East Glacial River – Class IV+
The East Glacial river gorge is one of the best stretches of whitewater in Europe. This 17km stretch of whitewater offers stellar views, continuous rapids, and big hits.
Kilometer 0 – Commercial Put-in: This is one of two options for put-ins on the East Glacial. If you are driving your own vehicle, never drive off road in Iceland and avoid any patches that look muddy, especially in the spring. It is possible to get stuck at the bottom of the final hill. If you have any doubts, just walk down to the river with gear. After June 1st, it should be okay with a decent vehicle.
Kilometer 1.4 – Alternate Put-in: It is easy to pull off the road here and walk directly down to the river left shore.
Kilometer 2 – Warm Up Rapid: Class III. Fun wave train on river right. This is a nice chance to warm up to the speed, power, and temperature of what is to come.
Kilometer 2.75 – Warm Up #2: Class III. Enter right and stay right through some fun, easy waves. The left side can be quite shallow at medium/low flows.
Kilometer 3.5 – Alarm Clock Rapid: Class IV-. A typical run enters on river right and drives left towards the center of the river. Run the center wave train and stay in the middle of the current as the walls constrict on both sides of the river. Many boats have flipped off of the right wall where the river constricts. Get ready to highside, and stay in that wave train. Welcome to the class IV gorge! Learn more about Alarm Clock Rapid.
Kilometer 4.25 – Commitment Rapid: Class IV+. Commitment Rapid has two primary features. A large, sticky hole starts on the left wall which takes up 3/4 of the river and a powerful later wave on the right. This hole is to be avoided by rafts at all flows. There is a low-medium flow boof for kayakers off of a flake in the center of the hole. The rafting line starts on center, entering the tongue with left to right momentum. The tongue leads into a large lateral wave – hit the wave hard and perpendicular (2 o’clock angle). If hit correctly, the wave will push you back to the center of the river. Afterwards, catch and eddy on river left to set safety. Learn more about Commitment Rapid.
Kilometer 4.4 – Screaming Lady Rapid: Class III+. Less than 100 meters below Commitment is Screaming Lady. Stay left and punch through a wave train into a narrow gap in the river. The right side has a decent hole that should be avoided. The boils in the pool above like to push boats into the left wall, which is ok as you want to enter from that side.
Kilometer 4.75 – New Rapid: Class III. Formed by a landslide in the early 2000s, this is the newest rapid on the river. Enjoy a great wave train on the right. The left side tends to be a bit rocky and shallow.
Kilometer 5 – Anup’s Hole Rapid: Class III+. Named after a legendary raft guide who had a long surf in the hole on the right; Anup’s Hole is layed out very similar to Screaming Lady. Find the nice wave train on the left into a narrow gap in the river.
Kilometer 6.4 – The Gates Rapid: Class III-IV. After a few slight bends, the river straightens out significantly. Expect fun, busy water as you approach the narrowest part of the river, the Gates. Start from the right side of the wave train with a slight left angle and drive towards the middle of the gap. The left wall is perpendicular to the current and will likely flip your boat if you hit it. The size and difficulty of this rapid increases dramatically with more volume. From 25-65 m³/s it is quite manageable. At higher flows, the waves are towering and fast – the gap also gets smaller.
Kilometer 6.5 – Bedroom Rapid: Class III+. A large pool gives a short break before the next rapid. Approach this rapid on the right with your angle pointing left. Stay center right the whole way. There is a very large hole at the bottom on the left that can be a boat flipper at medium/high water.
Kilometer 7 – Green Room Rapid: Class IV+. The most famous rapid on the river, Green Room is worth a scout if you are rafting or kayaking. There are basalt walls that jut out into the river from both the left and right. Catch the eddy below the wall on the left to scout this rapid from river level. Green Room is made up of three drops stacked on top of each other, with the center drop featuring a powerful hole. Lining up the second drop with a good angle and momentum are keys to keeping the boat upright. Learn more about Green Room Rapid.
Kilometer 7.6 – Surf Wave Rapid: Class III. Below Green Room is a really nice kilometer stretch of unnamed Class III rapids. Don’t let the relief of being below Green Room bring your guard down! Below these rapids, a long cable runs down the canyon on river left. This is a good marker for the epic surf hole just below. The surf hole is powerful and can flip rafts and provide a sticky ride for kayakers. Learn more about Surf Wave Rapid.
Kilometer 8 – Waterfall Rapid: Class III. A powerful yet straightforward rapid. Start on the left and t-up the big waves in the center. At the bottom, look back upstream to the waterfall on river right.
Kilometer 8.2 – Surprise Rapid: Class III. A strong, and rather large hole is located in the center of the river. While boats can certainly punch through, stay all the way left or right to avoid it. This hole can also be surfed on the fly by rafts and kayaks, but be prepared for a flip.
Kilometer 8.75 – S-Bend Rapid: Class IV. Featuring one of the best waves you will ever see, S-Bend is the final major rapid on this remarkable stretch of whitewater. As indicated by the name, there is a quick left turn followed by a quick right turn, with a glorious wave at the bottom. There is a good sized wave train just above the two bends. Entering with right to left momentum will follow the flow around the first bend. Change your angle quickly back towards the right and drive towards the wave in the center at the bottom.
Kilometer 9.5 – Cliff Jump : A nice cliff jump exists on river right below a class II wave train. You can see cables hung around a towering basalt column. Jump out into the main flow and swim back to the eddy.
Kilometer 13 – Confluence: Fed by the same Vatnajokull Glacier in highlands, this where the West and East Glacial Rivers meet.
Kilometer 14.5 – Arch: River Right. A basalt cliff is eroding in a unique way, creating a perfect arch with water flowing underneath. A nice surf wave exists just upstream on river right.
Kilometer 17 – Take-out: River Left. This is the Viking Rafting Takeout. This take-out is on private property. While you could ask a farmer for permission to take-out elsewhere, it is often difficult to find farmers on their land and they may not speak english.