Recently I was contacted by a hut warden along Iceland’s Laugavegur hiking trail in regard to camping regulations. Given the increased popularity of the trail since I hiked it nearly a decade ago, these regs have even greater importance now. Please read them:
Hi Andrew —
I am a hut warden in one of the huts on Laugavegur. It has come to my attention that many of my guests have read your post when preparing for the Laugavegur hike. Not surprisingly, as it is both a very informative post and one of the top results when you google “Laugavegur camping.”
I have to clarify one thing, however.
You say you obviously opted for camping outside designated areas on your journey. Many have taken this to mean that it is okay to camp anywhere they like. This is not the case.
Basically, there are three types of areas we must look at:
1) Private land. No camping is allowed without explicit permission from the landowner, which will usually make you pay for that permission.
2) Park land. Protected lands and national parks follow specific rules that vary slightly between areas but the main rule is that within park land you must only camp in designated camping areas and usually you have to pay for that. Camping outside designated camping areas is allowed only with permission from the park ranger.
3) Public land. “Public right law” stipulates that in non-urban areas that are outside private or park land, anyone is free to camp anywhere, but for one night only, and with a maximum of three tents.
Now how does this relate to Laugavegur?
1) Tiny parts of Laugavegur are on private land. Don’t camp there without permission. It’s not too big of an issue.
2) Most of the hike is in park land, so please camp in designated camping areas. The fees collected from that go toward preserving the parks and funding conservation efforts. You are there to enjoy nature, so please give back to preserve nature for others to enjoy it too.
3) A large part is also on public land. There you are legally free to camp anywhere, so go ahead. Just make sure that it’s public before doing so. But even if it is legal to camp, please do not camp on fragile surfaces, which are in abundance along the Laugavegur. To help us protect our environment, please consider using only the designated campsites, so that the impact is concentrated.
Wild camping is already an issue. It is causing erosion, human waste issues, and other forms of environmental decay on Laugavegur. Some seem to be seeking inspiration from posts such as yours, even if it is now 5 years old.
I hope you can edit your post in a way that doesn’t encourage people to camp wild on Laugavegur.
With respect and gratitude
This was extremely useful. Based on the hut warden’s information I would recommend changing your original post “About the Laugavegur” to remove the option of camping in non-designated areas. I would guess that many may see that as camping wherever they’d like even though you suggest reading this post as well. While I feel that I am able to find lower impact spots to camp, based on this post I will absolutely stick to designated areas to minimize impact and support the park and conservation efforts. Thanks for all the additional info you have shared!
Some great information, thank you. But as noted, a very well informed Warden did stipulate some very important guidelines, which I found very informative. I much prefer free camping, but as mentioned, the lasting impact would contribute to the degradation of the trail. Whilst I might think that In could find some areas that would allow zero footprint camping I wouldn’t flout the guidelines. That said, you provided a wealth of important trail information. Thank you to the warden for addressing the free camping issue.
Are there anywhere I could find out where these “public”-parts on the trail is in order to wild camp there? Perhaps you could direct me towards the agencies we have to contact for this if you have some information.