Snowshoeing in the Wild – This is how we do, yeah.
I saw overwhelmingly magnificent pictures on Facebook of my friends’ exciting expeditions in Northern Europe and all the flashbacks of my own experience in Lapland, Finland flooded in.
Nellim is about 40km away from the city, Ivalo, and it’s less than 10 km away from the Finnish-Russian border. Settling around the Lake Inari, people there claimed the chances of catching the Northern Lights are 99%.
While aurora hunt was nocturnal, it didn’t mean Lapland travelers are out of ideas during the day (although daylight is merely a few hours a day). Lots of activities and events are available for hotel guests to sign up to make the most of their stay (with or without the northern lights).
I stayed in Ivalo and the resorts offered a packaged tour to make sure you have something to do every day during your stay. For those who make hotel reservations on their own (which there were actually not many hotels in Ivalo) – the hotel would be happy to arrange tour reservations for you. I reckon the hotels and tour companies have good connections (again, there were actually not many hotels in Ivalo).
My favorite activity always involves animals and nature J; I suppose Husky Safari is one of the most popular and signature activities for Lapland travelers.
The furry fluffy Huskies were so energetic and they were excited to run. Usually, two persons were assigned for one sled; one passenger sat at the front, and the other stood at the back, controlling the speed by stepping on the brakes.
Each sled was pulled by 4-6 huskies and they were all well-trained to follow the guide at the front without derail or delay. Once their strings were untied they would just ‘go’. Besides, the first few hundred meters within the husky site was bumpy and so the driver needed to maintain control and keep the sled steady. Once the sled reached the lake, it’s a completely different world. Enjoy the breathtaking scenery of frozen Lake Inari, but pay attention in case the doggies ran too close to the sled at front.
The entire tour was about 1.5 hours; after about a 45-minute ride we stopped for hot drinks (yeah, the red, sweet berry juice) and took some rest (apparently the Huskies could keep going). At that point, we were really close to the Finland-Russian border. The guide told me, the Finnish and the Russian rarely interacts through the border from Inari, the nearest Arctic city, Murmansk, is about a 4-hour drive away with a population of over 300,000!
Snowshoeing and Trekking
Another memorable moment would be snowshoeing and trekking. Once we put our “snowshoes” on, it made our walking in the snow much easier and faster. We saw interesting flora and fauna of Nellim during our walk with mountain ranges in Russia as our background. The guide then set up bonfire (with our helping hands) to make lunch and we had fun barbecuing in the peaceful, quiet frozen world before we headed back to the resort.
I was told in Finnish folklore, they don’t put out the fire in the woods for the tree spirits. Not sure about the full story, I wonder if that’s true ~
Snowmobile and Safari Hunting
The snowmobile was fun! This activity was available day or night, but it required a valid driving license. It was easy to control and balance anyway. I chose the snowmobile aurora hunt at night. The group of us was then driving in a line. The guide was in the front of the line and each driver was instructed to pass on the hand signal for the driver at the back (like to ‘slow down’, to ‘turn’, to ‘watch out’, etc.) That’s true when we entered the darkness, I could only see the guide at the front and nothing else. With the snowmobile, we were able to drive to somewhere farther away for a better chance to catch the aurora.
Definitely one of the most recognizable and iconic activities in Finland, and therefore almost every resort or hotel should have the Finnish Sauna facilities. The relaxing and comforting experience for every traveler to wash away all the exhaustion from all the daily activities. 🙂
Obviously, I didn’t stay in Ivalo long enough to complete all activities –
… and many more…
Other activities were available ranging from a cultural visit to the Nami culture center to active cross-country skiing:
- Aurora hunt at night by car, snowmobile, or sled
- Cross-country skiing
- Reindeer farm visit
- Ice fishing
- and for you to explore!