You’ve heard of dog sledding – that sport combining the adrenaline rush of being pulled at speed by a beautiful pack of well-groomed, hardworking huskies and well, the cuteness of said huskies. Well, how about taking a wintry ride in similar style, but pulled by an animal other than a husky? How about being pulled by reindeer – those mysterious, majestic, festive creatures. Sit back in your sled and prepare yourself for an unforgettable experience.
1 – For a relaxing ride
Take a traditional trip, on the Sámi people’s oldest mode of transport, the reindeer sled. Reindeer sledding offers a more relaxing alternative to dog sledding, which is typically known to be a faster, more exhilarating ride. Reindeer are slower, more peaceful animals than huskies, so your trip through the winter wonderlands of northern Norway, Sweden or Finland will be more tranquil, with more time to take in the awe-inspiring snow-covered sights. Check out our reindeer sledding activities.
A reindeer sledding ride can lasting anywhere between 5 and 120 minutes, depending on which type of ride you opt for. This mode of animal-driven transportation is also comfortable as well as relaxing, as you’re sat on a traditional wooden sled, often layered with furs or blankets. Sit back and relax, or stand and take the reins. This experience can be tailor-made to be more or less hands-on, depending on whether you want a taste of the action or just to enjoy the scenery.
2 – For its cultural significance
Reindeer sledding boasts an incredible historical and cultural connection with the Sámi people, an indigenous people who inhabit parts of Arctic Europe; mainly northern parts of Norway, Sweden, Finland, and some of Russia, with their largest population being in Norway. The Sámis have a long history of reindeer herding and reindeer husbandry, especially in Norway, working with the semi-wild domestic and domesticated reindeer of Europe and Russia.
Many reindeer sledding experiences include the opportunity to learn more about the Sámi people and the history of their connection with these beautiful animals. If you’re lucky, you may get the chance to sit in a Lavvu (a Sámi tent) and hear a performance of a traditional Sámi folk song, a joik – one of Europe’s oldest and longest-held known musical traditions. Reindeer sledding offers a rare opportunity to gain fascinating insights into the culture and history of a people who have inhabited this arctic region for thousands of years.
3 – Perfect for families
A reindeer sledding trip makes for an unforgettable experience for all the family. Head to Lapland, that magical place that many don’t realise is real, spanning the most northern parts of Finland and Sweden, for a wintry family holiday adventure like no other. In this arctic region of snow-covered conifer forests, what better way to get around than by being led by reindeer? Getting the chance to feed the reindeer, can also be particularly thrilling for children of all ages!
4 – To experience reindeer feeding
Many reindeer sledding activities also offer the chance to feed the animals. Whilst these creatures may seem large and perhaps slightly scary to younger children, they’re perfectly gentle, peaceful semi-domesticated animals – and if they like you, they’ll eat straight out of your hand!
Reindeer sledding is the perfect activity to try if you love animals and want to get up close, interact with them and play a part in their up-keep. As well as reindeer feeding, there are often other opportunities to get hands-on in this activity, such as by helping with the harnessing or unharnessing of the animals.
5 – For incredible views day and night
Whether you choose to go reindeer sledding in Norway, Finland or Sweden, prepare to discover breathtaking scenery and watch as the snowy landscapes pass you by, from the comfort of your traditional wooden sledge. Take an evening reindeer sledding trip and maybe even see the northern lights over the far-off fjords. Though of course, like the weather, this natural phenomenon can never be guaranteed!
There is no better way to experience these stunning arctic locations, than being pulled by these majestic, festive animals.
Top photo credit: Norman Tsui