New tourist facilities planned for Iceland's stunning Landmannalaugar nature reserve
Landmannalaugar is an area in the Icelandic highlands known for its intense colours caused by geothermal activity. Rax / Ragnar Axelsson
Due to the increase in tourists to Iceland, the Landmannalaugar geothermal area has been under stress. Over 130 thousand people visit the area every year, mostly during the summer. A new local land use strategy aims to construct a new tourist service centre which will help disperse tourist traffic and protect the area, which is marked as red on The Environment Agency of Iceland list of endangered spots in Iceland.
Landmannalaugar are located in the highlands of Iceland, at the edge of a lava field called Laugahraun formed by an eruption in 1477. The area is known for its incredible natural beauty, strange colours caused by the geothermal activity of the area, its geothermal warm natural pools and magnificent vistas.
A proposition by VA architects and Landmótun was awarded first prize for a master plan for the new Landmannalaugar area.
The warm natural pools will remain untouched as well as the lodge run by Ferðafélag Íslands. Car access to the area will become more restricted with a new tourist centre built north of the geothermal pools, at Námskvísl. The tourist centre wil include changing rooms, toilets, picnic facilities, camping sites, car parks and possibly a residence for a park ranger.
Tourist traffic is putting tremendous stress on the area which is on the Environmental Agency's red list. Rax / Ragnar Axelsson
"The face of Landmannalaugar will be completely changed," explains Þorgils Torfi Jónsson, chairman of the district council at Rángarþing ytra. "The natural pools will only be for people on foot. We are making these changes to get the area off the The Environment Agency's red list and become once again sustainable."