Pearls of Hornstrandir

12 days of expedition sea kayaking in isolated bays and under sheer bird cliffs

This trip is a true trial expedition where we're offering people the chance to break new grounds for future adventurers with all its joys and challenges. The nature reserve of Hornstrandir at the edge of the Arctic Circle offers adventurous incredible paddling along its magical coastline that is very rarely visited by humans. This is the place where the high latitude midnight sun gives us the chance to paddle in the golden hours where day and night merge into one and the water turns to glass. The sheer cliffs of Hornbjarg and Hælavíkubjarg; two of the biggest in the Atlantic, rise from the water as the noise from millions of seabirds fills the air.

The whole nature reserve has been uninhabited for over 50 years. Nature has taken over and the only sounds you'll hear are from running streams, bird rookeries, breaking waves on the shores and the arctic fox protecting its territory.

This is an exploratory kayaking expedition where we take on the challenges of each day as it comes, scout for good campsites at the end of the day and light a campfire on the beach from driftwood as we discuss the days ahead. This expedition is aimed for experienced kayakers with at least a few multi-day kayaking trips under their belt in different waters. Kayakers who know how to do self rescue and can assist their fellow travelers when problems arise.

The north shoreline of Hornstrandir is very exposed and we might have to push it against the wind to reach a safe sand beach for landing, sometimes in surf conditions.


Please Note

In 2014 we do not have any dates specifiaclly set aside for this trip. However, we offer custom trips and dates, so please don't hesitate to contact us if you would like to plan a kayaking trip for your group.

Trip itinerary
Please note that this itinerary will almost for certain change because of reasons beyond our control. In case of a good weather window, we might cover longer distances and be able to take it easier later on.

Day 1
Leave in the morning for a 4-5 hour drive to our first destination in Ófeigsfjörður. We may stay there the first night getting our gear ready, or start paddling for few hours if the weather is good.

Day 2
Paddle north along the shore from Ófeigsfjörður to Drangavík. This small cove is well known for the jagged pinnacles of Drangaskörð formed by sea erosion through millions of years and reaches far into the sea. The farm in Drangavík was abandoned in 1947 but the houses remain, and remind us of the harsh conditions people lived in, in the far north. Distance: 14km.

Day 3
After a hearty breakfast we begin today´s journey by paddling under the Drangaskörð pinnacles. The peaks are for sure best viewed from the water. We continue along the shore, enjoying the magnificent view that opens up every minute. We plan to camp on the banks of Meyjará River. 12km.

Day 4
We leave the camp at Meyjará and glide past abandoned farms and fishing huts along the shores. Many of them bear names that sound strange in the modern native language; many have great stories behind them. Lots of seals can be spotted in Skjaldabjarnarvík before we pass Mt. Geirólfsnúpur and head west to Reykjarfjörður where we plan to camp. In Reykjafjörður we´ll enjoy the geothermal hot pool with a great view of the Drangajökull Glacier. Distance 16km.

Day 5
Our aim for the day is to reach Bolungarvík. There are many things to explore on the way. Rocky outcrops, sand beaches and wildlife. Bolungarvík is very exposed to NE winds and landing there can be tricky. But it´s a sand beach and we can maybe use the opportunity to practice surf landings. There is rich birdlife in Bolungarvík and we´ll have time to explore the surroundings. Distance 14km.

Day 6
This day follows a rugged coastline past the bays of Barðsvík and Smiðjuvík. Close to the previouse nights designated camp, we'll pass the beautiful waterfall Drífandi that plummets right off the cliffs. It's possible to bathe under the waterfall in the kayak if you dare! We will head to shore in Hrollaugsvík cove and camp there for the night. Distance 18km.

Day 7
This day is one of the highlights of the expedition. We'll paddle to Hornvík bay, by many thought to be the most beautiful in the nature reserve. The sheer cliffs of Hornbjarg rise almost 600 meters from the Atlantic and the sound of millions of seabirds makes this paddle a one of a kind experience in the world. You wonder about the ancestors whose livelihood depended on collecting eggs and hunting birds in the cliffs, with only hemp ropes and WWII helmets for protection. Distance 17km.

Day 8
Rest day. There is no better place to take it easy than Hornvík bay. There are many options for those who want to stretch their legs. The most obvious one is to hike up the bird cliffs of Hornbjarg.

The hike is very easy on soft grass all the way to the edge. The Arctic fox is definitely on home ground in Hornvík. There is a great chance that we'll see them running along the edge of the cliffs looking for food or just protecting their territory from other foxes. There is also a chance to climb the Kálfatindar Peaks for a great panoramic view over the whole area. Arctic char live in the Hafnarós River and the challenge awaits those who want to catch some for dinner!

Day 9
After an easy morning, we paddle the short distance to Hlöðuvík bay, under the cliffs of Hælavík, with a few stops along the way to enjoy the scenery. Distance 15km.

Day 10
From Hlöðuvík we'll paddle between sea stacks and reefs along the coast of Almenningar around the headland of Kögur to Fljótavík bay. We'll end the day by paddling up the short river to the big lake. Hopefully on high tide. The lake is probably the best lake in Iceland for catching Arctic char. We'll hopefully have that for dinner. Distance 20km.

Day 11
This is our last day of kayaking and the longest in distance. The first leg is about 6km to Rekavík bay (e. Driftwood bay) that really lives up to its name. It´s loaded with driftwood that escapes the rivers of Siberia and ends up in north Iceland with ocean currents. The reason for the driftwood is also because of land erosion in Arctic regions where trees simply fall to the sea when the land gives away. After a good break we paddle the last stretch around Straumnes where we´ll see the remains of MV Goðafoss that was stranded there in the fifties. The farmers rescued all men with great difficulty. It was considered to be quite a heroic feat in those days. We'll land on the shores in Látrar in Aðalvík where we camp for the last night.

Day 12
Pickup by a speedboat and arrive in Ísafjörður in the afternoon. Farewell dinner at a local restaurant.

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Hornbjarg bird cliffs
Hornbjarg bird cliffs
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  • Boat and car transfer to start and stop locations
  • All meals during the expedition
  • Tents, cooking gear etc
  • Kayaking gear (boat, paddle, sprayskirt, clothes, life-jackets and dry bags)
  • Professional guiding
  • Transport to and from Ísfjörður airport
Not included:
  • Travel to and from Ísafjörður, Iceland unless specifically mentioned in itinerary
  • Personal medical insurance
  • Personal equipment as pr recommended equipment list.
Difficulty:      Challenging. Kayaking skills needed. Similar to British Canoe Union 3 star.  See here
Terms and conditions

The Borea Adventures trips/voyages are of an adventurous nature and to relatively remote places in Iceland, Greenland and other places. Borea Adventures makes best effort to stick to the planned itinerary but participants must appreciate and acknowledge that the trip/voyage requires considerable flexibility. The company and captain of the vessel reserve the right to adjust the itinerary without notice for reasons beyond their control such as weather, ice-conditions or other unpredictable or unforeseeable circumstances. Once departed on the voyage the captain will have final say on all decisions affecting safety etc and this must be accepted by all participants.

Download full version of "terms and conditions" here.

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"I will hold memories of this trip in my heart for a very, very long time. Your hospitality, knowledge, humour, conversation, generosity of spirit and of course - incredible food!"
- Claire, USA
"You guys have a really special thing going here – and your love and respect for the mountains and nature is inspiring. Thanks especially for your hard work, great guiding and flexibility...."
- Brian, USA
"Thank you for an unforgettable trip; great scoff, fantastic scenery and weather. We will miss you and the mother ship next time were paddling. ..."
- Sonia, England
Welcome to the website for Borea Adventures, Iceland, your number one stop for Arctic adventures in high latitudes. We provide great adventures and expeditions in Iceland, Greenland, East Greenland, Jan Mayen and Svalbard (Spitzbergen), mainly using our spacious yacht, the Aurora. Our philosophy is to make our trips as silent as possible where we minimize the use of motorized power and encourage physical activities, whether sea kayaking, climbing, sailing, walking and hiking, wildlife, ski touring and backcountry skiing for beginners, experts and people of all ages. The North Atlantic is our playground and we offer scheduled trips for individuals and groups as well as customized itineraries and charter for groups. We travel in harmony with the wildlife of the area: Arctic Foxes, Birds, Seals, Whales and Polar Bears. Aurora is a sturdy expedition yacht and was raced four times around the globe as part of the Clipper Round the World yacht race under the ownership of Sir Robin Knox-Johnston. She gives us a great opportunity to provide Arctic adventures in areas that are hard to reach otherwise. We call her our floating basecamp. Our name is derived from Greek mythology where Boreas was the god of the north wind. Aurora on the other hand was the Roman rosy-fingered goddess of dawn. Aurora Borealis is a name for the Northern lights which are common in our area. As we humans have proven through the decades, names can be hard to remember. Especially if a bit of alcohol gets passed around the galley too many times! You might spell our name Boreal Adventures, Borial Adventures, Borea Adventrues and Borealis Adventures. Thank you for visiting Borea Adventures.