Apart from seeing the Northern Lights, I really wanted to go reindeer sledding in Tromso, Norway. It’s one of those once in a lifetime experiences and something I knew I had to do.
I learnt quite quickly there are loads of tour operators in Tromso but if you want to go reindeer sledding then you should book with Tromso Lapland. Here’s why…
Is the reindeer sledding tour with Tromso Lapland authentic?
To be honest, I was a little skeptical about going on the Reindeer and Sami Culture tour.
Was it going to be an actual authentic experience or would we turn up to see bus loads of tourists being herded in time slots to see the Reindeer and a talk from the Sami people?
I couldn’t have been further from the truth.
Our Sami guide Yon-ni
As soon as we went to our usual pick up point outside the Radisson Blu hotel, we were met by Sami man, Yon-ni (English pronunciation; Johnny). He was wearing traditional clothing, had the most clearest skin I’ve probably ever seen, and sparkly blue eyes that just gave this warmth from within.
I asked if we could sit in the front of the bus with him, not only so we could see the views (at this time of the year in early December you have a small window from 10am-1pm of light to really capture the beauty of Tromso) but also so I could find out more about the Sami culture.
I quickly found out that Yon-ni wasn’t only the driver but also the owner of the tour company, Tromso Lapland. It was his Sami camp in Tromso we were going to see which made me realise how authentic this tour could really be.
On the way to Yon-ni’s Sami camp, the scenery got incredibly beautiful fast. I was absolutely gobsmacked at how stunning the huge mountains were which encapsulated the scenery into a big bundle of beauty.
Johnny told me when the Northern Lights come out to play, they light up these mountains that the whole landscape comes alive.The views of the mountains on the way to the Sami camp were just incredible.
His English was pretty amazing and he told me that he learnt it when he was 10 years old after an English blind man stayed with his parents after hitchhiking his way to Norway. Apparently this man learnt the Sami language in just three months, something completely unheard of.
Reindeer and Sami Culture Tour Tromso
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What was the Sami camp like at Tromso Lapland?
So when we arrived after about a 40 minute drive, we were greeted by the wilderness, the peacefulness and absolute beauty of somewhere incredibly special which is his family home. They had the place kitted out with snow suits and boots for the tourists to wear before we were escorted over to the reindeer.
The one thing we especially loved was the pink sky. It was the first time since we got there that we had seen any kind of light in the sky and it was absolutely perfect to see amongst the beauty of their home.
What was the reindeer sledding experience like?
All the reindeer were hooked up with rope one by one so that none of them would suddenly escape with the tourists sat in the back.
We were led by one of Johnny’s cousins who took us around in the snow for an authentic experience which lasted about 30 minutes. The reindeer move very slowly so you can take photos and videos whilst on this once in a lifetime experience.
Feeding the reindeer
I loved how calm the reindeer were to be around, and I loved the setting of the pink sky in the background. It was truly a beautiful experience.
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After we fed the reindeer, we were taken into a Sami tent which literally looked like Christmas inside. Imagine walking into a beautiful setting filled with fairy lights. There was big fire inside that kept in an unexpected warmth which made us want to stay for a long time.
I couldn’t believe how warm it was inside the tent with the fire in the middle. Yon-ni’s family were very sweet and stole everyone’s hearts whilst they stood around the fire wearing their traditional clothing.The interior was so beautiful, covered in fairy lights and traditional woods for seating and tables. It was such a nice touch and completely unexpected.We sat down and we given a traditional lunch of reindeer stew. I went for the veggie version that consisted of vegetables and pasta which was still really good.
After we had eaten, our guide Johnny returned to give us a talk about his Sami culture including their traditions and what clothing they wear.
Sami culture talk
We learnt that the Sami people are based in Finland, Sweden and North West Russia but Norway has the largest population of 49,000.
Although there have been hard times for the Sami people, I learnt that before 1966, they had to change their names if they wanted to buy land because it was illegal. Thankfully times have changed so the Sami people can live in peace.They still have a lot of old traditions like preparing their food in winter for the summer and having up to 1,500 people at a wedding is the norm.
Yon-ni showed us what a yoke song sounds like. It’s a song that brings out the personality of the person in a positive way sung in sounds rather than words. I loved how this tradition is still very apparent in their culture.Yon-ni also told us that you don’t only want to see the Northern Lights, but you want to hear them.
He’s only heard the lights twice in his life and said they make the sound of your shoes cracking down on the snow, like someone is walking right next to you. We all sat there in amazement because it was obvious no one had heard anyone say this before.
He also mentioned either October or March are the best times to be lucky enough to see the Northern Lights in Tromso as well.After about an hour of learning about the Sami culture, we all got back on the bus to return back to Tromso. Even a city as beautiful as it is made me want to go back into the peacefulness of the Sami camp.
This tour lasted about five hours and it was honestly the best thing we did in Tromso. If you’re heading to Tromso, find out more about this incredible, once in a lifetime tour here with Tromso Lapland.
Reindeer and Sami Culture Tour Tromso
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