Tourism to Sweden’s Arctic Circle is a hot (cold?) topic with adventure activities, the aurora borealis (Northern Lights), and the Icehotel attracting global visitors. Thanks to an influx of new cultural tours from the indigenous Sámi people, itineraries have become richer and trips more rewarding.

Join Zoe Macfarlane in Jukkasjärvi, Sweden as she delves into the rich lifestyle of the reindeer-herding Sámi people.

 

The Sámi People

lavvu

lavvu

The Sami are native to the Arctic Circle in the area known as Sápmi (formerly Lapland), crossing Sweden, Norway, Finland, and Russia. Leading a semi-nomadic lifestyle, reindeers have always been at the heart of their existence.

While you may see local Sámi whizzing by on their snowmobile, they still seasonally take their lavvu (teepee) north with their herds.

 

Sápmi Tourism

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Unlike many destinations, it’s best to visit Sápmi in winter so pack your woollies. In the past, digging deep into the culture here would have been challenging, but now entrepreneurial Sámi tour operators are bridging that gap.

You can now package exciting reindeer excursions and informative Sámi tours alongside those snowmobile adventures, dogsledding excursions, and thrilling aurora borealis spotting trips. It’s the complete winter holiday package.

 

Life Among the Reindeers

Reindeer Lodge.

Reindeer Lodge.

For the most authentic way to tap into the Sámi life, Reindeer Lodge offers five charming cottages burrowed in the snow, steps from the family’s reindeer enclosure.

Forget room service and a porter, staying in these traditional Swedish cabins you learn the magic about these quirky animals that, thanks to Santa, we’ve all grown up with. Don’t miss out on the included delectable spread including local delicacies such as Arctic char or moose.

 

Reindeer Racing

riding

Reindeer Riding with Nutti Sámi Siida.

A visit to the Swedish Far North wouldn’t be complete without some one-on-one reindeer time. Reindeer Lodge’s tourism arm Nutti Sámi Siida allows you to get up-close-and-personal with your own ‘Rudolph’.

After an exhilarating race across the snow-white landscape, the tour finishes up with lunch and a chat about herding life. Let’s admit that It’s a little weird to eat reindeer immediately after riding one, but dig in, as this has been the Sámi lifestyle for 2000 years.

 

Sámi Immersion

Traditional Herding Snack on the Sápmi Five Sense Tour.

Traditional Herding Snack on the Sápmi Five Sense Tour.

Can’t get in at Reindeer Lodge? Check out Sámi Siida’s outdoor museum and shop. You can even have a go at lassoing a reindeer (okay, it’s wooden) or head to the café for traditional cuisine around a roaring fire.

Ida-Maria Svonni hosts the Five Senses of Sápmi Life tour. With singsong stories around an open fire, she narrates an authentic account of Sámi life. Aside from the traditional bonnet framing her flushed cheeks, Ida refreshingly doesn’t dress up ‘for the tourists’.

 

An Ethical Seal

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Source: Nature’s Best Sweden.

We’re all about ethical travel at KARRYON – you can do your bit to help protect the reindeer from modern tourism practices by looking for Nature’s Best Sweden seal of approval with any tour booked.

 

Getting There & Around

Norwegian record breaking dreamliner KarryOn

Fly into Kiruna via Stockholm with SAS or Norwegian. Once on the ground, most tours offer hotel pick-ups, or rental cars are available if you’re confident in winter conditions.

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Is Sweden’s Arctic Circle on your bucket list? Let us know below.