Ian, on the Bru, and Basalt columns

River: Jokulsá á Brü

Grid Reference: 65 deg 15′N; 15 deg 20′ W

Grade: V

Length: 70km

Date run: 01.08.89 + 02.08.89

Weather conditions: Grey.

River level: 450 cumecs / Medium

Significant portages: 3

Access arrangements

Access the river where the bridge on the 923 crosses the river. The get-in is on the south bank.


Below the bridge where Route 1 crosses the river, river left.


Trev on the Poopa Scoopa, the top of Poo Canyon

Note: There have been numerous changes since the river was last run in 1991, most notably, the Karahnjakur hydro project that has dammed the river way upstream of our original get-in.

Access to Merki

The river starts with rapids with powerful waves and flatter sections. Soon, the river banks narrow down into a canyon that continues to Merki. We soon called this Poo Canyon due to the committing nature of the river and the inability to exit the river. The first major rapid, is a large curling wave, named the Poopa Scoopa. From here, the walls of the canyon draw in. We inspected as far as possible, but soon enough we were all swept over Bad News I, a river wide hole.  Although this looked horrendous, we were all swept through it without a problem. There is now a long section of canyon with easier rapids and canyon walls made of basalt columns. Bad News II is the next major rapid. It looked even worse than Bad News I, and we portaged river right.

Going back for a close look at Bad News I

Trev launching after the Bad News II portage

View of Poo Canyon and Bad News I

Merki to Route 1 / 928 Junction

(See Middle section Guide)

Route 1 / 928 Junction to Route 1 Bridge

The river eases off, flatter sections with easier to inspect rapids. There are a couple of grade V rapids to watch out for, and one horror, Bad News III. The final Bad News is not too far upstream of the Route 1 bridge, and can be portaged river right.


The flow in the Jokulsá á Brü was about 450 m³/s when we ran it.

Ian, taking a close look at Bad News III

Long hard rapids on the lower section of the Bru

Sketch of the Bru Canyon