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  • Travel

    French off-roaders pay fine for destructive driving, promise better behavior in future

    By Staff

    Public anger News of the off-roading adventure by the French travelers sparked outrage on social media. Photo/Screeenshot, Facebook

    A group of foreign travelers who got their cars stuck while off-road driving in the Central Highlands on Sunday have agreed to pay 400,000 ISK (3,800 USD/3,200 EUR) in fines. the men, who were identified as French nationals by police, also promised not to engage in criminal off-road driving in the future.

    According to a statement from the Police in South Iceland the men arrived at the station in Selfoss early morning to give a statement, and agreed to pay the fine. The men had ventured onto a closed road near the mountain Loðmundur, driving past signs which clearly stated the road was impassable and closed to all traffic. 

    After driving for a while they discovered that the signs had been put up for a reason, and the road was in fact impassable. A snowbank on the road threatened to block their way. Rather than try to cross the snowbank - or turn around, as any sensible person would have done - the men tried to drive around the obstacle by driving across the wet and muddy ground. After ploughing  through the extremely muddy terrain for a while they got stuck and called for help.

    The police chief superintendent in South Iceland told the local news site Vísir that the men were clearly ashamed of their actions, and that they had not realized how wet and muddy the ground was. They also promised not to engage in any further off-road driving.

  • Travel

    Reykjavík recognized as one of the "Most Excellent Cities in the World" by TripAdvisor

    By Staff

    Beautiful Even with a storm brewing overhead, Reykjavík is a beautiful city. Photo/Vilhelm

    The travel website TripAdvosor has named Reykjavík as the second best city in the world to visit, after Key West in Florida, USA. The website explains that this northernmost capital in the world is "filled with day excursions", promising that the Northern Lights will brighten up your experience. 

    The ranking is based on the number of TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence recipients in each city. Which makes the inclusion of Reykjavík on the list all the more remarkable, as Reykjavík is a tiny city of less than 200,000 people.

    This ranking is based on the places that have the most TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence recipients¹ – in fact you may have already seen some of these stickers in the windows of businesses you visit. To get one, restaurants, experiences and hotels need to deliver great service and consistently achieve high reviews on TripAdvisor from travellers like you.

    The other top five cities are Edinburgh in Scotland, Marrakesh in Morocco and Amsterdam in the Netherlands.

    We at Iceland Magazine would like to point out to travelers that the Northern Lights are only visible in fall through spring, when the night sky gets dark. In summer, however, the Midnight Sun does its best to brighten people's experience!So without further ado, here they are – the “most excellent” cities in the world.

     

  • Crime

    "Adventurers" seeking untouched beauty of highlands leave destruction, incur hatred of locals

    By Staff

    How not to make friends Off-road driving is at the top of things you should NOT do while in Iceland. Photo/Screenshot, Facebook.

    All major roads in the Central Highlands are now open to traffic. However, due to the fact that summer in the Central Highlands is short, cold and wet, many roads are still extremely wet, muddy and difficult to drive. A 4x4 vehicle equipped for mountain travel is required for any travel in the highlands: A regular 4x4 passenger vehicle or SUV is usually NOT enough, as these are not suitable for crossing unbridged rivers.

    Leaving a trail of destruction
    But even if you are driving a fully equipped vehicle you might encounter obstacles you can't surmount - and while the major highland routes are open to traffic many smaller tracks are still impassable. The roads north of Kerlingarfjöll mountains south of Hofsjökull glacier are an example. The local newspaper Morgunblaðið reports that due to extremely wet and muddy conditions, as well as large snowbanks on the road convinced a group of travelers driving vehicles from the French travel agency Imagine 4x4 that they should tear up the vegetation and landscape around the road, rather than admit they had to revise their travel plans.

    The area is closed to traffic.

    After the travelers had managed to do their very best to destroy the pristine nature they had come to enjoy they called Kerlingarfjöll cabin for assistance. Páll Gíslason, who runs the cabin told Morgunblaðið that he refused to help the people get out of the mess they had gotten themselves into, instructing them to call the Police. Off-road driving is illegal in Iceland.

    Fines and hatred
    The Police in South Iceland spent a good part of Sunday assist the people getting the vehicles free. The travelers were then told to report to the Police station in Selfoss in South Iceland to give a statement. A representative of the Police in South Iceland told Morgunblaðið that it was crystal clear the men had broken the law and that they would be fined for their actions.

    According to Morgunblaðið the fine is at least 350,000 ISK, but could be as high as 500,000 ISK (3,300-4,700 USD /2,800-4,000 EUR).

    Paying the fine will not change the fact that the men have permanently damaged the area they were tearing up. The summers in the Central Highlands are short, cold and wet, which means it takes the vegetation decades to recover from destructive off-road driving. The problem is then made worse by the fact that off-road tracks can easily serve as an "invitation" to others to drive off-road. The result can easily be permanent.

    Locals have reacted with rage, showering the men and the French travel agency with hatred. The reviews section of the Facebook page of Imagine 4x4 is currently full of angry reviews by Icelanders and people with ties to Iceland. The company has also gotten 48 1 star ratings in the past 12 hours.

     

    We at Iceland Magazine hope that these "adventurers" receive the maximum fines for their destructive idiocy. We also hope that foreign travel agencies renting mountain trucks for travel in Iceland act responsibly by educating their customers that off road driving is always illegal in Iceland. We hope that the travel agency Imagine 4x4 takes special care to instruct its customers on how to properly operate the vehicles it rents and how people can use them to actually enjoy nature, rather than to actively destroy it.

  • Travel

    A road trip on the Ring Road of Iceland is one of 10 best "once-in-a-lifetime journeys for 2018"

    By Staff

    The Ring Road Don't let the scenery distract you! Photo/GVA

    Anyone who has driven in Iceland will tell you that one of the most important things to keep in mind when planning a road trip is that there are basically no "scenic drives" in Iceland - because all roads are scenic drives. The longest of these scenic drives is the Ring Road, so named because it circumnavigates the island.

    The travel website Flight Network recently complied a list of the 50 The World's Best Once-In-A-Lifetime Journeys for 2018, "a truly inspiring collection of the top 50 transformative trips every traveller must experience in their lifetime". According to the site the list was compiled in collaboration with 500+ travel journalists, bloggers and editors who picked their favorite international destinations. 

    The top 4 destionations are Antarctica, The Galapagos, the Trans Siberian Railway, Macho Picchu in Peru, destinations that are by all standards rather remote and for most people somewhat challenging to reach. In spots 5 and 6 we get two road-trips: The Pacific Coast Highway on the West Coast of the US, and the Icelandic Ring Road.

    Road tripping across Iceland’s Ring Road is the ideal way to fully absorb the many wonders of this astonishing Nordic island. This not only means that you get the opportunity to see almost all of the unique regions of the island nation, but you will also get to do it at your own pace.

    We at Iceland Magazine agree. "Doing the circle" has been a top choice for an Icelandic family vacation in summer ever since the Ring Road was completed in 1974.

    Prior to 1974 you could not drive around Iceland, as the rivers of the glacial outwash plains in the South East had not been bridged. The total length of the road is 1,337 km (830 mi). Keep in mind that while the Ring Road is the main highway of Iceland large stretches of the road in East Iceland are still a gravel road. There are also  a number of single lane bridges on the road, although their numbers are declining as the Road and Coastal Authority is building new bridges in the South East.

  • Weather

    Sunday was warmest day of the "summer" of 2018: Balmy 14.2°C/57.6°F

    By Staff

    Enjoying summer It might sound strange but when the temperature crawls above 10°C Icelanders are pretty happy, talk of a "heatwave". Photo/Anton

    The summer of 2018 in Reykjavík and the rest of South-Western Iceland has been unusually chilly, rainy and overcast. In fact, the summer of 2018 has so far been the single worst on record. A case in point: The warmest day so far this summer was on Sunday. According to the Icelandic Meteorological Office the temperature in the capital reached a balmy 14.2°C (57.6°F).

    Icelanders are usually relatively content with summer temperatures in the double digits (10°C+/50°F), but for people to talk of a "heatwave" you usually need temperatures that exceed 20°C (68°F). In a normal year you can expect this to happen at least a few times. Temperatures in Iceland rarely rise to the upper 20s.  

    Highest temperatures ever recorded in Iceland
    The highest temperature ever recorded in Iceland was at Teigarhorn farm in Berufjörður fjord in East Iceland on June 22 1939: A balmy 30.5°C (86.9°F). A second measurement, taken at Teigarhorn on September 24 1940 produced an even higher 36°C (96.8°C), but scientists have questioned this measurement, which is why it's not officially recognized.

    Since measurements began temperatures in excess of 30°C (86°F) have only been recorded four times. Two additional disputed measurements have been taken showing temperatures in excess of 30°C, including the 1940 36°C Teigarhorn measurement.

  • Travel

    Visitors to Brúarfoss waterfall trespassing on private property, blocking driveway to vacation cabins

    By Staff

    Blocking the road This is probably the single worst place to leave the car: Finding the path to the waterfall will be much harder, you will miss two of the three waterfalls, you are blocking the road and trespassing on private property. Photo/

    Brúarfoss waterfall is a beautiful waterfall located on the popular Golden Circle. Getting to the waterfall can be a bit tricky, requiring a hike from the nearest parking lot. However, it IS possible to get closer to the waterfall by car, but this requires you to trespass on private property.

    The cabins of Brekkuskógur and the land are private property, owned either by individuals or unions and companies who make them available to their members or employees. 

    Trespassing travelers
    Which doesn't seem to stop many travelers who drive into the vacation home areas of Brekkuskógur to take a shortcut. This problem has been made worse by the fact that many travel websites appear to direct people to park their cars in the vacation home area. Google Maps has similarly been sending people into the vation home areas. But, unless you are staying at one of the cottages or visiting someone who is you have absolutely no business on those two roads.

    Locals who are staying at one of the many cabins in Brekkuskógur report that hardly a day goes by without lost travelers asking for directions or a car parked in their driveway. One of the two driveways into the vacation home area was therefore blocked with a gate to keep unauthorized traffic out. Unfortunately some people have taken to just parking in front of the gate, blocking the road.

    The hike is worth it
    The problem isn't only that these people are trespassing - they are actually adding a whole new layer of hassle to their trip AND missing out on the experience they are seeking! Actually finding the access bridge and walking path from the vacation home areas requires you to know where to look. The access to the path is NOT marked, and it's pretty easy to get lost among the cottages. Brúará river has three beautiful waterfalls. In addition to Brúarfoss, which is admittedly the most spectacular, Miðfoss and Hlauptungufoss waterfalls should be listed among the most beautiful in Iceland.

    If you access Brúarfoss waterfall through the vacation home areas you are 1) trespassing 2) wasting time getting lost and searching for the path 3) missing out on two spectacular waterfalls.

    Bottom line: If you are searching for Brúarfoss you should stop at the parking lot next to the road and then walk the 3 km (1.9 mi) walking path to the waterfall. The scenic hike is well worth it. But be prepared for mud on the path. There is absolutely no way to avoid the mud if it's been raining. So, remember to strap on the hiking boots before heading for the waterfall! 

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