Three Ways to Travel Sustainably in Iceland
By Journecology guest writer Kate Colley
When most people think of Iceland the first thing that springs to mind is a vast, pristine and untouched landscape, unaffected by any of the negative impacts of tourism. However, the number of tourists visiting this beautiful country continues to rise every year, particularly since the 2010 Eyjafjallajokull volcanic eruption which put Iceland on the map for many people across the globe. In 2017 an estimated 2,195,271 tourists visited Iceland, this adds up to more than six times the total population numbers. The huge number of tourists that visit Iceland can have a large impact on the natural environment and therefore it’s important that visitors to the country do so in a responsible and sustainable way to allow for the preservation of this stunning country. So below are a three easy ways to make your trip to Iceland more sustainable:
Consider taking a group tour rather than hiring your own car
There are a number of advantages to taking a group tour rather than hiring your own car for the environment. Firstly, and most obviously, taking part in a tour will generate fewer Co2 emissions per person and therefore be a more environmentally friendly option. Also, the more people that choose to take group tours the less off-road driving occurs. The irreversible damage done by off-road driving in Iceland is such that it is illegal with fines of up to 500,000 ISK (3,339.90 GBP) as driving off road can rip up delicate moss which takes decades to recover.
Don’t eat Whale or Puffin Meat
Although eating whale and puffin meat has been part of Icelandic Culture for a long time, more recently trying these ‘exotic’ foods has become a fun novelty for tourists while in Iceland. However, only about 1.1% of the Icelandic population are thought to regularly eat whale meat and therefore the tourist demand for the meat is likely to be driving this industry. Therefore, instead of eating the whale how about you try whale watching next time you are in Iceland.
Camping is a great way to visit Iceland during the summer months and particularly when on a budget and trying to make your trip as sustainable as possible! However, in order to have a minimal impact on the environment it’s best to use official camping sites. There are more than 200 official camping sights across Iceland with amazing views- this is definitely the best and most environmentally way to experience nature in Iceland.
Overall, the best way to minimise your impact on Iceland when visiting, is to be aware of the effect that your visit can have on the environment around you. If you are reading this article you have already taken the first step in making your trip to Iceland a more responsible and environmentally friendly one. If you fancy taking this a step further, then why not sign the Icelandic Pledge to be a responsible tourist here before your trip!