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Man who ended in North Iceland while searching for downtown hotel not the first to be led astray by GPS

By Staff

  • Lava formations in Þingvellir National Park Travellers searching for "Þingvellir" are frequent guests at the farm Þingvellir on the northern coast of Snæfellsnes peninsula in West Iceland, thanks to questionable GPS directions. Photo/Vilhelm Gunnarsson.

Although the story of the American traveller who ended up in the small town of Siglufjörður in North Iceland thanks to a potent mix of excessive reliance on the GPS equipment in his rental car and a minor misspelling of the address of the hotel he was staying at is unusually humorous it is not the only story of a foreign traveller who is led astray by GPS.

Read more: Entered an extra "r" in his GPS location, ended up in North Iceland instead of a downtown Reykjavík hotel

The members of an Icelandic Facebook group of tour guides and other members of the tourism industry have discussed the incident and stories of similar events. One tells the story of travellers who were came to the farm Hakauadalur in Dýrafjörður fjord in the Westfjords, West Iceland in search of the Geysir geothermal area, which is located in a different Haukadalur in South Iceland. Another tells how he waited in Borgarfjörður fjord in West Iceland for a group of travellers who drove to the opposite end of Iceland, to Borgarfjörður Eystri in East Iceland.

Foreign travellers who are searching for the historic site of the Viking age Althingi in Þingvellir national park are also frequent guests at the farm Þingvellir on the Northern coast of Snæfellsnes peninsula in West Iceland.

Read more: GPS equipment directs travellers to Þingvellir farm instead of the historic site

Common place names and impassable roads
The Icelandic national broadcasting service points out there are numerous other places which can pose problems for tourists. There is a street called Aðalstræti in Reykjavík as well as in the towns of Akureyri in North Iceland and Ísafjörður, Patreksfjörður and Bolungarvík in the Westfjords, West Iceland. Hverfisgata street is also in Reykjavík as well as the towns of Hafnarfjörður in the Capital region and Siglufjörður in North Iceland. Place names like Hólar (the seat of the historic bishopric in North Iceland), which can be found in 15 places in Iceland or Laugar, Reykjanes and Keflavík can also be a source of confusion.

However, misspellings or similar place names are not the primary reason travellers get into trouble using GPS equipment. According to the Icelandic Tourist Board the most common problem is that GPS equipment usually charts the shortest route to the desired location tracing mapped roads. But the shortest routes are not necessary also best. In some cases such directions have sent travellers onto closed or impassable roads. Earlier this winter an American traveller driving a small compact SUV driving to Akureyri got stuck in snow on a mountain road just north of Gullfoss when he followed the instructions of his GPS system which had decided to send him straight into the Central highlands in the middle of winter.

Read more: Foreign traveller rescued after he gets stuck in snow on a mountain road north of Gullfoss waterfall

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