If you want to slow down the pace and take a tranquil trek through beautiful snowy scenery, a traditional reindeer ride in Lapland is the only way to travel. Let these large and friendly creatures take you on an adventure along forest trails and across open landscapes with only the sound of snow crunching under reindeer hooves to break up the beautiful silence. A reindeer farm visit will also allow you to learn more about these semi-wild animals and how easily they adapt to all the tourist attention.
Reindeer are a much-loved symbol of Lapland. The indigenous Sámi people have always enjoyed a great rapport with these animals. For centuries, reindeer have provided people with food, warmth and transportation across a challenging Arctic landscape. Today, reindeer husbandry is still a way of life for many of the locals. There are around 200,000 reindeers in Finnish Lapland.
Popular tourist attraction
Reindeer continue to attract people to Lapland. Tourists love to come in close contact with these animals and experience the thrill of travelling in a sleigh pulled by a prancing team of reindeer. The Scandinavian Travel Group has different reindeer safari experiences including a reindeer farm visit for those who want to get a better feel for the culture and traditions of Lappish life. As well as being an integral part of the culture, reindeer also enjoy global recognition as Santa Claus’s reliable sleigh-pullers when he delivers gifts around the world.
Reindeers support local communities
A reindeer safari in Lapland is great outdoor fun. This kind of tourism also boosts the local economy. Reindeer owners are very creative when it comes to organizing reindeer-themed activities to supplement their income. This includes selling food, souvenirs and local crafts inspired by their country’s handsome antlered animals.
Going on a reindeer ride in Lapland
You can drive your own reindeer sled through the forest. It is fun for everyone and a perfect way to explore a winter wonderland in a leisurely way. Or you can choose to have a herder accompany you on your reindeer ride. The reindeer herders are great company and you will learn a lot about their culture and lifestyle. You will also be encouraged to go into the enclosures to feed the reindeer.
5 Fun Reindeer Safari Experiences
- 1. Go on an aurora reindeer safari in Lapland. A reindeer ride is exciting but it becomes even more thrilling if there is a possibility of seeing the Northern Lights. The Scandinavian Travel Group’s reindeer safari heads to reindeer station where you’ll meet herders. On the 3 km safari, reindeers take you on a nighttime adventure where the breathtaking aurora might make an appearance Back at camp, the host will invite you inside to warm up around an open fire. Relax with a snack and a warm berry juice as you listen to stories of a reindeer herder’s life. This safari program is available in Levi and Rovaniemi.
- 2. Jump on a snowmobile safari and enjoy a reindeer farm visit in Lapland. Make the most of your winter holiday with an action-packed itinerary that combines two activities in one fun tour. Travel through the forest trails on a snowmobile until you reach the local reindeer farm. You’ll be introduced to the reindeer herder who will introduce you to an authentic snapshot of Lapland life with the reindeer and how important these animals are to their livelihood. This safari program is available in Levi and Rovaniemi.
- 3. Visit To Reindeer Farm And Super Reindeer Safari: This memorable reindeer safari is available in Levi and Rovaniemi. You are invited to visit two reindeer farms and enjoy a leisurely reindeer ride through the snow. It is the perfect opportunity to meet the owners. These friendly reindeer herders know everything about reindeer husbandry. It has been a way of life for their families for generations. The location of the farms is in the heart of a beautiful snow forest, which adds to the magic of the safari. The reindeer herders work hard preparing for your arrival. This includes getting the reindeer and sleighs ready for the safari adventure. Fresh tea and coffee served with sweet buns get the tour off to a great start. Then it is time to take the reindeer-pulled sleigh on a journey through the snow-covered forests. Make sure you bring your camera. After the reindeer ride, you can take photos with the reindeer and feed them their favorite lichen snack. You are allowed a treat too! Head indoors where you can warm up by the open fire and enjoy a hot drink with a delicious homemade pastry.
- 4. Book a reindeer safari and have a go at ice fishing in Rovaniemi. Let the reindeers take you on a sleigh to one of the local frozen lakes. The Scandinavian Travel Group’s guide will teach you how to drill a hole in the lake so you can experience ice fishing. This traditional Finnish hobby is relaxing and fun. Wrap up in warm winter clothing because you will be sitting in one spot on the ice while you wait for the fish to catch your bait. This safari program is available in Rovaniemi.
- 5. Crafting reindeer antlers is a creative experience for those who want to learn how to make their own souvenirs. These organized workshops are a great chance to work with the locals who make a living from making and selling decorative antler items. It is an activity that all the family will enjoy. This program is available in Rovaniemi.
Educational fun on a reindeer farm visit in Lapland
The popularity of the reindeer safari in Lapland has encouraged many reindeer owners to open their doors to visitors who want an authentic experience of a reindeer farm visit in Lapland. Reindeer farm tourism is more popular than ever as more people seek out learning experiences. You can find out about what a reindeer herder does and how the reindeer are looked after. If you are interested in local handicrafts, the owners will also happily share their experience about the products and production. Reindeer hide is often used to make clothes and shoes. This soft and durable material makes high-quality products and accessories. Many Sami handicrafts incorporate reindeer leather into their product design to sell to tourists who want an original keepsake of their travels.
The Scandinavian Travel Group has an exciting range of reindeer safari experiences that include a reindeer farm visit in the itinerary. For example, one of the planned excursions includes a visit to a beautiful reindeer farm called Ounaskievari. It is located on the Ounasjoki rapids that run through the Arctic Circle.
The owner has worked in the reindeer industry for almost 20 years and keeps visitors entertained with her knowledge of reindeer and what it is like working with them. At the farm you are invited to spend time with the animals. You can feed young calves inside the reindeer corral. Afterwards, warm up indoors with a warm drink and homemade pastry while you watch a special presentation about reindeer and what makes them so special.
10 facts about reindeer
- 1. The last time we counted reindeer outnumbered the people of Lapland by about 20,000. There are around 200,000 reindeer in the husbandry area and around 180,000 people. Even though 100,000 reindeer are slaughtered annually, over 120,000 calves are born each spring.
- 2. The life expectancy of reindeer is around 18-20 years.
- 3. Their impressive antlers are bone and cartilage. They are shed and replaced annually. Male and female reindeer grow antlers. Male antlers can be over 50 inches high. Female antlers are smaller at around 20 inches.
- 4. Female reindeer weigh around 60-100kg while the heavier males tip the scales at 90-180kg.
- 5. Reindeer have distinctive hooves split with four “toes” on each foot. The toes separate and spread to help distribute the reindeer’s weight when walking on soft snow. This clever “snowshoe” effect helps to stop the animals from sliding and sinking in heavier snow. You’ll notice how sure-footed they are on snow and ice if you go on an organized reindeer ride in Lapland.
- 6. Reindeer are herbivores and love to feast on a variety of nutrient-rich plants including lichen, beard moss, ferns and green shrubs. If you book a reindeer farm visit there is an opportunity to hand-feed reindeer a natural snack. These hungry animals can chomp through 18 pounds of plants per day.
- 7. Reindeer have a great sense of smell. It helps them to find food buried under deep snow during the challenging winter months.
- 8. They are semi-domesticated animals with friendly personalities. This makes them perfect for the popular reindeer safari in Lapland.
- 9. They have great blood circulation to help them keep out the cold. Oleic acid in their bone marrow helps to keep them warm. It is said to act like an anti-freeze in their legs.
- 10. Their dense fur coat keeps them warm in extreme temperatures of -50C.
The reindeer herders’ year in 4 seasons
Looking after reindeer is hard work but it is rewarding. The Sami people have been herding since the 17th century. There is always something for the herders to do each season.
- 1. Spring: it is time to welcome the calves. The gestation period for a female reindeer is around 7-8 months. In Finland, baby reindeer are usually welcomed into the world around mid-May each year although the calving period can extend into June. At this time of year, the snow is melting and the worst of the winter weather is over. This gives the calves a better chance of survival. The summer months are referred to as the growing season for the young reindeer because it allows them to grow and gain strength before the harsh winter arrives. The calves become fully mature at around 6 years old.
- 2. Summer: marking the calves begins. Herding begins around June in accordance with local reindeer herding legislation. Reindeer graze freely and naturally come together in herds at the height of the summer. These bigger groups of reindeer make it easier for the herders to move and control them. They bring the herds into their farm enclosures where they can begin earmarking them as a means of identification.
- 3. Autumn: the round-ups involve bringing the reindeer in from the wild. They are herded in small groups to give their owners an opportunity to look over the animals and document them. This includes earmarking the reindeer. At this stage, some of the reindeer will also be separated into other pens where they will eventually go to slaughter.
- 4. Winter: herding reindeer in winter requires suitable transport. This is where snowmobiles come in useful. Families and villages come together to look after the reindeer throughout the harsh winter months. Reindeer naturally come together in the colder months. Their footprints in the snow also make it easier for the herders to track them.
About reindeer husbandry
On a reindeer farm visit in Lapland you can find out more about herding and husbandry. Reindeer husbandry is a traditional livelihood that celebrates nature, culture and tradition. It has provided local communities with jobs and steady income through the generations. Herders can choose to do the job full-time or it can supplement another job. The reindeer husbandry area covers about 36% of Finland (122, 936 sq kilometers) and there are over 56 herding cooperatives of different sizes. Reindeer owners belong to a cooperative. Each cooperative is represented by a Chief of District to oversee operations and attend community meetings to discuss economic plans and ways to help support this industry. Those at the head of the cooperatives are also available to help with any questions relating to reindeer herding in general. Here are some more facts about herding and ownership:
- • Reindeer ownership: if you want to know who owns a reindeer, look at their ears. The herders have their own specific earmark. There are 21 different markings. These are known as deeds and have to be officially registered by the owner. There are around 12,000 earmarks in use today. Deeds are described verbally and by drawings starting at the tip of the right ear.
- • Restless movement of reindeer: paliskunta means “reindeer herding cooperative”. It comes from the Sami word palgat, which translates as “the restless movement of reindeer”. You can learn a great deal from the owners on a reindeer farm visit. Herding cooperatives have geographic boundaries. The reindeer herding cooperatives were first established in the late 1800s. The need for cooperatives came about after disagreements between herders and farmers. As forestry and farming grew, so too did disputes about grazing areas and roaming reindeer. The first reindeer husbandry act was made in 1932 while the Reindeer Herders’ Association was formed in 1948.
- • Reindeer rutting season: reindeer are perfectly docile when pulling your sleigh on a reindeer safari in Lapland. However, these creatures also have a feisty side. The reindeer rutting season is around late September to October. During the rutting season, ruling males establish their herd and chase away intruders. They aggressively defend the female reindeer while also establishing their leadership. This results in violent clashes with other male reindeer as they lock antlers during fights. These fights can last for hours until the strongest animal wins allowing the breeding season to get underway. After the rutting season is over, male reindeer lose their antlers. However, it doesn’t take long for them to grow back again.
Reindeer meat is tasty and healthy
Much of a reindeer herder’s income comes from meat production. Reindeer makes a delicious meal. The tender meat is quick and easy to cook. It is not heavy meat, therefore, it is easy to digest. The fat under the reindeer’s skin doesn’t go to waste either. It is often used in cooking. Reindeer meat is healthy too. The reindeer’s plant-based diet and active lifestyle help to boost the nutritional content of their meat. Here are some of the health benefits:
- - It is low in fat
- - Good fatty acid composition
- - Rich in proteins
- - High content of vitamins, minerals and trace elements
This high-quality meat has PDO status. Lapland dried reindeer meat and cold-smoked reindeer meat are recognized as superior products and are given this Protected Designation of Origin status as part of EU quality policy.
Warm up with a reindeer
Traditionally, herders would fashion clothes and rugs from reindeer fur and skin to keep them warm in Arctic conditions. It is still a popular and versatile material today thanks to the different uses of the fur, which varies in texture and thickness on different parts of the reindeer’s body. The hide dries to form a waterproof coating. In the past, herders used to sleep on the hides. The leg fur is tougher and makes reliable footwear that can withstand wear and tear.
Competitive reindeer races
Let the games (and fun!) begin. Reindeer racing gets very competitive in places such as Rovaniemi in Lapland Finland, Norway and Russia. The races have been held in Finland since 1932. The action involves reindeers pulling sleighs or skiers at full speed along snow-covered tracks. The season comes to a close with the Reindeer Championships. This annual event usually takes place in April around Easter time in Tromso, Norway.
Reindeer racing speeds
You’d be surprised at the speed of these large animals. Top racing reindeer speeds can reach up to 37mph. Apparently, you can tell if a reindeer is built for speed simply by looking at its nose. The bigger the nose and nostrils, the faster the reindeer will be. Training reindeer to race does take time and patience. The wellbeing of the animals is important. The owners make sure the races are as much fun for the reindeer as it is for the spectators.
Reindeer celebrated in songs and poems
Santa’s reindeer have always brought a smile to the faces of children and to all those who love a magical Christmas story. The poem, A Visit from Saint Nicholas, also known as Twas the Night Before Christmas by Clement Clarke Moore joyfully mentions Santa and his reindeer. The names of the reindeer are Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donner and Blitzen. Another popular Christmas story is Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and it was written by Robert L. May. After the success of this story, it was adapted into a song that remains a firm favorite with children around the world at Christmas time.
If you are keen to find out more about reindeer, going on a reindeer safari in Lapland will be one of the highlights of your holiday. These safaris and reindeer farm visits also include plenty of photo opportunities. So have your camera to hand to make sure you capture those special moments. If seeing the Northern Lights has always been on your travel wish list, then Aurora Hunting on a Reindeer Safari in Lapland is another tour you’ll love.
Booking Your Reindeer Safari in Lapland
Book your reindeer safari online or email us: email@example.com and our travel agent will be in touch. Or call/WhatsApp/Viber +358 400 514 530.