Cairngorm Reindeer in Scotland


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Oh, the magical land of Scotland, where nature embraces history and legends, all interwoven into a rich tapestry of wonders. Amongst these wonders are the Cairngorm Reindeer, a beautiful addition to the Scottish landscape. Have you ever wondered about these majestic creatures grazing peacefully amidst the picturesque setting of the Cairngorms? Let us delve deep and explore the magical world of Cairngorm Reindeer in Scotland.

The Cairngorms National Park

Imagine stepping into a land where nature greets you with open arms. A place with an array of flora and fauna that can take your breath away at any given moment. This is the Cairngorms National Park, a haven for many wildlife species, including the enchanting Cairngorm Reindeer. Nestled amidst this paradise, these reindeer have carved a space for themselves, a sanctuary where they roam free and thrive.

Geography and Climate

The Cairngorms, an area marked by its dramatic mountainous terrain and lush forests, offer a picturesque habitat for the reindeer. It’s a place where the climate can be a bit challenging, but these animals have adapted splendidly.

Flora and Fauna

As you wander through the park, you’ll notice the vibrant biodiversity. From the smallest flower blooming in spring to the grandeur of the stags that call this place home, it’s a living canvas that keeps changing, unveiling new beauties with each season.

History of Cairngorm Reindeer

Stepping back in time, we find the fascinating history of these reindeer making their home in Scotland. It’s a story of reintroduction, survival, and flourishing in a landscape that seems tailor-made for them.

Initial Reindeer Introduction in Scotland

Rewind to the 1950s; it was during this time that the reindeer were reintroduced into Scotland. A visionary named Mikel Utsi had a dream, a dream to see these magnificent creatures roaming the highlands once again.

Mikel Utsi was a Swedish man who brought 7 of his own reindeer from Sweden and they were introduced into the Scottish Cairngorms due to its arctic climate.

Evolution through the years

From a small herd, the Cairngorm Reindeer have grown both in number and in the hearts of the people. Over the decades, they have become a living testament to successful wildlife conservation and management.

The herd are permitted to graze freely on over 10,000 acres upon the mountainsides with no tracking at all. They only return to the main centre for mating once a year and they choose to do this themselves due to their mating instinct.


Our own experience with the Cairngorms Reindeer

During our road trip through Scotland in our motorhome, we had the chance to visit the reindeer centre that’s situated at the Glenmore Visitor Centre near Aviemore.

Want to know exactly where it is or get more details? Just visit their website – The Cairngorm Reindeer Herd

In a spur of the moment decision in June, we decided to visit without pre-booking. Luckily, the tour group was quite small with just six other people, allowing for an intimate and informative experience where we could as our knowledgeable guides lots of questions.

Here’s how it goes: after buying your tickets at the reindeer centre, you meet up at the Sugarbowl car park, which is just a short 2-mile journey from the main centre. This is the starting point for the guided tour, usually led by a couple of friendly guides who know all there is to know about the area.

The walk to the reindeers’ spot is generally a quick 10-15 minute one, but sometimes you might need to walk a bit further if they’ve wandered off to another hillside. It’s good to note that these reindeers are totally free-roaming, so sometimes they might be in unexpected places, and visits might not always be possible.

Before starting the walk, the guides give a heads-up that touching the reindeers is a no-no, simply because the animals aren’t fans of it. We really appreciated this, it clearly showed that the centre takes good care of the reindeers, respecting their natural behaviours.

A big highlight was the feeding time! The guides brought along some food, and we got to feed the reindeers by hand. Turns out, there’s no risk of being bitten since all their teeth are at the back of their mouths. These reindeers are pretty chill with people, mainly because they’ve gotten used to visitors bringing them food over the years.

After that, we had time to walk around, take photos, and just watch the herd. The guides were really into sharing loads of information and were happy to answer all the questions we had. You could tell they were super passionate about the reindeers and loved their jobs.

Every year, the newly born reindeers are named following a specific theme. The year we visited, the theme was different kinds of hats, hence we met reindeers named Bowler, Trilby, and Beanie!

All in all, visiting the Cairngorm Reindeers was a brilliant day out for us, and we’d totally recommend making a trip here if you’re in the area with your family.


What is the natural habitat of reindeers?

Reindeers, also known as caribou in North America, are native to Arctic, Subarctic, tundra, boreal, and mountainous regions of northern Europe, Siberia, and North America.

What do reindeers eat?

Reindeers primarily feed on a variety of vegetation including grasses, sedges, lichens, and young shoots of shrubs and trees. During winter, their diet mainly consists of lichens, which are rich in carbohydrates.

Do reindeers migrate?

Yes, reindeers are known for their extensive migratory patterns. They travel hundreds of miles in search of food, moving from their winter grazing grounds to summer habitats and vice versa. This migration helps them find adequate food and escape predators.

How long do reindeers live?

In the wild, reindeers have a lifespan of about 12-15 years. However, their life expectancy can be influenced by factors like environmental conditions, predation, and availability of food.

How do reindeers adapt to cold environments?

Reindeers have several adaptations to survive in cold climates. They have thick fur that provides insulation, and their hooves expand in winter to provide better grip on ice and snow. Moreover, they have a unique circulatory system that helps maintain their body temperature in extreme cold.

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