Iceland’s ancient Fjaðrárgljúfur canyon closes

Posted by Gabrielle Jacobs on 2 April 2019

The Icelandic tourism office has made the decision to close off the popular tourist hiking spot Fjaðrárgljúfur in southern Iceland to the public. The decision was made due to overtourism in the adventuring destination – and some locals are blaming fans of Canadian pop star Justin Bieber.

The star shot his music video ‘I’ll Show You’ in the beautiful location, and in the video can be seen walking along its mountainous canyon, easily identifiable as Fjaðrárgljúfur, a name which literally means Feathers Canyon, or Canyon of Feathers, given its name from the Fjaðrá River that runs through it. Don’t ask us how to pronounce it, though…

The Icelandic authorities are particularly wary of the pop sensation’s influence on the ancient river canyon, which is always high on tourists’ lists, but had never been so overrun. Tourists will be banned from the beautiful spot until 1 June, with the Environmental Agency of Iceland citing ‘environmental damage’ as the reason.

According to the authorities, visitor numbers have nearly doubled in a year, with Fjaðrárgljúfur receiving about 130,000 extra tourists.

The popular river canyon is ancient; it is said to have formed at the end of the last Ice Age, about two million years ago. Its formation is believed to be due to a retreating glacier which caused a lake to form where the land had opened up.

There’s no doubt that it’s a gorgeous and vast place to be in, and makes for a stunning views and endless places to shoot in a music video. In his video, Bieber can be seen walking to the edge of steep, craggy cliffs, staring at magnificent plunging waters and running down the same green-covered cliff-like ridges to where more people marvel at the lush, mountainous surrounds. Bieber is seen practicing his favourite pastime on a nearby Icelandic road – skateboarding – and can also be seen plunging into icy cold waters – in his underwear! The Canadian swims like this in a Fjaðrárgljúfur river, and another icy part of the river canyon where the water is a light glacial blue from the melting mini icebergs, seen nearby on the water where the star splashes around.

A screenshot from the ‘I’ll Show You’ music video. One is inclined to suggest that the young star is having a moment of regret for inadvertently inviting his fans to flock to Fjaðrárgljúfur.

I wouldn’t recommend that anyone goes traipsing around Fjaðrárgljúfur with a selfie stick, attempting some of Justin Bieber’s stunts on high up mountain ridges, as these can be pretty dangerous and leads to painful memories of tourists who’ll do anything to get the perfect shot – not a good idea in this vast and sprawling river canyon which stretches two kilometres in winding river bends and over 100 metres deep, featuring some jagged rocky outcrops.

Featured image by Creative Commons

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