Paddle in the Wild
This is our longest sea kayak trip. It is a combination of Glacier Fjords Kayaking and Coastal Kayaking Adventure put end to end to create a truly wild adventure.
Experience the best of both worlds, the beautiful fjords of Jökulfirðir glacial fjords in Hornstrandir Nature Reserve and Ísafjarðardjúp bay. Both of these areas are considered to offer the best sea kayaking in Iceland. Numerous bird species spend the summer in the area and there is a great chance to spot whales, porpoises, dolphins and seals.
We spend the first three nights in comfortable houses and the remaining two nights wild camping on remote beaches. A unique combination which will keep you entertained until the very end!
We paddle under towering cliffs, negotiating the waves and rocks which demonstrate nature’s raw power. We will take time to explore rocky coves and inlets and try our hand at surfing small waves should we encounter any.
The camp to camp aspect of this trip along with the exposure to the open ocean and long open water crossings make to journey more suited to kayakers with substantial experience under their belt. If your experience is limited we suggest exploring other trips such as Wild Camp Discovery or Glacier Fjords Kayaking.
Here is a great article that appeared in KANU Magazine from a trip we did in 2013.
A little history, a lot of nature and spectacular views, even with the rain and clouds (we did have a little bit of clear weather). With 20-25 km (10-15 miles per day) on the water, this isn't for the beginner.But if you're an experienced paddler and back country camper, you will have an amazing time. Spectacular scenery, waterfalls everywhere, quite a few arctic foxes, and lots of curious seals.
The guides were knowledgeable, provided great food and kept us on track.
And we topped it off the final day in a pod of humpback whales.
Definitely a trip worth repeating.
- All food
- Accommodation in comfortable houses for the first three nights
- Tents for the final two nights
- Ferry and car transfer on the first and last day
- Kayaking gear (kayak, paddle, neoprene pants, dry top, spray skirt, life vest, paddling boots, paddling gloves and additional dry bags)
- Professional guide
- 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
We meet at 5pm on the evening before departure at our base in Mávagarður C (grey building) for a briefing where we meet each other, answer any questions and make final preparations. This shouldn’t take longer than an hour. If you’re unable to be here the day before departure, then just let us know via email and we’ll make sure that you have all the information you’ll need.
We meet again at our base in Mávagarður C at 8am for last minute checks before departing from the harbour in Ísafjörður on our passenger ferry Bjarnarnes at 9am. Our destination is Hesteyri, which was the biggest settlement in Hornstrandir Nature Reserve. We drop off our gear at the old doctor’s house before getting straight to the paddling. We paddle out of the fjord along the coast to the lighthouse at Slétta. This is a short paddle aimed at getting to know your kayak and blow away any paddling cobwebs you may have before the longer days to come! We enjoy a nice dinner at the old doctor’s house before getting some good sleep ready for the day ahead.
Distance: 14 km
After a hearty breakfast, we pack our kayaks and start the voyage of the day 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
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 sooth sore muscles and delicious dinner.
Distance: 20 km
We pack our boats and start paddling. Our first task is to paddle across the bay to the South side of the fjord near Höfði to get a good look at Leirufjörður fjord with the elegant Drangajökull glacier in the distance. The name Leirufjörður (e. silty fjord) explains itself when we see the clay and silt coming from the glacial river of Drangajökull. We then head along the shoreline towards Grunnavík bay. En-route is a nice rock arch that we can pass under at high tide. There is also a good chance to spot porpoises close to the shore, especially if the sea is calm. At Grunnavík there are a few summerhouses and a nice church that we can take a look at. We set up camp, eat dinner and sleep on the beach.
Distance: 20 km
Today we head out of the Jökulfirðir glacial fjords and into the big bay of Ísafjarðardjúp. We pass many beautiful waterfalls on the way that people rarely experience since they are so inaccessible by foot. We continue along the coast of Snæfjallaströnd and camp either in the beautiful cove in Ytraskarð (20 km) or near the breathtaking Möngufoss waterfall (24 km), all depending on conditions. Campfire on the beach and watch the beautiful sunset.
Distance: 23 km
Our first stop on the last full day of kayaking is the island of Æðey. The island is inhabited by one family during the summer months and is a nice place to stop, relax and enjoy life on the island. The waters around the island are covered with puffins and other sea birds. Literally! After visiting the island, we do a long crossing (9 km) to the island of Vigur. The birdlife on the island is quite amazing and the farmers have raised special rock walls for the eider ducks to nest in. Puffins are found all over the island. The beautiful and colourful houses are very picturesque and the small coffee house is a great place to stop and relax. We then get going again for the last leg of the trip. We paddle to the village of Súðavík, where a car will pick us up. We then make the 20 minute drive back to Ísafjörður. We arrive back in town at approximately 4pm, in time for the afternoon flight for those flying back to Reykjavík.
Distance: 22 km
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 for camp.
- 2 to 3 pairs thick wool/synthetic socks.
- Light hiking shoes for strolls in and around camp.
- Sleeping bag rated to at least 0°C. Down is best since it packs smaller than synthetic.
- Sleeping mattress. A thin inflatable one is best as it easily fits inside the boat.
- 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 our 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 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.
We use neoprene wetsuits on our trips. However, you can upgrade to a dry suit if you would prefer. Please select this option and select your size during the booking process. You can see the size chart here.
We also have sleeping bags and sleeping pads available to rent. Please select this option during the booking process.
I've been looking into your exciting kayaking trips and I really want to see whales. What is the best trip for that?
Whales are more common in Ísafjarðardjúp Bay. So, this trip would certainly be a good option if you would like to see whales!
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 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 are an experienced paddler, 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?
We consider this trip to be suitable for experienced paddlers. We will be paddling in areas which can be exposed to strong winds and moderate swell. The camp to camp style as well as the long distance covered and open crossings add an extra element to the trip.
But don't despair! If you have limited experience and still want to experience a multi-day kayak trip we recommend Wild Camp Discovery where you can take things at an easier pace.
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.
Do you sleep in tents on this trip?
Yes, we sleep in tents for the final two nights. We supply the tents but you should bring your own sleeping bag and mattress. If you prefer to just stay in the comfort of a house, we recommend Glacier Fjords Kayaking which is just the first three days of this 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?
Yes, we have certain items available for rent. You can rent a sleeping bag, sleeping pad and a dry suit from us if you would like to. Select this option during the booking process.
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