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Feed reindeer in Scotland! Learn all about this amazing adventure at the Cairngorm Reindeer Centre in the Cairngorms National Park outside Aviemore.
Cairngorm Reindeer Centre : Cairngorms National Park
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Feed free range reindeer in the Scottish Highlands.
I know, I know. It sounds so bizarre. We went all the way to Norway, where we didn’t see any wild reindeer like we expected, but when we went to the Cairngorms in Scotland, we had the most fantastic experience ever! We initially added a few days in Scotland because we were looking for a flight to get us from Norway to England and Scandinavian Airlines was offering the cheapest flight from Bergen to Aberdeen.
We started off in Aberdeen which is a fun city in itself. We wanted to head to the Highlands across the road that takes you to Balmoral, but we got lost and ended up on another route. We ended up staying in Aviemore which is has a vacation resort town vibe to it. The furthest north we made it was to Inverness. I wish we would have had more time because I think a Scottish Highlands clearances tour would have filled my genealogy obssessed heart.
The Highlands were such a spur of the moment decision so I'm so glad the airline tickets worked in our favor. I was a bit obsessed with the Outlander book series at the time, so it was beyond amazing. That scenery in Outlander on Starz that you fawn over - totally true to life.
When I was first looking at things to do in Scotland, I really didn’t have any thing on my “must” list. I casually texted my sister after reading a tiny blurb about the Cairngorm Reindeer Centre, and she said, “Yep. That one. Let’s do that”. So on the list it went. It turned out to be one of our favorite activities for our 3 week European adventure. It crossed so many things off our list.
OUR SCOTTISH EXPERIENCE MUST HAVE LIST:
- getting to spend time outdoors
- “mucking” through the Scottish moors
- Interacting with locals
- Experiencing wildlife
- Once in a lifetime oppurtunity
- fantastic photos
- laughter and memories for a lifetime
The herd located in on the Cairngorm mountain is free range and the tour is run by the Cairngorm Reindeer Centre. For our visit, we sort of followed the tour guides to where they thought they’d be hanging out. It added into our sense of adventure!
And then suddenly, these creatures joined us.
These two are onto what’s in the bag.
Our tour guides were patient with us and the reindeer! The reindeer are a little piggy and wanted to eat. Who can blame them?
The reindeer will eat right out of your hands!
They were not phased by visitors taking photos, and some seemed to strike some poses.
We stayed in Aviemore, so we just drove a short jaunt up the mountain to the Cairngorm Reindeer Centre. I had followed them on Facebook, so I sort of knew the basic idea of the tour. The actual center is quaint, with an incredibly friendly staff. We paid for our excursion, and paid a bit more to rent wellies - which is a brilliant idea! A must have for sure! Everyone followed the main truck up the mountain to the main parking lot. Our tour guides gave us a quick briefing in the parking lot, and had hiking poles for everyone to use. Everyone hiked across the fields together, but we were free to leave when ever.
We were there in March, and the ground was muddy in spots. It actually added into the fun, especially with the rain boots. Who cares when you have those on! There were people of all ages in our group. There were a few small children, and some seniors. They all did just fine. We hiked for a bit, and after cresting one hill - there they all were. As soon as they saw our tour guides with their reindeer feed bags, they were keen to join us. The staff had prepped us with lots of reindeer facts, and set our minds at ease about things to do, and things not to do. They are of course, wild creatures, but they are very tame and friendly. They keep the girls separated from the boys, so these are the lovely ladies.
We had to get on the road a bit early, so we were one of the first ones who headed back. We had the biggest laugh after we discovered wellies can get stuck in mud. My sweet aunt suddenly was caught in the mud. And I mean stuck. My sister went over to assist her and we all could not stop laughing. It was hysterical watching my sister try to pull my aunts stuck foot out of the mud! That was the hardest we laughed on our 3 week trip.
We washed our wellies off on a little creek that was towards the end of the trail, so we didn't get the rental car messy.
We stopped back in at the Reindeer Centre and turned in our boots. We had a bit of birdwatching with one of the staff, and then popped over to the shop next door and had a wonderful lunch along with some fantastic millionaire’s shortbread.
I still remember the first time I saw a reindeer at the Port Defiance Zoo in Tacoma, Washington. I thought they were breathtaking. We also saw some at the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center a few summers ago. Those were also in the paddocks, and so nothing could prepare me for how thrilling it was to have a real life encounter with these majestic creatures. It was a memory I won’t forget. I’m so glad we did this excursion and from now on I think we will try to add more animal encounters into the mix!
I hope you enjoyed my trip down memory lane today. Christmas has reindeer on my brain!
Have a lovely weekend,
Mrs Major Hoff