When you begin your arctic adventure in Tromsø there is so much to see and do, but there is one activity you cannot miss.
The beauty of the Northern Lights is already enough to entice many to join this fantastic experience. But this one activity we’re talking about will make you feel warm and fuzzy.
Reindeer feeding and sledging is the one activity that gets the highest nods amongst all our trip guests. It’s easy to see why.
I mean, look at this guy!
This activity is part of the all-encompassing Sámi experience, a must-do activity of any trip to the north of Norway.
Who are the Sami people?
The Sámi are indigenous people of Northern Europe who inhabit various areas of the arctic circle. Sámi people currently live in parts of Sweden, Finland, Russia, and of course, Norway.
They Sámi used to be nomadic, travelling with their reindeer herds, sometimes in units of at least 5 to 7 different families. They supported themselves through hunting and fishing.
Today, they have left their nomadic lives behind and are permanent residents in modern housing.
The Sámi have unfortunately also suffered from discrimination and abuse for many years, most of it stemmed from assimilation policies. Land claims are also a common culprit in these conflicts.
Despite these issues, the Sámi have rich traditions that have been preserved.
These are the handicrafts known as duodji, and then there’s the gakti, the traditional clothing of the Sámi. Also notable is their music, with the singing of yoiks.
Their language (of which there are 10 distinct identified forms of it) have prevailed, as well as specific religious ceremonies.
It’s tough to summarize this remarkable culture in a few sentences.
That’s why at part of the Sámi experience in Tromsø you will gather around a fire with food and warm drinks and hear about this beautiful culture from members of the tribe themselves.
What’s the deal with the Sámi and reindeer?
Reindeer husbandry is an essential part of the livelihood of Sámi people in Norway. This activity is even protected and exclusive to the Sámi in this country.
The Sámi people weren’t always reindeer herders. In their nomadic days, the Sámi hunt deer for food, their meat being quite long-lasting in the harsh winter conditions of the arctic.
As they slowly shift from nomadic to sedentary, the Sámi began to tame wild deer as they provided an excellent means of not only food but also transportation and clothing.
When all the lakes were empty, and there were no more animals to hunt, creating these herds proved a savvy strategy for survival. A Sámi family’s number of reindeer equated to their actual wealth.
What’s so special about this experience?
Nowadays, reindeer play an essential part in the tourism industry. That’s why in the Sámi experience at Tromsø, reindeer play a key role!
In our trip to Tromsø, you get to hand-feed the reindeer and then go on a nice sledging ride with them. Many of our guests absolutely delighted in this experience!
“The trip is worth it to pet and feed reindeer, with everything else just adding to the experience. I had gone in expecting a few large moose- like-sized creatures, with equally large attitudes. What I discovered was an enormous herd of small friendly hungry well-loved animals quite content to let groups of people proffer them food. The experience was profound, thrilling, and each person around me had a face of pure joy during the event, mirroring my own”