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Finnish wilderness on a sleigh

by Red Hunt

In Lapland, the northern reaches of Finland, you’ll find some special reindeer farms. No, these reindeer can’t fly, but they do a great job of handling the cold weather and taking you across the scenic, snowy landscapes.

In this part of Finland, winter conditions can last almost half the year, so being outdoors in the cold and snow is unavoidable. When your backyard is forests of deep snow, roads and highways aren’t the most practical means of getting around. This is where ‘sledging’ fills the void! Sledging is a great way to get around and reindeers are a traditionally reliable way of pulling those sledges. Docile in nature, reindeer have tremendous stamina and it only takes one reindeer to pull you and your sledge across the arctic tundra all day.

They’re generally quiet beasts, too, which means a reindeer safari is a great way to get in touch with the sights and sounds of nature. The only trick is that you may have to learn how to control these friendly animals; thankfully it isn’t as hard as learning to dog-sled. If you successfully navigate your reindeer around the Finnish wilderness, you may even earn yourself a reindeer driving license.

Photo courtesy VisitFinalnd

Most reindeer safaris are day trips, lasting 1-4 hours, with a ride into the wilderness to appreciate the beauty of snow-covered trees and search for arctic wildlife. Usually starting at a reindeer farm, you’ll also see how these hearty animals are raised for their meat and fur.

If you consider yourself a real adventurer, then overnight and multi-day journeys into the white forests of Lapland may suit your interests. These longer journeys give you time to bond with your personal reindeer while you are taken to some of the most remote areas of Finland. Away from cities and lights, you may dine on dried reindeer meat, stay awake at night hoping to catch a glimpse of the Aurora Borealis and sleep in a Lappish Kota – a traditional type of shelter similar to the teepees of North America.

Most reindeer safaris run from December to April, provided that weather conditions are favourable.

There are many reindeer farms and safari operators in Finland, if you’re looking to book a safari. For a listing of tour companies visit http://www.laplandfinland.com or http://www.visitfinland.com