Arctic Rafting – A splash of fun
By Celina Tran | Photos: Pramod Magar, Jan Dancak www.jandancak.com
With its dramatic landscape and famous nature experiences, Iceland has long been a must-visit for travellers seeking thrills and adventure. Whale watching and glacial explorations are perhaps the most famous, but some activities take the thrill even closer to nature. All at once, Arctic Rafting offers magnificent views and adrenaline-inducing adventures.
Iceland is home to captivating mountain ranges, breathtaking glaciers, and, of course, plenty of water. In fact, the country is both culturally and geographically defined by its waterways, with fishing, whale watching, and boat tourism as vital industries. The significance of water does, however, not end with that.
Tinna Sigurðardóttir, owner and CEO of Arctic Rafting, explains that the nation’s rivers provide a little-known but fantastic opportunity to get to know not only your friends and family but also Iceland and all its beautiful sights.
“It’s a wonderful way of enjoying amazing scenery that can only be explored from the water,” she says. “We offer river rafting and kayak rides down the beautiful glacial river Hvítá, ‘the White River’. It’s hours of being completely immersed in the Icelandic glaciers and nature.”
It might sound intimidating with the quick rapids and high-energy experience, but Hvítá river is for everyone, with the river being rated on an easy to medium level for rafting.
“It’s a great way to spend time or build relations with those you care about, but it’s also just a great escape from reality,” says Tinna.
After the rafting, guests are welcomed to Artic Rafting’s stunning property where they can kick back, relax in the hot tub or sauna, or grab a meal and drink, with even more culinary experiences coming as the team looks forward to opening an a la carte restaurant.
The adventure of a lifetime
The history of rafting on the Hvítá river dates back to 1983, when a couple, Villa and Bassi, bought a book about river rafting and decided to learn for themselves. Quick learners, they soon began to operate tours for Icelanders – and later tourists – under the name, Bátafólkið, meaning “The Boat People”.
In 1985, Villa and Bassi decided they needed to dry their socks and knocked on the door of the farmer at Drumboddstaðir farm. Completely in love, the couple bought an old barn at Drumboddstaðir and made it their river base.
“Over the years, this place has had a few different owners, and in 2005, it officially became Arctic Rafting,” says Tinna, who came to buy it in 2020.
After high school, Tinna was unsure of what to do with her life. She booked a backpacking trip to Central America where she learned to Scuba Dive in the Caribbean, and quickly realised she wanted to do two things: to be outdoors and to be in the water.
“I happened to be in the street in Guatemala when I heard three guys speak Icelandic. They were all kayakers, and one of them was a rafting guide back home in Iceland. Once I got home, I immediately explored it and fell in love,” she says.
Initially, Tinna started as a saleswoman for Arctic Rafting and soon became the company’s highest-selling employee. On her days off, she would call the base up and ask if she could come rafting, and they would always be happy to have her.
“I became a rafting groupie,” she laughs. “I moved onto different roles in the company before eventually exploring other adventurous jobs within glacier tourism, whale watching, and so on. But I always missed the rafting.”
Eventually, with the aim of settling down, Tinna became a carpenter. Then, in 2020, she bought the company along with its run-down site, wanting to use her newfound skills to give life back to Arctic Rafting.
“The pandemic hit the company quite hard, but I’m convinced we’ll be okay. Throughout my three years here, we’ve already seen great improvement, both in the property’s exterior and the actual rafting experience,” she says.
The hope is that the country space can be used for even more experiences in the future, such as yoga retreats or concerts.
“We currently run two events annually, including The Turbo Kayak Festival in mid-August, the only day of the season that we are closed for one day.”
Love, Respect and Unity
Arctic Rafting has, since Tinna’s takeover, worked hard to better conditions and improve the quality across all aspects of the business.
“Here, we promote three things: love, respect and unity. Through these three, our multitalented staff can create the very best environment for both customers and other co-workers. Professionalism and service, whether it is in the water, while serving food, or caring for the property, is of utmost importance to us,” she stresses.
Tinna also presses the importance of accessibility and options for everyone, saying that the aim is to share this wonderful activity with everyone.
“We focus on individuals, families, small groups, private trips – everyone is welcome,” she says. “I hope the experience will lead our guests to share our passion for the water.”
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