Reindeer Races

In February I had the chance to drive my own reindeer sledge, and get the proper driver’s license.

Now I went to Finland (again!) to see reindeer races. I was searching for information online on this kind of events, and I found that there is a Reindeer Race Championship, held in Finnish Lapland, every year.

Even though the Sámi people are spread between Norway, Sweden, Finland and Russia, different laws apply. Unlike Sweden and Norway, in Finland you don’t have to be a Sámi to own a reindeer (just because of that, I might move there!). So, this kind of events, is much more popular in Finland. Thus, they are intended for Finnish people, and all the information available (which is not much) comes in Finnish! Eventually, I could understand where the race was, and I decided to meet the racers before the race!

Whoever had the opportunity of riding/driving a reindeer, knows how frisky they can be. And they are much more stubborn than horses! These two make a nice combination for funny moments 🙂

The race takes around 2 minutes, and consists on a reindeer pulling a skiier. There are several categories and several stages, but only the 24 fastest reindeers go to the final in Inari, after 5 stages. Unlike the horses/dogs races, where people invest huge sums of money, and the animals are abused, the reindeer races are seen as a cultural event, to keep up the Sámi tradition.

For photographers, this is quite a nice event to take great shots, specially if they let you stay behind the finish line, like me 🙂

Life above the Arctic Circle

One of the best things of living on this location is enjoying the outdoors, and what comes with it – the amazing wildlife!

One might think that there’s too few animal species living on these latitudes, but it’s rather the opposite. They are just hidden (or abroad) for part of the year. The same applies to flowers and berries – I’m not so sure if there is more variety here than in Southern Europe, but when Spring comes, all the flowers suddenly blossom at the same time!

Last month, I had the opportunity to visit another wildlife park, this time in the Finnish Lapland. Ranua Park has been quite popular lately, since the bear cub came out of the den. It’s not common that polar bears can breed in captivity; in fact, Venus, the mom, had two babies, but one did not make it. The fact that the young cub has already turned 4 months old is a sign of success, and this has drawn hundreds of people to visit the little one.

Besides the bears, there are reindeers, muskoxes, wolves, moose, lynx, beavers, a series of prey birds and owls, amongst many more. And excellent opportunities for good shots (with the camera!).

The same kind of park can be found in Lycksele (Sweden) or in Bardu (Norway); both of them are worth a visit.