Iceland Mag

4 Reykjavik

Iceland Mag


Local man facing steep fines for off-road idiocy in the slopes of mount Esja

By Staff

  • The end of a bad adventure The man had managed to plow through wetlands and delicate vegetation before finally getting stuck. Photo/Leifur Hákonarson.

Off-road driving in Iceland is punishable by fines and up to two years in prison. In cases where the damage is deemed "significant" the minimum fine is 350,000 ISK (3,400 USD/2,800 EUR), and a four year prison sentence. The consequences a local man faces for driving a 4x4 SUV far up the slopes of mount Esja, on the outskirts of Reykjavík, are therefore quite significant.

Abandoned the car after destructive trek

Off-roading in Esja

The car The misadventure ended in the middle of the slope, far from any recognized road. Photo/Stefán Karlsson

On Saturday afternoon hikers in mount Esja discovered an abandoned 2000 model Toyota Land Cruiser SUV high up in the mountainside. The vehicle had gotten stuck in a bog, after having plowed through untouched heaths and grasslands, leaving deep tracks in the vegetation. The police was notified of the vehicle which immediately attempted to locate the owner or driver of the car.

The owner finally came forward on Monday, admitting to having driven the car up into the mountain. The man explained that he had been driving an old trail, but then lost track of the trail at which point the man decided to continue, rather than turn around. At some point the man then decided to try to drive down the mountain, but instead of getting back onto the road he got stuck in a bog.

Unusually brazen criminal off-roading
Officers with the Metropolitan Police who spoke to the local news site Vísir said they had never seen a similar case of brazen off-roading. "It's a bit strange to get the idea to drive off-road half way up a mountain," one officer told Vísir.

A spokesman for the Reykjavík Forestry Service, which manages the recreational area in Esjan mountain, told Vísir that the damage left by the SUV were significant, and costly to repair.  "We can't take any machinery up there, so we must do it by hand. We must act quickly, because tire tracks like these expose the topsoil to erosion."

The man appears to have followed an old trail, dating to WWII. The trail is not listed on any maps and has been decommissioned. 

According to the Environment Agency the usual fine for off-road driving has been 100-200,000 ISK.

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