The highlight of any Northern Light trips is undoubtedly the incredible spectacle of the lights themselves; but there is so much more to the wide range of Northern Lights trips on offer. One of the huge draws of a trip like this is the chance to meet local people and immerse yourself in a culture far removed from our own. Their world is a fascinating place, full of surprises, bursting with beauty and just waiting to be explored.
The Sami People of the Arctic
The Sami people are the indigenous people of Lapland and their culture has been linked to nature and the environment they live in for thousands of years. Sometimes referred to as the Reindeer People, the Sami’s culture is still very much focused on herding reindeer. The Sami hold these beasts in high esteem and regard them with great respect, as the reindeer are key to the survival of these people who use them for fur, meat and transportation. Reindeer are crucial to the survival of the Sami culture, although in today’s more tourist-oriented world some of the Sami are rather more enterprising. They are now often seen in hotels and lodges selling local souvenirs, such as colourful costumes, handicrafts, shoes, hats and reindeer skins.
Meeting the Sami
Taking one of the many wonderful Northern Lights trips could offer you the opportunity to meet the local Sami people, who often get involved in tourism as guides and hosts in their home villages. The Sami capital, Kiruna, is a fascinating city to visit on Northern Lights trips and here you will experience a thriving Sami culture. Moving on from the capital, a diversion to Ravttas, the little Sami village close by, is often offered by tour companies. This village is a fascinating introduction to Sami life in its truest form. The people offer a warm welcome and you’ll get a glimpse into the arduous existence they must endure to survive. You can even have a go at harnessing a reindeer yourself and exploring the forest on an adventure like no other.
You may stop for lunch in Ravttas, which can include a taste of smoked reindeer, known as suovas, and the local bread, known as gahkku. The meal is enjoyed around an open fire in a Sami teepee, and you will be regaled with stories of Sami life and legends.
The Sami have had a turbulent history and were once an oppressed people. But despite their constant fight for survival, the strength of the people stood them in good stead and today they have their own Independence Day, flag and parliament. It is a fascinating encounter, and one that is not easily forgotten.