Join our Sami reindeer herding family in Northern Norway




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 Min stay requested: at least 1 month

  • Description



    Unfortunately, because we receive so many applications, if you don't send an application according to our instructions below, we can't accept it. Thanks for understanding ☺️

    IMPORTANT: Because of the CORONA VIRUS and travel restrictions we can only take volunteers who are already in Norway!

    ALWAYS LOOKING for someone with CARPENTRY SKILLS, there‘s lots of building to do :-)


    Hello! Thank you for your interest in our profile! We are a family of Sami reindeer herders living in Tana, Northern Norway.

    Our family consists of:
    Myself (Ellen, the mom)
    Jon Andreas (dad)
    2 kids (4 and 10 years old)
    2 Dogs
    Thousands of Wild Reindeer in 2 different districts ☺️

    We live in a naturally beautiful area, with many outdoor activities available all throughout the year. Between our two districts we have over 10,000 reindeer. We have to follow the reindeer around to work with them, so we move around a lot in the area of Finnmark. Be prepared for long distances and staying in many different places.
    Because our work is with wild animals, our work depends on what the herd is doing over a vast amount of dramatic landscape, which changes at different times of the year or different times of the day. As the wind does. We cannot guarantee your full stay will be helping directly with the reindeer, because it is not up to us ;) Our schedule for the year follows the seasons, the weather and the reindeer and it's always a little bit different. We can guarantee that your stay will be full of constantly changing plans! Being a flexible volunteer is a must.

    If you are planning your trip to north of the Arctic Circle, please be smart about the outdoor gear that you bring. We have some back up of certain sizes but you should guarantee your warmth with wool layers, A HAT to protect your head from the warble fly, rain gear, footwear that will survive getting run over by wild animals and outer wear that won't get shredded.

    For more information about our life with the reindeer and the weather and our work, please have a look below in our general schedule for the year!

    We usually have one or two volunteer cars around, so you can go to some places around here on your free days. We will always supply you with food. It's a lot of physical work around here so it's important that you eat well.

    Please note, our family works like a team, so in all of these tasks you will almost always be with someone ☺️

    Thank you so much!

    We hope to hear from you soon,

    Ellen, the family, and all the reindeer ☺️


    • Minimum age of 25
    • You did at least one Workaway stay before
    • One month stay unless otherwise discussed
    • Driver’s License
    • You like children
    • Fun and outgoing attitude
    • Sense of humor a BIG plus ☺️
    • In good physical shape
    • Great communication skills
    • Hardworking, responsible, and flexible with work
    • Ability to eat reindeer meat (most of our meals)
    • You MUST be a self-starter. If there’s not something going on, it’s really nice to have someone that just starts cleaning or doing small tasks to help out. No one will ever be upset coming home to a clean house! Keeping the kitchen clean is always an easy goto if you are wanting to do something in the moment.
    • Good memory to help Ellen remember things that need to be done!

    Please send us a message with the following information:
    • THAT YOU READ OUR ENTIRE PROFILE AND MEET OUR MINIMUM QUALIFICATIONS. Please include this first. We get so many messages on a daily basis that aren’t personalized, so unfortunately if you don’t include this, we can’t accept your application.
    • A few sentences about yourself and where you’re coming from
    • Why you want to volunteer with us
    • How long you intend to stay (usually we accept people staying for one month, the wen can see how it's going and if you wan to stay maybe a few weeks longer) and dates
    • Previous Workaways and past work experiences
    • Language Skills
    • Allergies or dietary restrictions
    • If you are available for a video chat interview (messenger/whatsapp) before being accepted
    • Anything else you want us to know!

  • Types of help and learning opportunities

    Types of help and learning opportunities

    Language practice
    DIY and building projects
    Animal Care
    Babysitting and creative play
    Creating/ Cooking family meals
    Help around the house
    General Maintenance

  • Projects involving children

    Projects involving children

    This project could involve children. For more information see our guidelines and tips here.

  • UN sustainablity goals this host is trying to achieve

    UN sustainablity goals this host is trying to achieve

    UN goals
    No poverty
    Zero hunger
    Good health and well-being
    Quality education
    Gender equality
    Clean water and sanitation
    Affordable and clean energy
    Decent work and economic growth
    Industries, innovation and infrastructure
    Reduce inequality
    Sustainable cities and communities
    Responsible consumption and production
    Climate action
    Life below water
    Life on land
    Peace, justice and strong institutions
    Partnerships for the goals
  • Cultural exchange and learning opportunities

    Cultural exchange and learning opportunities

    You will be living with a Sami family (the Indigenous people living in northern Norway, Sweden, Finland and Russia). You will learn about Sami culture, history, and language. We hope that you will take away new knowledge of what it's like to be part of traditions that are thousands of years old. Reindeer herding is such a complex job. You always have to pay attention to the weather. Many people forget that we aren't herding domesticated animals. These are wild reindeer which can make our job very difficult at times. We love our culture and traditions and are excited to teach more people about what life is like for us ☺️

  • Help


    GENERAL HELP: All Year Long

    • Cooking and Baking
    • Cleaning and Organizing (We're always moving houses)
    • Childcare, language and conversation
    • Driving
    • Walking the dogs
    • Carpentry


    We are always happy to have someone around with previous expeirence in carpentry whether professionally or with a natural gift. Knowledge of power tools, measuring, and building is a very handy thing around here.


    So, we have developed this general schedule of the year to show you what our usual year entails and what a volunteer’s work will look like. The monthly list shows the big things, but keep in mind: PLANS ALWAYS CHANGE UP HERE!!!


    In January we have complete darkness. We will be working outside with the reindeer in a fenced area separating the herds. The days will be long and it can reach -35 degrees Celcius. We physically handle the reindeer, so the work is very physically demanding. Because of the time of year, this work can be very difficult. We never know when exactly the reindeer will come into the fence, that depends on the herds and on the weather.
    We sometimes drive snowmobiles out to check on the reindeer herds in the mountains. It's really nice to be in the mountain. It will be a great time of year to see the northern lights and if you want to experience the arctic winter, this is the month :-)

    We like to have a couple staying with us in January!


    There is no physical reindeer work in these months. But you might get to go up to the mountain to feed the reindeer, because it's very hard for them to find enough food through winter.
    We don't necessarily need a volunteer for these months, but if you are an easy going person (maybe even with some carpentry or mechanic skills) you are very welcome!


    April is the best month to be in the mountains! There is still a lot of snow an the sun is back!
    This is a fantastic time of year for ice fishing, skiing, and snowmobiling! We spend a lot of time in the mountain overnight as a holiday. At the end of April, the reindeer start to give birth to calves! Also the reindeer start moving from the winter area to the summer area. This might last until May.
    April is a very good month for doing capentry work in the cabins we have in the mountains. Knowledge of power tools, measuring, and building is very helpful.

    It would be great to have a couple for this month!


    No reindeer work in these moths they are all happy, safe and sound up in the mountains by themselves :) But in July we have to start repairing reindeer fences up in the mountains for the calfmarking season. And you still get to live with a reindeer herding family and lots of reindeer stuff around! And there is always some carpentry work that needs to be done! These months are perfect for hiking in the mountains (as soon as the snow melted). We have the midnight sun around this time of the year, so there is no darkness at all!
    Beware as soon as its getting warm (June, July) there will be many, many mosquitos! Th last snow of the season might stay until the beginning of June though.


    August is THE month for earmarking the calves! Earmarking reindeer is is a lot of fun, but the days are long and are physically demanding because we are physically handling wild reindeer. You will definitely feel the work every day after, and maybe get some more muscles! The earmarking period is usually about three weeks long in each district.
    Earmarking means, the herders will gather a large flock of reindeer, who then go into a smaller fence, where we catch them and sort them. Some reindeer will be slaughtered, most of them go back into the wild. The work takes place up in the mountains, so civilisation is quite far away. Depending on the district we are working in, there might not even be electricity - so no comfort at all, but a lot of wild nature!
    Also: August is a great time of year to pick arctic cloud berries, which are DELICIOUS! We pick lots of them and make jam for the year. Beware, August still has a lot of mosquitos!


    Some of the reindeerwork from August might last until September. It's starting to get colder and the midnight sun has ended, darkness is coming back slowly and you will be able to see the northern lights. We will be in both districts, Ellens and Jon Andreas', depending on the weather, the movement of the reindeer and the work that needs to be done.
    In October it's time to prepare for winter again. We might have to repair more reindeer fences before the snow is coming.


    We need help preparing our snowmobiles and ATVs for winter. To do this, we need people comfortable with hauling a trailer. Also, mechanics and aspiring mechanics are very welcome at this time to help Jon Andreas with the snowmobiles and ATVs.
    We will be going to the reindeer fence again to separate the reindeer herds. and move them from the summer to the winter areas. The days are long and cold, down to -25 degrees Celcius. We are usually at the fence for about two weeks.


    Please note that whenever there is reindeer work, we will also be slaughtering some reindeer. You will NOT be asked to kill any reindeer, but you will see them die via a knife to the base of the skull (which paralyzes them) and then a cut to the throat to drain the blood. We will then skin and butcher the reindeer, and may ask for some help with this. After taking the meat back home, we will need to cut it down into smaller chunks that we can easily pull out of the freezer to eat. You will be expected to help cut down the meat. We want to give people a heads up on this so you know what you’re getting into!

    From NOVEMBER until FEBRUARY we have almost complete darkness. This is really, really hard for body and mind. So please consider this if you want to come in these months. To make it a little bit easier: BRING THE HIGHEST VITAMIN D SUPPLEMENTS YOU CAN FIND and start taking them some weeks before you come here.

  • Languages

    Languages spoken
    English: Fluent
    Norwegian: Fluent
    Sami: Fluent

    This host offers a language exchange
    This host has indicated that they are interested in sharing their own language or learning a new language.
    You can contact them directly for more information.

  • Accommodation


    We are Sami and reindeer herders, so we follow the reindeer around. And also we travel between different districts. So we have different houses and cabins. Depending on what time of the year you come and where we live then, you will either stay in one of our small mountain cabins, a tent or the main house. In the months when we are not in the mountains but in our main house, you will be likely to have your own room. During August and September, when we are up in the mountains, you will probably have to share a room because we live in very small cabins then or even sleep in a tent.

    We move houses quite a lot, so be prepared for that :)

  • What else ...

    What else ...

    We live near the sea, and there are many opportunities for hiking and exploring the mountains in the area. It’s possible to see wild moose, reindeer, and arctic fox. In the winter, you can also see the northern lights quite often. During winter we get a lot of snow and are always using our snowmobiles. Throughout the year we visit many cabins, which is a great opportunity to get closer to nature. There’s also a small Sami museum nearby in Varangerbotn, which is very informative. There are also some museums on Vardø island, which you can reach by a beautiful drive along the fjord.
    We also have a car for volunteers to drive, and you can borrow that on your two days off per week if you'd like to go somewhere.

    Our main house is in a small rural village close to Tana (20 km) in Jon Andreas reindeer district. The other bigger cities nearby are Vadsø (80 km) and Kirkenes (150) km. These places have amenities like cinemas, pubs, shopping centres etc.
    The nearest airports are also Kirkenes (2 hours drive) and Vadsø (60 minutes drive), although it is probably cheaper and more convenient to fly to Kirkenes. There are busses at least twice a day, that usually match the flights (for bus timetables check Snelandia).

    When we are staying in Ellen's district, the closest airports are in Alta or Tromsø. The winter place for Ellen's reindeer is close to Kautokeino, that's the Sami centrum in the north. The summer place is between Tromsø and Alta at the coast.

  • A little more information

    A little more information

    • Internet access

    • Limited internet access

      Limited internet access

    • We have pets

    • We are smokers

    • Can host families

  • Space for parking camper vans

    Space for parking camper vans

    This host can provide space for campervans.

  • How many Workawayers can stay?

    How many Workawayers can stay?


  • ...

    Hours expected

    5 days a week. Very Flexible.

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Communication: (4.6)

Host ref number: 828921139854