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Ask the expert: What type of car do I need to drive the Sprengisandur and Fjallabak routes in early July?

By Staff

  • Fjallabak nature reserve The terrain in the central highlands is difficult to travel across and only suitable for larger vehicles equipped with four-wheel drive. Photo/Vilhelm Gunnarsson

Q: I’m planning to drive the Sprengisandur and Fjallabak routes in early July, with stops in Landmannalaugar and Þórsmörk. Would a Suzuki Jimny be okay for those routes at that time of year, or would I need a bigger car?

A: Most mountain roads are closed for summer traffic until early July because of bad conditions. The narrow gravel roads turn into muddy quagmires when thawing out after a hard winter. The terrain is difficult to travel across and only suitable for larger vehicles equipped with four-wheel drive.

Fjallabak, bíll, jeppi, fjallavegur

Driving in the highlands. Photo/Vilhelm Gunnarsson

Read moreMuddy public pathways that connect the north and the south. Tips on how to navigate those rough, Icelandic mountain roads

You can’t avoid some river crossings on these routes (most notably via Fjallabak), and on warm summer days, the volume of water in the rivers can increase substantially. For these crossings, a proper 4x4 ‘super-jeep’ is necessary. Sadly, the Jimny does not qualify as a ‘super-jeep.’ We would recommend larger vehicles such as a Land Rover or a Toyota Land Cruiser.

Please note that, when travelling to the central highlands, it is very important to stay well-informed—check weather and road conditions daily! Also, don’t hesitate to stop fellow motorists for further information on road or river conditions. Lastly, when in doubt about whether to cross or not, a good rule of thumb is: Do not drive into rivers that you would not attempt to wade into.

Send your questions to ask@icelandmag.com

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