As the new Coronavirus (known as COVID-19, SARS-CoV-2, and some other names), spreads across the globe, we are all aware that measures need to be taken to slow its distribution.
In addition to the general guidelines that have been widely publicized, we are taking our own measures and have also compiled additional points that are specific to our tours and activities.
Spending a day in the vast wilderness of Iceland is probably one of the most exciting ways to avoid a possible infection, but this is of course dependent on how the situation develops in the meantime, and any rules or restrictions that may be enacted.
For up-to-date official information from the Icelandic government, please refer to:
- COVID.is – official COVID-19 information, maintained by the Icelandic Directorate of Health and the Department of Civil Protection and Emergency Management
- The Icelandic Directorate of Health – advice for travellers from / to Iceland
- … and all travel advice provided by your own home country’s agencies.
What we are doing
There are some indications that the virus may persist on inanimate surfaces for a limited time (several hours to few days), and we are taking additional measures to reduce the risk of transmission by this means.
- Strict adherence to all safety regulations that have been put in place. We are closely monitoring the situation to ensure we remain up to date as the crisis develops.
- Private tours only. You’ve already been traveling together, so the additional risk of our tours is as small as it can be.
- Hotel or alternative pickup. We can meet you at your accommodation or another suitable location to avoid more crowded areas.
- No handshakes. Sorry! Reducing physical contact is an easy and effective way to reduce risk, even if it goes against our grain.
- Helmets are cleaned after every use. We clean helmets according to CDC regulations and in strict compliance with the helmet manufacturer’s technical notes.
- Harnesses and other soft goods cleaned according to manufacturer’s specifications and rotated through use. Those items are difficult to clean effectively, so additionally we rotate ours with one week between uses.
- Other hardware (crampons, etc.) cleaned after each use. Those items tolerate strong industrial detergents and high pressure washers, so that’s what we use for them.
- Vehicle contact surfaces (seats, handles, etc.) wiped down daily.
- Free cancellation at any time and no down payments required. We know that further travel restrictions may hit at any time, so bookings can be canceled or rescheduled at any time, and we can just take care of all payments on the day of the tour.
What you can do
We strongly believe that there is no significant increase in risk from joining a private tour, but there are a few additional measures can give you peace of mind.
- We generally recommend to wear a Buff or Beanie under the helmet – we clean them as best we can, but an additional layer is great (and probably useful with winter temperatures anyway).
- Wear Gloves. This will reduce exposure to surfaces that can’t be cleaned properly or are being touched frequently by many people. Those are necessary to handle ice axes or climbing tools anyway, and also protect your hands from sharp ice.
- Follow common guidelines (WHO, CDC, UK NHS).
- Contact us if any questions remain!
Are there restrictions on tours?
The Vatnajökull National Park has recently sent out a statement that describes the measures they are taking in response to the COVID-19 outbreak. Most importantly:
- Public events of more than 100 people are banned, and smaller numbers must keep a minimum of 2 meters between each other.
- This also applies to transportation (buses, etc.)
Park rangers will limit the number of people inside the Skaftafell visitor center.
Visits to ice caves are also considered public events and the same regulation applies. Consequently, the national park is strongly encouraging tour operators to stop all ice cave tours with Monday, March 16 (possibly changing them to glacier hikes) and expects those who do continue the tours to reduce seating capacity and ensure there is sufficient space inside the cave.
This is very easy for us to comply, since our private tours are designed to go to much less traveled locations anyway, and riding in our superjeep is not exposing you to more or less the same risk than the rental car you arrived in.
Is it safe to travel to Iceland?
We believe that the largest risk is likely the airplane and other mass transportation. Once you are here, the vast wilderness of Iceland could be one considered of the safest areas around.
Apart from concerns of catching the virus yourself, of course possible travel restrictions are a big unknown and may prevent you from returning back home. The best way to address this is to stay in good contact with the foreign office (or similar institutions) of your home country.
Should I cancel everything?
While we very much appreciate your business (and, in truth, depend on it!), it is probably a prudent choice to cancel or postpone your trip to Iceland, given the uncertainty of the overall situation.
If you have already made payments for accommodation or tours and plan to come to Iceland at a later time, you could also consider rescheduling (perhaps with an open date) instead of requesting a refund.
What do I do if I get sick?
If you booked a tour with us but cannot participate for any reason, you will of course receive a full refund of any payments made.
If you get sick while already in Iceland, please call +354 1770 (the health care hotline for non-emergencies) or 112 (the emergency services) for further instructions. You may also want to notify any people with which you have recently had close contact.
What happens if you get sick?
We do the very best we can to remain healthy and are of course following all safety precautions, including the guidance for frontline service staff published by the Icelandic Directorate of health. But it could still happen, and if you have a tour booked with us at this time period, we have the following options.
- We try to find another guide to take you on the arranged tour. This would be the preferred option because it usually means no changes on your part.
- If that is not possible, we work together to reschedule the tour to a date where we do have an alternative guide for you, where it can be expected that we have fully recovered.
- If neither option is successful, you will receive a full refund of any payments already made.
Where do I find more information?
Additional, up-to-date information on the situation in Iceland can be found on the following websites:
We will update this page as new information becomes available.
First published March 12, 2020 – last update Jun 25, 2022