Hard as it may be to believe, the Geldingadalsgos eruption is actually on private land.
The land in question is a large area called Hraun (literally “Lava” in Icelandic), located east of Grindavík. Vísir reports that one Guðmundur Ragnar Einarsson inherited this land from his father. There are now about 20 people who share in the ownership.
Fortunately, Iceland also has so-called “freedom to roam” laws on the books. As explained by the Environment Agency of Iceland:
“The Icelandic Nature Conservation Act regulates outdoor activities and standards of conduct. It stipulates that everyone has the right to travel around the country and enjoy its nature as long as the traveller is tidy and careful not to damage or otherwise spoil natural resources. It is permissible to cross uncultivated private property without seeking any special permission, but landowners may limit routes with signs [or] other marks.”
As Hraun is arguably uncultivated and undeveloped, nor is it under the auspices of any conservation areas, anyone is indeed free to visit the volcano, even if it is on private land.
Lilja Katrín Gunnarsdóttir, one of the co-owners of this land, told Vísir, “I’m just speaking for me and my husband, who own a very small piece of this large plot of land, but I find it very pleasing to see all these people come onto the land and enjoy the best and even spookiest thing that nature has to offer.”
She added that she has been pleased to see that so far no one has been littering, and everyone has been respecting the natural formations in the area.
Note: Due to the effect the Coronavirus is having on tourism in Iceland, it’s become increasingly difficult for the Grapevine to survive. If you enjoy our content and want to help the Grapevine’s journalists do things like eat and pay rent, please consider joining our High Five Club.
You can also check out our shop, loaded with books, apparel and other cool merch, that you can buy and have delivered right to your door.
Also you can get regular news from Iceland—including the latest notifications on eruptions, as soon as they happen—by signing up to our newsletter.
Buy subscriptions, t-shirts and more from our shop right here!