Thursday, December 29, 2011

Traveling with kids in northern Sweden: reindeer safari

It's not every day that I get to go with my kids on a reindeer safari, but today we did just that. And it wasn't even difficult: we just headed out with my parents in their mini-van and drove a few kilometers inland from SkellefteƄ, just past the small community of Medle. Every winter, many reindeer graze in this area and can often easily be seen from the road if you're just driving through.

The kids were very excited when we spotted a small herd of reindeer on the road, and we all got out of the car to watch as the animals headed into the snowy woods.

Reindeer in Sweden are not actually wild animals, they are semi-domesticated and the herds are managed by, and belong to, the Sami people. In the summer, the herds generally spend their time in the Swedish mountains, but in the winter, the Sami bring them down to the coastal areas where it's easier for the animals to find food.

If you do head out on a reindeer safari in northern Sweden, try to do it during the daylight hours (and there are not a lot of those this time of year!). In the dark, you risk crashing into the reindeer: they are known to jump into traffic, and also prone to dawdling on the road, not showing much fear of anything. So drive slowly and be careful. Also look out for the special reindeer warning signs: black plastic bags tied to a stick and placed next to the road.

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