Our practical work
The practical work is divided into four parts; trail maintenance, landscape restoration (erosion control), GIS mapping and tree planting.
- Trail maintenance is our main activity and involves a huge variety of practical tasks including improving drainage, building steps with timber or stone, resurfacing trails with gravel and installing signs. Hand tools including rock bars and stone carriers are used for much of the work but machinery is brought in to support the teams were access allows. Timber from local forests is used in the construction of steps and drains along the trails. Trail marking is another important part of our work as it helps to prevent damage to fragile areas and improve safety for visitors. Way-markers for the trails are made on site by our volunteers.
- Landscape restoration and erosion control work in the Thórsmörk area includes the planting of native willow, constructing shelter fences and the use of fertilizer. The aim of this work is to help the establishment and development of native vegetation.
- As part of our Pathfinder programme, we have introduced a numbering system for the trail markers in the area which helps to improve safety and navigation on the trails. Managing the trails we have marked and expanding the system will include GIS data gathering and survey tasks.
- In 2019 we introduced tree planting into our programme for the first time. Although our main focus remains the management of hiking trails, tree planting was included to help with carbon offsetting for the international flights associated with the volunteer programme. This work is organised with our colleagues at the forestry stations in south Iceland and our target for 2021 is to plant 10,000 trees.
Placement structure and project sites
At the start of their placements, our 6-week volunteers will work together at Langidalur (Thórsmörk). After the first week the team will divide between projects in Langidalur (Thórsmörk) and Básar (Goðaland).
Map of the Thórsmörk area showing the volunteer camps.
In addition to projects close to these camps, participants may have the opportunity to join additional long-range projects which are based at wilderness camps though these are dependent on suitable weather conditions. Our tree planting projects take place at sites outside Thórsmörk and usually run for 2-3 days. Indoor accommodation is provided during these.
Our volunteers do practical work from Monday to Friday and the working day normally runs from 09.00 to 18.00, however this schedule can vary due to the nature of some of the projects. Participants must also be prepared for some flexibility in these working hours due to Iceland’s changeable weather. Worksite are generally 15-45 minutes walk from the camps. The programme includes 2 days off during each working week.
Holiday / hiking week
We have included a holiday/hiking week for our 5 and 7-week volunteers to allow time to explore the area or travel further afield. We invite our volunteers to join us and take part in the famous 4-day hike Landmannalaugar to Thórsmörk (Laugavegur hiking trail). We organise transport to the start of the hike and provide lightweight food for the teams. The hike is optional and participants who do not wish to take part may make their own travel arrangements during this time. Participants can decide if they would like to join the hike in the week before when we meet to discuss plans for the trip.
It is important that anyone wishing to complete the hike makes sure that they bring all the necessary personal equipment with them, as it will not be possible to obtain additional equipment in Thórsmörk. It is also important to note that the weather in Iceland’s mountains is very changeable and poor conditions may result in the hike being delayed or cancelled.
Holiday / hiking week for Groups 1 and 2: 27/06 – 03/07
Holiday / hiking week for Group 3: 08/08 – 14/08
There is no participation fee. Our volunteers pay their own travel costs to Iceland and join their team at the Langidalur base-camp in Thórsmörk. Throughout the placement, food, transport and campsites are provided. Please note that participants cover their own costs if they leave the project area during their free time.
Gloves and waterproofs for work are provided as well as any additional safety equipment that is required during the work tasks. Participants need to bring their own personal equipment and it is very important that our volunteers are well prepared. Essentials include: waterproofs and warm clothes, hiking boots and a sturdy tent that you are able to carry when hiking. Further details can be found on our Equipment list for volunteers.
Food is provided throughout the placement (including weekends and during the hiking week). It is important that participants inform us about special dietary requirements before of their placement, as food is often organised ahead of the projects. Volunteers take part in food preparation and all other domestic tasks at the camps.
Our volunteers organise their own travel to the meeting point at the start of the placement at Langidalur in Thórsmörk.
Participants organising their own travel insurance for the duration of the placement.
Our teams bring their own tents and stay at established volunteer camps and wilderness camps during their placements. Our established camps at Langidalur (Thórsmörk) and Básar (Goðaland) have basic facilities including toilets, showers, cooking facilities and group tents for eating in. Long-range wilderness camps have no facilities and all food and equipment is carried in by the teams.
If you would like to join us, please complete the volunteer application form.
Applications are open between December 15th – January 31st but please note that we will begin to allocate the places at the start of January.