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Thrilling 3 Day Whitewater Rafting Expedition on Iceland's East Glacial River

Your strength and nerves will be tested on an exciting rafting tour in North Iceland.
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Starting time
3 days
Minimum age
18 years old

Get the blood pumping with this three-day rafting tour of the Austari-Jökulsá, or the East Glacial Ricer. Travel into the highlands and spend your days battling turbulent water and white rapids on an adventure perfect for all thrill-seekers visiting this country.

You'll meet your guides at the rafting base at Hafgrímsstaðir, located a short drive from the little village of Varmahlíð. You can also request to be picked up from either the city of Reykjavík or the northern town of Akureyri for an additional fee. From there, you'll board a vehicle that will take you inland, into the rugged and unspoilt highlands of Iceland where your adventure begins.

On this demanding tour, you'll manoeuvre your vessel down steep 'pool drops' and through 'boulder garden rapids' on sections of the East Glacial rivers categorised as grade 3-4 and 4+. There is a reason this river is sometimes referred to as 'The Beast of the East'. 

All meals are included with this tour, and you will spend your nights at comfortable lodgings in the rugged highlands where you can unwind under the midnight sun.

Feel the adrenaline surging through your body on this fantastic three-day rafting tour. Check availability by choosing a date. 


All rafting equipment: dry suit, PFD, helmet, booties, gloves
Qualified, professional raft guides and safety kayakers
Transportation into the highlands & to and from the river
2 nights accommodation in highland lodges
All meals/snacks from lunch on Day 1 to dinner on Day 3



Daily itinerary

Day 1
A rafting adventure under the midnight sun.


If you did not request a pickup, you will meet with your tour guides, and fellow rafters at the rafting base camp in Hafgrímsstaðir located a short drive away from the small village of Varmahlíð in northern Iceland.

There, you will go over the itinerary for the next couple of days, be fitted with a drysuit, and given all necessary rafting equipment, as well as a dry bag for your personal belongings. Once you are fully packed and prepared, you’ll board a large vehicle and head out to your adventure.

You’ll travel the remote roads of the Skagafjörður valley and into the bare expanses of the Sprengisandur desert. Spanning on the horizon is the mighty Hofsjökull glacier, as you traverse through rivers and streams of the rugged highlands.

You'll arrive at a hostel in the highlands in time for dinner. In the evening, you can relax in the hostel's geothermal hot tub under the midnight sun, and prepare for the adventure that lies ahead.

Day 2
Rafting in the East Glacier River in Iceland's summer.

Upper section of the East Glacial River (Grade 3-4)

You'll wake up to the energising smell of freshly made coffee and a hot breakfast. When you are ready, you will board the vehicle again and take a short excursion to the uppermost reaches of the Austari Jökulsá, or East Glacial River.

While the guides rig the rafts and load the equipment, you will be given a full safety briefing and necessary rafting instructions from your trip leader. Then you'll jump aboard your vessel and start an adventurous journey down the river.

In the first hour, you'll float gently through the milky white waters of the river, and use the time to practice teamwork and the technical skills needed to successfully manoeuvre through the rapids that await you.

As you round the last bend, the river changes dramatically and rushes into the first of many steep-walled valleys that lie ahead. You will find the adrenaline surging through your body as you paddle through the relentless and fast 'boulder garden rapids'.

After around 3 hours, the river’s gradient eases up, and you will stop at a beautiful spot to rest and refuel with lunch. You'll then continue your journey, and another blood-pumping stretch will greet you as soon as you set off again.

You will then have the chance to cool down as you'll float for about an hour to the doorsteps of the riverside cabin where you will spend the night. Once at the cabin, you can relax with your fellow rafters with a well-earned dinner and warm drinks.

Day 3
Prepare for white water in north-east Iceland.

Lower gorge of the East Glacial River (Grade 4+)

After breakfast, you'll head down to the river which begins with an easy float of the floor of the majestic and verdant Austurdalur valley.

After an hours sail, the walls of the valley begin to steepen drastically, and you'll start to approach the famous lower ravine of the East Glacial River.

The river will start to get narrow, and it will steepen dramatically as you commit yourself to the depth of this massive canyon. You'll face an entirely different scene from what you encountered on the previous day.

The 100-metre deep volcanic canyon is not only home to some of the country's most spectacular whitewater rapids, but it is also a geological marvel. You'll rush past stunning scenery as you face a nonstop ride of crashing overhead waves and steep 'pool drop' rapids that will surely get your blood pumping and adrenaline surging.

When you have made it through the last of the major rapids, you'll pull over for a short lunch break. If you need to cool down after the thrilling ride, you can jump into the glacial river from a tall cliff.

You can use the remaining few kilometres of the river to unwind and enjoy the beautiful scenery of the river. When you emerge from the last of the river's canyons, you'll be back at the rafting base. You will then end the trip with a soak in a warm hot tub and a mouth-watering barbecue feast.

What to bring

1 set of river clothing (warm, lightweight, layered clothing of fleece, wool, or synthetic materials– No cotton!)
Warm and waterproof clothes for dry land
Good shoes
3 pairs of extra socks
Sleeping bag
Any necessary medications (asthma inhaler, EpiPen, etc.)
Swimsuit and towel for thermal pools
Camera (optional but recommended)

Good to know

Be prepared to get wet! All clothing worn on the river should be of a material that keeps its insulating ability when wet. We highly recommend fleece, wool, and synthetic materials. Please do not wear cotton, so don't wear your jeans and favourite hoodie!

The rafting base at Hafgrímsstaðir is located on Road #752, 15km from its junction with Hwy #1 at the west end of Varmahlíð. Simply follow Road #752 up the valley for about 10-15 minutes until you see us on the left-hand side of the road!

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