Travel in Finland: Learn to Snowshoe and Visit the Sami People

On Christmas Day, there were many optional activities to take part in. Some of the group went off to learn different Arctic skills, like building a Quinzee ice house, cross-country skiing, and ice fishing.

cross-country skiing in Vasatokka

Personally, I enjoyed a leisurely morning stroll in the scenic forest, with beautiful views of Arctic tundra.38639153304_243e6ed362_z24483020767_caa4f15526_zI did end up joining the nighttime snowshoe hike, which turned out to be a frozen adventure. I went snowshoeing with my three roommates- two exchange students from China and one from Indonesia. At -21 degrees, you can see that I was definitely not trying to make any fashion statements. I practically put on everything I brought! Three layers of pants and socks!24483024717_94d0cd8670_zNow the first task at hand was getting on the snowshoes. They distribute your weight, so you don’t fall very deep in the snow when you walk.24483020817_4c4816108f_z
25459407258_840c00d0a0_zNext, we began our snowshoe scavenger hunt. Our guide, Victor, made us use a GPS to find hidden objects in the forest.

Victor explaining how to use the GPS

We had to find flint and wood, which we used to make a small fire. As our reward, were able to roast marshmallows and mini sausages. 😀25459407278_bc918524fc_zThe whole time I was absolutely freezing, but the views from Lake Fox were incredible! Many thanks to Sang Jun Yoon, who brought his tripod to make some incredible captures of the night sky! 😍25478993888_b140b739d1_zThe Northern Lights Kp, or strength of geomagnetic storms, was much higher tonight, and we could see rays of green and purple in the sky.38469619235_ae35fb6f31_z
38469503855_f4d914579a_zThe next day we went to a reindeer farm, to meet the traditional Sami people.

Sami man and a white reindeer (the traditional Sami clothes are brightly colored, and are sewn together with reindeer tendons, and the shoes are made from the hide of two reindeer)
The Sami are an indigenous group, native to northern Scandinavia. They make their livelihood from herding reindeer, and have a distinct language, dress, and cultural traditions.
Sami woman explaining how they utilize every part of the reindeer
Before we visited, our guide gave us one rule to follow: don’t ask the Sami people how many reindeer they have.
Victor, our guide, with the Sami people
Imagine if you make a living off reindeer, asking someone how many they have is like asking a person how many dollars they have in their bank account.
38639211514_496e5456be_zAnyway, the Saami culture has prevailed for thousands of years, and fortunately, compared to other indigenous groups around the world, preservation of their traditions is supported by the local Finnish government. They are able to study the Sami language in primary school, meaning the language will not become lost.
Fun fact: the Sami language has over 100 words for snow, and closely resembles a mix between Finish and Russian. Hello is bures, and thank you is giitu.
wonderful winter landscape at the reindeer farm

Fun fact: the Saami traveled to Alaska in the 19th century to teach the Inuit how to herd reindeer. Their presence sledding with reindeer in local American parades thereafter gave Coca Cola and Disney the inspiration they needed to make reindeer the ones pulling Santa’s sleigh! 🎅🏻

38639223724_f92893d851_zAlong with preserving their language, the Sami are also the only people allowed by the government to herd reindeer in most of Scandinavia, meaning they can continue sustaining themselves in this fashion. That being said, modern Sami can choose any profession, and some become doctors, lawyers or teachers instead.38639211804_d0ac298d98_zAnyway, while visiting the Sami village, our group was able to feed some of the reindeer, and ride on a traditional sleigh covered in reindeer hide.

My face says, “Don’t nibble my fingers, please!” 🤣
riding with my friend from Turkey

We also learned how to lasso a reindeer, with a fake, wooden one, of course! Hah!

38639223504_a7226988e9_zAfterwards, we sat in a traditional circular tent, called a Kota, where we enjoyed tea by the fire, served in wooden reindeer mugs.38639224224_4dd3d39e30_z

tea and biscuits in the Kota

We also received a somewhat cheesy, but cute reindeer driver’s license for riding the sleigh.38469339135_5f984fbae2_zLastly, we popped in their quaint shop, to purchase local handicrafts. 38639234444_edb16d4b07_zMany people on the tour bought handcrafted knives made with reindeer antlers, but I couldn’t imagine how I would get that home, so I opted for a few other souvenirs instead.

reindeer jerky and souvenirs made with reindeer antlers

On the way back to Vasatokka, our Russian guide, Victor, told us about a prank he played once on a former tour group. He told us that during his first year as a guide, he bought some chocolate reindeer poop candy at the souvenir shop, then threw it in the snow near the hostel. 💩 🍫When he walked by the poop with his tour group, he said, “Look! Reindeer poop! It is good luck to eat this!” Then he picked up the candy poo, and began to nibble away, in everyone’s disgust. Hah! He also never revealed the joke, and when the reviews came out later, the visitors wrote, “Our guide Victor was so crazy! He ate reindeer poop and tried to get us to eat it too!” Hah! 🤣🤣

27571147949_7459a3472aAnyway, our last stop of the day was the Siida Sami Museum, where we looked at some traditional Sami artwork and learned more about modern-day Sami life.

Sami don’t just get around on reindeer and sleighs anymore! Let’s ride!
Anyway, the Sami also have their own music, and I thought I’d end this blog by sharing a beautiful Sami song by the artist, Sofia Jannok.  I hope you enjoyed this bit of Finish Lapland. Stay tuned for the final post on this winter wonderland tour! 😀

3 thoughts on “Travel in Finland: Learn to Snowshoe and Visit the Sami People

    1. The reindeer ride and Sami visit was part of the tour with Time Travels. As part of the tour, we stayed at the youth hostel in Vasatokka. I have additional posts about this tour as well. Let me know if you have any other questions. Xx


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