Archaeological excavations across Scandinavia have uncovered hunting pits and stone carvings of reindeer suggesting that herding has been utilised in this remote region since the Stone Age. To this day it remains of the utmost importance to the area.
Reindeers are raised for their meat, hides, antlers, and, to a lesser extent, for milk and transportation. The practice of herding underwent transformation in the 1960s with the evolution of snowmobiles, allowing herders to travel much greater distances and gather their herd far more effectively. However reindeer herding would not be possible without the maintenance of traditional knowledge which dates back millennia and is transferred from generation to generation.
Due to its historical, cultural and political significance it is a form of employment that is reserved for Sámi people only in some locations and across Scandinavia around 2800 are actively employed in herding.
Our White Circle reindeer experiences allow you to spend some time with a genuine herder either in their homes or at a reindeer farm. Your time with them will allow you to ask any questions you may have and develop an insight into the role that reindeer herding plays in the Sámi community.
What we say about it…
To most of us, our first knowledge of reindeers was as the magical creatures that flew through the sky with Santa’s sleigh behind them. It is perhaps partly due this mystique and sense of childlike wonderment that makes our reindeer excursions highly popular.
Up close they are beautiful, gentle creatures and during our excursions to meet them you will usually get the chance to feed them and take some wonderful photos. The herders are always readily available to answer any questions you may have and are keen to share information and stories about their livelihood with you.
N.B. Something to remember though. Never ask a herder how many reindeer he has – it is considered to be exceptionally rude!
Gentle sleigh rides through the forest are also included on the majority of these excursions. Unlike huskies sledding these are at a much gentler pace (although reindeer can reach speeds of 37 to 50 miles per hour! Indeed reindeer racing is a popular recreation in Lapland).
As a company we believe strongly in responsible travel and try to promote cultural experiences such as these in order for you to get to know the real people of Lapland and help to sustain the indigenous Sámi people.
What you say about it…
“The reindeer day was also incredible; being up close and active with these majestic wild animals was really thrilling. We learned lots of information about them and the herders, we had lunch cooked over a big log fire and we all sat round drinking warm berry juice. It was so authentic; you couldn't imagine anything like it unless you experience it.” S Dial, Kittila, 2012
“I loved the reindeer sleigh ride because it felt very authentic - the reindeer herder was lovely and this was a very relaxing change from the more hectic activities on the other days.” R Stubbles, Harriniva, Jan 2012
“…Also thoroughly enjoyed the reindeer farm trip, which was very interesting and gave a good insight to Sámi culture.” D Timms, Inari, January 2013
“The Reindeer Park was very interesting, the owner of the farm, who gave the talk was brilliant, very open about the ups and downs of life with reindeer.” P Moore, Luosto, January 2013