A traveller driving through the Westfjords last Thursday evening ventured onto the wrong road, with disastrous consequences for his rented vehicle. Though he, fortunately, escaped unharmed, the same cannot be said for the car, an innocent Skoda Octavia.

The trail in question is a narrow path carved into the fjord’s mountainous terrain, whimsically dubbed by locals “The ring road through the Westfjord Alps.” It is only passable during low tide in summer, and even then only by 4×4 vehicles—something our hapless traveller appears to have been unaware of.

When the trail led closer to the sea, his car got stuck on a rocky beach. With no way of getting it out, the traveller absconded, leaving the car to be buffeted by the powerful waves for 12 full hours. 

It did not survive the ordeal.

When search and rescue found the vehicle, its hood had more or less vanished, and its undercarriage and aft wheels were completely gone.

Kristján Gunnarsson, head of search and rescue team Dýri from nearby Þingeyri, said the waves in the area were extremely powerful, and that he didn’t remember this kind of search and rescue operation before. His team has rescued people and cars from the area, he said, but always before the ocean managed to come into play.

In a tiny bulldozer known as The Teaspoon, local man Elís Kjaran Friðfinnsson started carving the trail into the hills of Arnarfjörður fjord in 1973. The endeavour took place over the course of several years. Friðfinnsson claimed he did it mostly because it was said to be impossible.

For more details on the story behind the trail—and an account of a trip through it—please find our blog post here.