Covering the majority of Iceland is an enormous plateau, rising roughly 500 meters above the seas that lap at the island nation's shores. Sparsely inhabited due to the harsh conditions that prevail there throughout most of the year, the plateau—known as the Icelandic Highlands—is wild and desolate. Though predominantly desert due to how quickly precipitation drains through the volcanic soils and sands, the highlands are veined by ancient rivers, which carve dramatic canyons and draw vibrant green corridors across the plateau's otherwise charcoal landscape. In their waters, arctic char and brown trout swim.
The Highlands are also home to most of Iceland's most impressive geologic features, which draw visitors and sightseers from all over the planet. Glaciers, hot springs, lava fields, enormous craters, rhyolite mountainscapes, limestone fields, and large mountain lakes pepper the plateau.
Guests visiting the Icelandic Highlands will fish the Kaldakvísl and Tungnaá rivers. Like all rivers in Iceland, their waters are available to anglers only through private access. Leases on these Highland rivers are managed exclusively by FishPartner, our partners in Iceland, who also operate the newly built Highland Lodge on the shores of Lake Sporðöldulón and guide anglers on some of Iceland's best rivers and lakes.
Both the Kaldakvísl and Tungnaá offer fishing for arctic char and Icelandic brown trout. Arctic char can be found in enormous numbers, with fish averaging 3-4 pounds and fish up to 7 pounds taken regularly. The rivers' brown trout average 2-5 pounds, with the biggest specimens tipping the scales at around 10 pounds. Nymphs, dry flies, and streamers are all effective methods for targeting Highlands trout and char.
LODGING: When we first explored the rivers of the Icelandic Highlands, what is now FishPartner's Highlands Lodge was just a dilapidated, old sheepherder's cabin. Fully rebuilt and expanded, that run-down old cabin is now a charming lakefront lodge on the shores of Lake Sporðöldulón, which the Kaldakvísl empties into just a kilometer or so from the lodge. Accommodations at the lodge are typical of Iceland—simple, modern, stylish, clean, and comfortable.
FOOD/DRINK: The lodge's chef prepares Icelandic and international classics, often featuring fresh fish, including Iceland's prolific arctic char.
CONNECTIVITY: WiFi and cellular service are both available at the Highlands Lodge.
You'll arrive at the Highlands Lodge late morning, after an early morning transfer (around 2 hours) from the airport or your hotel in Reykjavik. Drop your bags, ready your rod, and wader up—you're off fishing. Enjoy a full day of angling and a streamside lunch before returning to the lodge roughly around 6pm for dinner.
It's not overstating things to say that the Kaldakvísl is one of the most beautiful rivers on the planet. The towering Nefji waterfall is the river's crowning jewel, but it's just one of several that the Kaldakvísl tumbles over as it courses through the volcanic highland landscape. In between the falls, the river's turquoise-tinged waters flow through deep, majestic canyons which the river's largest brown trout and char call home. On the lower river, near the Kaldakvísl's mouth, arctic char swim in enormous populations. As you move upriver, the fishing becomes more trout-focused.
Though lesser known than the nearby, waterfall-lined Kaldakvísl, the enchanting Tungnaá offers excellent, diverse fishing. And, your biggest char of the trip just may come from the Tungnaá's gin-clear waters. Anglers on the Tungnaá strip streamers through tight, deepwater canyons, cast mayflies to rising trout in the river's slow-moving pools, and experiment with tactics to wrench big brown trout from sections of river lined by some of the most unique rock formations you'll find anywhere on the globe.
Return to your favorite river of the trip, fish one of the countless nearby lakes (many of which hold large trout), or maybe fish the creeks near the lodge and then head for an unforgettable swim in the hot spring-fed stream in Landmannalaugar.
- Ground transportation Transfers between Reykjavik and the Icelandic Highlands
- Guided fishing Fully guided walk-and-wade fishing
- Lodging Your stay at the Highlands Lodge
- Meals Icelandic and international classics
- Licenses Fishing licenses for your trip are included
Guests visiting the Icelandic Highlands will fly into Iceland's capital city, Reykjavik (KEF). After clearing customs, you'll be greeted by a representative from FishPartner, who will transfer you through the Icelandic countryside to the Highlands Lodge.