Icelanders Catch the Hiking Bug

Vala Hafstað

Interest in outdoor activities, such as camping and hiking, has been highly contagious among Icelanders this summer - no doubt to the benefit of their health.

In recent months, Icelanders have been flocking to the highlands in great numbers, exceeding all expectations. Páll Guðmundsson, CEO of the Iceland Touring Association, tells Morgunblaðið the association’s huts have received many more guests than they had expected.

“Still, compared to last year, there is a 50 percent reduction in traffic,” he states. “Many more Icelanders visit the huts than before, so, as a result, the blow [to our business] is not as severe as that of others.”

“We’ve seen a sudden increase – an explosion - in the nation’s interest in hiking and camping this summer,” he states. “Many more people are taking trips [to the highlands] and visiting the huts.”

The association organizes guided hiking tours, in which most of the participants are association members. Numerous tours were added to the schedule this summer, increasing their total number by about 30 percent, and most of them have already sold out.

“In recent years, foreign tourists have made up the bulk of hikers on Laugavegur [the hiking route between Landmannalaugar and Þórsmörk], but this summer, most of the hikers are Icelandic,” Páll adds.

Skúli H. Skúlason, manager of Útivist hiking association, states that traffic to Útivist’s huts has exceeded expectations. In some cases, the association has had to turn people away from camping grounds this summer, due to restrictions imposed during the pandemic. To better control traffic to the camping grounds, reservations have been required.

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