Santa Claus Reindeer Safari
Hands-down our favorite experience while in Lapland was our Reindeer Safari with Santa Claus Reindeer. Laura and Ari, the two who run the company, are completely locked on.
We napped the kids and fed them a late dinner in town. Then we were picked up at the hotel by Laura from Santa Claus Reindeer and driven directly to their farm. It was only our family booked for the evening!
The reindeer were lined up and ready to go. We met our team driver Ari, who is in charge of the reindeer and speaks limited English. There were three sleds tethered together. Ari drove from the front sled, Jeff and the middle little in the middle and I took the big and little littles in the back sled.
We bundled everyone up in as many layers as possible, but were quite toasty once we were covered in reindeer pelts.
Once we were settled we headed off into the quiet, snowy forest. It was pitch black and so so quiet. The snow started to fall and you could hardly see in front of you. It was truly amazing. Since Ari spoke limited English, we did not feel like we had to have a conversation with him. This made the family experience feel more intimate.
We rode in the sleds for about an hour. We saw some wild reindeer and other small snow animals cross our path. The only light was the Ari’s headlamp.
Our ride ended and we got a chance to take some pictures and meet the reindeer who pulled us.
We were rejoined by Laura and led to a traditional Finnish building to warm up and enjoy some food.
Inside the hut Laura had the fire roaring. We roasted some hot dogs, made coffee the traditional way (over the fire) and warmed glogi drink to have with gingerbread cookies.
Laura told us all about reindeer and reindeer herding in Finland. Our big little had lots of questions. Laura was patient and even had some antlers and other props to show him.
Once we were warm and our bellies full each of us was presented with our own special Reindeer Bell. The boys were over the moon!
Then we headed out to meet the reindeer herd. This time of the year (late January) the females are in the pen so they can have a bit of extra assistance getting food. Laura had some lichen for us to feed them.
We’d fed reindeer before in Scotland (read about that here). This was a very different experience. The reindeer appeared out of the dark to come get their food. In Scotland we had fed the males and here we fed the females, with their smaller, pointier antlers. Our big little was a rockstar though, talking to and feeding as many as he could.
Once all the lichen was gone we said goodbye to our new friends and Laura drove us back to the hotel. All three boys fell asleep on the drive home and I’m sure had sweet reindeer dreams all night.
The Reindeer Bells are one of kids’ favorite things now that we are back home. They pretend to be Santa’s reindeer or one of his Elves looking for the reindeer. It was a wonderful little souvenir.
We did not see the Northern Lights on our adventure due to the cloud cover. Santa Claus Reindeer also invited us to come check out their location in Santa’s Village the next day and meet the reindeer in the daylight.