Imagine riding a skidoo that takes you to such incredible places, making you admire the nature that’s surrounding you with all its wonders while you’re feeling the cold breeze, and at the same time, you’re trying to herd some two hundred reindeer during their spring migration. You can live this amazing experience in Lapland, Sweden where you can also get close to an ancient way of living as you join the indigenous Sámi people.
Lapland is the traditional home of the Sámi people and it includes not only Sweden, but also parts of Norway, Finland, and the Kola peninsula in Russia. The migration most typically begins in the small town of Gällivare in Sweden, to get here you will have to take a three-hour drive south-east of the airport at Kiruna. Here you will have to climb aboard a skidoo then weave your way towards the highest part where you will reach the Kallaktjåkkå mountain. This is part of the Great Lake Falls National Park.
This journey is an essential part of life not only for the herders but also for the reindeer, bonding them together into a unique and special relationship. Therefore, for the Sámi people, a safe migration is necessary as the reindeer are important for their lives because they provide them with food and fur.
In the past, migration was harder than what it is today, nowadays the distance can be covered much more quickly by using the skidoo. Eventually, you will find yourself spending the night in a lavu which is the traditional herder’s tent. You will get comfortable in there, even if you have to get up and help with the early morning job, but don’t worry you can take as much work as you want. Remember that the real herders are there.
Participating means bashing branches and waving your arms as you join the round-up. One of the most difficult parts of the day is when a reindeer breaks away and it has to be coerced back into the herd. Once the reindeer is back, everything will go back to its normal state and peace will reign.
As every reindeer has its own character, from the shake of a tail to the way they move their head, you will end up loving them and it will be hard to not get drawn into the life of the herd. White reindeer are considered to be spiritually special for the Sámi; therefore, if a family has one it’s highly valued.
You will become closer to the animals as the days pass by, and there will be nothing like the moment when you look back to the herd and realizing that you were part of all the process to take care and protect them.
Just for you to know
A couple of airlines fly into Kiruna in Sweden Lapland. The reindeer migration can be organized by a Sámi family that runs an ecotourism company called Vägvisaren – Pathfinder Lapland. Don’t forget to bring enough warm clothes for this journey, snowsuits and shoes are provided. Also, the traditional Sámi herders will guide you and drive you through the place.
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