Is there a better way to celebrate Christmas eve and to get into the festive spirit than going to see Rudolph and his friends.
Well, they’re technically Rudolphs’ cousins, but the kids weren’t to know!
For a £16 family ticket, we got entrance to the paddocks in which 2 reindeer were lazing in the winter sun. If you arrive at 11 am there are guided walks up into the highlands, where the reindeer wander freely. A herder takes a group of willing observers to watch the local residents in their natural habitats and feed them the food of the land.
Reindeer were introduced into the Cairngorms, and the UK, in 1952. Mikel Utsi brought them from his Swedish stock and familiarized them with the highlands in the Cairngorms. The conditions were perfect, the food grew in abundance, so the reindeer could live happily and breed as they wished.
The Scottish reindeer are all named individually and are very good natured with their handlers. We got to hand feed them some lichen, and marvel at their wonderful head accessories.
The kids took part in a little Christmas activity sheet in which they had to find some gnomes hidden around the sanctuary and complete a few other puzzles. In exchange for the answers, they received a lovely wooden Christmas decoration that they shall treasure for next years tree.
Along with listening to the herders informative lesson on reindeer, we walked around a mini museum full of facts about the reindeer family and their habits. Very informative, I must say. I didn’t realise that they shed their antlers every year, so we all learnt lots from the experience.
Including not feeding Rudolph carrots!
We ended the day with a lovely sandwich in the (very) busy cafe. Christmas Eve was a very popular time to turn up, but I’m pleased to say I don’t think that marred our visit.
If you ever get the chance, please visit this wonderful location and it’s friendly inhabitants. They love the attention, and the contributions help keep the species in the U.K.
Directions: from Aviemore, turn left at the La Taverna pub (on the roundabout) and head towards Glenmore. Follow the road straight, past Loch Morlich on your right, and keep going until you see the sanctuary. Park on the road for free. Please Note; Satnavs will take you to the wrong place. Go to Aviemore and follow the directions from there.
To read about our Christmas in the Cairngorms, please click here.