F208 ((Fjallabaksleið nyrðri) is one of the most dangerous roads in Iceland but one of the most scenic drives in the country. In many places the road is bordered by a drop of hundreds of meters (many hundreds of feet) unprotected by guardrails. Expect very tough driving conditions with potholes, rocks, uneven terrain and even rivers to ford.
The road through the Central Highlands is gravel. It’s 102 km long. Only 4x4 vehicles. The road crosses several rivers, so it’s impassable after rains. This road has humbled many egos. It’s not for the sissies and shouldn’t be attempted by novice drivers. Expect very tough driving conditions with potholes, rocks, uneven terrain and even rivers to ford. The road doesn’t open until the middle of June. The route demands 100% concentration. This road has humbled many egos. It’s not for the sissies and shouldn’t be attempted by novice drivers. Most rivers on F-marked roads in Iceland are unbridged. When crossing these rivers be sure to assess the current, depth and the nature of the riverbed before driving in. If a river looks dangerous to cross, it probably is. It’s one of the famous F Roads of the country.
Located in the south of Iceland, the road offers scenic views of volcanoes, lakes and rivers. The road is in dreadful condition and requires strong nerves to negotiate it. It’s certainly breathtaking and it has a fearsome reputation. It still remains an adrenaline-pumping journey and is definitely not for the faint of lungs, heart, or legs. Words can’t describe the road and pictures don’t do it justice. The road is bumpy but well maintained and clearly marked. Regulations forbid you to drive this road with a vehicle that is not 4WD. Try not to travel by yourself and even wait for another car to cross an unbridged river with you. This way you will be assured help if you run into trouble. The weather can affect the river conditions, rain and high temperatures can cause bigger streams and please note that glacial rivers swell as the day goes on.
This road, also called Fjallabaksleid Nyrdi, tests the skill, and courage, of any driver. It’s definitely not for anyone suffering from vertigo or a fear of landslides. Due to the terrain and a dozen or so river fords to be crossed, a 4x4 car is a must! The road can be closed anytime because the flooding. Travellers should be aware that the road is only passable in full size four wheel drive vehicles such as Land Rovers or larger vehicles. Law enforcement has been increased on that route and the Icelandic Search and Rescue Teams have increased their presence in the area in order to assist travellers. One mistake and it's a free fall to your death.
The drive is definitely worth it. A drive not to be missed! There are many excellent photo opportunities. The variety of landscapes and colors is just mind-blowing. At every turn you just gasp for air because you discover another stunning valley. The mix of unpredictable weather with highland roads comes into play and needs to be taken seriously in consideration when planning a trip to the area. In theory, during the summer months, usually from June to October, the roads should be open. Yet, this is highly variable, sometimes due to the seasons being considerably shorter, other times because of temporary road closures.
Pic: Fabien Jérôme Blanc