Category Archive News

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Largest Landslide in Icelandic History

An enormous landslide on Fagraskógarfjall mountain in Hítardalur in West Iceland took place early on Saturday morning, flooding a well-known salmon fishing river with mud and rock and almost completely changing the face of the landscape RÚV reports. The landslide is thought to be the largest that has ever occurred in Iceland.

Experts say that the uncommonly wet summer weather is to blame for the event. “This is a direct consequence of all this rain,” remarked geologist Finnbogi Rögnvaldsson who was called to the site yesterday. Police and Icelandic Search and Rescue were also on the scene, which has been closed off for obvious safety reasons.

Local farmer Erla Dögg Ármannsdóttir told RÚV that the landslide has formed a sort of dam across the Hítará river. “The dam is a few dozen meters high—I’m not exactly sure—and several hundred meters long and it’s completely blocking the Hítará, which is a serious issue.” She explained to Vísir that the blockage has caused a lagoon to form on one side of the dammed river “which is rising with every hour.” As of time of writing, it was unclear what direction the water would go once it became higher than the landslide, but it is clear that this event will redirect the path of the river entirely and have a big impact on the salmon that live in it.

See a video of the landslide taken by a drone here.

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Possible Polar Bear Sighting in Northeast Iceland

A polar bear has been spotted on the remote plain of Melrakkaslétta in Northeast Iceland, RUV reports. Police in the region issued a statement about the sighting on their Facebook page on Monday night.

At the time of writing, this sighting had not yet been confirmed by a secondary source. Police were investigating further, however, and the Icelandic Coast Guard sent a helicopter to surveil the area on Monday night.

People traveling in the area are urged to contact 112 immediately if they see or encounter a polar bear and are, obviously, urged not to approach it.

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Safe Travel – Strong wind in the north and west area

Weather:

Strong winds expected tomorrow Thursday on northern Snæfellsnes peninsula and the area around Ísafjörður in the Westfjords. Strong wind gusts can be expected which could become hazardous for people driving wind sensitive vehicles such as camper vans. Important to reduce speed when driving near mountains. With this there‘s also considerable rain so limited visibility can be expected on the roads.

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Reminder: Reykjavík to Screen World Cup Outdoors

 

The screening areas are a collaborative project between the City of Reykjavík and the Football Association of Iceland (KSÍ). In 2016, an outdoor screening area was set up at Arnarhóll for Iceland’s games in the UEFA Championships. The city decided to move the screenings to Hljómskálagarður this year to accommodate larger crowds and provide better services.

Besides a large screen and stage, a plan for the area shows six food stands, washrooms, and four play areas for children.

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Weather and Road Condition forecast for Iceland

Weather:   

Strong wind with rain forecasted in North and East Iceland tomorrow, Thursday. Cold winds from the north blowing in all Iceland so strong wind gusts may be expected by mountains is all regions. Vehicles that take on a lot of wind, such as camper vans or cars with trailers have to show extra caution when driving near mountains! Sleet also forecasted on the highest mountain roads in north and east Iceland tomorrow night until Friday morning.

Conditions in the highlands: 

We will provide information on conditions as soon as areas open up. These areas open as soon as conditions allow but here you can find a brochure with estimated dates from the Road Admin.

Tourists often mistake 4×4 for a vehicle that can take on all terrain, which is of course not the case and this must be explained as damages can cost thousands of dollars. Drivers who get stuck in rivers, snow or mud have to get themselves out at own expense – there‘s no insurance in the world that covers damage linked to crossing a river. GPS devices also tend to lead drivers on to closed roads. For this reason, it’s very important they know where to access information about road conditions/closures. It is illegal to drive off-road, including on sand!!   

Þórsmörk/Goðaland: The road is open but only suitable for 4×4 jeeps. It is not advised to attempt crossing the river Krossá unless you are on a larger modified 4X4 and have experience crossing it.

Fjallabak: Road 208 is now open from Hrauneyjar. Increased flow in the river so parking before the river is recommended, walking over the bridges into the area. Other routes in N-Fjallabak are closed due to wet conditions. S-Fjallabak is stil impassible, only passible for modified 4×4.

Kaldidalur: Impassible – still too wet.

Kjölur: Is open from the south to Kerlingafjöll and from the north to Hveravellir. Closed in between.

Lakagígar: Road F206 is open until Fagrifoss. Road to Laki still remains closed.

Conditions in popular tourist sites: 

Conditions depend entirely on the weather so that must be checked every day. Many trails are now wet and muddy and therefore it‘s important to wear proper footwear as the mud is slippery and can cause accidents.  

Reykjanes: Conditions on roads and trails by Gunnuhver are still quite bad. Sharp edges and important to drive very slowly! 

Þingvellir: Nothing remarkable about conditions.   

Geysir: When walking from parking lot to Geysir one must be careful as the stone slabs are very uneven. Road 35 from Reykholt to Múli is still being worked on so therefore one must show caution when driving by.

Gullfoss: Nothing remarkable about the condition.

Western Iceland: Worth mentioning that Kaldidalur mountain road is still closed/impassible but Uxarhryggir is open! Road to Surtshellir cave has been fixed and is now in ok condition.  

Snæfellsjökull National Park: Roads 570 and 571 over the glacier are closed!

Westfjords: Dynjandisheiði mountain pass is in worse condition than others in the area. Driving slow while showing caution is key. The tunnel between Ísafjörður and Flateyri will be closed during the nights from midnight until 7AM during weekdays for the next 2-3 weeks.

Hvítserkur: Nothing remarkable about the conditions.      

Goðafoss: Nothing remarkable about the conditions.   

Mývatn: Nothing remarkable about the conditions.    

Dettifoss og Selfoss: Nothing remarkable about the conditions. 

Hengifoss: Nothing remarkable about the conditions.     

Reynisfjara: The beach can always be dangerous due to the unpredictability of the waves. It‘s not every wave – it‘s every 7th or 10th or 12th wave that goes a lot further up the beach than the rest making it difficult to assess danger upon arrival. There are no rocks in the ocean that break the waves and only a few meters of shore there‘s an underwater cliff so the pulling factor of these already powerful waves becomes even greater. On top of this the sand is very fine ash which makes it extra difficult to get away from these waves. Rocks have also been falling by the cave.
Same applies to Djúpalónssandur in Snæfellsnes Peninsula and Kirkjufjara beach but it‘s CLOSED for this reason. 

Dyrhólaey: Limited access during the nesting season, until 25th of June. Between 9 AM and 7 PM it is not allowed to go off the paths/roads. CLOSED during the night from 7 PM to 9 AM.

Seljalandsfoss: Nothing unusual about the conditions – the trail behind the waterfall is wet and one must be careful when going up the rocks on the west side. 

Fjaðrárgljúfur: Open but important to stay on the trails and not go over ropes that indicate closures as nature is still very vulnerable.  

Conditions on hiking trails: 

Hiking in Iceland requires proper equipment even on shorter hikes as trails are often not like the ones travelers are used to. Please study our equipment list as preparation is key for successful travel in Iceland. The way down can often be harder than the way up so hiking poles are a good tool to help tired knees.

Esjan: Must not be underestimated! Considerably colder up top than by the roots and wind often increases after 250 m. Warm clothing is essential! Watch your step as it is quite muddy and slippery past Steinn!   

Reykjadalur: Open but remains wet so it’s important to follow the trail!

Básar: All trails are in good condition exceot for Fimmvörðuháls. Rivers on the way are passible for most 4×4 with some ground clearance.

Fimmvörðuháls: A challenging hike and conditions vary a lot on the weather! Fog on the top and even snow is common which limits the visibility. Snow for about 5 km from Baldvinsskáli hut to Heljarkambur. It can be very wet and slushy where hikers sink down to their ankles. Snow is still covering the trail markers in this portion so it‘s important to have a GPS for navigation. Foot prints in the snow should never be 100% relied upon. 

Þórsmörk: Trails are in good conditions except for on the Laugavegur trail.

Landmannalaugar: Trail to Suðurnámur and Hellismannaleið from Landmannalaugar to Landmannahellir are closed due to mud. Other trails in good shape except for the Laugavegur hike.

Laugavegurinn: Challenging hike, not for those without experience as proper equipment is required. A lot of snow towards Hrafntinnusker and snowshowers not uncommon. Wardens have just arrived in Hrafntinnusker and in Álftavatn. Increased flow in Bláfjallakvísl river! Important to have a GPS as it‘s often poor navigation conditions around Hrafntinnusker in thick fog and snow and trail markers are still under the snow. Gaiters recommended and if people plan on camping in Hrafntinnusker they will need to camp on snow.

Þakgil: Hiking trails in good conditions except for those that go up to the glacier – there hikers can expect snow and gaiters are recommended. Road into Þakgil in good condition and passible for all vehicles.

Skaftafell: All trails open except for S3 and S4. M1, to Bæjarstaðarskógur unusually wet as hikers must cross the rivers.  

SE of Vatnajökull: To access trails towards the glacier one must take gravel roads which can be in bad shape with holes and mud, especially road to Fláajökull. Road to Hoffell is only accessible for jeeps and hiking from Hoffell to the glacier and back is 7,5 km.

Lónsöræfi: Wardens will arrive in the beginning of July. Still not recommended to take on longer hikes in the area without a guide. The 15 km trail around Stafafjöll mountains can be wet so good footwear and gaiters must be kept in mind as well as it‘s very important to stay on the trails!

Víknaslóðir: Wardens will be in the huts from June 15th to September 7th. Warden won‘t arrive in Húsavík until June 22nd. Road F946 to Loðmundafjörður is open. Hikers can expext less snow than previous years yet more from Seyðisfjörður to Loðmundafjörður. The river crossing over Hjálmárdalsá (from Seyðisfjörður to Loðmundarfjörður) river could be impassible and good chances that hikers may need to go of the trail to the west and cross it from above, possibly on snow.

Ásbyrgi og Jökulsárgljúfur: Nothing remarkable about the conditions.

Hornstrandir: A lot of snow can be expected over 200 m. elevation. Important to prepare for that and wear good hiking boots.

Glymur: Log has now been placed over half of the river. One must step on rocks for the first half but due to high river levels it’s unavoidable getting wet as the river flows well over these rocks. Not recommended except for those with good sense of balance as the current is quite strong in these conditions.

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Iceland’s mountain roads are opening for summer

Slowly but surely, Iceland’s mountain roads are opening up after being snowed up for winter. Now Landmannalaugar are accesible by road as well as the roads by Möðrudalsöræfi and to the Kerlingarfjöll mountains.

It is important to remember that these roads are only passable to 4×4 vehicles.

More information about the road conditions: https://www.campericeland.is/en/information/actual-road-condition/

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Fjaðrárgljúfur and Skógafoss Trails Reopened

Hiking trails around Fjaðrárgljúfur canyon near the village of Kirkjubæjarklaustur and Skógaheiði above Skógafoss waterfall will be reopened today, June 1, RÚV reports. The Environment Agency of Iceland closed both of the Southern Iceland trails earlier in the spring when they became untraversable due to an excess of foot traffic and wet weather.

The closures have had good results, with an increase in vegetation in both places. Both trails have also had time to dry out. In its statement about the pending reopenings, however, the Environment Agency reiterated that both of these popular trails have limited infrastructures, and as such, it can be difficult to ensure that trail closures are respected when they are deemed necessary.

“In order for closures to work as intended, there always need to be rangers on site to educate guests about the reasons for the closures and in so doing, increase people’s understanding and their respect for nature,” read the statement on the agency’s website.

Infrastructure improvements are planned at both sites. At Fjaðrárgljúfur, these will include upgrades to part of the footpath, informational signage, and a fence. At Skógaheiði, vegetation will be planted in order to combat soil erosion.