Two tourists were stuck in dangerous conditions in Iceland’s westfjords this week after ignoring signs notifying that roads were closed.
See most of Iceland with this self-drive tour of the Ring Road and Westfjords
The pair became stuck between the Hrafnseyrarheiði and Dynjandisheiði mountain passes when they reached an area that had been affected by an avalanche. The tourists had passed two signs notifying them that the roads to the area were closed, yet still proceeded.
The tourists had to be assisted by search and rescue teams from the Westfjords, causing both concern and frustration. To reach the spot where the tourists had become stuck, one has to drive past signs warning of the road closure, and also pass a barrier that covers most of the road.
The particular road they travelled on is categorised as ‘G’ by the Icelandic roads administration, meaning that throughout winter, it isn’t snow ploughed.
Head rescue volunteer Kristján Gunnarsson felt that the tourists must have been able to understand the closure signs.
He told Icelandic news outlet RÚV, “The problem is that people just follow their GPS devices which want to go this way and say nothing about whether the road is passable or not.”
A current road map of the west fjords. Red lines indicate roads that are impassable or closed. Full road information can be found here.
The roads in Iceland’s Westfjords are incredibly picturesque but do demand caution and care when navigating them. Many of the roads in this region are closed for the winter to ensure the safety of travellers.
Find out more about the Westfjords here.
Some places in the Westfjords even have separate routes for summer and winter. For example in summer, to travel between Bíldudalur and Þingeyri the distance is 97 kilometres, however, in winter the journey takes four hours longer at a distance of 470 kilometres.
All travellers to Iceland are encouraged to exercise caution when driving. Take note of speed limits and road closures and plan ahead. Many important signs regarding road conditions are in both Icelandic and English and are placed there for a reason.