Tourism in Lapland peaks around Christmas time with bright eyed children and happy families arriving on the Santa Flights. It's a well established penomenon with many people landing in a winter wonderland.
The most popular resort is Rovaniemi on the arctic circle and most of the passengers on the flights to Finland in December will be on a "Santa Day Trip." Those who opt for a longer stay will be able to enjoy trips by reindeer sleigh, zoom along in a snowmobile of try their hand at driving a dog sledge team..What ever activity is tackled it is vital to ensure that themal clothing is included in the package price. Temperatures can vary from -20C to just above freezing. It can be very cold.
PAWS FOR THOUGHT
"Menee! Menee! " I called, largely because "Mush! Mush" doesn't mean a lot when you are calling to a Siberian Husky.
Not that I need have bothered shouting, because I was in the hands, or rather paws of Neddie.
He was the head dog of my team of seven huskies, and having once won the Finnish National Championship, he knew a lot more about the dog sleigh business than I did.
We were on a Lappish Dog Team Safari in Arctic Finland and we fairly whizzed along.. The track led through pine trees and over narrow snow bridges.
My dogs ran so fast that our guide, would have us halt while he went back on his snowmobile to check on the other teams.
They have been running the dog teams from Ivalo above the Arctic Circle for over 15 years, and the trips can range in length from one hour to five days.
On the extended trips, sleeping bags and food for the dogs and yourself, is carried with you.
Each day you travel about 30 miles, sleeping in log cabins, and while your dinner is being prepared you can try your hand at fishing through a hole in the ice, or help by collecting fire wood.
During my trip in December, the days were short, and the sun was barely above the horizon for more than five hours. It seemed to be like sunset all the time. In February, March and April there is an extra sparkle to it all with blue skies, sunshine and hard snow conditions that are excellent for dog sleigh safaris.
We travelled across a flat plain in a small valley where in summer people come to prospect for gold.As the dogs pulled up a hill and skirted the edge of a wood, we caught our first glimpse of reindeer.
They were nosing in the deep snow for grass and moss. I am told that they can smell it out even under one metre of snow.
The reindeer are earmarked and belong to Lapps.
Incidentally you never ask how many reindeer they have. That would be like asking what their bank balance was.
We were in the Urho Kekkonen National Park where over 20,000 reindeer graze. One of the local attractions is a visit to a reindeer farm where you can ride in a reindeer sleigh. It's even possible to come away with a "reindeer driving license"!
Come February, the rugged, unspoiled Lapp countryside is used for 'ski tours', with cross country skiing trips, lasting a week, being popular. The ski tracks are usually machine made.
To take an example you can travel 110 miles to the Norwegian bordrer, staying overnight in comfortable log cabins, one of which is on an island on Lake Inari.
There are also snowmobile safaris and adventure treks where you use parachutes to pull you up the hill on skis.
But whatever the winter sport, I doubt if anything would match the thrill of being pulled by a good team of huskies.
I certainly enjoyed it, as did seven-year old Nicholas, who every now and then would pop his head up from under the reindeer skins and shout "Menee! Menee! Menee!" It usually happened when we were going down a hill and all the dogs obeyed him!
Report by Allan Rogers
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