The Ultimate Guide for River Rafting in Iceland


Iceland is a beautiful country that embraces great natural surroundings. The country is home to gigantic volcanoes, tall mountains, flowing waterfalls, stunning glacier lagoons, soothing hot springs, and magical hiking trails. This European country attracts many tourists, travelers, hikers, trekkers, campers, and adventure enthusiasts throughout the year. The northern city has some of the world’s most beautiful and eye-captivating attractions that unleash many colors of the enchanting place. Most people love visiting this stunning country with family, especially kids, as you get plenty of opportunities to have an adventurous journey.

In Iceland, you cannot miss having an ecstatic experience, exploring this incredible and exciting beauty. From great aesthetically appealing sites to thrilling outdoor activities, you will find something to keep the adrenaline jumping in Iceland. You can try your hands-on different activities and sports to keep the excitement high throughout your excursion. This mesmerizing northern country remains exciting and picturesque throughout different climates, weather, and season. Some of the most exciting activities include dog sledding, glacier hiking, snowmobiling, and river rafting. River rafting is the favorite sport of most water babies. You get the chance to travel through high and low tides at high speed, which intact the utmost fun.

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First Things First, Know What is River Rafting

It is an exciting recreational outdoor activity that uses an inflatable raft or boat to have an adventurous water journey. Whitewater rafting is an exciting activity that can be done solo or with kids. Many places or spots in Iceland offer rafting services for kids as well. You will come across various rafting lingos that you must know before jumping in the water. The rapids are the frothy white waves that keep you entranced throughout your adventurous voyage. The steep drops and dramatic turns and twists make river rafting more exciting and jaw-dropping. You will keep paddling or punching (as suggested by the rafting lingo) to meet the speed of the waves. Your kids will love the water splashes touching their faces when they paddle through frothy white waves. River rafting is one of the most thrilling experiences you will have while in Iceland. The two major bases for reaching these river rafting locations are situated near Reykjavik and Akureyri.  It is recommended to book your river rafting trip well in advance. You can find variety of different river rafting tours on the website. Make sure to book the river rafting tour before to avoid last-minute hassles; you can also send us an email and one of our travel agents will help you find the best plan and route for you.

The Magical Rivers of Iceland

The rivers that are majorly preferred for river rafting in Iceland include Hvita, East Glacial River, and West Glacial River. These rivers are home to the best river rafting locations that most adventurous people won’t miss out on trying. These rivers are having their origins from different glaciers, including Hofsjokull and Langjokull. The rivers embrace a natural charm and a rhythmic splash sound that keeps the excitement intact. Icelandic rivers are classified under different classes to determine their safety and usability depending upon the age of the tourist and their rafting experience.  Besides being a hot spot for river rafting, these rivers are home to some breath-taking landscapes that are awe-inspiring and keep up the spark.

West Glacial River

This is a Class 2 river which offers the opportunity for rafting to both professionals and inexperienced. The river has a gentle pace, which allows you to catch a glimpse of the aesthetic attractions. This west glacial river is originated from the Hofsjokull glacier; it gorges from the enormous rock to create a magnificent sight.  You will also get a chance to experience hot springs while rafting through the beautiful river. This is where you can raft with your family and take out your jumping adrenaline into the mild river. If you’re teaching your children how to raft, then practicing in the West glacial river is the safest option as the river is not so deep with low tides.

Hvita River

Hvita is also known as the White River, which is located near the Golden Circle. Hvita is also classified as the Class 2 river based on its safety for the inexperienced rafters. This river is easily accessible from the capital city, Reykjavik, and offers great scenic beauty throughout the adventurous voyage. The river is great for most action-packed activities in Iceland that are loved by families. Rafting in this river allows you to experience some daredevil stunts to jump off the cliff into the glacial river. Hvita river is originated from the Langjokull glacier. To maximize the fun and excitement, the guides will throw you in the river, but with a safety jacket, and of course only if you are up for it. You will also get a chance to catch a view of the incredible Bruarhloð canyon.

East Glacial River

This is referred to as the “Beast of the East,” as it is classified as a Class 4 river for rafting. You will get an opportunity to experience steep drops and turbulent white water. Originating from the Hofsjokull glacier, this river requires you to do continuous punching or padding to match the pace of this river. Only experienced or professional individuals are allowed to raft in this high tide river. It would be best if you had the good physical strength to ride through the East glacial river. The minimum age for rafting is usually 18 years in this river. For added safety, the raft is accompanied by additional guides while in canoes and kayaks.

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Get the Best of Both Worlds

River rafting in Iceland is not just about hitting the water tides at high speed and enjoying a gentle splash of water; rather, it is an activity that offers you the best of both worlds – nature, and adventure. While rafting through the magnificent rivers, you will witness some of the incredible and mind-blowing attractions of Iceland.  You will be lucky to catch a glance at some of the most popular landscapes that are both aesthetically appealing and eye captivating. Nowhere in the world, you will witness this earth-shattering amalgamation of both adventure and nature. Imagine rafting through the incredible waterfall with the peeing sun, great mountain heights, and cool winter breezes touching your face. Enticing right? This is a typical scene in Iceland where all you get to experience is the eye-pleasing northern beauty. The dramatic turn of the raft will take you within the glorious glacial rivers that embraces pretty water life. You can also enjoy camping near these rivers after you raft to enjoy the starry lights and sleeping under the wide sky. The nights are colder in Iceland, but you can set up a nice bonfire to keep you warm and cozy. You might see furry herds and arctic fox in some areas around the river, which adds to your ever-needed dose of adventure. In Iceland, there is no way you will be able to compromise on an adventure and natural vibes quotient because this place serves the best of both worlds.

The Perfect Season

River rafting is a summer activity, especially in Iceland, because it is next to impossible to raft on freezing rivers. The suitable time for rafting is between April to October; in these months, the weather is pleasant, and you will get an opportunity to witness various natural attractions. The water and sky appear blue and clear to give you the pleasure of traveling in a soothing ambiance. River rafting is regarded as one of the most favorite summer activities among tourists. You can enjoy a thrilling river rafting session with your whole family to have a memorable time in Iceland. Your kids will love this family time and learn the value of teamwork while paddling through some exciting water waves. If your children are above six years of age, then you can take them to the west glacial river as it is the safest option available for novice rafters. Summer is also the preferred season for river rafting as the season calls for beautiful birds, wildlife, and blossoming flowers. Your kids will love to partner with exotic flowers, fishes, and birds while on a fun river ride.

What Things You Need

Be smart while packing for a river rafting experience. It would be best if you were careful of the stuff you’re carrying along and wearing on your journey because rafting is all about balance in the water.  You can wear a swimsuit, dry suit, or a fast-drying piece of cloth with an appropriate pair of waterproof shoes. Your guides will bring you a waterproof shoes and a dry suit for the tour, so you do not have to worry about that. You do not have to carry a lot of stuff with you on this fun voyage. Make sure to leave behind all the unnecessary items. Another important thing to remember while going on a river rafting tour is not to wear layers of clothes. You do not require any layer of cloth except for your dry suit. Remember, you will eventually get wet with the water splash, and more wet clothes means more weight on the raft. Try to avoid cotton clothes on the river rafting tour because cotton absorbs more water, and glacial water is colder than you may think. So, stay away from kinds of cotton and try picking fleece or synthetic wear. These are the preferred materials because even if they get wet, they will keep you warm. Do not forget to carry important medicines or a first aid box; you will be accompanied by trained instructors, but they might not have the exact medication you would want after a thrilling rafting session. Avoid wearing sunglasses and wristwatches on your voyage as they may get ruined due to excessive water (ignore if you have waterproof equipment). Do not forget to carry along your camera and other accessories because you would not miss out on capturing this precious moment with your family and friends. Also remember to bring extra clothes to wear after the river rafting. 

Though you will be surrounded by water in most cases, it’s not drinkable. So, it’s better to carry your own water bottle, which keeps you hydrated throughout the voyage. You can also have some energy bars or chocolates to keep you active while you paddle fiercely through the beautiful and majestic rivers of Iceland. Try to keep yourself dry during the tour (which is slightly impossible), but the more you will be dry, the more fun you can have in your little adventurous journey. Before you hit the water waves, do keep an eye on the weather forecast. It has been said a million times by every tourist, explorer, and adventure enthusiast that you cannot predict the weather of Iceland. So, make sure you check the forecasts before booking a tour to avoid any unwanted accidents.

The Ethical Debate Surrounding River Rafting in Iceland

There are many sports and activities that are considered harmful to the environment, including hiking, rock climbing, scuba diving, and river rafting. It is often proved that tour operators mold the natural surroundings, including cutting trees and creating unnatural bumps in the river to increase the adventure quotient. Making reckless changes to the ecology and transient nature of the environment has been questioned about being an unethical act by tour operators. The artificial turbulence in the water created by large rocks harms the river bed and waterbodies adversely. The continuous bumps turn, and twists affect the living of water lives as well.

In Iceland, the government and conservationists are trying to introduce river rafting as a responsible act for tourists coming to Iceland. The idea is to promote the activity in a way to educate the tourists and operators about the need for ethical practices. The authorities are constantly reminding them about the untouched beauty of the place and the importance of sustainable travel.  The tour operators and guides are instructed to educate the tourists for a better and sustainable practice. The government makes strict rules and regulations to promote ethical practices while consuming or using mother nature for personal use.

Iceland is a country that embraces a dollop of natural landscapes that captivates everyone. It promises to deliver the best this nature has to offer to keep you happy and entranced throughout your trip. From rich Viking history to hospitable natives, the place is like a dream travel destination among travelers with so much to experience in Iceland. Not just river rafting, you can also try your hands on some other recreational sports and activities, including dog sledding, glacier hiking, bathing in hot springs, and cruising through the mind-blogging glaciers. It is a place that keeps the excitement level high whenever you travel from one place to the other. Enjoy the aesthetic beauty with your friends and family to create some unforgettable, lifetime memories.

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