Barring specific circumstances, off-road driving is illegal in Iceland, as one group of tourists learned the hard way yesterday.
Northeast Iceland police posted yesterday that the group, comprised of 25 people in seven cars, was fined 1.4 million ISK for off-road driving on the Breiðamerkursandi sands near Jökulsá and the protected area of Grafarlönd. At least four vehicles reportedly tore up the surfaces of these areas.
Police say the tourists reported to the local station in Húsavík to pay the fine. They apologised for their behaviour, pleading ignorance of the law and local mores. They even offered to help repair the damage done, but this offer was declined, as police believed the topsoil would be better handled by experts in the matter.
As such, we would like to re-iterate that off-roading can do extensive damage to Iceland’s fragile topsoil. Despite an extensive information campaign warning tourists to stay on marked roads, it continues to be a widespread problem in Iceland.