Nesjavellir to Hveragerði: A Hiking Adventure an Hour from Reykjavík

nesjavellir hike

It was recently the First Day of Summer, a holiday in Iceland where kids get presents and Icelanders flock outside in the hopes of catching some rays. It’s a tricky time of year in a lot of ways, equally likely to still have snow storms as bright, sunny days. It’s certainly a time of year when I’m itching to go for a hike, to go on the inaugural trip of what is hopefully many summer adventures.

Because the time of year can be a little tricky, I wanted to go on an overnight hike that felt like a real hike, but would still be manageable if the weather turned for the worse. I’d known for a long time that you can actually walk from Nesjavellir, a popular hiking area between the south coast of Þingvallavatn Lake and Hengill mountain, to Hveragerði, with a stop at the popular Reykjadalur hot springs along the way. But I’d never actually gotten around to it until this year. 

Who is this hike for?

Clocking in at around 20 km [12.5 mi] each way (some 5 to 6 hours of straight walking), this is a great hike for people who want an experience that really looks and feels like the highland, while still being able to sleep in a hotel at night, have a shower, and eat a dinner that hasn’t been freeze-dried. While trails like Laugavegur and Fimmvörðuháls are without doubt beautiful and worth doing, they can only be safely hiked in the proper high season. They are also harder to access, requiring transport by highland bus to either Þórsmörk or Landmannalaugar. I found this walk to be a great compromise of beautiful views, rewarding walking, and convenience. And while you still need proper gear like hiking boots, a day pack, a wind- and water-proof shell, water, hiking socks, and so on, you can ditch the tent and sleeping bag if you’re staying in Hveragerði, meaning that you save on weight. This makes for a much more comfortable hike, though if you want to save money and bring a tent and sleeping bag, Hveragerði does also have an easily accessible campground.

A caveat, however: Because we hiked early in the season, the snow was still melting up in the mountains, making the trail extremely muddy. It was probably a more difficult hike for us than it otherwise would have been, and for the preservation of the trail, I wouldn’t recommend hiking here until at least late May.

Getting to Nesjavellir

Nesjavellir is a popular hiking area for many capital area residents. It’s a part of the mountains (including Hengill) that separate the South Coast from the Þingvellir area. There’s a dense network of trails in this area, so it’s also entirely possible to just do a quick day hike here as well.

Best deals on renting a car in Iceland

 

We drove east from Reykjavík along Route 36, as if we were driving the Golden Circle towards Þingvellir. Near the lake, we turned onto road number 360, which took us to the south coast of the lake. Below you’ll find embedded a map of the route we took to get to the trailhead.

If you are driving from Reykjavík, you will see a small parking lot to the left of the road. There’s a sign that says camping is forbidden, but leaving your car here isn’t a problem.

The name of this particular hike is Kattatjarnarleið, and the navigation I used was the Alltrails app, which allows you to download topographical maps – very useful when hiking in areas with poor reception and few available maps.

nesjavellir hike
The drive to Nesjavellir is also a beautiful one, takng you along the south coast of Lake Þingvellir.

Day 1: Nesjavellir to Hveragerði

The trail begins in some fields that are overlooked by some vacation houses (the area is a popular weekend escape for Reykjavík residents). You’ll follow a stream for some time, and within 30 minutes of walking or so, you’ll have to wade across a shallow river. Nothing too daunting – though it did take us a minute to find a suitable path across.

hiking near þingvallavatn fording a stream
Soon into the hike, you'll have your first adventure - wading a small river.

Soon after wading across the river, you’ll go up a hill and find a gate consisting of two wooden poles. This closes the area off during the winter and is the start of the “real” part of the hike!

hiking near hengill
Beautiful mountain views just an hour from Reykjavík.

I’ll admit that I was really shocked by the first part of the hike. Following along a river gorge, with Hengill mountain to your front, it’s just amazingly beautiful on a nice day. You would really never guess that you were just an hour from Reykjavík. We also got lucky with the weather – it was late April and temperatures were around 10°C [50°F], with lots of sun and a healthy breeze the whole time. As far as I’m concerned, this is the perfect weather for hiking.

hiking signposts near hengill

About a third of the way into the hike, you’ll encounter this signpost. The major trails through this area run in a figure-eight around Hengill, and you can choose which way you want to take here. We opted to do one pass through the figure-eight on our way to Hveragerði, and take another leg of it back. Heading from North to South, we continued to Hveragerði and Reykjadalur by heading right, following the sign for Ölkelduháls and Hveragerði.

hiking boots
Muddy boots after a long day of walking.

A good two or three hours of walking later, and you’ll have a fine vantage point over the Reykjadalur hot spring area. We got a little bit of a late start and wanted to have dinner in Hveragerði, so we actually skipped the popular geothermal area for our way back.

I was also reserved in taking photos here, and I recommend other travellers and hikers act likewise. This popular bathing areas has some nice wooden walkways these days, but it is still fundamentally a wilderness experience. There are some wooden shelters for modesty, but no closed changing rooms for hikers to get into their bathing suits. That means that you’ll find people in various states of dress and undress here, so I suggest stowing the camera.

Once you’ve reached Reykjadalur, it’s a relatively short walk to Hveragerði itself. At the bottom of the hill where the Reykjadalur trail begins you’ll find a hospitality centre that offers some light refreshments, so if you’re starving and can’t wait to get back to town, it’s a fine place to have a beer.

From the Reykjadalur café, it’s about a 3km [1.8mi] walk into Hveragerði proper. It isn’t the most beautiful walk, mostly by the side of the road through a semi-residential area. So it’s not exactly cheating if you hitchhike or call a taxi into town from this point. If you’re lucky, you might also find an e-scooter lying around. On our trip, we weren’t so lucky. So, tired after a full day of walking, we hoofed it back into town and gratefully showered at our hotel and headed out to dinner.

Day 2: In Hveragerði

What to do in Hveragerði

Hveragerði is a quaint little town some 50 minutes away from Reykjavík. It’s well-known for the hot springs which bubble up from the nearby hills, and it’s historically been a centre for Icelandic agriculture, as the local geothermal springs have allowed the locals to raise all sorts of plants in the greenhouses the town is now famous for.

Eldhestar tours: One of the major horse-riding tour guides in Iceland has a facility right by Hveragerði. Taking a guided horse-riding tour is a very unique way to experience the local landscape, and it is certainly more relaxing than the hike you just took yesterday! With everything from tours for absolute beginners to more adventurous outings for the experienced equestrian, taking a horse tour is undoubtedly one of the most Icelandic ways imaginable to see your surroundings! See all of their tours here.

LÁ Art Museum: Listasafn Árnesinga is a charming little art museum that preserves a small collection of modern and contemporary visual art – this is a great little place to check out if you’re looking for something off the beaten path. In addition to the main exhibits, the museum also puts on a series of workshops and guided tours. Hveragerði is known locally as a very creative community, so we highly recommend checking out this small, but unique, art museum. Admission is free. During the summer, it’s open daily from 12pm to 5pm daily.

Mega Zipline in Hveragerði: The Mega Zipline near Hveragerði in Iceland is an exhilarating adventure, featuring the country’s longest and fastest zipline at exactly 1 km in length. Located close to the capital city, it offers an exciting experience for thrill-seekers. The zipline consists of two parallel lines, allowing for simultaneous rides, and offers breathtaking views of the Svartagljúfur gorge with its waterfalls, rocky formations, and lush hillsides.

Relax in the local swimming pool: If you’re like us, you’ll want to just relax and soak after the long walk you just took yesterday. Luckily, nearly every town in Iceland has a beautiful swimming pool, often equipped with a lap pool, cold pot, hot pot, and a steam room or sauna. There’s nothing better than soaking up the sun in a hot tub after a long day of walking. It’s a simple, but well-deserved, luxury. In the summer, the Hveragerði swimming pool is open Mon-Fri from 6:45am to 9:30pm, and Sat-Sun from 9:00am to 7:00pm. Admission for adults is 1,180 ISK [$8.40, €7.85]. Read more about swimming pools here.

Hveragerði Geothermal Park: This area of Iceland is known for its especially active hot springs, so if you’re a geology nerd (or you really want to boil an egg in a hot spring), this is a great stop on a day in Hveragerði. 

Visitors to the Geothermal Park can even get a clay footbath (said to have therapeutic effects) and visit the nearby greenhouses, where everything from bananas, to tomatoes and flowers are grown. Admission is 500 ISK [$3.60, €3.30] for adults and 300 ISK [$2.14, €2.00] for kids. During the summer, it’s open Mon-Sat 9am-6pm and Sun 9am-4pm.

Where to eat in Hveragerði

Hveragerði Foodhall: Look, I’ll admit it. I love food halls. A lot of them have sprung up in Reykjavík and across Iceland recently, so some of the cool kids are turning their nose up at them. But for anyone dining with a partner or family, it’s a great way for everyone to get what they want. The Hveragerði foodhall is known as the Greenhouse. It has a variety of options from burgers, tacos, fried chicken, casual fine dining, an elegant cocktail bar, and more. Prices are no different from Reykjavík. Expect to spend about 3,500 ISK [$25, €23] for an entree and about 1,100 ISK [$7.80, €7.30] for a beer.

Ölverk Pizza & Brewery: Pizza and beer is not exactly a hard sell. This popular eatery in Hveragerði serves up innovative pies, such as a Korean tunafish pizza, alongside tried-and-true classics, washed down with a selection of their own brewed beers. Appetizers are around 1500 ISK [$10.70, €10]. Pizzas begin around 2,300 ISK [$16.45, €15.30] for a basic margherita and go up to around 3,200 ISK [$22.90, €21.30] for more speciality offerings. Beers on offer include a full selection of German pilsners, red ales, and IPA, in addition to seasonal offerings as well.

Matkráin: Looking for something a little more local? Matkráin [The Gastropub] has you covered! Their menu – which is in Icelandic (something not to be taken for granted these days) – features a wide selection of Icelandic and Nordic favourites, with smoked salmon, open-faced sandwiches, smoked lamb, salads, and more. The open-faced sandwiches, which can be ordered either whole, or taken as half for a “take two” deal, are the feature of the menu and will run you about 2,800 ISK [$20, €18.60] or so.

Rósakaffi: Hveragerði is known for its greenhouses, so it’s only fitting to have a light lunch or coffee in one of the greenhouses! On offer are a selection of cakes, coffee, and lunch options such as wings and fries, meatballs, lamb shanks, potato gratin, and more. They have a generous lunch offer which includes a fish entree, with coffee and cake for dessert. The lunch offer will run you 2,490 ISK [$17.80, €16.60].

Where to stay in Hveragerði

Hveragerði isn’t the biggest tourism centre in the region, so it’s possible to find accommodations for a reasonable price. That said, all of the information provided here is to give you a general sense, but of course prices will fluctuate depending on the season, demand, the size of your party, and so on.

Hotels in Hveragerði

Hotel Örk is likely a good option for many. A traditional hotel that’s neither budget nor luxury, you’ll find it has reasonable options for couples and families. A stay here comes with a complimentary breakfast buffet, which we certainly took advantage of before our hike. The facilities also feature a heated outdoor swimming pool (complete with water slide) and hot pots. A 2-night weekend stay here for two adults in the high season (July) is currently around 71,000 ISK [$508, €472], but our stay was significantly cheaper, as April is something of an off-season.

The Frost and Fire Hotel may be a more intriguing offering for travellers looking for a more unique experience. Nestled beside bubbling geothermal springs in Hveragerði, this hotel boasts an outdoor pool, two hot tubs, and a sauna. Each room comes complete with bathrobes, slippers, and a flat-screen TV. Wi-Fi access is complimentary. Wooden floors, spacious beds, and private bathrooms are standard features, with some rooms providing scenic vistas of the River Varmá.

Guests can indulge in Icelandic haute cuisine at Restaurant Varmá, situated within the hotel and open for dinner reservations. The restaurant specializes in slow-cooked dishes prepared in the natural hot springs, offering patrons a delightful panorama of the river Varmá. The Frost and Fire Hotel is also a great option for hikers planning on doing this trail, as the hotel is located significantly closer to the trailhead. A 2-night weekend stay here for two adults in the high season (July) currently begins around 140,000 ISK [$1,000, €930].

The SKYR Guesthouse may be attractive for both budget-minded travellers and travellers looking for something more cosy. Located above the popular SKYR restaurant, this guesthouse has a lovely rural Bed and Breakfast atmosphere that would go well with a hike or weekend getaway to the countryside. Rooms come with free Wi-Fi, private bathrooms, flat-screen televisions, free parking, beautiful views, and of course, convenient access to the restaurant. A 2-night weekend stay here for two adults in the high season (July) currently begins around 51,000 ISK [$365, €340].

Camping in Hveragerði

As stated above, Hveragerði also has a campground. Surrounded by nature’s splendour and close to hiking trails, a swimming pool, a golf course, and horse rentals, it’s an ideal base for outdoor adventures. The campground provides most modern amenities, including toilets, showers, laundry facilities, and dishwashing areas. Pet-friendly and family-oriented, it features a playground and barbecue facilities. Services for mobile homes are available, along with an electric car charging station. Prices are reasonable, with adults at 2,000 ISK [$14, €13] and children under 15 free. It’s only open during the summer, however, and for this trip, we chose to sleep in a hotel to lighten our packs. The walk was much nicer without a tent and sleeping bag weighing us down!

Day 3: Hveragerði back to Nesjavellir (with a stop at Reykjadalur)

On the third day of our trip, we got up early, had our hotel buffet breakfast, and were out the door at a respectable 9am. We were, however, not particularly keen to walk the bit through town. It’s not very scenic, and it adds about 3km [1.8 mi] to the total walk. We opted to save some money and located two e-scooters in town – much cheaper than a taxi. Rural taxi services can be somewhat slow to respond and expensive. The road to the trailhead is well-paved and within the service range of the scooters as well. In total, out e-scooter journey turned out to be around 900 ISK [$6.40, €6] – a fair savings from taxi fare.

reykjadalur hike
A waterfall you will see en route to Reykjadalur.

The next bit of our hike will be familiar to anyone who has visited the popular Reykjadalur geothermal area. It’s about a 3 km [1.8 mi] walk from the Reykadalur café to the hot spring area, or about an hour of solid walking. The trail does ramp up very quickly in steepness – both my wife and I are in decent shape and were pretty winded within the first 15 minutes of the walk. The trail does, however, even out once you get into the hills.

view over reykjadalur
The Reykjadalur geothermal valley.

For this day of hiking, we had a bit more time to spare, so we did opt to hop into the hot river. As I noted before, this is a beautiful and special area, but many people are also changing out in the open, so I would recommend that you be respectful and play influencer elsewhere. It was a relatively warm and sunny day, but it’s always a little chilly to run through the cold mountain air in your swimsuit. It’s also worth noting that except for the wooden walkway and modesty screens, this area is unimproved. That means it is a real river, and as such, the river rocks are mostly sharp and hard to walk on. I hope this doesn’t need explaining, but it’s not a luxury spa – it’s a mountain stream. Still, our feet were still sore from our walk, so we gratefully soaked for a good half hour and had a quick lunch. Obviously, if you plan on going to Reykjadalur for a dip, I recommend bringing along a swimsuit and towel so you can dry off. Not very fun to complete the rest of the hike soaking wet!

hiking signposts

From the Reykjadalur area, we headed right, up the hill towards a fumarole on the side of the hill. Following that trail for another 15 minutes or so, you will come across this sign post. Since we took the route on the left on our way here, we decided to head right towards Kattatjörn, the mountain pond that serves as the namesake for this trail.

From here, the way is clear, and you’ll walk over a mountain meadow for about an hour until you arrive at a dramatic overlook point, where you can see Þingvallavatn Lake, and the glacier Langjökull in the distance.

After this vantage point, it’s all downhill! Quite literally, in fact, though there are still some difficult bits to the hike. As you descend from the mountains, you’ll pass through a rather Tolkien-esque river gorge. It’s a cool area, but we found the way to be a little tricky. The trail was very sandy in parts, making it hard to get a firm footing. But still, heading downhill back to civilization puts a certain spring in your step, and after a couple of hours, we found our way back to the car!

 

More than just Reykjadalur

The Reykjadalur hot spring area has become an extremely popular attraction in recent years, and I certainly can’t blame visitors for wanting to see this unique geothermal area. But the hiking around Hengill and Nesjavellir offers so much more, and I highly recommend this trail to anyone looking for a bit more of a serious outing than just a day hike, without the need to really plan out a true highland excursion. Nevertheless, some of the views we were rewarded with felt like true highland vistas, so I can’t recommend it enough. Though a word to the wise – do wait until at least the end of May to hike this. To say we were muddy by the end would be an understatement.

Hiker Completes 300 km Postal Route for Charity

Hiker Einar Skúlason

Hiker Einar Skúlason finished an 11 day trek along an old northeastern postal route this Friday, raising over ISK 1 Million [$7300, €6600] for The Akureyri Cancer Society. He acted as a real-life postal worker during the trek, delivering Christmas cards along the way, Mbl.is reports.

Einar has previously hiked a number of other old postal routes, which were used before modern roads allowed for safer and quicker travel between rural communities. His latest journey started in the eastern town of Seyðisfjörður on the East Coast on December 4. “I stopped at a few places along the way, as the postal workers used to do back in the day,” Einar told Mbl.is as he concluded the walk in Akureyri. “I visited places like Möðrudalur and Grímsstaður á Fjöllum and got lodging and food like they did in the old days.”

Most of the nights Einar stayed in a tent which he carried on his back along with other supplies, a 30 kg extra weight in total. “I didn’t know if I’d make it in time for Christmas, if there would be any low points, how the weather would be and whether something would happen to me on the way,” he added. “There is always a risk involved carrying such a heavy backpack.”

Freezing cold during the hike

The route is nearly 300 km long, but Einar was able to stop at a number of natural baths along the way to ease his sore muscles and warm himself up. “It was frightfully cold on the way, usually a double digit number below zero, sometimes 15 to 20 degrees freezing,” Einar said. “But the day before yesterday it was 17 below by Mývatn, but then suddenly zero degrees at midnight.”

Einar raised money for The Akureyri Cancer Society from online pledges and fees for the Christmas greetings he delivered on the way. “The Society does great work. So I called them up and asked if I should raise money for them,” he said, adding that promoting the Society’s work is an added benefit, which will hopefully encourage people in need to reach out to them.

Central Bank Announces 14th Consecutive Rate Hike

Central Bank

The Monetary Policy Committee of the Central Bank of Iceland announced this morning that it would be raising the policy rate by 0.50%. This is the fourteenth rate hike in a row, with the bank’s main interest rate currently sitting at 9.25%.

Inflation subsided slightly

In its fourteenth consecutive rate hike, the Central Bank announced this morning that it would be raising the key interest rate by 0.50%, bringing the bank’s main interest rate to 9.25%. The previous increase of 1.25% was announced in May.

According to the announcement, inflation has subsided somewhat – down to 7.6% in July – since the last interest rate decision. The short-term inflation outlook has improved. However, inflation expectations are still above the bank’s target of 2.5% and there is a risk that it will prove persistent. “In light of this, it is necessary to further tighten the reins of monetary policy. In particular, it is important to prevent the interaction of rising wages and prices.”

The announcement also notes that the housing component’s contribution to inflation has decreased, international price increases have decreased, and the exchange rate of the króna has increased. However, domestic price increases have proven to be persistent and are still on a broad basis. Underlying inflation has, therefore, decreased more slowly than measured inflation; it was 6.7% in July.

Governor calls on the government to exercise “prudence”

In a press conference following the announcement, Þórarinn G. Pétursson, Chief Economist at the Central Bank, noted that the number of jobs is increasing rapidly; during the second quarter of the year, the unemployment rate was 2.8%, the lowest since the fall of 2017. The number of companies in search of employees is decreasing, Þórarinn noted, although the percentage was still well above the historical average.

Þórarinn also noted that economic growth was lower than the Central Bank expected in May. The same held for private consumption: 5% when the Central Bank had forecast expected almost 7%. The difference is mainly in Icelanders’ spending abroad, which turned out to be less significant than expected.

Governor of the Central Bank Ásgeir Jónsson emphasised that a fifty-point hike in the interest rate was significant. The economy remained strained, with wages witnessing a 10% rise year-on-year and notable surges in domestic product prices. According to Ásgeir, the Central Bank has already made substantial interest rate adjustments, and its impact will be closely monitored. The upcoming Monetary Policy Committee meeting is just around the corner.

Regarding next year’s budget proposal, Ásgeir mentioned that the Central Bank did not have specific requests. However, they hope the government exercises utmost prudence in its operations.

Read More: A Króna for Your Thoughts (Interview with Governor of the Central Bank Ásgeir Jónsson)

How do I access the 2023 Reykjanes eruption?

reykjanes eruption 2023

An eruption began on the Reykjanes peninsula at 4:40 PM on July 10, 2023. It is the third eruption in three years at the site. The eruption area has been opened to visitors and below is all the necessary information on how to access it, including directions, route information, and safety considerations.

Checking conditions

To receive the most up-to-date information about access to the eruption site, it is best to check safetravel.is. The Department of Civil Protection and Emergency Management website and Facebook page also provide information about safety at the site. Information on air quality in Iceland is available at loftgaedi.is. The site may be closed with short notice due to weather conditions or gas pollution, so make sure you check first before heading out.

Driving and parking

All off-road driving is illegal in Iceland. The hiking route to the eruption is accessed from Suðurstrandarvegur (Route 427). Cars must be parked at marked parking lots and parking on the side of the road is forbidden. Parking has a cost of ISK 1,000 [$7.60, €6.80] and can be paid online, more information is provided on-site.

Hiking route

The hike to the eruption is around 10km one way across uneven terrain. Hikers experienced with Icelandic conditions may be able to complete the hike in two hours one way (four hours round trip). Those with less experience should expect a hike of 3-4 hours one way, 6-8 hours round trip, which does not include time spent at the eruption itself. Hikers need proper footwear, warm clothing, and a wind- and rain-proof outer layer, and must bring food, water, and a fully charged cell phone. The hiking route is clearly marked from the available parking lots. More detailed information on hiking routes is available on visitreykjanes.is.

Safety risks

Visiting an active eruption poses several risks. One of the main risks is gas pollution, especially when conditions are still. Toxic gases from eruptions are heavier than the atmosphere meaning they gather close to the ground and in low-lying areas. This means that eruption sites pose a particular risk for children and pets, who are also more sensitive to toxic gases. Hikers are strongly discouraged from bringing young children or dogs to the eruption site. Surgical masks do not protect against toxic gases at eruptions.

Hikers are also encouraged to stay at a significant distance from the fresh lava, as new rivulets can break through suddenly and be difficult to escape from in due time. Visitors to the eruption should not under any circumstances walk on fresh lava: while the surface may look solid and cool, lava can remain molten underneath for years and even decades.

More about the eruption

For curious readers, Iceland Review has compiled an article with more information about the eruption itself. Several live feeds of the eruption are available online, including here and here.

This article will be updated regularly.

Central Bank Raises Key Interest Rates by 1.25%

Central Bank

The Monetary Policy Committee of the Central Bank of Iceland raised the policy rate this morning by 1.25%. This is the thirteenth rate hike in a row, with the bank’s main interest rate currently sitting at 8.75%.

Curbing inflation

In its thirteenth consecutive rate hike, the Central Bank announced this morning that it would be raising the key interest rate by 1.25%, bringing the bank’s main interest rate to 8.75%. The previous increase of 1% was announced in March.

According to the announcement, economic activity has been strong so far this year. The central bank’s latest economic forecast projects a notable increase in economic growth, expecting it to reach 4.8% for the year, a significant revision from the previous forecast of 2.6% in February. This revised projection takes into account the anticipated surge in domestic demand and the emergence of heightened activity within the tourism industry, both of which have contributed substantially to the optimistic outlook.

As noted by RÚV, the Governor of the Central Bank has emphasised the necessity of these interest rate hikes to combat inflation. Despite the twelve previous rate hikes, however, the Central Bank has not yet been able to bring inflation under control; the annual inflation rate measured 9.9% in April, well above the bank’s target of 2.5% (the annual inflation rate peaked at 10.2% in February).

The announcement notes that there is an increased likelihood that inflation will prove persistent; underlying inflation continues to increase and large price increases are measured in an increasingly large part of the consumption basket.

Read More: A Króna for Your Thoughts (Interview with Governor of the Central Bank Ásgeir Jónsson)

Tourist Falls to Her Death at Glymur

glymur tourist death

A foreign tourist fell to her death yesterday morning, March 22, at Glymur, a popular waterfall and hiking area in Hvalfjörður.

Glymur is a popular hiking destination, notable as the second-tallest waterfall in Iceland. An accessible day hike during the summer, conditions are very different during the winter, with ice and steep slopes along the gorge making for treacherous going.

According to Morgunblaðið, the woman was on a hike with her partner when she slipped and fell off the edge into the gorge, dying instantly. She was in her 20s.

ICE-SAR stated: “The operation was difficult and demanding, as there was a lot of ice in the gorge, and there were concerns of a collapse over the rescue team. Unfortunately, the woman was dead by the time ICE-SAR arrived.”

In addition to ICE-SAR teams, police were also on the scene.

Fatal Accident on Mt. Kirkjufell

A similar death occurred last fall, when a tourist fell to their death from Mt. Kirkjufell, a popular mountain on the Snæfellsnes peninsula.

The deaths have raised questions about restricting access to these sites and the legality of such restrictions. In Iceland, all land is covered by a “right to wander,” meaning that individuals may pass through areas at will, as long they do not stay overnight or economically exploit it without permission, such as by fishing or hunting.

Regarding the recent accident, Margrét Björk Björnsdóttir, head of communications for the West Iceland Regional Office, stated: “The municipality has been trying to make improvements, but this is a popular hiking trail that needs to be managed better. An application has been made to the municipality’s tourist attractions development fund, but it is a drop in the bucket compared to what needs to be done, because the route is dangerous.”

Previous injuries on the hiking trail to Glymur have included broken legs and sprains, but this is the first recorded death at the waterfall.

 

 

Take a Hike

A tale of Arctic foxes, empty beaches, and a journey into the Hornstrandir wilderness The northern coast of the Westfjords is known as Hornstrandir. To get there, you drive as far as you can go and sail for as far as the local boat will take you. After that, there’s nothing to do but walk, […]

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New Walking Bridge Over Jökulsá í Lóni

The bridge construction team of the Icelandic Road and Coastal Administration has completed the construction of a new walking bridge over Jökulsá í Lóni River. The old was destroyed in a storm during the turn of the year. The completion of the new bridge was a priority for the Road and Coastal Administration as it is important for travellers and hikers in the Lónsöræfi region. The river is dangerous in the summertime when glacial meltwater increases the water flow. Those who try to wade the river close to Múlaskáli cabin can face problems.

Jökulsá í Lóni is a glacial river in South-East Iceland which flows out of the east side of Vatnajökull glacier down into the beautiful Lónsöræfi area. The first bridge in the area was built in 1953, crossing at Múlasel. A new 95-metre long bridge was constructed in 2004, becoming the longest walking bridge in Iceland when it opened. That bridge was destroyed in late 2018.

Lónsöræfi is a beautiful area between the Jökulsá í Lóni river and Vatnajökull glacier and is considered a great hike. There are numerous hiking lodges in the area. For more information on Lónsöræfi and the surrounding area, head to the website for Vatnajökull national park: https://www.vatnajokulsthjodgardur.is/en/areas/snaefell-lonsoraefi/interpretation-and-knowledge/about-lonsoraefi

The bridge construction team achieved a great feat as they had to transport a lot of instruments and materials on foot up the treacherous Illikambur ridge. The also had some difficulties with the wind while constructing the bridge, according to bridge smith Sveinn Þórðarson. The team started working on the bridge in May, completing it on June 21.

When asked what was the hardest part of the construction, Sveinn had this to say: “Probably the physical labour. We had a digging machine which could help with loading and unloading from vehicles. But when we had set up the bridge towers, the digger left, and we needed to do it all manually by hand. We had to carry a substantial amount of material, and our guys were completely spent after each day. We also had to return home two times due to severe winds which stopped all work. The walk to and from the car was difficult, especially in Illikambur.” It was not all doom and gloom, however. “We are somewhat used to spending many days and nights together in the working camps. But we didn’t have individual rooms in our lodge nor did we have any phone or internet connection. Therefore we started to play Trivial Pursuit while dinner was being prepared.” Sveinn says that the group enjoyed playing Trivial Pursuit so much that they have asked for the Road and Coastal Administration to purchase the board game so they can play it in the evening on other construction projects.