A group of 25 foreign tourists were fined ISK 1.4 million ($13,000/€11,000) for off-road driving by Jökulsá river and in a protected area by Grafalönd on the road to Askja caldera, RÚV reports. On one of the sites, damage covers an area of six hectares (15 acres). Authorities say it will take years for the marks to fade.
Off-road driving is illegal in Iceland due to the fragility of the sub-arctic environment. Nevertheless, many off-road driving incidents have been reported this summer.
Stefanía Ragnarsdóttir, a land warden in Vatnajökull National Park, says it should be possible to better inform travellers of driving laws and their environmental responsibility. “I mean we are living on an island. You come here by boat or plane so it should be possible to reach you and this is a lot of responsibility that we need to take on much better,” Stefanía remarked. “This maybe lies most with car rental companies. They need to really step up.”