In February 2016, after an incident on the beach Reynisfjara in which a man died, the Ministry of Industries and Innovation, who are responsible for tourism, met to compile a list of the most dangerous 24 sites in Iceland. The most important safety measures are on signposts in these places, but we’ve decided to give you some information to remember when you’re visiting Iceland.
Around the pier at Arnarstapi, a small community on the Snaefellsnes Peninsula, are giant columns of basalt and ravines surrounding the area, and we recommend you take extra caution while there. This place known for its exquisite beauty can be dangerous, with rocks and arches that can form a vacuum on both sides. However, while exercising caution, we advise you to walk the small 2Km trail along the sea that connects Arnarstapi and Hellnar – it’s not to be missed!
Dettifoss in the Vatnajökull National Park is located 308 meters above sea level in one of the canyons of the river Jökulsá á Fjöllum; the source is the glacier Vatnajökull. Probably the most famous waterfall in Iceland, it is considered the most powerful in Europe; 100 meters wide, its 45 meters high and flows at an impressive speed. Do not risk your life for the photo of the century -Stay in walking distance from the waterfall.
Djúpalónssandur Beach is one of the most beautiful places on the Snaefellsnes peninsula. On this beach are the remains of a boat that was stranded there for many years, there are also big rocks that you can try to lift to test your strength, like the sailors of that time ( the heaviest rock is 154 kilos!). On Djúpalónssandur Beach the seas currents and waves can be extremely strong, and the sea depth increases very suddenly; a couple of tourists lost their lives in 2015, when a wave seemingly out of nowhere almost lead them to the depths.
Dyrhólaey promontory is 120 meters high and is the most southerly point of mainland Iceland, near the village of Vik. Landslides are frequent, and the Environment Agency of Iceland regularly closes certain areas to prevent accidents, Visitors can check the website to see which areas are closed. While visiting, please observe the possible barriers and do not get too close to the edge -the rocks could crumble from under your feet, and one can never be too careful…
Geysir in the Haukadalur valley is probably the most famous Icelandic natural site and houses several geysers. The most known Strokkur, which flows several times per hour. The “flares” at Geysir can hurl boiling water up to 70 meters in the air. Geysir can also be a dangerous place if you do not respect the barriers and pathways, as water and even the earth can have temperatures that exceed 100 degrees. The rope barriers standing around Geysir are there for a reason – obey them!
Godafoss, “Waterfall of the Gods” on the number one road between Akureyri and Myvatn is located on the river Skjálfandafljót. This magnificent waterfall provided with a rich history is 12 meters high and 30 meters wide. In summer you can enjoy the waterfall almost without anxiety, provided of course remember you don’t get too close. In winter, against the snow and ice covers the entire area around the waterfall and the visibility is not very good. It is then difficult to calculate how near is reasonable to approach the waterfall. Also, the snow covers indication and safety ropes, and snow may also accumulate on the edge of the precipice where the waterfall empties, giving the impression of a “false floor” beneath your feet.
Grjótagjá and Stóragjá
Grjótagjá is a small lava cave near Lake Myvatn, home to a hot spring. In the eighteenth century, Jón Markusson the outlaw lived there and used the cave to wash. Until the 1970s, Grjótagjá was a favorite source for local bathing; then the 1984-1975 eruptions made the water too hot -it is now around 50 degrees. Grjótagjá’s neighbor Stóragjá bath is a little less hot and serves the locals as well as travelers. Beware the water temperature in both caves are often confused; also, the rock ceiling may collapse. A sign outside the caves indicates that you can bath there – at your own risk!
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