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Víkingavatnsrétt í Kelduhverfi/ Víkingavatns sheep roundup
Sheep are integral to Iceland: some 800,000 roam the country, more than twice the human population, and they’ve sustained the island’s inhabitants for centuries. Best of all, they’re almost entirely free range. After lambing time in May, farmers turn their flocks loose to graze on the lush highland grasses and berries of Iceland’s interior.
September brings réttir—the nationwide roundup where people on foot, ATVs or Icelandic horses retrieve their stock from the mountains and valleys, aided by trusty sheepdogs. The grueling endeavor sometimes requires days in the saddle, and entire communities turn out in support.
The ancient tradition is followed by sorting at réttirs, circular pens with radiating sections where farmers separate their herds. It’s a grand country party, where friends, family, and neighbors come together to play music, picnic outdoors, and help each other marshal their sheep. Tourists are welcome to join in on the fun.