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Melissa from Australia experienced the Sami reindeer spring migration in Norway - her best trip ever

Melissa joined our Sami host family when they migrated with their reindeer from winter pastures to summer pastures last April 2019. We asked her a few questions about her stay.

1. What was your reason to experience the Sami reindeer migration?  I am absolutely fascinated by indigenous cultures and how they live - how they manage to preserve traditional ways despite the encroachment of the modern world. I wanted to learn as much as I could about a very unique and special culture. The Sami are one of only a few select cultures around the world who have built their culture and livelihood around herding and domesticating reindeer.

2. What was the most exciting thing about your stay?

Having the opportunity to learn about Sami culture in depth, from the history and language to the culture and food and their current way of life, was really fascinating. Also, being out in the wilderness, surrounded by gorgeous natural scenery and many, many kilometres from 'civilisation' (basking in complete silence!) was a wonderful experience. The reindeer themselves are also magnificent and beautiful - make sure you ask about earmarking! 

3. Did you face any challenges in the Arctic weather? 

Nils and his family will make sure you are very warm with lots of layers. On one night, the winds were especially gusty and the canvas on the lavvu (tent) came off! Definitely a memorable experience.

4. How was it to travel with a Sami family? 

From riding on snowmobiles to packing up and setting up the lavvu (tent) each day, travelling with a Sami family was a wonderful experience. I learnt so much, the landscape was so beautiful and Nil's family were very accommodating, hospitable and friendly. The experience was very much an authentic one - expect a 'real' experience, rather than a manufactured one. Expect challenges and hard work - you are living as a Sami reindeer herder, after all. Staying with Nils and his family was one of the best travel decisions I've ever made because it was so eye-opening and allowed me to experience a true adventure. 

5. How much you knew about the Sami culture before? 

I was already extremely interested in Sami culture before I booked the trip, but I learnt so much that you cannot learn from books and the Internet! This experience is priceless if you are looking for a truly immersive, authentic experience as a reindeer herder and the opportunity to ask lots of questions/whet your curiosity about a very unique culture.

6. Do you have any packing tips for others joining the Sami migration? 

Bring thermals, definitely. Wool is best since it wicks sweat and you'll likely be highly active while out on the tundra. Pack mittens, not gloves (preferably woollen for greater insulation!) In saying that, the Sami family will provide you with plenty of extra layers if you need them.

7. What kind of food you were served? 

We ate traditional Sami food such as reindeer meat (fried tongue, dried heart, smoked leg), freshly caught fish (such as arctic char) and arctic berries such as cloudberries, crowberries and lingonberries.

8. How would you rate this experience from 0 to 10? 

10 out of 10, absolutely. Best travel decision I've ever made. 

Book this story here. Visit Natives works with indigenous Sami families in Finnmark, Northern Norway. The nearest airport is Alta. Your Sami host family comes to pick you up straight from the airport when you arrive! Due to Sami reindeer herders traditions, this experience is only available in April / May. We have only three departures for 2020. Contact us for further details. Did you like this experience? Don't miss the Sami & reindeer autumn experience.

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