All About The Icelandic Mountain Guides Environmental Policy

Three men working hard on digging in Iceland
Hard at work!

Good companies look after the environment - Simple as that

We are an adventure tour and travel company. A company that specialises in getting people outdoors, experiencing the Icelandic nature and getting the most out of it. This is also a story of giving back, and looking after the natural environment in Iceland has always been a priority for us.

We understand that when there is a human presence in a fragile landscape, this landscape can become degraded. This is particularly pressing now, in a time when there are increasing numbers of visitors in Iceland. That is why we actively maintain, replenish and indeed nurture the nature and landscape that gives, and has given, so much to us year in year out.

We strongly advise our inbound customers to bring with them re-usable water bottles or collapsible water bags with them on their travels. Avoid disposable PET plastic bottles wherever possible.

Icelandic Mountain Guides

The Icelandic Mountain Guides Environment Fund

In 2013, we started to put aside 1% of company-wide profits, as well as 1% derived from the Laugavegurinn hiking journeys, back into projects that would help to guarantee the health of the trail in the long term. These projects include rebuilding paths and preventing soil erosion, allowing one trail to “rest” and recover while another is used and creating supporting infrastructure such as toilets and huts in the countryside. 500,000ISK was awarded in the first year.

In 2014, we took things one step further and on our 20th anniversary and with seed money of 2 million ISK, the Environment Fund was established. The Fund has the express purpose of investing into Icelandic nature. Every other year, we ask for submissions for projects around the country that are in particular need of attention.

We started off as a focus on the Laugavegur hiking trail has spread in focus on other areas of the country.


(follow the links and identify these locations on a map of iceland, so you can see exactly where they are)

Laugavegur trail: Emstrur path rebuilding in the region of the Þröngá river.

Here, you can see a summary for 2014 for some more details.

Emstur Trail befor work starts to restore the trail a man working in the background
The Emstur Trail before work starts
Emstrur trail in Iceland after the restoration work has completly
Emstur trail in 2014


(follow the links and identify these locations on a map of iceland, so you can see exactly where they are)
New Búlandstindur hiking path (East iceland)
Construction of mountain hut on Heljadalsheiði, Dalvík
Laugavegur trail, path rebuilding area of Álftavatn
1.5 million ISK was awarded in this year. There are some more details from recipients of the 2016 on our Environmental Policy page.

A girl getting the pegs ready for setting to mark a hiking trail for Icelandic Mountain Guides in Iceland
Getting the pegs ready for setting
Pegs doing their job!
Pegs doing their job!

Future expansion

For 2017, we plan to expand, and have a certain percentage of all Icelandic Mountain Guides as well as Iceland Rovers profits feed into the Environment Fund. This will allow us to fund even more projects and protect even more nature around Iceland in even more places.

Resting the trail, letting the land recover, planting grass to prevent soil erosion
Trail that needs a rest, grass has been planted to prevent soil erosion

Leave No Trace

In other areas, we respect and follow and some guiding principles that help us to be environmental stewards. We adhere to the principle of Leave No Trace “LNT” a set of seven sustainable minimum impact practices outlined as follows:

  • Plan Ahead and Prepare

  • Travel and Camp on Durable Surfaces

  • Dispose of Waste Properly

  • Leave What You Find

  • Minimize Campfire Impacts

  • Respect Wildlife

  • Be Considerate of Other Visitors

Sharing The Ride

We use public transport to get our customers to specific locations in order to start their hikes, particularly the Landmannalaugar to Thormork “Laugavegur” hiking trail, for which there is a good, reliable highland bus route. We are currently at running at 60% use of communal transport (as opposed to private vehicles) on these routes.

Choosing the Right Partners

Businesses need to work with other business, and we believe that it’s important to choose who you do business with carefully. We seek wherever possible to partner with businesses that have the same Vakinn quality certification and adhere to the same principles as we do.



The Vakinn quality label is a label form the Icelandic Tourism Board awarded to companies that meet high standards of service delivery. Icelandic Mountain Guides hold the Vakinn quality label as well as their Environmental Silver Award. It means that travellers will have:

  • Have a great tourism experience.

  • Be able to book with confidence.

  • The business operates in an ethical, professional and environmentally responsible way.

  • Thanks to the star grade, know in advance what you are buying.

  • The business has the required systems and policies for a safe and happy holiday in Iceland.

Many plastic water bottles with white and blue tap
Many plastic water bottles with white and blue tap

A Final Word About Bottled Water in Iceland

In recent years, the bottled water industy in Iceland has grown markedly. In a country with the arguably the world’s best drinking water, we find this change very surprising. We strongly advise our inbound customers to bring with them re-usable water bottles or collapsible water bags with them on their travels and to avoid buying disposable PET plastic bottles.

We like to give back to nature

Don't forget to check out our range of day tours and multi-day tours, and remember that when you tour, roam, wander, climb or hike with Icelandic Mountain Guides, you are giving back to this wonderful landscape.

About the Author

Joseph Mattos-Hall

Joseph Mattos-Hall

Hailing from London and born into a British/Brazilian/Italian household, Joseph came to Iceland originally to complete a master’s degree in Environment and Natural Resources from the University of Iceland: the rest is history.

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