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The Artisan Blog
As we enter the winter months, it can be tempting to simply wrap ourselves in a blanket and curl up in front of the television. But here at Artisan Travel, we believe that winter is a great season to get out and explore some incredible destinations and experience some wonderful bucket list activities.
After hearing the many beautiful tales of Lapland and seeing some incredible photos of the Aurora Borealis and the winter landscapes of Finland, I thought, “there is no way it can actually look like that surely?”. But as we descended through the clouds into Rovaniemi, with the sun rising past a blanket of snow, I could not believe my eyes – it was just like the photos! The incredible snow that hung from every branch of every tree was such a breath-taking sight.
Despite having travelled to Finland several times by myself, I had never given my parents the chance to experience its wonders for themselves. However, in January they got to experience a holiday to Torassieppi in Finnish Lapland for the first time. Read on to find out what they made of their experience to the Arctic North!
To say we were apprehensive about going on a 25km Snowmobile safari is a drastic understatement. The closer to the activity we got the quieter Jorie and I became. However, when it was time for the activity we went along, watched the briefing video and before long we were being swept along on a snowmobile!
Personally, I am not a huge believer in spirituality, for example, I have never experienced people or places having auras or special meanings.
However, when I met Sven Engholm the owner and head Musher at Engholm Husky in Karasjok, I was completely blown away by the sheer presence of this incredible man.
Lapland is all too often associated with thousands of families searching for a big guy with a thick, woolly beard, a jovial laugh and a propensity for dishing out gifts in late December.
However, escape the “Santa Centrals” especially in January, February and March (when Mr & Mrs Claus holiday in The Bahamas) and Lapland is a treasure trove of outdoor wonder and activity. For adults, Lapland can be exactly what you need for your winter retreat.
Here are our top 17 things to do in Lapland that don’t include Father Christmas:
It is only when flying over the Greenlandic Ice Cap that the sheer vast wilderness of the country strikes home. Of course I knew all the stats, this is a country the size of Western Europe with a population of a large town in the UK. But still, when I flew over on a beautiful clear day, with hundreds and hundreds of miles of Ice and mountain below me, the utter scale became apparent. It is very much the Arctic I imagined as a child.
Ilulissat directly translated means ‘Iceberg’, and indeed the UNESCO protected Icefjord is the reason most people come here. Immediately on arrival at the hotel I could see 2 huge icebergs, floating a few miles away along the coast. From a distance they looked big…but nothing compared to the epic proportions, which become apparent up close to these imposing ice sculptures.
We live crazy modern-day lives, always on the go with little time for relaxation or reflection. Of course, there are all sorts of quick fixes for the stresses of contemporary living such as yoga or visiting a spa but we’re prepared to bet that few people consider dog sledding as the antidote to the hustle and bustle of our present-day existences.
Time to think......imagine such a thing!
By its very nature, dog sledding takes you to a quieter and more remote place far removed from the traffic and crowds of our urban centres but, it also provides time to both reflect and relax. Imagine yourself standing on a sled being pulled by a team of willing canines. On easy stretches such as a vast flat frozen lake, there is little to do other than marvel at the scenery, enjoy the near perfect silence and think. Time to think....imagine such a thing!
There is nothing quite like the excitement of imminent departure as you and your small band of wilderness explorers wait to start the 5 day Husky safari at Harriniva in Finnish Lapland.
The anticipation has been building since the moment you awoke, ate your hearty breakfast and made your way the mere 200m across from the main building towards the increasing volume of eager huskies waiting for the chance to do what they love as working dogs...pull.
I defy anybody about to embark on their first ever dog sledding adventure not to feel the slightest hint of trepidation, I know I certainly did. It's the cacophony of sound emanating from the feverishly excited dogs that really sets the butterflies a-flapping in the stomach, there's something almost primeval about that wolf-like howling.
The first time I went dog sledding and on the numerous subsequent occasions, I found myself imagining how early trappers must have felt when they heard that long, deep, lupine "haa....rooooo!" echoing across an untamed wilderness. It's enough to send shivers down the spine.
We've got a few cycling fans here in the Artisan Travel offices and we're regularly looking at ways of keeping the weight off to heighten our performances on our bikes.
We'll never get anywhere near the professionals however who, despite being skinny as the thinnest rake you ever did see, consume a massive 6000 to 7000 calories per day (roughly 15 Big Macs with medium fries) during stage races: that's three times the daily intake of an average male!
There's little wonder therefore that cyclists tend to be pretty lean but their daily food consumption is peanuts compared to that of a racing sled dog. These incredible animals are about one third the weight of an average human being and yet, during epic races like The Yukon Quest Trail or The Iditarod, they will consume up to 12,000 calories in a day. 12,000 calories!!! That's something in the region of 26 Big Macs with medium fries and makes the cyclists look like mere amateurs in the calorie burning stakes.