volunteering in iceland

if you’ve ever wanted a meaningful holiday without breaking the bank, then volunteering is the solution. you not only get to know the locals well but you’ll also be contributing something of value to the country of your visit. iceland is no exception as goedele vermeeren recounts how her first volunteering experience in iceland went…

- a herd of cows grazing the fields on a farm i had volunteered to work at -

– a herd of cows grazing the fields on a farm i had volunteered to work at -

there are many ways to experience iceland. you could go there as a tourist, or make a short stopover on the way to or from europe.

but if you really want to get to know the country, there is an interesting alternative.

volunteering.

and i, for one, decided give it a go because volunteering is not only a great way to save money while traveling, but you also get to meet lots of people, and immerse yourself in the local culture in a way a ‘normal’ tourist wouldn’t be able to.

plus, you get to learn a lot; both about the work you do and about yourself.

the easiest way to volunteer somewhere is to contact someone via the internet. there are great websites to help you with this, like wwoof.org, helpx.net or workaway.info.

once you log on, you’ll be surprised to find these sites offering a long list of possible local hosts, even for a small country like iceland.

in my case, i was lucky to find a job at a dairy farm near akureyri via workaway but perhaps ‘job’ isn’t the right word for it, because to me it still felt like a holiday! (for more info on akureyri, visit this site here.)

it all began when i contacted several families through the workaway-website weeks and months in advance of my trip. this is because the families on the site are overwhelmed daily with requests from volunteers everywhere.

so when i found a family that was still looking for someone, i was unbelievable happy. i did, however, feel a bit insecure, not knowing what the family would be like, and if i would like the work itself. i had never worked on a farm before by the way so i did have some doubts but these proved unnecessary, since everything turned out for the best afterwards.

- one of the cows on the farm i was staying at. isn't he cute? -

– one of the cows on the farm i was staying at. isn’t he cute? -

i originally planned to stay with them for 6 weeks, as they had requested but in the end, i stayed for almost 3 months (september to december), and even then i was reluctant to leave.

during that time, i was treated like a member of their family and together with another volunteer, they took us to family parties, dinners and outings; everything we, as volunteers, could wish for. it was really a pleasant experience, living under their roof, eating and working together.

it also helped that the work we had to do on the farm was equally pleasant too. we started (and ended) most of our days with milking and feeding the cows, cleaning their shed, and feeding the sheep.

- the cowshed at the farm i was at -

– the cowshed at the farm i was at -

at other times, we worked out on the farm, shaving sheep or reining in cows that had broken loose and the best part of the gig was having free time sandwiched in between the milking, where we could do whatever we wanted.

- here i am, hard at work on a farm -

– here i am, hard at work on a farm -

it was also during this time that we went shopping in akureyri, indulged in some winter skiing, read some books or tried to learn some icelandic, which was really fun.

to top it all off, the farm was located in a beautiful valley. we just had to step outside to witness the most amazing views and sights we had ever seen and fill our days with long scenic walks that would satisfy our souls.

- a beautiful valley near our farm -

– a beautiful valley near our farm -

- a stream flows along another scenic landscape here in iceland -

– a stream flows along another scenic landscape here in iceland where the air is fresh and clean -

we even had a car at our disposal, just in case we felt like taking day trips around the area but we didn’t get the chance to do that often because the roads were icy most days.

- a gorgeous sunset laces the snow-capped landscape -

– a gorgeous sunset laces the snow-capped landscape -

so there you have it! my farmstay experience in iceland.

if ever you reached a point where you don’t know what to do with your life, just take some months off and do some volunteering –in iceland, of course.

coming here as a volunteer was the wisest choice i ever made, since the experience was unlike any other.

the time that i spent on the farm could probably be the best time i’ve ever had in my life and i will always remember the kind and generous people i’ve met there. no doubt, i will probably visit them again when i return to iceland and i hope that it will be sooner rather than later.

bless, bless…
- Goedele

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Goedele Vermeeren is a 24-year-old nature-loving blogger from Belgium who is the author of ‘The Iceland Experience’, a successful blog on her personal experiences in Iceland.  A student of environmental engineering in her homeland, Goedele has been to Iceland a couple of times now. She is currently based there as an EVS-volunteer in the Sólheimar Ecovillage located in the south of Iceland. You can read about her recent experiences on her blogsite.
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