Though summer in the Icelandic highlands has been cold, with snow still on the ground in some parts, the number of visitors has not gone down since last year. The huts at Landmannalaugar opened on June 15, a little later than last year due to snow, and have been full almost every night since.
In addition to guests using the huts, even more are choosing to use the campsite – with an average of about 80 tents a night.
Ranger Rakel Ýr Jakobsdóttir says that although it is very cold, most people seem to be well-prepared.
A large majority of visitors to Landmannalaugar this summer have been foreign tourists, with Rakel adding that it is a fun novelty to hear spoken Icelandic.
“Of course Icelanders come here too, but that’s mostly at weekends. And of course the coach drivers are Icelandic and pop in here for coffee, but the vast majority are foreigners.”
Most visitors to Landmannalaugar so far this summer have been French and German but, Rakel says, she expects a lot more Italians and Spanish people in August, because that is when they usually take their vacations.
Many visitors arrive at Landmannalaugar on organized coach trips, before setting off on the famous Laugavegur mountain hiking trail. Many tourists arrive eager to experience the ‘red mountains’.
Rakel told Vísir that most visitors enjoy their stay, but that there are always a few who find reason to complain. She says most people come well-prepared, but some do not expect the snow.
“Some arrive in shorts and running shoes. There were, for example, four Indians who came here intending to hike Laugavegur. There was rain in the air, started spitting and the like, but had been sunny in the morning. They were dressed just in shorts and Asics running shoes. I said that there was snow along the way, but they were up for it and just said “we will make it”.”
Rakel tried to persuade them to change into better trousers and hiking boots, but the visitors would not be swayed. “I think they walked up Hrafntinnusker, then came back and took the coach to Reykjavík, so they didn’t take Laugavegur once they realized how it was going to be,” Rakel says.
Off-road driving is illegal in Iceland, and Rakel says it is a problem in the Landmannalaugar area. When people get stuck off the marked tracks, rangers help them out—but not before sending photographs to the police.