Vital to Prevent Travellers from Hiking Near Glymur in Winter

glymur tourist death

The Director General of the Icelandic Tourist Board has stated that more needs to be done to prevent tourists from hiking up to the Glymur waterfall during wintertime. In an interview with Vísir, he stated that a meeting would be called with landowners, representatives of the municipality, and the local police, among others, in order to discuss measures to ensure the safety of travellers in the area.

First recorded death near the waterfall

As reported earlier this week, a woman in her thirties died after suffering a two-hundred-metre fall near the waterfall Glymur, in Hvalfjörður, West Iceland. Conditions near the waterfall were reportedly dangerous, and the accident is currently under investigation. Following the young woman’s death, many people have called for the authorities to better ensure the safety of travellers at popular tourist destinations.

In an interview with Vísir yesterday, Jón Þór Víglundsson, Public Relations Officer with the Icelandic Association for Search and Rescue (Landsbjörg), stated that conditions near the Glymur waterfall, vis-a-vis the safety of travellers, were “seriously lacking.” Jón Þór also called for improvements in “a broader context,” encouraging the government to roll up its sleeves and improve safety on roads.

Interested parties to meet

Arnar Már Ólafsson, Director General of the Icelandic Tourist Board, agrees with Jón Þór’s assessment; the safety of tourists in Iceland needs to be widely reviewed.

“It is necessary to act in all contexts where the safety of tourists is deemed to be lacking. For example, in this area in question during wintertime, the hiking trail up to the Glymur waterfall on the east side of the river is very dangerous. There’s a log of wood that straddles the river, intended to make the crossing of the river easier, but that log is removed in the fall – because people are not expected to hike there during winter. There is also an information sign at the parking lot warning people not to hike in the area during wintertime. But we need to look at this even more closely and try to prevent people from hiking there during the winter.”

Arnar Már stated that it was imperative that the authorities acted quickly.

“I’m going to convene all the involved parties – the landowners, municipalities, the rescue society in Akranes, the West Iceland police, and ICE-SAR – so that we can discuss what needs to be done in order to promote increased safety in the area.”

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.



2.3 Million Tourists to Visit Iceland in 2023, Model Predicts

tourists on perlan

A predictive model expects 1.7 million tourists to visit Iceland through Keflavík Airport this year. The model expects this number to increase by 600,000 in 2023.

Predictive models

Dr. Gunnar Haraldsson, founder and CEO of the economic consultancy firm Intellecon, has led the development of a statistical model employed, among other things, to forecast tourist visits to Iceland. The project began in the fall of 2020.

Yesterday, Gunnar addressed the audience at a meeting hosted by the Icelandic Tourist Board. In his lecture, he introduced the model and some of its predictions, among them – that 1.7 million tourists would visit Iceland in 2022.

Speaking to RÚV, Gunnar stated that the model predicted 600,000 more tourists to visit Iceland in 2023: “Next year, we predict that number to increase to 2.3 million. All of this comes with caveats since there are a number of uncertainties that can impact the model.”

Alongside forecasting visits, Gunnar Haraldsson and his team also predict revenue and overnight stays. “We’re looking into credit-card turnover. The model predicts that tourists will spend ca. ISK 250 billion ($1.7 billion / €1.8 billion) this year and ISK 330 billion ($2.3 billion / €2.3 billion) next year. And so you can say that tourists spend a considerable amount on products and services in Iceland. Our numbers are predicated on data from local credit card companies,” Gunnar told RÚV.

Gunnar added that winter tourism was picking up steam, with some indications that seasonal fluctuations are gradually evening out. Overnight stays in 2022 are predicted to reach 4.5 million but will rise to 5.5 million next year. The model further predicts that 3.5 million tourists will visit Iceland in the year 2030. As noted in the press release by the Icelandic Tourist Board, this would mean a 50% increase from 2018, which was a record year for tourist visits to Iceland.

Fatal Accident on Mt. Kirkjufell

Kirkjufell mountain on the Snæfellsnes Peninsula

A hiker died on Mt. Kirkjufell on the Snæfellsnes peninsula yesterday, RÚV reports.

According to Jón S. Ólason, Chief of Police in Akranes, the man had been hiking with a group of travellers, nearing the summit, when he fell at least 10 meters. He died instantly. The accident occurred at 3.30 PM yesterday. It took two hours for the Coast Guard’s helicopter, on its way back from Þórshöfn, to arrive at the scene. The man, a tourist of foreign nationality, was in his early thirties.

This is the second time in four years that a hiker dies on Mt. Kirkjufell, a 463-metre high mountain on the north coast of the Snæfellsnes peninsula, near the town of Grundarfjörður, in West Iceland.

Sculpture Will Be Relocated Following Fatal Accident

An outdoor artwork in the East Iceland town of Djúpivogur will be relocated following a fatal accident. A tourist in his 60s died after being run over by a construction vehicle at the site of the much-visited art installation by Sigurður Guðmundsson. Sigurður and Björn Ingimarsson, mayor of Múlaþing municipality, decided at a meeting last week that the artwork would be relocated to another seaside location within the town.

The harbour area of Djúpivogur, where the man was run over, is the site of ongoing construction. A rope had been installed to separate pedestrians from vehicular traffic, but it had been removed at the time of the accident due to construction activities. “It is, however, not certain that this fixture would have prevented the accident that occurred, as those who visit the site are not all using the walking path that is marked and so it is our consensus that the removal of the artwork from the area is necessary,” a notice from the municipality states.

“We mourn the tragic accident that happened by the artwork and want to do everything in our power to prevent something like this from happening again,” the notice underlines.

The artwork consists of 34 oversized birds’ eggs of polished stone. When it was originally installed, in 2009, there was little traffic in the harbour of Djúpivogur. The site has since become a hub of industrial activity, which is set to increase in the near future.

Tourist Death in Djúpivogur, Southeast Iceland

Djúpivogur - eggin í Gleðivík

Safety matters are being reviewed in the town of Djúpivogur, Southeast Iceland, after the death of a foreign tourist there yesterday, RÚV reports. The man was in his sixties and was on a walk with relatives when he was run over by a construction vehicle. A priest attended to witnesses and the man’s relatives received trauma assistance from the Red Cross at Egilsstaðir, East Iceland later that day.

Heavy foot and vehicular traffic

The harbour area of Djúpivogur where the man was run over is the site of ongoing construction, as well as the site of a much-visited sculpture installation. The sculpture, by Sigurður Guðmundsson, consists of a row of oversized bird eggs carved in stone and placed along the shore. When it was installed in 2009, there was little industrial activity in the harbour and therefore less traffic.

Since that time, however, both tourist and industrial activity have increased at the site, leading to more vehicular and foot traffic. A rope had been installed to separate pedestrians from vehiclular traffic, but it had been removed at the time of the accident. According to residents of the town, the rope had been removed due to construction activities.

Authorities are reviewing safety protocols at the site and whether to install additional signage.

Tourist Nearly Drowns at Reynisfjara Beach

Reynisfjara tourists

An ambulance was called out to Reynisfjara beach in South Iceland this week when a Spanish tourist nearly drowned, reports. The man had waded into the water intentionally and was then dragged out by the powerful waves at the site. He eventually managed to get himself back onto the shore, chilled and agitated but otherwise fine.

Photographer Sandra Pawłowska, who witnessed the incident, says the man nearly drowned. He had gotten undressed and waded into the water intentionally while his friend took photographs of him. Sandra says families at the site led their children away so they would not see what was happening.

Reynisfjara is a black sand beach with basalt column formations that is a popular tourist site. The powerful “sneaker” waves at the site have previously claimed several lives, most recently last November, when a Chinese tourist died after being swept out to sea. The path to the beach has a plethora of signs warning visitors to stay well away from the water due to the dangerous waves.

President Makes Surprise Appearance as Tour Guide

President Guðni Th. Jóhannesson delighted foreign visitors to Reykjavík City Hall when he briefly stepped in as a guide on their tour, Vísir reports.

Guðni was leaving a meeting when he encountered the group, which was gathered around the large topographical map of Iceland that’s housed in the lobby of the building. “As you can see, we’re down there [in Reykjavík],” he pointed out to guests. “But there’s plenty more to see, so if you have the time, and if you can come back to Iceland, you’re always welcome.”

“The weather is always nice,” he joked. “It’s always sunny. And the people are lovely, I’m told.”

Speaking to a reporter who was on hand after the visitors left, Guðni noted that the interaction spoke to some of Iceland’s best qualities as a country. “We here in Iceland can turn our smallness into a strength. This is an example, perhaps, that in this great country of ours, it happens that foreigners run into me, or other people, in public places.”

The tourists agreed. “That was amazing,” enthused Synthia and Kylin Salsbery from the US. “He seemed so friendly and welcoming—and what a surprise.”


Fatal Accident in East Iceland

fatal accident Iceland

An 18-year-old French woman had died after falling down a steep slope in East Iceland, where she was hiking with a group. Conditions at the scene were difficult, and Police in East Iceland wrote it was “clear that rescue operators accomplished a great feat” in their work. Police in the region are investigating the incident.

The police were notified of the accident, which occurred in southern Stöðvarfjörður, around 5:00 PM yesterday. Police, rescue crews, and paramedics were called to the scene, as well as a Coast Guard helicopter.

If You Get Lost in Iceland, Sit Down and Wait

Tourists catch a selfie by the edge of the new lava flowing from the crater in Geldingadalur on the Reykjanes peninsula

An American tourist was found near the Reykjanes eruption site this weekend after being missing for more than 24 hours. The man, named Scott Estill, got separated from his wife around 3.00pm on Friday afternoon and was found by Search and Rescue crews around 8.00pm on Saturday, nearly 4km (2.5mi) from where he was last seen. ICE-SAR project manager Jónas Guðmundsson says for those lost in Iceland, the best thing to do is sit down and wait.

Despite a mild injury and symptoms of hypothermia, Scott was in surprisingly good shape when he was found by rescue crews. He was transported to hospital for a check-up. When Scott got separated from his wife, there was heavy fog in the area and visibility was low. Jónas told RÚV it is easy to get lost near the eruption site, where the landscape can look the same in all directions, especially when it’s foggy. “People have gotten lost in smaller areas than this and there is heavy fog there when people are looking at the eruption and it’s very easy to lose your bearings in thick fog, everything looks more or less the same and you have no idea where you’re going,” Jónas stated.

Jónas says the best thing to do if you get lost on a hike in Iceland is to sit down and wait. Aimless wandering only broadens the search area and complicates the search for search and rescue teams. He also stressed the importance of always bringing an extra layer of protective clothing as well as water, food, and a fully-charged phone.

Scott’s wife Becky extended the couple’s gratitude to search and rescue teams, the Red Cross, and Icelandic authorities, who she praised for their professionalism. “I don’t have words to express how amazing it was and not to mention how enormously grateful we are.”