Out in the field We encourage you to travel responsibly and to consider the following guidelines: • When out in wild places we encourage you to keep erosion to a minimum, keep to footpaths and avoid stepping on or picking native flora, Iceland is especially fragile environmentally and the country is currently embarking of many projects such as tree planting to reduce erosion. • We encourage you to use water sparingly and to avoid buying plastic bottles of water; use your own metal or heavy-duty plastic bottle such as Nalgene to refill with water from a safe source as recommended. In Iceland water should never be bought from a shop as most water sources are exceptionally pure. • River water could also be drinking water, do not contaminate water supplies by washing in it. Any washing products should be phosphate free. • Respect local customs religion and traditions. • Carry out some research about Iceland and being able to speak a few words of Icelandic is always appreciated. • Don’t take photographs of local people and places of religious significance without permission. • Keep promises! Send copies of photos to local people if this is what you have said you will do. • Read the labels and buy local products such as food and souvenirs so that money directly benefits the community. • Minimize pollution, and carry out all litter. Iceland has one of the lowest levels of environmental pollution in the world and it is good to keep it this way.
Iceland Conservation Volunteers We support the Environment Agency of Iceland through passing on information about its policy and encouraging people to join their volunteer scheme. Our company is currently setting up an itinerary for UK schools expeditions to visit Iceland to participate in the project. • Each summer more than 200 international volunteers take part in the Environment Agency programme. The volunteers now complete over 650 weeks of work around Iceland every year. • The Environment Agency hosts volunteers from all over the world and works closely with a variety of international organizations. The programme is organized in partnership with the British conservation volunteer organization BTCV. • The work began over 30 years ago in Jökulsárgljúfur, Vatnajökull National Park, with a team of 15 volunteers. Today, if you visit Iceland’s national parks, there is a very good chance that you will walk on trails built and maintained by Environment Agency volunteers. • All volunteers live and work in some of the most beautiful parts of Iceland throughout the summer. The teams gain experience of a wide range of practical conservation skills while working closely with local staff and other international volunteers. • Although work is focused on the improvement and maintenance of hiking trails, volunteers are also involved in wilderness management and heritage management • Many volunteers from the scheme worked on cleaning the ash that devastated the rural and farming areas around the erupted volcano, Eyafjalljokull.
Wherever possible we work electronically, we are totally web based, our paper use is minimal. We work from a home based office reducing car travel to a minimum.
All of our service suppliers are informed of our responsible travel policy which is clearly visible on our website Local food can be obtained easily in Iceland, for example fish, lamb, dairy products, vegetables grown in geo-thermally heated green houses. Each day we buy local produce for our picnic lunches to be eaten on location and our accommodations pride themselves in introducing us to local Icelandic fare for both breakfast and dinner.
All the hotels we use outside of Reykjavik are small and family run. In the Grundarfjörður hotel there is a very special emphasis upon involving the community in our activities. We often eat at a small fish soup 'shack' down on the beach in preference to the rather more up-market restaurant that is available: we know that the fish will be freshly caught that day by local fishermen.
base in South East Iceland is still a working farm but has now been developed to include good standard accommodation and a restaurant whose mene includes mainly farm products such as lamb, yogurts, jams, fish and homemade bread.
Iceland has been hit hard by their bankruptcy/crisis of October 2008. More than ever communities are having to return to their roots and rely on traditional ways of making a living. Tourism, fishing, farming and local crafts such as knitting are seen as a viable and sustainable way of helping to restore economic stability to the country and also giving a sense of dignity to Icelanders.
In particular communities away from the central hub of Reykjavik are relying on visitors to boost their economy. Since way before the current crisis we have been supporting these less visited areas and we are rewarded with a very personal service, quieter locations, fresher home-grown produce and insight into the lives and folklore of local people. Now it is cheaper for us to visit Iceland as we get an excellent exchange rate. We always ensure that participants on our vacations get the opportunity to see and purchase local products.
These local providers appreciate our on going commitment to their livelihoods.