A typical sight from the gravel track known as Sprengisand way over the highland of Iceland. PIC Jesus Rodriguez Fernandes

A typical sight from the gravel track known as Sprengisand way over the highland of Iceland. PIC Jesus Rodriguez Fernandes

F or centuries the name Sprengisandur has sent shivers down the spines of local folk in Iceland. Reason being this has long been the shortest but most dangerous and desolate highland route between the North and the South of the country.

Back in the day this was a journey many had to take in all kinds of weather on foot or on horse and a number of people perished regularly on the way. Nowadays the route is still pretty rough and dangerous although modern vehicles do lighten to trip considerably and Sprengisandur is quite popular for those that love vast wilderness areas totally or mostly void of people.

The scenery is certainly desolate but in a good way. Hills and hills of flat sandy earth broken up by raging glacial rivers or small inviting oasis in between the sandy flats. Mountain ranges dot the area as well as do large glaciers on both sides of the route. It is a way one has to experience to appreciate fully.

In between sands as far as the eye can see you´ll find such wondeful oasis as Lake of Thorir. It is the largest lake in the country. PIC Atli Harðarson

In between sands as far as the eye can see you´ll find such wondeful oasis as Lake of Thorir. It is the largest lake in the country. PIC Atli Harðarson

There is a way through here, dirt gravel track called Sprengisandsleið, Sprengisand Way, going across from Hekla volcano mountain in the South and reaching lowland not far from the stunning Godafoss waterfall in the North. Weirdly, it is partly the dirt track and unbridged rivers that makes this route as exciting and enticing for many lovers of the highland here. Reason is clear; the dirt track makes it clear you are in the beautiful wilderness of this country. No shitty souvenir shops found here. Nor gas stations. Nor throngs of people.

But all that is about to change.

You see, a fishmeal factory in a small village in the East of Iceland needs more electricity to grow and provide three or four jobs or so. And its energy will have to come on large pylons running through this marvelous little touched wonderland known as Sprengisandur. And why build a network of pylons and not build decent roads as well. Paved roads through and through. That way all can cross the highland at most any time of the year and certainly some lucky company can build a souvenir shop, a gas station and a restaurant for all those going their way.

Almost the only road that connects the South and North of Iceland is a bad gravel road at the best of times. That could change soon and pristine wilderness will be accessible for anyone.

Team Total Iceland cannot wait (as if) and you should not either. You only have a couple of years at best before work starts. And taking into account the low levels of intelligence of the right-wing government of Iceland the work will commence sooner than later.