Iceland review - 2002, Blaðsíða 77

Iceland review - 2002, Blaðsíða 77
ICELAND REVIEW 75 SO MUCH TO DO IN THE SOUTH It’s a good idea to visit the south during the post-tourist months of autumn. There you will find all kinds of guided walks, such as treks up Ingólfsfjall mountain or from Selvogur to Thorlákshöfn, which both take approximately three to four hours and give a good taste of the surrounding area. In September, there’s a selec- tion of golf competitions on offer, as the football season draws to an end and the locals turn their attention towards the golf course. Around the middle of September / beginning of October, the réttir, or yearly gathering of livestock, bring farms in the south to life, followed by the round-up dances, which are always a very lively affair. In October and November, game buffets adorn the restaurants of the south and Christmas preparations get underway. Craft workshops and all kinds of festival activities are organised, creating the family-friendly atmosphere that sur- rounds the Christmas holidays. The travel agency Útivist also offers a ‘Autumn Colours’ hike, which focuses on the magnificent colours of flora in the forests and the nature around the south of the country. Other travel agencies offer a wide range of tours, such as ghost walks, insect inspection tours, nature walks and other interesting activities. Small and friendly guest houses have been springing up in the south, which means that you won’t have to worry about finding a place to rest tired eyelids. For more information about what’s on in the south of Iceland, contact the Tourist Information Centre in Hveragerdi: Tel: (+354) 483-4601, e-mail:, or visit TRAVEL UPDATE NEWS - ADVENTURE - SIGHTS - SHOPPING - CAR RENTALS - RESTAURANTS - HOTELS Sheep round up in Landsveit. PUFFLING THROWING AND CLIFF-HANGING The Westman Islands are a cluster of 15 islands, just off the south coast of Iceland. The only inhabited island is Heimaey, which has a population of around 5,000 inhabitants. There is a compact collection of things to do and see on the island. Nature is alive and kicking with armies of puffins, fulmars and other seabirds, which use the sheer basalt cliffs and deep sea as their bases. The island’s history is rich, its cultural life is constant- ly sprouting something new, and many tourist activities are on offer. The Westman Islands are also homebase to the star of Free Willy, Keiko the killer whale. The Westman Islanders also have a few weird and wonderful traditions that are inter- esting to participate in. Cliff-hanging is a traditional sport that involves climbing and descending the island’s steep cliffs and rocks using ropes. The sport is still practised today, both as a form of enjoyment and as a puffin-hunting technique. Every August, the children of the Westman Islands help the young pufflings, which are flying from their nests for the first time, to find their way out to sea. The pufflings get confused by the bright lights of the city and hundreds fly towards them. The children offer the youngsters a safe home for the night in a warm cardboard box, and then release them over the water the next day. The children compete with each other to see which puffin will fly the farthest out to sea. So if you’re in the Westman Islands, don’t be surprised by the men dangling from cliff edges, or the children throwing birds out to sea—it’s all part of the Westman Island way of life. Cliff-hanging is a traditional Westman Island sport. Ph o to s: ( fr o m t o p t o b o tt o m ): P ál l s te fá n ss o n , M o rg u n b la d id . x75 IR302 - Travelupdate bs -km 2.9.2002 17:07 Page 75
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