We had a quick exit from the USA, and in a surprisingly short period of time, found ourselves in Keflavik Airport at 6:30am on a rainy, overcast Wednesday morning in Iceland. With almost zero planning as to what this trip would entail, we spent some time collecting our rental car and figuring out what the currency of Iceland was, and how to get some. After picking up the smallest and disproportionately expensive rental car ever, we added our inflatable roof racks and set off to the North to go find some whitewater kayaking
Despite the worst jet lag either of us had ever experienced, we made it to the Viking Rafting in Varmahlíð later that day. The drive itself was unexpectedly fantastic with some long underwater tunnels, mountain and ocean scenery and place names that we had no chance of pronouncing correctly.
The hospitable crew at Viking Rafting (thanks for letting us crash and burn) took us out the next day on the East Glacial River, and then sent us on our way to Akureyri. We got another run in on the way - a roadside creek that had enough water to float a boat, which turned out to be pretty exciting kayaking.
Chris from Viking Rafting stitched us up with some information to see us through the rest of our trip and we continued our clockwise journey around the island. Glaciers, hidden hot water creeks in old lava tubes, icebergs, raging oceans, volcanoes, big rain storms, more foss (waterfall(s)) than you can possibly imagine and some of the kindest people along the way. We got a few trips in by ourselves and had some adventurous moments hitchhiking and trying to avoid trouble driving on F-roads, which our rental car was banned from travelling on.
Near the end of our trip we met up some with some of Iceland’s resident white water kayakers (and an international crew) and we agreed to meet in the morning. Their leisurely start to the trip meant that we had a couple of hours to kill before they arrived, which turned out to be another great discovery. There are approximately 126 thermal pools in Iceland, so we drove two minutes to the nearest one and spent two hours riding waterslides and soaking in hot pools before we went kayaking.
The Eystri Rangá was the kayaking highlight of Iceland. Thanks to the boys’ 4WD vehicles, it was possible to drive in which made the walk a lot shorter than it could have been. We paddled this run and the Waterfall of the Thieves with the boys, and their hospitality was second to none. Thanks for showing us around and having us to stay.
Iceland is a place of many different vistas and scenes, and this is reflected in the variety of rivers we visited along the way. Every corner of the island is something a little bit different and there was so much to explore that we only just scratched the surface. The camping and living was pretty easy and it was awesome to learn that Mother Nature seems to be winning in that part of the world. The temperature never got above 12 degrees while we were there, and we later learned that 2015 was the first year the glaciers had been advancing and not retreating in many years. Iceland was one of the coldest places I’ve ever paddled and we were super stoked to be dry from top to bottom in our Kokatat kit.
Our week came to a close faster than expected, and we camped near Keflavik on our last night. In a fortunate turn of events, the weather cleared and we were treated to an early season premiere of the Northern Lights (aurora borealis), which was an unforgettable experience. The following morning we had our final Icelandic adventure – rolling into Keflavik Airport in a massive rainstorm, which saw us sprawled on the floor trying to pack and sort all our stuff so we could catch our plane onward to Europe.