When we decided to spend one week in Kiruna (Swedish Lapland) last xmas, we knew it was situated in the Arctic circle and that the daylight at that time of the year was very limited. We didn’t mind, because we were really interested by seeing the Northern Lights more than anything else, but we were wondering about the amount of activities we will be able to do over there.
Beside going at nights hunting the auroras, we managed to do a lot of other activities : some of them were totally free (like visiting the town, the church, or almost free, like visiting the mine or the drink at the ice bar) and others were organized tours, but the value for the money was very good !
We booked several excursions to entertain ourselves, including the famous dog-sledding tour I told you about in a previous post, a snowmobile tour but we also did a Moose Safari with Kiruna Guidetours.
We left in early morning, took a mini bus with two chatty Australians, and headed towards Nikkaluokta through the Kebnekaise Valley. We watched a wonderful sunrise, it was very colourful.
We stopped several times along the way to spot moose and reindeer in their natural habitat and we learnt a lot about these animals. We spotted moose and reindeer, but I didn’t manage to take any pictures, it was too dark and we weren’t close enough. Seeingthrough35mm managed to take some pictures of the moose, and I’m sharing them with you in this post.
Male and female reindeer have antlers and shed them at different time of the year based on their sex and age. Old males’ antlers fall off in December, young males’ fall off in the early spring and females’ fall off in the summer. Therefore, our guide explained to us that Rudolf (always pictured with father Christmas) was probably a female and we had a good laugh about that ! :D
We also learned that it was forbidden to hunt reindeer in Swedish Lapland as they are not wild, but farmed animals that belong to the Sámi people. They are mainly raised for their meat but only ten per cent of the Swedish Sámi community earn a living from the reindeer industry, and many combine this business with tourism.. by proposing for example reindeer-sledding tour, but it is very expensive ! I’m sure it’s a unique experience though..
I was also very surprised to learn that the right to farm reindeer requires that the person is a Sámi or that their parents or their grandparents have or had reindeer herding as their primary occupation.
At the opposite, the moose are wild animals that can be hunted. Their hunting is pretty awful according to me. They used a special breed of dogs that will find the moose but not attacking it. The moose will wait for the attack, because it’s a behavioural adaptation. They wait for the attack, to be able to kick the aggressor with their legs and save their life, they won’t run. So they stay there like this, sometimes for hours. Then the hunters come and shoot the moose, without any fight, because the moose is not moving.
In Nikkaluokta, the temperature was very cold, almost close to -30°C, and the guide decided not to set up a fire there for our lunch. Instead we drove back towards Kiruna and set up the camp near a river ! It was a much better choice in my opinion, since we could enjoy the sunset near the river, eating a delicious salmon soup, warming up our fingers near the fire, eating a good reindeer sandwich and drinking hot blueberries juice.
This day was fabulous !