First, what you should know about the rafting industry in Iceland
Scary but true, Iceland has neither recognized rafting standards nor quality-control measures in place to regulate how companies hire their guides or operate their tours. The only permits required to operate rafting trips in Iceland are a general maritime permit from the Icelandic Transport Authority and a tour operator permit from the Icelandic Tourist Board, neither of which address nor regulate the level of whitewater trips found in Iceland. The result is a "self-governed" industry in which individual companies decide their own standards of practice. Under these circumstances, it is no surprise that not all companies are equal. (This is true not only of the rafting industry, but of the adventure tourism industry in Iceland as a whole).
World-class rivers demand world-class guides, world-class experience, and world-class standards, period. We believe that anyone considering a rafting trip in Iceland should have access to the information they need to make informed decisions, and we encourage you to ask questions of any operator, including us, before booking your trip.
1. Our commitment to international standards
Far more than a small isolated rafting company in North Iceland, we are an active member of the International Rafting Federation and the world's whitewater community. In an environment where local standards are virtually non-existent, we work with world leaders to bring home the highest standards in the industry. International standards do not come without international experience; last season, our team of 10 came from 8 countries and represented a combined professional rafting experience of 67 years in 14 countries.
How this sets us apart:
− Viking Rafting is the only International Rafting Federation (IRF) recognized company in Iceland, and 1 of only 5 in Europe.
− All of our guides and safety kayakers hold International Rafting Federation certification.
− The 3 founding guides of Viking Rafting are the only IRF-certified Grade 4/5 Rafting Instructors in Iceland, two of whom are the only Grade 4/5 Safety Kayak Instructors in the country.
2. Our focus on quality
QUALITY GUIDES. You will not find a team of more highly experienced, trained, or certified river guides in Iceland, we promise you that. Every one of our Trip Leaders, Guides, and Safety Kayakers hold the following certifications:
– International Rafting Federation (IRF) Award, meaning that they meet internationally-approved standards in professional skill and experience (for more on IRF standards, click here)
– Advanced Wilderness First Aid or higher
– Swiftwater Rescue Technician Level 1 or higher
– Many other country-specific qualifications in professional river guiding and instruction (UK, New Zealand, Canada, etc.)
QUALITY EQUIPMENT. We are the only rafting company in Iceland, and one very few in the world, that provide all of our guests with drysuits. Despite the significant costs of having and maintaining this equipment, we believe it vital to the safety or comfort of our guests in a paddling climate such as ours. Our off-river time is almost entirely dedicated to regular maintenance and repair of our equipment, all of which is done on site, by us.
QUALITY SERVICE. We are a small operation with a relatively light capacity on our trips and a comfortable daily schedule. This means we are always able to deliver the personal service we like, have low guest-to-guide ratios, and take the time required to properly run the best trips. We begin each trip by thoroughly preparing everyone for the river so as to ensure a successful and enjoyable paddling experience for all.
QUALITY EXPERIENCES. No two of our trips are ever exactly the same. Because the combination of river conditions and group dynamics always differ slightly, we make little adjustments in the way we operate our trips so that each individual gets the best possible experience. Our ability to 'micro-customize' comes from years of experience on these rivers, and is the professional signature that we proudly apply to all of our river trips.
QUALITY COSTS. The reality to all this is that quality costs. There is no way around it. We have always been slightly more expensive than our competition, and have often been asked to explain why. We are open about our reasons and proudly rigid in our standards.
3. We take your fun seriously!
More than just a catchy slogan, it is our core philosophy. It acknowledges our role as professionals in providing fun (which makes us among the luckiest people in the world, we are well aware!), in an environment that demands serious skill, experience, and judgement. The rivers in which we paddle are wild, remote, and subject to the unpredictability of nature, meaning that safety is far from automatic and risks need to be properly managed. It goes without saying that safety is always our top priority in all of our activities. This commitment runs through every part of our operation, from the equipment we provide, to the professionalism of our guides, to the way we run our trips. This is the key ingredient in our homegrown recipe for serious fun!
4. We are owned and operated by our guides
Again, this makes us unique in Iceland. The reason we run rafting trips is because we love to paddle whitewater and share river experiences with both old and new friends (that's you!). Our trips are designed and run in the spirit of providing the highest quality experience and spreading our passion for our local rivers, not to maximize our profit margins. We like to make this evident from the moment our guests walk in our door and experience the atmosphere in our rafting base, until they hug us goodbye at the end of the day and drive away honking and waving! The kind of authenticity you'll find here can't be faked. Come and see for yourself, or meet our team here.
5. Our love and respect for nature
A paddler's relationship with the river is one that few others can truly understand. In our daily lives, Mother Nature reigns supreme— she seduces us with her beauty, awes us with her might, and charms us with her style. What she often fails to show us is how vulnerable she really is and how much our actions hurt her. She depends on those who know her best to help others understand and respect her needs. Here we recognize our duty to educate and inspire every one of our guests through one-of-a-kind whitewater experiences. In this way we strive to play a powerful role in raising awareness, shaping attitudes, and improving the ways in which we collectively interact with nature. Iceland's wilderness is experience unprecedented threat from explosive growth in adventure tourism and local economic ambitions. Again, there are few environmental laws to regulate the ways in which companies practice, and even fewer authorities to enforce them. The result is, again a "self-governed" industry that depends greatly on its leaders to maintain a culture of environmental integrity by setting good examples. Again we recognize and honour this responsibility. Why is this so important to us? Because paddling was once our passion before it was our business. Today, it still is.
Check out our full Environmental Commitment page here.