Reindeer in Scotland’s Cairngorms National Park. Image Credit: Photograph by PHoyle / iStock)
Located in Cairngorms National Park in the northernmost reaches of Scotland, the Cairngorms Mountains are home to Britain’s only free-ranging herd of reindeer.
One of the best ways to experience the herd in person is with a visit to the Cairngorms Reindeer Centre, located in the mountainside town of Aviemore.
The center dates back to 1952 when Swedish couple Mikel Utsel and his wife Dr. Ethel Lindgren brought two male and five female reindeer by boat from Sweden to the Cairngorms.
Today the herd numbers 150 and visitors can make daily, two-hour pilgrimages into the wooded foothills with a team of herders to help feed and interact with the reindeer.
The center is open to the public from mid-February through early January, and daily trips vary depending on the time of year.
Reindeer in Tromso, Norway.
Image Credit: photograph by Dmitry_Chulov / iStock)
The history between the Sami people, an indigenous group inhabiting Arctic Europe, an area that encompasses Norway, Sweden, Finland and the Russian Kola Peninsula, goes back several centuries.
Many Sami work as reindeer herders, passing down their knowledge from one generation to the next, and now some communities invite travelers to visit and learn about this tradition.
After being picked up in Tromsø, a small port city in northern Norway, guests are driven to the Tromsø Arctic Reindeer Experience where they can participate in the Sami way of life.
Visits can include reindeer feeding, reindeer sledding, experiencing a traditional Sami meal inside a gamme (a traditional Sami hut) and listening to stories about the Sami culture’s connection to reindeer, told by community elders.
Having been featured in photos, ads, and films, the island fortesss known as Eilean Donan has spent centuries solidifying its position as the most iconic image of Scotland for natives and foreigners alike.
Built on an island a mile away from the Village of Dornie, the land was first occupied in 634 AD, home to the monastic cell of Bishop Donan.
During the 13th century Alexander II built the first incarnation of Eilean Donan to defend the surrounding mountains of Kintail and the Isle of Skye against the Viking hordes.
This original castle is said to have an immense curtained wall connecting seven towers and spanning the entire island.
Come 1719, a lesser-known Jacobite uprising partially destroyed the structure, and for the following 200 years it lay in near ruins. Finally in 1911, Colonel John MacRae-Gilstrap arrived.
He bought the island and restored the castle, reopening it in 1932.