prohibit them from joining the activity.
After the activities of the day are finished, you are welcome to have a drink and relax.
Yes, we do. Langjökull Ice Cave is a magical experience, the tour has no minimum age and is a wonderful option for the whole family. Whale Watching with our partner company Special Tours, has been a favourite with families traveling with young children, these guys have a great success rate in seeing whales (upwards of 98% in the summer time).
Another option would be the Landmannalaugar Safari on this tour you get to explore parts of the Icelandic highlands and bathe in natural hot springs. Most of our jeep tours are also suitable for children over the age of 6 years old. If you would like a nice and relaxing experience we would also recommend the Golden Circle & Secret Lagoon tour.
Your safety is our number one priority! Keeping this in mind, Arctic Adventures reserves the right to adjust the itinerary and/or take different routes depending on conditions. Please read more information in our cancellation policy.
Yes, there is a specially trained and certified guide on each of our tours. The only exception to this is for our self-drive tours.
All of our tours are guided in English.
The standard in Iceland is 230V and 50Hz and we use F-type power sockets and plugs, so you might have to bring an adaptor if you are visiting from UK, USA, Canada or other countries using a different voltage, Hz or plugs.
Our tours are split into four different categories that help participants to understand what to expect from the tour. The categories are Easy, Moderate, Challenging and Demanding. Each tour is rated making it easier to find tours that suit you.
For further information about the difficulty ratings and descriptions.
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/guide is not a guaranteed part of the tour, 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 on the tour.
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.
Drumbó is located about 98 kilometres from Reykjaík. See map for directions.
The Drumbó Base Camp has a reception, bar, seating area inside and out, showers and a sauna. It’s pretty much the perfect rafting base, or at least we think so…
For lower body: Swimming wear (or a change of underclothing) to wear under your rafting pants and/or for the sauna and warm woollen socks.
For the upper body: Bring a warm fleece or a wool sweater to wear under your rafting jacket (it will get wet), any necessary medications (asthma inhalers, etc.) and a towel to dry off after your trip. Everything else we will provide.
It is recommended that you bring a spare set of clothes as you will get wet when participating in Rafting. It will mean that you are able to change into nice dry clothes when the activity is finished.
There is a saying in Iceland, if you don’t like the weather just wait 5 minutes. This might sound like a joke but it is strangely true! Thanks to the beloved Gulf Stream, our country enjoys a cool, temperate maritime climate, this means refreshing summers and fairly mild winters. So basically, Iceland maintains a surprisingly moderate temperature all year around. For further information about the weather in Iceland and how to dress for it.
If your tour includes a glacier activity it’s very important to dress appropriately. Dress in 3 or 4 upper layers such as a light t-shirt (preferably wool) next to the skin, then a fleece or heavy wool garment, topped off with a waterproof windbreaker. Jeans are not recommended for our trips as they become very heavy, cold and uncomfortable to wear when they get wet. Lightweight hiking pants, track pants or long cotton pants are best and then wind/waterproof pants over. We also recommend using sunglasses and sunscreen even if it is cloudy due to the high UV and sunlight reflection from the glacier.
You will need sturdy hiking boots that fit crampons for the glacier hiking tours.
The drive from KEF airport to Reykjavik takes around 45 minutes. If your flight is delayed, please call our customer service team to go over what options you may have.
These are the two most common ways to get from the airport to Reykjavik city:
The cheapest and most convenient way of getting to and from Keflavik International Airport. The shuttle drops you off at the BSI Bus Terminal downtown or takes you all the way to your hotel or the closest drop off location. If you’re arriving on the same day as your tour departures we highly recommend to pick BSI Bus terminal as your pick up location.
Book your airport transfer in Iceland.
The quickest way to get to Reykjavik city is by a taxi. The taxis can drop you off at any of our pick-up locations. Taking a taxi is always more expensive than the airport shuttle.
For further information about getting to and from Keflavík International Airport.
Driving in Iceland can be tricky for two different reasons. The first being the weather conditions, especially in the winter months. The second reason is that if you’re not experienced in driving in conditions such as ice and snow then it could become dangerous.
If you are choosing a self-drive tour or to meet on location then make sure you have checked the driving conditions to make sure it is safe. At road.is you can find all the latest updates about travelling around Iceland. You should still check in the summer months just to make sure there is no storms or other types of weather warnings.
Iceland is a very high-tech country and we actually have one of the highest rates of Internet usage in the world. Many restaurants and cafés, especially in Reykjavik, have free Wi-Fi access, so if you have a laptop, a tablet or a smartphone you can get Internet access almost anywhere. All of our vehicles also have free Wi-Fi.
Tipping is not a requirement in Iceland although it is permitted and is well received in most cases.
Here is the plus side to a cold country like Iceland. No dangerous insects survive here! Iceland has about three areas where some mosquitoes have now settled but nothing you will have to worry about on our tours. So, to sum it up, no you will not need any repellant!
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 travellers 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.
There are a few different ways you can book our trips. First of all, you can book almost all our trips right here on our website. There is a booking window on each tour page and we do recommend that you book and pay for your trip there, preferably in good time as we keep our groups small and some tours tend to sell out.
If the trip you would like to book is not bookable online, you can call our office directly, the phone number is +354 562 7000. Another way is to send us an e-mail with an inquiry through our contact form. What we need to have is your name, how many people are in your party, where you are staying, a way of contacting you either an e-mail or a phone number and what tour you are trying to book.
- You can pay through the internet, through our website. This is by far the easiest, safest and fastest way to reserve and pay for your adventure. If you choose this way then you will receive a voucher as a confirmation via e-mail which you will need to bring with you for your trip.
- You can pay via phone, the phone number is +354 562 7000.Please Note: However you pay, you will always get a voucher: REMEMBER TO PRINT IT OUT AND BRING IT ALONG OR MAKE SURE THAT YOU CAN SHOW IT ON YOUR ELECTRONIC DEVICE!
A booking is confirmed when you receive a confirmation email. If you think you have made a booking and have not received an email confirmation, please send us an e-mail with an inquiry through our contact form, and we will figure this out together.
We process all payments in Icelandic króna (ISK). Prices in your currency might vary slightly depending on the conversion rate set by your card issuer.
Arctic Adventures is not responsible for currency changes between different currencies.
Most of our tours have no minimum but there is a minimum of 2 people for a few of our trips. If you are interested in a trip that has a minimum of 2 persons and are travelling solo we can take down your information and contact you if more people book the trip.
We, unfortunately, don’t have a waiting list for our tours but feel free to check the availability sheet on our website as all updates will automatically be made to the sheet listed in each tour‘s description. We also offer a lot of different adventure tours around Iceland so chances are that we will have a similar version of the tour that you were originally looking for.
If we cancel a tour you have booked with us you will receive a 100% refund. The refund process is different depending on the way you booked the tour.
If you booked the tour on our website we will start the refund as soon as we know you will not be rescheduling and you will receive a separate email with the confirmation once the refund has been processed. It can then take a few days for the amount to show back up on your bank account once the refund has been processed and we, therefore, ask you to be patient.
If you booked the tour through a booking agent you will need to contact them to receive the refund. We will confirm with them that the tour was cancelled and the refund process will start on their end. Arctic Adventures only receives a payment when the tour has finished, this means that your payment is still with the booking agent and therefore, the refund will be processed by them.
If you pay with you card via email or phone you will need to contact us the same way again to be refunded.
We can not accommodate a person that has not reached the age limit on the tour. We put great value towards the safety of our customers and the minimum age policy falls under this. The minimum age requirement is decided by our operational managers and is dependent on each activity and it‘s difficulty ratings and can, therefore, vary between tours. We ask you to try to understand that this is based on safety procedures and we can therefore unfortunately not make any exceptions to this rule.
Arctic Adventures is a part of VAKINN which is the official quality and environmental system within Icelandic tourism. VAKINN provides validation of insurance, safety and regulatory requirements which supports increased quality and safety within the tourism industry.
Our website shows the correct number of available seats left so we can unfortunately not accommodate you and your group if the number of your group extends the number of available seats left. It is not possible to squeeze additional participants onto the departure as we have really strict policy measures as to how many participants are assigned to each guide on our tour departures. This is of course done with our customers safety in mind, so we do hope that you understand.
We accept Visa, MasterCard, American Express, Discover, Diners Club for all countries.
In addition, we offer various local payment methods in many other countries such as UnionPay and JCB (Japan Credit Bureau).
As with any and all world travel, we strongly recommend having travel insurances that can provide cover if you need to cancel your travel reservation with short notice. We also recommend that you have personal health insurance coverage when participating in any adventure activities in Iceland.
Vehicles are equipped for both summer and winter driving conditions, and drivers are very experienced driving in difficult conditions.
Before starting any of the activities, participants will receive a safety briefing highlighting the safe and proper use of equipment, the role of guides during the trip, and the significant risks and hazards involved in their activity. The safety briefing will also cover potentially foreseeable scenarios that may arise and explain how participants should react in such circumstances. Our guides will also outline their expectations of participants during the trip where needed and address any specific questions or concerns that may arise during this time.
Any medical conditions or personal health concerns that may jeopardize your well-being or affect your ability to meet the physical demands of the trip must be clearly communicated to the trip leader before the tour start. Any medications you may require for minor medical conditions (asthma inhalers, etc.), should be kept close and you should bring it with you on the trip if possible. It is important that you notify your guide about such medications and their whereabouts before setting off.
The Ice Caves in Iceland are truly magical. If you want to learn more about them this information page on Ice Caves will be a great help.
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.