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Paddle in the Wild – Kayaking

Extended paddle adventures with long lasting memories

This is the longest and best sea kayak trip we offer. It combines routes and stays featured in our Glacier Fjords Kayaking and Coastal Kayaking Adventure. This perfect blend creates a truly wild adventure.

Contents of this tour

Wow, what a pleasant surprise! I booked a 6 day kayak tour, hoping for the best. And honestly, the best is what I got! All of the paddlers, 4 of us clients and the guide, were competent and prepared paddlers. The tour was wonderful. A combination of tent camping and staying in amazing historical and remote buildings. The setting was what I had dreamed of. Wildlife sightings were abundant. Brendan Jackson, our guide, was safe and knowledgable with out being the least bit stifling. I'd paddle with him anytime! They also lead hikes and backpacking trips, day and half day kayak tours, skiing and Arctic Fox photography expeditions in the winter. I'm sure that there is more as well. Finally, the company is owned by local Icelandic folks and the inclusion of culture and history was a significant bonus on the tour!

Tour overview

Description

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 accommodation in Kviar Lodge 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.

All food for this tour is included in the price.

Here is a great article that appeared in KANU Magazine from a trip we did in 2013 and another one in Paddling Life Magazine in 2021.

Difficulty: Challenging/Demanding. 

Itinerary

Pre-Departure

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. Here is a map of the meet up location.

Day 1

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 at 9am. Our destination is Hesteyri, which was the biggest settlement in Hornstrandir Nature Reserve. We pack our boats and after the safet briefing, we make a short paddle into the fjord along the coast to the old whaling station that was operated by Norwegian whalers in the late 18th. century. After a short break and photos, we get going again for the journey to Kviar Lodge where we cross two fjords and experience numerous waterfalls that cascade off the towering cliffs above us. We will make some beach landings along the way to stretch and enjoy the beautiful scenery. After arriving to Kvíar Lodge, we get settled in the house and get the sauna going to soothe sore muscles. 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.

Distance: 18 km

Day 2

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 with relaxing breaks along the route. Back to the farmhouse for a rewarding sauna and a delicious dinner.

Distance: 17-20 km

Day 3

After an easy morning and good amount of coffee, we get going across the bay to the West 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 have options to land in the small cove of Kjós and go for a hike up to the nearby headland to get a better look at the glacier, or paddle into Leirufjörður and go for hike there towards the glacier. We then paddle back to our cozy home in Kvíar before dinnertime after another great day out.

Distance: 15-18 km

Day 4

Today we‘re leaving Kvíar for the camping portion of the trip. So we make sure we have everything with us for the three days ahead. We start by crossing the Jökulfirðir Bay and 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. Sometimes we have time to spare and then we go for a beautiful climb to the top of Maríuhorn (356 m) that offers spectacular views over the whole fjord system. We set up camp near the beach and enjoy a good meal and well deserved sleep.

Distance: 15 km

Day 5

Today we head out of the Jökulfirðir glacial fjord system 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: 20-24 km

Day 6

Our first stop on our last day 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. On this crossing, we have the greatest chances of spotting humpbacks that reside in the bay during the summer months. So listen carefully when the blow! The birdlife on Vigur 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 subject to change depending on the weather, sea conditions and the ability of the group.

What to bring

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).
  • About four 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! It’s best to have few smaller ones then a couple of bigger bags. It’s easier to fit them inside organise. We recommend 10-15L bags.

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.

We also have sleeping bags and sleeping pads available to rent. Please select this option during the booking process.

FAQ

Whales are more common in Ísafjarðardjúp Bay. So, this trip would certainly be a good option if you would like to see whales!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
You arrive in Keflavik International Airport about 40 minutes away from the capital city of Reykjavik. From the domestic airport in Reykjavik there are 2-3 daily 40 minute flights to Isafjordur. You can take the Fly-Bus between the airports and most of the time you can continue same day. Check out Air Iceland Connect for schedules and special offers. You can also rent a car and drive to Isafjordur. The drive, over mountain passes and through fjords is an adventure itself. It’s about 440-500 km depending on which route you take. A new road via Arnkötludalur opened in 2009 which completes the asphalted pathway the whole way, and kills the old myth of bad roads in the Westfjords! The drive will normally take you 5-6 hours. A new tunnel opened in September 2020 under the infamous mountain pass between the fjords of Arnarfjörður and Dýrafjörður. That tunnel makes it much easier to travel through the Westfjords all year round and shortens the route up the West coast. For accommodation in Reykjavik there are many options of hotels and guesthouses that we can book for groups. Please ask us for individual bookings. We strongly recommend you to spend a few extra days visiting the West Fjords and other parts of Iceland. We’re happy to help you arranging few days in the area or give you good tips about exciting things to do while in Iceland.

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