Reindeer in Dalarna is something that a lot of people want to experience. But did you know that’s possible to get up close and personal with these beautiful animals? There is a lot of reindeer in Dalarna but it’s one thing to see them from far and another thing to be able to cuddle them. We got to do all of the above and we loved every minute of it. Join us as we visit Renbiten and meet these magnificent animals.
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Reindeer in Dalarna
Did you know that there aren’t any wild reindeer in Sweden? By wild, I mean free – like a moose or a deer. In fact, all the reindeer in Sweden have owners. However, most of them roam the grounds as free animals. At Renbiten in Dalarna, they keep their population at about 2 700 reindeer. Some of them are rescues from other places. They aren’t able to be out in the “wild” so they live in an enclosure.
For the last eight years, Renbiten has offered encounters with reindeer. And it seems like it’s a popular attraction at Grövelsjön. Not everything here is about hiking – no you can cuddle with these cute animals too. Mini and I joined them for feeding and for a walk and we loved both things!
Renbiten allows encounters with reindeer
At Renbiten, they offer different experiences during both summer, autumn and, winter. They have several different excursions where you do hikes and learn more about reindeer. In winter, they offer walks with snowshoes – how awesome is that?! They have lectures where you learn more about the handling of reindeer now compared to the old days.
Renbiten has a nice mixture of different experiences where you get to meet reindeer. We joined them for both feeding and for a walk later that same day. The name is a homonym and means “bitten by a reindeer” or “reindeer bite”. A great name for a great company if you ask us. The reindeer that you encounter are mostly rescues or animals, that for some reason, can’t be out grazing with the rest of the flock.
Join a feeding
It’s almost 10 o’clock and we,
read Annika, is super excited. Thomas Andersson meets us and collects the group. He will be our guide during this experience. We get a little bit of information and then we head for the fence and the reindeer. We start walking and you can feel the excitement in the air. After several minutes, we see the first reindeer and the one that might be the cutest.
It’s Njejta – a baby reindeer that has been rescued a couple of days ago. Her name means girl for Sami people. She’s not shy and comes up to all of us. The excitement keeps rising and we are eager to get to meet the whole flock. We learn more about the reindeer we are about to meet. Lovis is the first adult reindeer we see. She came to Renbiten eight years ago and was raised with a bottle. Her mother got killed by a wolf. It was clear pretty quickly that she wouldn’t be able to connect with the rest of the flock so she stayed among people.
Feeding reindeer is awesome
Our group enters the enclosure and we get buckets. Inside the buckets, there are pellets = food for the reindeer. It doesn’t take long before several reindeer come up to us and start eating the treats. It’s so impressive to see how well they can control their antlers. There’s one that has huge antlers and he’s in total control of them. Not once does he touch me with them while eating = incredible!
Apparently, their antlers are super sensitive and filled with blood when they are growing. In fact, you can see a “pinkish” color when you are this close to them. And they are shedding their fur. It comes off in huge sections at a time when you pet them. It’s not hard to understand that the feeding of reindeer is the most popular activity to do at Renbiten. It’s peaceful and just plain nice. The reindeer aren’t starved in any way so they eat nice and quietly and are not bothered by our presence. The feeding costs 140 kronor (about 14 euros) per person and each family gets one bucket of food.
Hiking with reindeer in Dalarna
In the afternoon, we are back. It’s time to take a walk with these incredible animals. We end up bringing two adult reindeer on a leash. Baby Njejta also joins us and so does another one that walks freely. At first, I’m disappointed. I thought that we would all have one reindeer each. When we went to Alpaca trekking, we all had one animal each. That’s not the case here. So, I’m moping and Mini is laughing at me. Turns out – there’s no need to have a reindeer each during the hike.
We all take turns in holding the leash. And truth be told – it’s even better to just walk close to them and don’t worry about the leash. It’s relaxing and fun and really soothing. The reindeer that’s tagging along is behaving like a dog. He runs around, not realizing that he is pretty big. But still, he has total control of his antlers. Halfway, we stop and have some coffee and snacks.
Cuddling with reindeer in Dalarna
When we stop for coffee and a typical “Swedish fika”, there’s time to get close and cuddle the reindeer. At times, Njejta is up in my lap. We are all taking pictures and learning more about the animals while sipping coffee. Some of the reindeer walk around and graze. Some of them lie down next to us. This is by far the best part of the hike.
We are born in southern Sweden – we don’t have reindeer there. Maybe, that makes it even more special to us. It’s like the Germans, coming to Sweden to see moose. That’s not that special to us since we are used to it. But getting close and personal with reindeer is truly special. And we learn so much fun information too. This is not a lecture, this is talking about the animals and about the reindeer handlers.
Tasting reindeer – yes that too
This might seem a bit controversial and “wrong” to write about. At the same time, it’s easy to forget that reindeer is food too. And we got to try out some reindeer meat during our coffee break. We got to try smoked reindeer heart, smoked meat, beer- sausage, and sandwich sausage. And they were all good! Mini and I eat a lot of vegetarian and vegan food but we are always open to trying new things.
All the reindeer meat was really good. I believe that you can buy products in their store too and cook it in your own home. And for all you people thinking that eating the heart of a reindeer is nasty – let us tell you that it’s not. It tasted really good and was made to perfection!
Other things reindeer at Renbiten
There’s so much to do and to explore while visiting Renbiten. They have a really nice gift shop where you can buy souvenirs and meat from the reindeer. They also offer dinner that they call “Taste of Sampi”. It’s a four meal coarse that you eat in a sampi tent. The meal is supposed to be something really special and when looking at pictures on their website, we believe them.
If you want, you can also spend the night in a sampi tent for about 100 euros per tent. No matter when you arrive at Renbiten, there’s always something to do and to explore here. We had an amazing time and all the people working here are super friendly. It was a great adventure to get to cuddle with all the nice reindeer and we recommend this to everyone that’s in Grövelsjön.
Information about Renbiten
Address: Grövelsjövägen 360, Grövelsjön, Dalarna, Sweden.
Experiences: There are several different excursions during the year. Check their website and make reservations.
Website of Renbiten in English.
Disclaimer: Our visit to Renbiten was part of a press trip that was arranged by Visit Dalarna. All the thoughts and opinions are our own!