The biography of Stefán Hrafn Magnússon in South-Greenland
Isortoq: Stefán the reindeer farmer is the biography of the Icelander, Stefán Hrafn Magnússon, by the Icelandic journalist and writer Svava Jónsdóttir. Stefán has lived a truly adventurous life. He spent all the summers during his childhood and teenage years at his grandparents’ farm in West Iceland. His dream was to become a farmer and his interests were, among others, the stories of explorers. He wanted to experience what they had experienced. In his mind, the Arctic was an adventure; the Arctic is where the Northern Lights, the Aurora Borealis, reign on winter nights.
At 15 years of age, Stefán went to Greenland for the first time – alone – and, over the next years, he went there several times and got to know the country that, at the time, was decades behind compared to the living standards in Iceland.
After Stefán graduated as an agronomist, he moved to Norway at 19 years old to work as a reindeer herder for the Saami people in an environment where you could imagine that time had stood still for centuries. He worked at a cattle ranch in Canada and he studied reindeer husbandry in Sweden, where he also worked as a reindeer herder. Then he moved to Alaska where he taught reindeer herding and horsemanship and worked as a reindeer herding advisor. His life was like that of a cowboy in the movies.
Stefán then moved to Greenland and, for the past 30 years or so, he has been a reindeer herder on a huge piece of land in South-Greenland. His farm is called Isortuusua (meaning ‘Great muddy water’– referring to the glacial silt carried down from the bottom of the glacier in Greenland). The Greenland ice sheet can be seen from his farm and is within 5 km walking distance. A few years ago, an Icelandic angling company built a luxurious camp on his land in cooperation with Stefán, where people from all over the world come to hunt, fish or hike. From mid-August one can admire the Northern Lights and, considering the clear cloud-free nights in South Greenland, the probability of experiencing the Northern Lights is very high. Since the nearest town is 100km away, there is absolutely no city light contamination.
In the book, Stefán tells about his life before and after he moved to Greenland, his adventurous life, the challenges, the accidents, the animals, the nature, the global warming that affects his business and, of course, he talks about Iceland.
Stefán’s story is unique. It’s the story of a man who followed his dreams and who is still living his dreams today. It’s a unique life for a modern man in the West – a story that Stefán and the author would like people across the world – to hear. Who knows – perhaps publishers in other countries would be interested in publishing the story of this extraordinary Icelandic adventurer.