Adventures / Kayak Journeys

Kayak, Hike and Wild Camp Iceland's Westfjords

Pristine waters, abundant wildlife and epic camp spots on a remote adventure under Arctic skies

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Trip Ref #10265

Adventures / Kayak Journeys

Kayak, Hike and Wild Camp Iceland's Westfjords

Pristine waters, abundant wildlife and epic camp spots on a remote adventure under Arctic skies

DURATION

5 nights

LOCATION

Iceland

ANNUAL LEAVE

4 days off work

SEASON

Jun-Aug

GROUP SIZE

Up to 12 people

MEETING POINT

Keflavík Airport, Reykjavík

ACCOMMODATION

Guesthouse · Wild camping

DIFFICULTY

Challenging

You'll need good fitness levels and a love of the great outdoors, be happy camping in the wild and have some kayaking experience.

Paddle the calm waters of Ísafjarðardjúp Bay, eyes open for humpbacks, porpoises, seals and colonies of puffins

Hike through the wild mountains of Snæfjallaströnd and the glacial valley of Ytraskarð

Explore cascading waterfalls, soak in the thermal pools and huddle round a bonfire on the fjord edge

All our reviews are verified

We only invite travellers to leave a review if they have booked this trip with Much Better Adventures.

Nicola, August 2021

Don’t underestimate the level of fitness required and be prepared to pitch in when wild camping only then can you get the best out of this fabulous trip . The best bit ? Reconnecting with Mother Nature in all her glory 😊👍

Peter, August 2021

Trip had an excellent and knowledgeable guide, and fantastic scenery and wildlife. Make sure to do some upper body exercise before you go to get maximum enjoyment.

Susi, August 2021

This is a hard trip for a kayaking novice, so I'd recommend having much more experience and fitness than is suggested here. The scenery and wildlife are fabulous - we saw an arctic fox and so many birds and seals! - so it was worth the discomfort, but it was definitely not comfortable. The guide had excellent kayaking skills but his guiding skills were poor and he didn't communicate well, especially about the many ad hoc changes to the schedule.

Included

Guides

Expert, English-speaking wilderness guides

Accommodation

2 nights in a guesthouse, 3 nights wild camping

Meals

All meals while on the kayaking expedition, 2 breakfasts in Isafjordur

Transfers

Transfers to and from Keflavik Airport in Reykjavik to Isafjordur in the Westfjords

Equipment

All sea kayaking and camping equipment

Not Included

Flights to and from the meeting point

Travel insurance

Personal expenses

Tips for your guides

Some meals as described

The Area

map

Logistics

Starts

Keflavík Airport

10:00

Ends

Reykjavík

17:00

Transfers

Your host will meet you at 10:00 on day 1 at Keflavík Airport, ready for the drive up to the Westfjords. You can also meet your host in downtown Reykjavík if you're already in town.

On day 6 you'll be dropped off at the central bus terminal in Reykjavík at around 17:00. From here you can head to your accommodation if staying on in Iceland, or take the Flybus airport shuttle in time for any evening flights. We recommend if you are flying on day 6 that you book a flight that departs after 20:30.

Travel options

Keflavík Airport in Reykjavík is the main arrival point for visitors to Iceland. There are numerous flights from various major airports in the UK, US and Europe.

Day 1

Guesthouse · Twin share

Breakfast

Lunch

Dinner

Day 2 – Day 4

Wild camping · Twin tent

Breakfast

Lunch

Dinner

Day 5

Guesthouse · Twin share

Breakfast

Lunch

Dinner

Day 6

Breakfast

Lunch

Dinner

What is the food like?

Your host takes great pride in the food they serve out in the wilderness, and they try to use local produce and ingredients as much as they can. During the trip, the name of the game is lightweight meals prepared by your guide with some help from the group. For dinner expect soup, pasta, couscous, sausages and freeze-dried meals. Breakfasts are mainly muesli, porridge, bread, tea and coffee. The group will pack a lunch each morning, generally this is sandwiches made with Icelandic flatbread and various fillings, including pâté, salami, cheese, peanut butter and smoked salmon. Snacks include biscuits, dried fruit and nuts, chocolate, fruit and energy bars.

For lunches on the road trip days, your driver and guide will factor in a stop to buy a picnic to have at a scenic stop if the weather is good, or at a local cafe if needed. Dinner is not included on each of your nights in Isafjordur, giving you a chance to explore the town's small selection of cafes, restaurants and bars. You should budget around 5000ISK (£30/$40USD/€33) for a good meal and a couple of drinks in Isafjordur.

Vegans, vegetarians and other dietary considerations can be accommodated on this trip. Please let your host know in advance.

What is the accommodation like?

Ísafjörður

Before and after the expedition, you'll spend the night at Gamla Guesthouse in the heart of Ísafjörður, a stone's throw from the waterfront and close to shops, bars and restaurants. You'll stay in twin rooms, with access to a shared bathroom. There is a cosy lounge and a reading corner, plus wireless internet throughout.

Wild Camping

You'll spend 3 nights wild camping out in the fjords. Your host knows the best spots to set up camp and will arrange the logistics with the group to make sure all the gear is distributed in the kayaks. You'll stay in twin-share tents unless you request a private room and tent upgrade. Each camp will have a main mess tent for preparing and eating food, in case the weather is unkind. Bonfires are permitted on the beaches within the Westfjords, so you'll be able to soak up the campfire vibes in this wild and remote part of the world.

Upgrades

For solo travellers looking for their own space, an optional private room and tent can be booked for an extra charge, see Optional Extras for the price. Please request this at the time of booking (this is subject to availability).

Day 1

Road trip to the Westfjords

Hiking

1hr · 1.5km · 350m up · 350m down

Meet your host at Keflavík Airport in Reykjavík, jump in the van and start the journey towards the north-west part of the country, known as the Westfjords. Hop out at various spots on the way to take in the wild scenery and soak in the thermal pools. Today's highlight is Dynjandi, a magnificent cascading waterfall that you can hike up to beside a series of smaller falls. Arriving at Ísafjörður - your launchpad for the expedition - late in the day, enjoy some dinner in town and a good nights sleep.

Day 2

The expedition begins

Kayaking

5-6hrs · 16-18km

Hiking

1-2hrs · 3-4km · 300m up · 300m down

The adventure starts straight after brekkie as you load up the kayaks and get onto the water just around the corner from your guesthouse. Slowly paddle away from civilisation and into the wilderness as Ísafjarðardjúp Bay opens up. Hugging the coast and keeping an eye out for whales and porpoises, you'll head towards the second fjord over, called Seyðisfjörður. Set up camp on the edge of the picturesque peninsula, and head off to explore the area on foot. You’ll then hike up to the base of the steep and imposing Mount Hestur (Mt. Horse) before enjoying a campfire dinner and your first night out in the Icelandic wilds.

Day 3

Crossing the bay to Vigur Island

Kayaking

6hrs · 14km

Hiking

1-2hrs · 3-4km · 250m up · 250m down

Wake up, enjoy breakfast at the edge of the fjord, de-camp and set off deeper into the wilderness as you cross Ísafjarðardjúp Bay, stopping to explore Vigur Island; a wild slab of land set just south of the Arctic Circle. Tens of thousands of breeding sea birds, including guillemots, Arctic terns, and huge colonies of puffins, line the shore and fill the sky. Hundreds of humpback whales spend their summers feeding in the surrounding waters, so keep your eyes peeled. Carry on paddling towards Snæfjallaströnd, a truly remote place with no roads and endless spots to pitch your tent. Explore the area with some easy hiking before a bonfire and dinner on the beach.

Day 4

Hike the wild mountains of Snæfjallaströnd

Hiking

6-7hrs · 12-15km · 600m up · 600m down

Rest your arms today as you switch to exploring on foot with a full day of hiking through a remote mountainous region. Following the shoreline of the fjord, you’ll pass the remains of abandoned farms from a bygone era when a few hardy souls attempted to eke out an existence here. Climb up through the glacial valley of Ytraskarð to see the remnants of the glacier before descending towards Möngufoss waterfall, a powerful torrent of water not far from camp. Enjoy your camp spot for another night with a well-earned slap-up meal.

Day 5

Final push back to Ísafjörður

Kayaking

5-6hrs · 13-20km

Tuck into a final breakfast before you pack down camp and load up for another big day on the water. You'll hug the shoreline until you reach Æðey Island (Eider Duck Island), a tiny islet inhabited by a single family who live here producing sustainable Eiderdown. The island is home to thousands of birds and the sea will be teeming with puffins. Paddle back a different way across the bay towards Ísafjörður. Once back on land there’ll be a short drive back to Ísafjörður ready for a hot shower and celebratory dinner in town.

Day 6

Road trip back to Reykjavík

After breakfast, you'll bid farewell to Ísafjörður, hop in the van and enjoy a road trip back through the Westfjords and on towards Reykjavík. En route, there'll be more scenic stops, a chance to swim in an outdoor geothermal pool and even a quick skip around the Museum of Sorcery and Witchcraft in Hólmavík. Arriving in Reykjavík at around 17:00, you'll be dropped off in the centre of town, leaving you free to head to your accommodation if you are staying on longer in Iceland, or to take the Flybus straight to Keflavík Airport. We suggest you book any flights on day 6 to depart after 20:30.

15% Off Outdoor Gear

In need of a few more items? All bookings receive a 15% discount on us to use at Cotswold Outdoor, Snow + Rock and Runner's Need.

What's included?

  • Single and tandem sea kayaks
  • Life jacket
  • Paddle
  • Twin-share expedition tent
  • Dry bags

What's available to hire?

  • Sleeping bag
  • Inflatable sleeping mat

What do I need to bring?

BAGS

  • Main backpack or duffel bag: to be left in Ísafjörður along with items that you don't take on the expedition
  • Dry bags for your sleeping bags and clothes 10-20 litres. Your host does include dry bags but please bring your own if you are able to

SLEEPING

  • Season 3 sleeping bag, with a comfort level of 5°C / 41°F
  • Lightweight and packable sleeping mat, such as a Thermarest
  • Sleeping bag liner
  • Small travel pillow

CLOTHES

  • Thermal underwear, two sets
  • Wool or fleece thermal mid-layer
  • Hiking trousers. We recommend no cotton as they take longer to dry if wet
  • Waterproof and breathable trousers and jacket
  • Down or synthetic jacket
  • T-shirts
  • Wool or fleece hat
  • Warm gloves or mittens
  • 2 to 3 pairs of thick wool/synthetic socks
  • Light hiking shoes
  • Swimwear - very important so you don't miss out on the thermal pools!
  • Sunhat
  • Sandals for the camp

OTHER

  • Universal travel plug adapter
  • Power bank or solar charger
  • Passports (and visas)
  • Travel Insurance documents
  • Earplugs
  • Eye mask (nearly 24 hours of daylight on June trips)
  • Suncream
  • Sunglasses
  • Personal first-aid kit (inc. blister treatment)
  • Personal items (biodegradable toiletries, sanitary wear etc)
  • Toilet kit (toilet paper, biodegradable bags to carry paper out to dispose of)
  • Quick-dry towel
  • Alcohol hand-gel
  • Headtorch or torch
  • Reusable water bottle x1 ltr
  • Biodegradable wet-wipes
  • Energy bars and snacks

Inflatable sleeping mat

Payable Before Departure

Inflatable sleeping mat

Sleeping bag

Payable Before Departure

Sleeping bag

Optional Private Room and Tent Upgrade

Payable Before Departure

Optional Private Room and Tent Upgrade

We've crunched the numbers to work out the total carbon footprint of this trip, and plant enough trees to suck 2x as much back out the atmosphere.

What's the number?
It works out on average at 129kg of CO2 emissions per person, including all local transport, accommodation, food, activities, guides, staff and office operations.

The only thing it doesn’t include right now is flights and travel to the destination. We do make an overall estimate across all our customers separately, but as we don’t book flights, have customers from all corners of the world, and no way of reliably knowing their travel plans, we simply can’t include an individual number in the figure on display here. We’ve got a goal for 2022 to fix that, so that when you book, there is a way to measure and mitigate the carbon emitted by your flight too.

But what does the number mean?
Yep, hard to picture eh? To give you an idea:

  • Driving 1000miles/1609km would be approx. 281kg of CO2 in an average car (or 140.5kg per person if there was 2 of you in it).
  • A return economy class flight London - New York would be approx. 1,619kg (1.66 tonnes) per person.
  • 10 trees in a temperate forest are estimated to remove approx. 250kg of CO2 from the air in a period of 5-10 years.

What are we doing about it?
Our trips are relatively low-carbon by design, and we're working with all our hosts to develop long term carbon reduction plans. For every person booked with us since 2016 we’re planting enough trees to suck at least 2x more carbon out the atmosphere than is emitted by their trips. All native trees, as part of amazing projects that are re-foresting degraded land, tackling the biodiversity crisis and supporting local communities at the same time. We go further than that too, also funding re-wilding projects worldwide to help protect important keystone species from extinction. See the reforestation and re-wilding schemes we support. See our carbon action plan.

Want to know more?
Amazingly, no international travel company has ever publicly published their carbon measurements before, as far as we know. We believe that must change, quickly. So we’re openly sharing the method we used in the hope that other companies will be able to more easily follow suit and build on what we've done so far. You'll find it all here.

You do not need any previous kayaking experience. Your guide will give you full instructions and a safety briefing at the start in Ísafjörður before heading off on the water. You will need reasonable levels of fitness to handle the 40-50km of relaxed paddling over three days, plus the full day of hiking on day 4. It may benefit you to try out a day of kayaking somewhere local to get the hang of things before travelling to Iceland, however, this is not a necessity.

There are over 50 species of birds that come to breed in the Westfjords, including kittiwakes, guillemots, Arctic terns and puffins. Two species of seals are very common and 12 species of whales can be spotted off the coast of North Iceland, including blue, fin, minke, sperm and humpback whales. Pods of orca, porpoises and white-beaked dolphins are also in these waters. The most commonly seen whale species on this trip are humpback whales, who come here in big numbers to feed in the summer. While it's not 100% guaranteed that you will encounter one, the chances are quite high and it is a spectacular experience to kayak near these creatures.

Few land mammals can be found in Iceland but the beautiful Arctic fox can be spotted, as you are quite close to the Hornstrandir Nature Reserve where the foxes are protected.

Sure can! Over 50% of our travellers travel solo, it’s a great way to meet like-minded people.

Tips are not included in the trip cost. These are entirely at your discretion but there is an expectation to tip for good service. Your guide will help with advice, however, we suggest the below as a guideline per person:

17,000 Icelandic Krona per day - approx £10/$14USD/€11

Of course, you are free to tip more or less, and the amount should be reflective of your perception of service and quality - a tip is not compulsory and should only be given when you receive excellent service.

The tap water is safe to drink in Iceland. Your tour leader will arrange to transport water in the kayaks to take to each camp location. You should make sure you bring along a reusable water bottle to keep with you throughout the expedition.

Iceland's weather is famously fickle. As the renowned saying goes, "If you don't like the weather in Iceland, wait 10 minutes". Summers up in the Westfjords are usually mild and pleasant, with calm seas and relatively warm days, perfect for a camping adventure. On sunny days, the sun can shine for a lot longer than you are used to, on account of the latitude and the number of hours of sunlight during the summer months, so make sure to pack a good hat and sunscreen. On the flipside, Iceland gets its fair share of rain, so be sure to pack good waterproofs. Most importantly, pack a smile and a sense of adventure, whatever the weather might bring on your trip. Your experienced guide will ensure everyone's safety on the water in a variety of conditions.

A highlight of the trips in mid-June through to early July is the near 24-hour daylight, a surreal experience if you wander out of your tent in the middle of the night. On departures near the summer solstice, you'll be able to stay up for the midnight sun.

You can leave excess luggage at your host's lock-up in Ísafjörður on day 2 before heading off on the water.

We recommend checking out the country specific information here and also talking to a travel nurse.

For current advice about travelling in Iceland, have a read of the UK Foreign Office pages here.

https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/iceland/entry-requirements

Our recommended travel insurance provider is Campbell Irvine.

Travel insurance is compulsory on all of our adventures. Your insurance should include adequate protection for overseas medical treatment, evacuation/repatriation, your baggage and equipment and the specific activities involved on your adventure.

Your insurance policy should also include specific Covid-19 cover, including cancellation and curtailment cover if you, your travel companion or a close relative are diagnosed with Covid-19.

We fully endorse Campbell Irvine as their insurance offers all of the above, so get in touch with them or call on 020 7938 1734 to get your insurance sorted. We suggest that you book travel insurance as soon as you book your adventure, just to cover you for any last minute life changes. We know you’re an active lot and injuries do happen!

We automatically convert prices from the local currency that a host receives to your chosen currency. We update our exchange rates on a daily basis so this does mean that prices displayed on the site are subject to currency fluctuations, which is why you may see them change over time.

If you wish to change the currency you pay in, head to the bottom of the page.

All of our group adventures are specially designed for adults to enjoy (18+) as we want these adventures to bring together outdoorsy people who are truly like-minded. Children can be accommodated on some private departures.

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