Kayaking on the Jökulsá á Fjöllum in the Jökulsárgljúfur National Park.

River:  Jökulsá á Fjöllum

Grid Reference: 65deg55′N; 16 deg 28′W

Grade: IV (if you get the line right)

Length: 15Km

Date Run: 07.08.89 & 01.08.91

Weather Conditions: Warm and sunny

River Level: Medium

Significant portages: None

Access arrangements

Put in at the end of the track on the east side of the river, some 10km below Dettifoss. There is quite a scramble down to the river from the track through thick bush, and down a short vertical cliff.


Egress by the suspension bridge where the river leaves the canyon and heads out to the sea.


Another large volume river running at about 500 cumecs. This is our guess based on 450cumecs on the Jokulsá á Brü. Not as difficult as the Jokulsá á Brü, but there are long wavy sections. Not a place for a swim, large boils and no eddies.

Kayaking over large waves on the Jökulsá á Fjöllum in the Jökulsárgljúfur National Park

The river starts off very fast but with only  waves to worry about. The waves build up in size as you go downstream before easing off again. A left hand bend can be run on the extreme left to avoid some huge holes. The rest of the corner rapid has some huge boils and it is best to keep clear of the canyon walls. The pace quickens again and the waves grow in size. After a quick wiggle, the river straightens out and there are some huge holes on the right avoidable by keeping left. Spectacular volcanic scenery on the left and right. A few more waves and boils lead into the most spectacular part of the canyon; huge black walls rear up on the left, covered with basalt columns. The river has few more suprises, but still, there are some more big waves to come and huge holes that can be easily avoided.

There are then 9km of fast grade II to paddle before the egress. Much easier and great fun.

This has to be the best way to view the Jökulsá á Fjöllum in the Jökulsárgljúfur National Park.