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The Faroe Islands Will “Close” Again to All but 100 Volunteers—and You Could Be 1 of Them

AFAR logo AFAR 11/12/2019 Lyndsey Matthews
a close up of a hillside next to a body of water: The Faroe Islands Will “Close” Again to All but 100 Volunteers—and You Could Be One of Them © Courtesy of Shutterstock The Faroe Islands Will “Close” Again to All but 100 Volunteers—and You Could Be One of Them The Faroe Islands are famously home to more sheep than people. But considering that tourism to the remote island archipelago southeast of Iceland has increased 10 percent a year over the past five years, it’s no surprise that the government is more concerned about the overpopulation of tourists than sheep.

To make sure the islands don’t begin to suffer the effects of overtourism, the Faroe Islands has decided to close some of its most popular tourism sites once again from April 16 to 17, 2020, to complete various maintenance projects to make travel more sustainable throughout the country. Following the success of the pilot Closed for Maintenance, Open for Voluntourism project in April 2019, the Faroe Islands government will welcome another 100 voluntourists to help out with the projects—and you could be among them.

In exchange for their work, the 100 volunteers will have room and board covered—including a celebratory dinner on Friday night with locals—plus transportation around the island. But this isn’t an entirely free trip.

a rocky island in the middle of a body of water: Volunteers this year helped expand infrastructure at popular sites like the famous “hanging lake” in Miðvágur. © Courtesy of Shutterstock Volunteers this year helped expand infrastructure at popular sites like the famous “hanging lake” in Miðvágur.

How to apply

To secure a spot, you must be among the first 100 people to register at visitfaroeislands.com and pay for a flight to the Faroe Islands. Registration for the 2020 program opens at 10 a.m. EST on Tuesday, November 12, 2019. If you want to be 1 of the 100 volunteers, you’ll have to act quickly. More than 3,500 people applied for the inaugural program. 

Volunteers will need to be available for two full days of work on April 16 and 17, 2020, so you’ll have to arrive by at least April 15 and leave on or after April 18 to participate. Volunteers are welcome to travel around the country on their own before and after the official program dates, as well.

The easiest way to get there is on a nonstop flight from Copenhagen on SAS or Atlantic Airways, the national airline of the Faroe Islands. Once again, volunteers will be responsible for paying for their own flights to and from the Faroe Islands. At press time, a Google Flights search shows that flights from New York to the Faroe Islands for the week of the volunteer program cost in the mid-$700s for SAS flights with layovers in Copenhagen.

While flights are available to the Faroe Islands just a week later from the East Coast for approximately $550, the chance to be 1 of only 100 visitors allowed at these sites and to give back to an up-and-coming destination is worth the extra money.

a close up of a hillside next to a body of water: In 2019, volunteers built a new route to the puffin colonies on Mykines island. © Courtesy of Shutterstock In 2019, volunteers built a new route to the puffin colonies on Mykines island.

What the volunteers will do

Those who secure a spot on the upcoming 2020 trip will participate in 1 of 14 different projects throughout the islands. Volunteers will get to work at places like Slættaratindur, the highest mountain in the Faroe Islands, to help make the last stretch of the hike safer for climbers. Other projects will include repairing hiking paths that have eroded over the years.

Some of the first projects in 2019 included building new paths for hikers and expanding the infrastructure and signage at popular destinations like the “hanging lake” in Miðvágur and the island of Mykines, where you can visit puffin colonies. 

Volunteers will be expected to use hammers, wheelbarrows, and shovels during the projects, but no special skills are necessary to participate.

To sign up, visit visitfaroeislands.com/closed.

This article originally appeared online on February 20, 2019; it was updated on November 11, 2019, to include current information.

Related video: Which Is Cheaper: Disneyland or Disney World? (Provided by Time)

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