When you think of Lapland, it’s hard not to think of reindeer, right? Visit reindeer farm Wolverine Fell near Levi, Finland and make a reindeer sleigh ride through the snowy forest! It’s the ultimate Winter Wonderland experience.
The car ride from Levi center to the farm is short yet wonderful. It feels like driving through a postcard. So much snow everywhere! Upon arrival at the farm, two white reindeer stare at us. I get really excited. These animals look so beautiful, that it feels almost surreal. Wow!
The Wolverine Fell farm (Finnish: Kätkätunturin Erä ja Luonto) is owned by Kari Siirtola, a professional reindeer herder “who only speaks Finnish and reindeer language”, thus his wife Petra. She is originally from Czech Republic and manages the visitors and farm like only a strong woman can.
The farm is named after the two lakes nearby: Kätkäjärvi (Wolverine Lake) and Hukkajärvi (Wolf Lake). At this farm male reindeer live. Kari owns another farm in the area where the female reindeer live with their calves.
The Sami people (Laplanders) have depended on reindeer herding and fishing for centuries. Running a reindeer farm is really hard work, 7-days a week. Only respect for the owners! They obviously are passionate about these animals.
Visitors come mostly during snow season (Nov-Apr), followed by the birth of new reindeer calves (May-Jun). The reindeer are semi-wild as they are living wild and free half of the year (May-Oct). Once the snow starts to fall, the reindeer are happy to live at the farm, where they get fed a couple times a day.
Petra clearly instructed the group, full of sarcastic humor. She has obviously seen too many stupid people this season already haha! The group was split over seven sleighs, two persons per sleigh. Each sleigh has fur and fleece blankets for your comfort and a strong male reindeer in front. I got to sit in the first sleigh with gorgeous reindeer Tornado – hurray! Petra told me he was the first reindeer to participate in reindeer race competitions ever. How cool is that?!
Tornado galloping through the snow, pulling my sleigh. Butterflies in my stomach and a big smile on my face. What a privilege to be here.”
The reindeer do not need much guidance from the sleigh rider as they know their way. No yelling or pulling please! Only when a reindeer is too slow, you may want to use some motivating sounds. Upon arrival at the hut, we fed the reindeer. A big pile of moss (lichen) is their reward for the wonderful ride.
Feeding the reindeer after our sleigh ride through the forest. It was so cool!! These reindeer are semi-wild as they are…
The rest of the day depends on the package of your choice (see their website). For sure the program continues in and around the large wooden cabin close to the lake. We got some tea and coffee, flipped through the farm’s photo album, warmed up by the fire place and got further instructions from Petra for the next activity.
We went ice fishing on the lake. Never did that before! This time of the year the ice is at least around 80cm thick, so nothing to worry about; it’s strong enough to carry us all safely. We got a manual drill, made a hole in the ice, threw our rod into it and sat down on our folding chair.
If you catch a fish, you will get it for lunch! Apparently I am not a natural fishing talent… After a while, we tied our rod around the folding chair and left it there for an hour or so to go for a snow-shoe walk.
Petra kindly assisted getting everyone’s snow shoes tied. Snow shoes look-like small snowboards, which are tied to your shoes with straps. It’s pretty comfy. Petra guided us into the forest and explains how to walk further to the top of the hill for a nice view. In the meantime she will prepare lunch.
Wow, I have never seen such thick packs of snow in my life!”
Snow-shoe walking is quite a physical excercise, especially going uphill and ‘off track’. As a first-timer I liked the fact that the show-shoe walk in this program would not take too long, less than an hour I would say, making it fun and attainable for everyone.
We arrived back at the cabin only at 14:30h – hungry!! We get a tasty lunch with fish soup, bread and butter, hot berry juice, sweet Finnish cake, coffee and tea at the fire place. Nobody caught fish this time so no grilled fish today! We shared a table with a German couple who came all the way from Munich, Germany by car and still had to drive about 5 hours south to Oulu that night!
Once we went back to the main entrance by sleigh in the dark (daylight is short this time of the year), reindeer Tornado was obviously in the mood to go home. He galloped pretty fast. So cool! A unique experience I will not forget.
- Upon arrival, make sure you do not park after the main entrance fence. The snow is too deep! We got stuck and had to be pulled out by the farm owners with their strong snow mobile. Stupid and not recommendable!
- Take photos during the first sleigh ride from the entrance to the cabin, especially in Dec/Jan; by the time you head back it is already dark.
- Try a reindeer burger at Wolverine (different package than we had) or try some reindeer meat at one of the typical Lappish restaurants in town. Lappilainen (Finns living in Lapland) love reindeer meat and offer many different tasty disheswith it, from cold thin slices to soup, shank, steak, etc.
- Book your reindeer ride as early as possible. 2-3 months ahead is highly recommendable, especially during the Christmas/NYE holidays and for March/April. This counts in general for animal related activities in Lapland (high season).
- To check availability and booking, contact Wolverine by email.
- Our ‘Reindeer ride – ice fishing – snowshoes – salmon soup lunch’ package was €92 per person. Really a good price for 5.5 hours of entertainment including lunch! Children between 4-12 years get a 50% discount.
- Due to a lack of electricity and 4G at the farm, only cash payments are possible.
- Other activities at Wolverine Fell Wilderness and Nature include: kick sled, wilderness skills, hunting, sauna and skidoo (snow mobile).
Some reindeer facts
Did you know that…
- Reindeer lose weight during the winter and gain weight during spring/summer. Food availability and weather conditions play an important role.
- Antlers begin to grow on male reindeer in March or April and on female reindeer in May or June. As the antler grows it is covered in thick velvet. When the antler is fully grown and hardened, the velvet is shed or rubbed off. With males it is often damaged due to fighting for their position. In late winter or early spring, male reindeer lose their antlers, growing a new, larger pair in summer. Female reindeer keep their antlers until they calve.
- Fur is the primary insulation factor that allows reindeer to regulate their core body temperature in relation to their environment.