The Cairngorm Reindeer Centre is one of the most popular attractions in the Cairngorm National Park. Located just outside of Aviemore is the centre where you can purchase tickets to see the reindeer in the paddocks or tickets for the hill tour to see them out in the wild on the Cairngorm Mountains. 

In this guide we will go into more detail about the Cairngorm Reindeer Centre and share a little about our experience there as well. 

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Cairngorm Reindeer Centre - Visiting the Reindeer Tour in Aviemore

The Cairngorm Reindeer Centre is the perfect place to go in the Cairngorm National Park for a day out. An activity suitable for kids, as well as the adults, will leave you wanting to come back again and again. In this guide, we will discuss the best time to go to the Cairngorm Reindeer Centre as well as the following

  • What is the Cairngorm Reindeer Centre?
  • Where is the Cairngorm Reindeer Centre?
  • How to get to the Cairngorm Reindeer Centre?
  • Why Should I go to the Cairngorm Reindeer Centre?
  • When Should I go to the Cairngorm Reindeer Centre?
  • Preparing for your trip to Aviemore
Cairngorm reindeer

What is the Cairngorm Reindeer Centre?

The Cairngorm Reindeer tours are held in Glenmore in the Cairngorm National Park. Reindeer were re-introduced to the Cairngorm Mountains in 1952, where they were once native after a number of causes had reduced them to extinction in the UK. The Cairngorms is the only sub-arctic habitat in the UK which is why they were brought here to be where they can thrive. Today there are over 150 reindeer in the herd and they have 10,000 acres upon the mountainsides to graze upon. 

There are two options to see the reindeer, in the paddocks at the centre or on the hills on a guided hill tour. We would highly recommend, if you are able to, to go on the hill tour as you will have a much more unique experience.  

Of course, the other option could be to go hiking yourself and see the reindeer living in the wild, however you are not guaranteed to see them this way. 

A ticket for the hill trip includes entry to the paddocks. Prices are below: 

Adults – £18.50

Students/Seniors – £16

Children – £13.50

Age 3 and under are free.

Cairngorm reindeer

Where is the Cairngorm Reindeer Centre?

The Cairngorm Reindeer Centre is located just outside of the popular town of Aviemore, in Glenmore. This is where you will collect your tickets, can browse in the shop and can see the reindeer that are down in the paddock. 

If you choose to purchase tickets for the hill tour to see the reindeer, you will be required to drive up to the Sugar Bowl car park as the tour leaves from here. 

The Cairngorms National Park is the only area in the UK that is sub-arctic therefore it is the perfect condition for the reindeer. They can survive completely on their own however the reindeer centre is there to help.

The herd mainly roam on the Cairngorm Mountains with the remainder on the Glenlivet Estate, 30 miles away!

How to get to the Cairngorm Reindeer Centre?

The best and easiest way to get to the Cairngorm Reindeer Centre is to drive.

From Aviemore, follow the B970 towards the Cairngorm Ski Centre. Continue past Loch Morlich on your right and just after the campsite, you will see a sign for the Cairngorm Reindeer Centre on your left. 

It is recommended that you have your tickets pre-booked online to guarantee a space on the tour. Tickets are available to purchase 30 days before the tour. You will collect your ticket in the shop at least 20 minutes before the tour begins.

It is now a requirement that you make your own way up to the Sugar Bowl car park to leave for the hill tour. This is a 1.6 mile steep walk so make sure you leave plenty of time to arrive on time for the tour (approx. 1 hour). 

The hill tour leaves from the car park, following the guides through some uneven paths to the lower slopes of the Cairngorms where you can walk amongst the herd. This walk takes around 20 minutes.

path to the lower mountain

Why Should I go to the Cairngorm Reindeer Centre?

Th Cairngorm Reindeer Centre is the only place where you can see reindeer in the wild in the UK. This is a great experience for both children and adults to learn about the history of these beautiful animals and appreciate them in their natural habitat. 

All of the support given by the Reindeer Centre is in addition to the lifestyle the reindeer live. The staff are very knowledgeable about all of the reindeer and you can ask questions throughout the tour. We went on the hill tour in November and had a lovely clear day to see the reindeer. We were luck to see both the male and the females and got to feed them too. 

girl with reindeer
man with reindeer

When Should I go to the Cairngorm Reindeer Centre?

The Cairngorm Reindeer Centre is open from February to December every year. There is no perfect time to visit as the weather in Scotland can be temperamental and the tours will continue to run unless the weather is extremely dangerous. In the summer months, you may be more likely to have dry weather and it should be warmer. During the autumn and beginning of winter, it will be colder but you may get to see some snow on the hills which makes a beautiful landscape. 

We visited during Autumn and were very lucky to have a dry clear day. The ground underfoot was very boggy from previous rainfall however so make sure you are wearing waterproof boots. If you arrive with inadequate footwear then you will be unable to continue further with the tour for safety reasons. 

reindeer
couple on hill

Before You Leave for Aviemore

Before you head off on your trip to Aviemore, there are certain things you will need to get organised to ensure a smooth trip. These include how to get around the route, including being aware of single track roads, etc., what to pack for Scotland, where to stay along the route and what travel insurance to book.

How Do I Get to Aviemore?

Aviemore has become the hub of the Highlands, with many people visiting all year round. The easiest way to get to Aviemore would be to drive as that will make it easier to get around when you get there. However there is always the option of getting public transport. Both trains and buses stop in Aviemore.

If you are looking to rent a cosy, reliable and luxurious campervan for your trip to Aviemore, we highly recommend hiring through Bunk Campers. We toured with these guys around the up-and-coming Heart 200 road trip in Scotland’s central highlands and could not believe the comfort and customer service we experienced with their vans.

Browse the full range of vehicles on offer at Bunk Campers over here.

reindeer

What Should I Pack for Aviemore?

When it comes to packing for a trip to Aviemore there is one item of clothing that you are going to need all year round: a waterproof. It rains in Scotland on average 250 days a year, meaning that during your trip to Aviemore you will probably experience at least a drizzle of rain. Due to this, the number one item on any Scotland packing list is a good waterproof jacket. If you are travelling in winter to Aviemore, it is also highly likely you will experience snow so we would recommend packing plenty warm clothing and waterproof shoes.

As for the rest of the year, the temperature in Scotland and the central heartlands is reasonably mild for most of the year. During the winter months, you will most likely experience snow, however, temperatures usually sit around freezing, so it is not too cold. For your reference, the average temperatures in Scotland are listed below during each season.

Spring (March, April, May) – 5-10 degrees C

Summer (June, July, August) – 15 degrees C

Autumn (September, October, November) – 5-10 degrees C

Winter (December, January, February) – 0-5 degrees C

As you can see, the weather never really gets above the teens, with anything over 25 degrees C considered a heatwave. The best way to pack for your trip to the highlands is with layers that can be added and removed as you need them. You will definitely need a hat and gloves during the colder months and will most likely need sunscreen to protect you on the long days in the open.

For our full list of items that we pack no matter where we go in the world, check out our full packing guides over here.

Given the beautiful sights and scenery that you are no doubt going to see around Scotland, we highly recommend packing a good camera for your trip. If you want to read more about the cameras we use and why we love them, check out the link below.

You can read what else we keep in our camera bag over here.

Photography Equipment

Main Photography Camera – Sony A7iii Mirrorless Camera

Main Lens – Sony FE 16-35 mm f/2.8 GM 

Zoom Lens – Tamron 70-180mm f/2.8

Camera Stand – Neewer Portable 177cm

Vlogging Camera – Sony HX90v

Action Camera – GoPro Hero 8 Black

Drone Camera – DJI Mavic Pro 2

Camera Bag – Lowepro Flipside 300 AW

 

Where Should I Stay in Aveimore?

There are many accommodation options in Aviemore, however due to how busy this small town is, we would recommend booking in advance.

LuxuryMacDonald Morlich Hotel is a beautiful hotel in the Cairngorm National Park with 7 bars and restaurants on site as well as leisure facilities. There is even an onsite cinema and a championship golf course nearby.

Book your stay at MacDonald Morlich Hotel here.

Mid-range – The Cairngorm Hotel is located in the heart of Aviemore and is perfect if you are wanting to stay local to bars and restaurants in the town. Each morning a full highland breakfast is available to guests and there is a bar and restaurant onsite for your needs.

Book your stay at the Cairngorm Hotel here.

Budget – The Aviemore Youth Hostel is situated in the town of Aviemore and in the perfect location for a walk into town or a walk to the mountains. There is a range of facilities including private rooms and dorms, a lounge area and a self-catering kitchen.

You can book your stay at the Aviemore Youth Hostel here.

Camping is also extremely popular in Aviemore. There are a number of campsites in the area such as High Range and Rothiemurchus Camp and Caravan Park.

reindeer

What is the Best Travel Insurance?

No matter what type of adventure you are heading on, whether it is a mountain adventure or a relaxing beach destination, one thing we all need to be aware of is that accidents can happen. The last thing you want is for an unexpected medical emergency to ruin your trip of a lifetime. Luckily, that is what travel insurance is for.

Whenever we travel abroad, we get covered with World Nomad’s Travel Insurance, a reliable, friendly and extremely affordable method of covering yourself on any adventure. With years of experience working for backpackers around the globe, the service they provide is perfect for whatever type of trip you have planned.

Get covered for your next trip and get a quote from World Nomad’s right here.

So there you have it, a guide to the Mealle a’ Bhuachaille. If you have visited Aviemore recently, let us know what you thought of the walks in the area or Mealle a’ Bhuachaille if you have done it. If you have any suggestions let us know in the comments below.

As always, sharing is caring so make sure to share this photo guide with your family and friends and inspire them to head off on their own Scottish adventure. If you are planning the trip for yourself, make sure you have a look at the rest of our Scotland content for more inspiration to our beautiful home country.

When you set off on your own adventure, be sure to tag us in your photos on Instagram and we will share them with the rest of our community. In the meantime, why not follow us over there to see what we are currently up to and keep up with us on our Instagram Stories.

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