Foxes in the Land of Fire and Ice

Hi Everyone!

My name is Michael, age 24, from the US (St. Louis).

Leading up to my flight to Reyjkavík, I sporadically prepared for my time at the centre. After packing the right type of clothing for the Westfjords, skimming some basic Icelandic phrases, and reading “Arctic Fox: Life a the Top of the World”, I felt excited and ready.

Top-view of Súðavík in the Westfjords.
Top-view of Súðavík in the Westfjords.

After a night or two in the capital, I flew to Ísafjörður and then arrived in Súðavík. After two weeks of being at the centre, I was very sad about the inevitable end of my volunteer experience. Although It’s extremely difficult to pick out my favorite part, I can pinpoint two that stand out in my mind 1) Sharing knowledge about the Arctic Fox to excited visitors, and 2) taking care of the foxes, Ingi and Mori, throughout the day. I also learned to wholly embrace a peaceful, simple lifestyle in the friendly community of Súðavík.

Ingi, the fox, staring contemplatively into the distance.
Ingi, the fox, staring contemplatively into the distance.

Tips and Helpful Information for Future Volunteers

  1. Bring a medium-to-heavy, windproof jacket. Iceland has extremely volatile weather conditions. This especially is useful if you are volunteering in either May or September -it is essential to have a warm coat. A light rain jacket is also good to have as it tends to rain frequently.
  2. Reyjavík-Keflavík International (KEF) is not close to Reykjavík Domestic (RKV). KEF is where you will fly into initially, and RKV will be your flight from Reyjkavík to Ísafjörður. Plan your flights accordingly, the distance between the two airports is approximately ~45 minutes by bus. Space your international and domestic flights to give yourself enough time (oops!).
  3. Bring a Camera. Whether is it on your iPhone or a Canon 5D, you’ll want a good way to capture your unique experience at the Arctic Fox Centre and the surrounding places in the Westfjords. If you are volunteering in the late part of summer and want to photograph the aurora, an entry-level DSLR camera will do just fine.
  4. Relax! Your experience is meant to be enjoyable, and when you’re happy and relaxed it will make the foxes, the staff, and the visitors feel the same way. It is important to note that life at the centre is never monotonous, and while you are here be sure to take full advantage of the exciting opportunities around you. Explore the Westfjords in the late evenings, pick some blueberries in the mountains of Súðavík , and make the most out of socializing with volunteers and visitors from around the world.


Volunteering at the Arctic Fox Centre has been an unforgettable, amazing experience that exceeded my expectations.  It is easy to tell everyone at the centre is passionately dedicated to the arctic fox and are similarly dedicated to ensuring both the visitors and the volunteers have a memorable time.

The Road to the Westfjords (Part 1)

Hi there! I’m Madeline, from Colorado USA, and I’m very much looking forward to beginning work at the Arctic Fox Centre in the coming days. I’ve been lucky enough to have visited the Centre, Sudavik, and the Westfjords in the past, so I thought I’d write about this unique home to our fantastic fox projects and why I believe myself and others continue to be drawn back to this place.

My first trip to the Westfjords was back in the summer of 2013. I had been working as a volunteer in Reykjavik and another volunteer and I decided to take a trip somewhere with our extra time. I can’t say why exactly the Westfjords stood out- we could have ventured anywhere in Iceland really. With a glance at the map it seems to be its own little pocket sticking out from the rest of the island, but when searching photos online the features of this region seemed to have the most integral parts of what Iceland “is” in my mind. The constant cascades of green, the sharp fjords, the lonely shores, and the list goes on.

This trip was also (sorry mom) my first experience with hitchhiking (buddy system was in place), which in itself seemed to be an essential bit to experiencing the region in my mind. This is because it was the one of the first experiences I had directly with the enthusiastic willingness of strangers to lend a hand (or a ride, or snacks, or an inclusion in the family road-trip), because in Iceland, it seems that no one is quite a stranger, only a neighbor you haven’t met yet. This is only exemplified in the Westfjords. With its population even more sparse than the rest of Iceland, it really seemed to be a trait of the people there to want to meet and befriend a new face.

This feature of the region paired with the overwhelming nature seems to place one in a completely different earth in a totally different time where there is a great and equal respect for one’s surroundings as there is for each new passing face. There is a powerful and unique silence up there, yet every part of life still seems to be amplified. At least for someone coming from a modern America anyway.

Tomorrow I’ll travel again up north in high anticipation to work with the Foxes of Sudavik! I’m hoping to document this small journey and share this round with the blog for a Part 2. See you all soon!


It’s nearly time!

Hello Everyone!

My name is Emma, aged 20 and I’m from the UK

I have wanted to visit Iceland for a very long time, I’ve heard so many amazing stories from friends, it sounds like such a magical place! I am looking forward to getting to know everyone at the Arctic Fox centre and the foxes and having a fun couple of weeks together.

I have finished university now for the year (I am studying a fine art course) so I am packing up my art things- little sketchbook and paints, mini printing roller, plastic sheet and camera- so I can be inspired by the landscape of the Westfjords! The only challenge now is to fit all of this into my rucksack along with my camping equipment! I am hoping to visit the National Gallery and Museum in Reykjavik on Sunday before my flight over to Isafjordur as I would love to see some work from Icelandic artists.


I am used to seeing plenty of cheeky urban foxes around London, even a family with three cubs living in our overgrown back garden last summer, but I have never seen the Arctic Fox and am so intrigued by this amazing creature.

Can’t wait to be there Sunday!

Emma 🙂

1 month to go…

Hello everyone!

I also would like to introduce myself. I’m Rebecca, 23, from Germany but currently I’m living in Belgium.

I can’t wait to pack all my things and finally get to Iceland, although packing for a trip to Iceland can get very tricky. Even if I collected a big repertoire of stuff by now that should help me to survive the harsh cimate, I feel totally underprepared.

I’m really looking forward to meeting the foxes and the team. Iceland was definitely always my favorite destination and the arctic fox one of my favorite animals. So I’m really glad that I’m able to get to know this lovely country in such a nice way.

Until then I have to pass a few exams in order to (hopefully 🙂 ) finish my bachelor in Veterinary Medicine. The thought of taking off afterwards definitely makes it a bit easier.

I’m joining the monitoring tour and I’m really excited about that. It’s a unique chance to learn many things about the behavior of wild animals and I’m glad that I took it.

Unfortunately I don’t have much time to travel around because my study doesn’t give me much time to do so. But I certainly will come back a second time!

Can’t wait to meet everyone in July!

Greetings from Belgium 🙂

Ready.. Set.. Foxes!

Hello there!

My name is Jen and I’m a 28-year-old biologist from the United States, and I am ready for an adventure in Iceland! My trip starts in 2 weeks and I couldn’t be more excited to see the land of Fire and Ice (and Foxes). Before I start at the Arctic Fox Centre I’ll be traveling the Ring Road for about 13 days. I can’t wait to see glaciers, hot springs, whales, waterfalls, and all the beautiful landscapes Iceland has to offer.

There’s no better way to end my month-long trip than at the Arctic Fox Centre. As a volunteer researcher I’m ecstatic to be able to camp in the Hornstrandir Nature Reserve for a week. My biological career includes mainly sea turtles, marine mammals, and fishes. I’ve also worked with various critters on land and will soon be adding arctic foxes to my repertoire. I look forward to meeting fellow foxes and volunteers that I’m sure will make this a truly memorable trip.



It’s Almost Fox Time

Hey guys!

I would also love to introduce myself to the rest of the Fox Pack.

My name is Javed Riaz, I am 21 years old and come from Australia.

I have been an exchange student here in Iceland since 2014, so I have had the pleasure of living in this incredible country for 11 months now. Similar to Camille, I am also involved in the Biology area of study. I am studying Wildlife Biology with the hope to specialize in Arctic Ecology. In my studies, I have become fascinated by the Arctic fox and its extreme ability to survive and adapt throughout the Arctic region.  For this reason, being a part of the 2015 Monitoring Progamme in Hornstrandir is ideal for me.

During these past 11 months, I have fallen in love with this country. I have had the chance to experience and adventure so much. However, something tells me that being part of the 2015 Arctic Fox Pack will be one of my most valuable and memorable experiences yet. I simply cannot wait to arrive in June!

I look forward to meeting everyone! If any of you have any questions about Iceland or travelling in Iceland, don’t hesitate to contact me either on Facebook or

Takk fyrir

Javed 🙂

Iceland soon!

Hello Foxes,

As Adeline and Mhairi I am introducing myself given that I will be volunteer in the Fox Center this summer.

My name is Camille, I am 27 years old, and coming from France.

I will be in Iceland for 2 weeks before coming to the center, between the 23rd of May and the 22nd of June. With my friend we are planning to hike as much as possible to discover this country and, of course, try to see a lot of wildlife. It is one of the reasons I always wanted to come in Iceland. I am fascinated by animals; in fact it is my job to study them as I am a biologist in behavioral ecology; and nature in general.

Can’t wait to be there.


PS: Adeline, I don’t know when you will arrive in Iceland, but if you want to join us for traveling and hiking you’re really welcome

Getting ready for Iceland

Hello there Fox Pack!  

Following Adeline’s example and posting a wee introductory post!
My name is Mhairi, I’m 21, and if you didn’t already guess from my use of the word “wee” I’m coming from Scotland!  I’m due to start at the center on the 12th of May and will be there till around the 30th.  I am so excited to come to Iceland and the center!  Foxes are beyond a doubt my favourite animal and while I have seen many of the beautiful red foxes, I am yet to see any arctic foxes, so hopefully my time at the Arctic Fox Center can rectify this!  I’m only just now starting to get my head around the fact I’ll be flying out so soon, as I’ve just finished my final year at university, so I’m still spending most of my days catching up on all the sleep I’ve missed out on while doing my dissertation project.  But I have now booked my flights and am starting to prepare my list of things I need to buy and bring with me, first on the list is a camera, which I will probably go out to get after I’ve finished writing this post!

I really cannot wait to come and meet everyone and the foxes!  Just under 4 weeks to go!


P.s. I realise that my name is perhaps going to cause a lot of confusion as to how to pronounce it as it’s Gaelic…in a Scottish accent it’s ‘mah-ray’ but I have no idea how this will translate to other languages- but we will work it out! 🙂

One month away from landing in Iceland!

Hello dear members of the 2015 Fox Pack!

As Midge suggested, here is a little entry to introduce myself and share a little bit already before we meet in Sudavik!

My name is Adeline, 27 years old, and coming from France.

In exactly one month, I’ll take my plane to Reykjavik. I just can’t wait!!! I am very excited to meet you all as well as the foxes! And at the same time, I have soooo much to do until then… Such as… selling all my furniture in my apartment and making it all empty and clean (yes, because when I’m back from Iceland, I’m actually leaving again, so, I am giving up my apartment at the end of the month..), and of course,  buying a new tent and all the stuff I’ll have to put in my backpack for my survival! That makes it more and more real!

Now I am starting counting the days… Mixed feeling of excitement, and anxiety because of all the stuff I absolutely need to be done BEFORE I leave. And also, a little bit of sadness because I’ll have to leave my own “foxes” for 6 weeks for the first time in our lives! (Dazou & Dolgane, Border Collie foxes, age 7). But well, I know  I am going to live an awesome experience 🙂

My own "foxes" in France...
My own “foxes” in France…

My volunteering work at the Arctic Fox Center starts on 19th May until 8th June! Yes, I did plan to stay longer to enjoy the rest of the country! I will stay in Iceland from 6th May to 19th June. So, by the way, in case some of you also have some flexibility and wish to go hiking anywhere in beautiful Iceland… well, just let me know! My plans are to do a lot of couchsurfing, hitch-hiking and to explore as much as I can… without too much planning in advance… Adventure!

What about you all? Where do you come from? When and how long do you come?

Looking forward to meet Iceland, and all the members of the Fox pack of Sudavik!!!



How do I put into words the sadness I feel as I fly away from Iceland? To say my heart is changed forever would be an understatement; I think it would have been impossible not to fall in love with the Westfjords.


To begin, the blueberry festival was a mixture of terrifying (the biggest bon fire I’ve ever seen, kids flipping in a bouncy Viking ship thrown off course), hilarious (Svarar Nutur, who is Icelandic Jack Black, sharing laughs over Cards Against Humanity with new friends), exhausting (about 200 kids that wanted their faces painted), and lovely (pies, music on a mountain, dancing all night long). Each twist and turn was unexpected and welcomed in stride. And I look forward to going back one day soon.

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When you take a vacation from your job to do another job, does it really count as a vacation? I think it just makes your “day off” a thousand times more savored. That was Tuesday for me. After 8 days straight of working, including about 72 hours of blueberries, I was ready for an adventure, or whatever came my way. Beginning with a dinner in Isafjordur at Tjoruhusid, eating the most delicious meal I’ve ever had, and ending with a lesson on manual driving (my first time), the entirety of Tuesday was glorious. Tjoruhusid was filled with guests from the Fox Centre, many of whom remembered me and Gray and greeted us warmly. Walking up to get my food (unlimited portions!) I could hear chatter all around about what they’d learned from us. It felt good to know we were making a small difference in the lives of others. I met Freddy’s sister at the farm in Heydelur: Kula, a beautiful and friendly blue morph. I went back to Reykjanes for the ginormous hot pot and did “bommaslag” with my new Belgian friends. This word means “granny-style” I am told, and describes a sort of lazy fishy swim. So, now I have to learn Dutch.


Then on Wednesday, back to the Centre, and of course, what will become of dear Freddy Mercury, the fox? Well this part is still unknown, but he is getting quite restless with his current predicament. Trying to escape every time we feed him, he successfully had a run around the yard once on Thursday.

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On the plus side, the plans to expand his area are becoming more real. I made a video to present to the Centre’s board to describe what crowdfunding could do to help raise money for the materials and labor. And everyone I tell about the plan is excited to make Freddy the poster-fox for this project. I think it would be easy to get the money together.

As for the actual plans for the pen, this may require more thought and planning. The current idea is to mimic the enclosure from the Reykjavik zoo, which was designed originally by Pall Hersteinsson, one of the Centre’s founders. But, I had the opportunity to go to the zoo, and I don’t necessarily agree with this idea. The enclosure there is designed to hold minks and foxes and has an electric fence all around it.

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It just made me sad to look at. I think a new design would suit the bright energy of the Centre better. I also wonder about the future of the Centre’s orphaned pup program and have urged the staff working on this to get a lawyer and figure out a way to prioritize amending legislation so that the program can return to releasing the foxes into their own habitats. Otherwise, I personally don’t see much value in “rehabilitating” pups that will never be free and will just build up a captive fox population year after year, as they can live to up to about 12 years in captivity. Yes, having live foxes at the Centre has a great educational value and certainly brings all the tourists to the yard, but is it right to keep them enclosed there indefinitely? Again, Iceland’s relationship with its wildlife baffles me. 

And finally, how do I sum up this experience for you? Was it worth it? Did I like it? Would I recommend this to someone else? As someone who did not study abroad in college, I don’t think I ever really saw the value in leaving your established home to start over from scratch somewhere with just a suitcase. The concept of making new friends, finding new hobbies, and learning a new geography was overwhelming to me. But, I have to say that volunteering at the Centre for two weeks has totally changed my perspective on this. Traveling by yourself, you talk to people you might not normally have struck up a conversation with. You learn about new languages and cultures. You help people without expecting anything in return. Strangers offer you rides or have a meal with you and before you know it you become friends.

Are you reading this blog because you are wondering if you should volunteer? I know that’s what I did before I bought my plane ticket because I was scared and didn’t quite believe it would be for me. It had its ups and downs, but overall, I would describe this experience as totally unique and amazing. And hey, I may have drunkenly bought a plane ticket to Belgium to spend New Years with my new friends, so more to come as the adventure continues. In the meantime, give the Arctic Fox Centre, or some other organization that intrigues you, a shot!

Arctic Fox Centre Volunteer Blog from the Westfjords of Iceland