Sharp Increase in Accidents among Tourists in Iceland Skip to content

Sharp Increase in Accidents among Tourists in Iceland

ICE-SAR, the Icelandic Association for Search and Rescue, says there was a sharp increase in the number of accidents among travelers in the highlands this summer.

ice-sar3Photos courtesy of ICE-SAR.

This summer there were 1,917 incidents in the highlands, both accidents and requests for general assistance, reported, a 59 percent increase from 2011.

This was the seventh time that ICE-SAR teams operated in highland watches during the summer. Around 200 volunteers and 28 rescue teams were on duty from June 22 to August 24 this year.

The teams were based north of Vatnajökull glacier, and at the passes across Sprengisandur, Kjölur and Fjallabak, according to a press release from ICE-SAR.

The incidents are divided into two categories: minor incidents such as giving tourists directions and information on equipment, and assisting with minor vehicle issues and overall general assistance. Reported incidents in both categories grew substantially this year.


Rescue teams were called out in 524 cases in the highlands this summer, an increase from 244 in 2011. Around half of all call-outs were related to car problems.

ICE-SAR reports that around 20 percent, or 100 cases of call-outs are related to accidents or injuries. There were many minor foot, ankle and arm injuries but also some which were found to be quite serious.

Close to one third, or 29 percent, of all call-outs were in the case of hikers, 18 percent by those traveling on their own by jeep, 17 percent by those traveling in smaller cars, and 4 percent by those traveling by coach.


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