Crossing a river

While hiking in Iceland you will find yourself crossing many rivers.  Often they are small brooks which can provide fresh drinking water but there are also large rivers that will require you to wade through them. In that case you should keep the following in mind:

  • Rivers often have less volume earlier in the day, so organizing hiking trips accordingly is not a bad idea.
  • Look around for suitable locations to ford.  Be aware that places that are good for crossing with jeeps are seldom good for crossing on foot.
  • Look for meanders in the river which are places where there is loose gravel and sand and the current dies down as the river expands.
  • Meanders are usually the best location you’ll find for fording a river though the river may be wider there.
  • Preferably wade the river with two or three other people at a time by clasping arms together at the elbows.
  • Loosen any straps on backpacks and be sure not to have anything tied tight that could complicate things if you or someone else might fall.
  • It’s best to have special wading shoes as it is not wise to cross barefoot – this can increase the likelihood of a fall.
  • Before fording, it’s smart to decide on a spot farther down the river where everyone will go to if someone might unfortunately fall.
  • If you fall, roll onto your back, keep your feet in front of you and trudge to the place – or near to it – that was previously decided upon.

When planning your hiking trip get information about rivers, if they are possible to cross on foot and then what time is best and etc. Never cross a river unless you are 100% sure of how to do it and feel safe doing it.

Icelandic Association for Search and Rescue, City Hall, Tjarnargata 11, 101 Reykjavik Iceland +354 570-5929 Disclaimer