Glacier Fjords Kayaking

We realise that we're not all made for camping in the wilderness. Therefore, we decided to offer a more luxurious alternative where guests can enjoy the best sea kayaking that Iceland has to offer while staying in comfortable accommodation. We travel light since we don't have to carry camping and cooking gear and everything is a bit simpler in operation. That provides more time and energy for you to enjoy the stunning scenery and wildlife of the Hornstrandir Nature Reserve.

We stay in Hesteyri for one night, the small abandoned village, where the old doctor's residence will be our home. The next two nights we stay in the old farmhouse in Kvíar that stood empty for over 60 years until we rebuilt it. These houses have everything you need for a perfect stay off the grid. The sauna is available in the evenings to soothe sore muscles and if we’re lucky, the nearby Arctic Fox may come to say hello.

The kayaking itself provides amazing opportunities to see wildlife in its natural habitat. Sea birds, marine mammals and Arctic Foxes are plentiful, and we blend right in when we’re in our sea kayaks.

This trip is our medium difficulty trip, not quite as easy going as Paddling with Puffins but not as difficult as Coastal Kayaking Adventure. This trip is suited to those with some experience. The longer distances require good strength and technique which takes some practice. 

Included:

  • All food
  • Three nights' accommodation in comfortable houses
  • Ferry transfer to Hornstrandir and back
  • Kayaking gear (kayak, paddle, neoprene pants, dry top, spray skirt, life vest, paddling boots, paddling gloves and additional dry bags)
  • Professional guide

Not included:

  • Travel to and from Ísafjörður prior to and after the trip
  • Food on the first day until the trip departs
  • Personal medical insurance
  • Personal equipment and clothing

Difficulty:  Moderate to Challenging

Day 1

We meet at our cafe Bræðraborg at 2pm for a briefing, where we will answer any questions and make final preparations. We depart from the harbour in Ísafjörður on our passenger ferry Bjarnarnes at 4PM. Our destination is Hesteyri, which was the biggest settlement in Hornstrandir Nature Reserve. We drop off our sleeping bags at the old doctor's house before getting straight to the paddling. We head out into the fjord for an exploratory paddle to the old whaling station in Hesteyrarfjörður fjord, a short distance from Hesteyri. This is a short paddle aimed at getting to know your kayak and blow away any paddling cobwebs you may have before a bigger paddle the next day! We enjoy a nice dinner at the old doctor's house before getting some good sleep ready for the day ahead.

Distance: 5km

Day 2

After a hearty breakfast, we pack our kayaks and start the voyage over to Kvíar farmhouse in Kvíadalur valley. The route will take us along spectacular coastline and across the fjords of Hesteyrarfjörður and Veiðileysufjörður. There is a good chance to see both whales and white-tailed eagles along the coast. We land on the beach beneath the farmhouse in Kvíar and make ourselves at home. The farmhouse is the only house in the valley and was built in 1921 and was occupied by the same family until they moved away in 1948 seeking an easier life in Ísafjörður. We have a nice dinner and head for the warm and cozy sauna that's situated next to the house.

Distance: 15 km

Day 3

We leave most of the gear in the farmhouse and go for a beautiful paddle into Lónafjörður fjord which, according to many, is the most beautiful fjord in Iceland. Totally unspoiled with no sign of human presence. The fjord is a haven for birds and a huge seal colony can be found in the small bay of Sópandi. We'll follow the whole coastline and enjoy a long day of paddling. Back to the farmhouse for sauna to soothe sore muscles and delicious dinner.

Distance: 20km

Day 4

Our passenger ferry Bjarnarnes picks us up from Kvíar and we head back to Ísafjörður for lunch at our cafe Bræðraborg. It's only five minute walk and lunch is included. Please note that the guide may be staying at Kvíar to continue the kayak journey with other guests on Paddle in the Wild. The crew on the ferry will take good care of you and help carry your gear to the cafe. Just let the cafe staff know that you are on a kayak trip and they will provide lunch for you!

This itinerary is a guide only and is subject to change depending on the weather, sea conditions and the ability of the group.

Remember the less you bring, the easier it is. There’s plenty of space in the kayaks if you pack wisely.

  • Thermal base layers, at least two sets of tops.
  • Wool or fleece thermal mid layer.
  • Hiking pants. We don’t recommend cotton as it is cold and takes a long time to dry.
  • Waterproof and breathable pants and jacket for hiking onshore. The lighter - the better.
  • Wool/fleece hat.
  • One pair of warm gloves.
  • 2 to 3 pairs thick wool/synthetic socks.
  • Swim suit and towel for the sauna at Kvíar.
  • Light hiking shoes for strolls around the houses.
  • Sun glasses.
  • Sunscreen and after sun cream.
  • 1 litre water bottle.
  • Personal medical kit i.e. band aids, throat lozenges, lip salves, sea-sickness tablets etc. Don't forget your personal medication which you may need (e.g. Asthma inhaler, even if you don’t always need it).
  • 2 x Dry bags*
  • Binoculars are nice to have for watching wildlife. (optional)
  • Don't forget your camera!

*We use dry bags to keep our personal gear dry, especially sleeping bags. We have a small selection of dry bags which you may use but you should bring at least two of your own. Test it to make sure that all of your gear all fits inside!

We supply all paddling gear and clothing. However, feel free to bring your own if you have it available. Your personal gear is guaranteed to fit perfectly and it is comfortable. We recommend good dry pants and top with rubber cuffs or at least a 3mm neoprene wetsuit with a windproof top. A full dry suit is definitely best but can be pretty warm and cumbersome on sunny days but great to have if things get rough. Footwear should preferably be neoprene boots with ankle support and thick soles to safely negotiate the rocky shoreline. Neoprene gloves, mittens or pogies are great at keeping your hands warm.

You can upgrade to a dry suit. Just select this option during the booking process.

I love kayaking but I'm not much of a camping person. So, this trip seems perfect for me. Do I need to bring sleeping bag and a mattress?

No, you don't. Both locations which we stay at overnight have beds with mattresses. We provide you with sleeping bags. Feel free to bring your own if you would prefer though.

How do I travel to Ísafjörður?

Here you can see your options how to travel to our beautiful town: How do I get to Ísafjörður

What kind of kayaks do you use?

We use plastic sea kayaks. We have both single and tandem kayaks available. We highly recommend using tandem kayaks for our multi-day trips as they are faster, more stable, hold more gear and are a lot more social than the singles! Tandem kayaks are not only for beginners, in fact, experienced kayakers will know that tandems are a better choice for longer trips. However, if you have experience then of course the single kayaks are available.

My kayaking experience is limited but I do a lot of outdoor activities and consider myself in good physical shape. Do you think I'm fit to participate in this trip?

This trip is our medium difficulty trip, not quite as easy going as Paddling with Puffins but not as difficult as Coastal Kayaking Adventure. This trip is suited to those with some experience. The longer distances require good strength and technique which takes some practice. 

I've done fair a bit of kayaking but I can't roll. Is that okay?

You don't need to be able to roll your kayak Greenlandic style. It's very rare that people capsize on multi-day trips as the boats are loaded with gear and very stable. We recommend that people take a weekend course to refresh their skills and learn simple self-rescue techniques. The more prepared you are, the more you will enjoy the trip.

I have specific dietary requirements and/or allergies to certain foods. Can you cater to my needs?

Of course, we realise that we’re not all made the same and have different needs and desires. We try our best to cater to your needs. Please let us know ahead of time if you have any requirements so that we can plan the food accordingly.

I don’t have everything on the gear list. Is it possible to rent gear from you?

You can upgrade to a dry suit. Just select this option during the booking process.

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Check out some moments from Glacier Fjords Kayaking