Tromso Arctic Reindeer Tour

The main reason for coming to Tromso for me was for the Northern Lights. Northern Lights tours are in the evenings – so you have your whole day (sort of since daylight is short) to fill. One option – I would definitely recommend is a tour with the Tromso Arctic Reindeer.

The Experience

Tromso Arctic Reindeer is managed by a Sami family. They offer reindeer sledding and feeding tours and camp dinner experience.

All the day sledding and reindeer feeding tours come with lunch (traditional Sami cooking) and hot drinks in the warm tents – where you will also have the opportunity to listen to traditional joiking (traditional Sami song) and learn about the Sami history and culture.

Reindeer Sledding

You have the option of long (30min) or short (15min) reindeer sledding along the coast around the camp. There is also a night sledding option combined with traditional Sami dinner.

Unfortunately, when we were there, there was not enough snow on the ground, so we did a short sled ride within the camp. Still fun for my daughter and me. It’s not everyday you get to sit on a sled being pulled by a reindeer.

Fun facts

Santa’s sleigh is pulled by eight reindeers – if you don’t count Rudolph since he came later on. They are Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Dunder and Blixem. Source: ‘Twas The Night Before Christmas’ poem published in Troy Sentinel (1823).

Read somewhere, and as you can see from our picture on the sled – usually only one reindeer is used to pull a sled in the Sami culture. Maybe a few more reindeers, if there is a heavy load to carry – supplies etc. To have eight reindeers pulling a sleigh (aka Santa’s sleigh) – is not really common, it may be possible, but you would have to be a super experienced person to rig all eight of them.

Reindeer Feeding

You will get a chance to feed the 300 reindeers in the camp. They are so beautiful! They are quite gentle, but they do get a bit excited when they see you coming with food. My daughter felt a bit uncomfortable when they went quickly towards her with antlers and all. Reindeers front teeth grow only on its bottom jaw, so it is really quite safe to feed them – no need to worry about being bitten. Guess the antlers can be a bit intimidating though..But once you get the hang of it, its all good.

Both male and female reindeers grow antlers. They shed their antlers at different points of the year – male in winter/autumn and female in summer. They grow back though. The males use their antlers when fighting for the females mostly during mating season. The females use them to protect their food.

Fun Fact

Since Santa’s reindeers are always pictured with antlers in winter, so they are most likely female!

Learning about Sami Culture

As part of the day tour package, you will be offered a hot traditional Sami stew ‘bidos’ for lunch. We opted for the vegetarian option – delicious especially on a cold winter day! Bidos is usually cooked with reindeer meat, carrots and potatoes. If they had a halal reindeer meat, it would have been so great…Anyway – it was a super experience overall and a nice way to end the tour – we had a brilliant time.

You will also have the opportunity to hear a joik (beautiful!) around the fire in the lavvo (Sami tent) and learn more about the Sami folks history and way of life. We were fortunate to hear Johan Isak, himself, who owns the reindeer camp sang a joik that day – his own personal piece. Most likely more than half the people in the world would have listened to a joik by now. The joik is featured in Disney’s Frozen opening song Vuelie – co-written by Frode Fjellheim, a Norwegian composer with Sami roots. Frozen II’s Reindeer Circle track features another interpretation of the song. 

My daughter also had a go at throwing (hooking?) the lasso onto reindeer antlers mounted on a stand. Lasso throwing is an important skill for reindeer herders. You don’t get to try this on live reindeers of course.

Norway has the largest Sami population relative to other Scandinavian countries. It has not been very easy for them – they had to fight for their rights even to use their own language back in the day. It is a lot better now – they have their own parliament – opened in 1989 in Karasjok in Finnmark. 

Wonderful Day Out

This was one of the highlights of our trip to Tromso. I can’t recommend it enough. Johan and his family and the rest of the crew were simply wonderful – very welcoming! Would love to do the Camp Dinner and night sledding if I have a chance the next time.

Click here for the link to the Company’s website.

Read more posts on Tromso attractions in the following links

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.