Mush a team of huskies, visit Father Christmas, learn to snowmobile, track down the Northern Lights, ride a reindeer sleigh, try your hand at ice fishing, wander through a Snow Village and visit Sweden’s famous ICEHOTEL... the list goes on, with holidays appealing to everyone from families to couples, teenagers and adults.
While Father Christmas may appear in a few of the itineraries, these winter adventures are far from commercial; many multi-activity holidays include an insight into Lappish customs, be it tracking reindeer with Sámi herders, learning Lappish lassoing or sliding down a fell aboard a traditional Finnish kick sledge. The same goes for other itineraries, with husky safaris taking new ‘mushers’ beyond the Arctic Circle and into the wilds of Lapland where, staying in a wilderness cabin or perhaps an ice-locked schooner, you’ll feel far away from any festive hype.
Stephanie Eddy, Marketing Manager at Activities Abroad, says, “As our staff have visited all the destinations, we are always able to give our personal recommendations. We know our programmes and know which activities children will love, which means there’s not a kid’s club or kindergarten in sight, because we just don’t need them. Likewise, if adults are looking to immerse themselves in the Arctic wilderness, we know adult-only destinations where there won’t be a small child in sight.”
With the Lappish winter stretching a good six months, the majority of winter adventures run from December through until April, with some departures starting in November. By November, many locals believe the darkest months are over, meaning that guests will witness what is known locally as “Blue Time” – an unusual blue and grey light which needs to be experienced to understand.
Below is a selection of Activities Abroad’s winter experiences, with something to appeal to everyone:
For families with young children...
Seek out Santa in Savalen, Norway – from £1,125 per adult and £845 per child (aged 3 – 15)*
Wintery-white landscapes, sleigh bells and forests full of Christmas trees all go hand in hand in Norway’s picture-perfect Savalen. While the private family visit to see Father Christmas – complete with a tour of his wooden house – is likely to be a highlight, the four-night ‘Christmas at Savalen’ trip has a programme packed with activities which the whole family will enjoy. There’s a torch-lit horse-pulled sleigh ride, a husky safari across a frozen lake, a snowmobile safari to see the sights of Savalen and a chance to try ice-fishing. Children will enjoy making Christmas decorations with Santa’s helpers, before heading to the forest to collect a tree to decorate. For accommodation, there’s the choice of a family-run hotel or the aptly-named Santa Street Apartments. This un-commercialised experience explores Norwegian Christmas traditions and is suitable for children aged three upwards.
*Price includes flights (London), transfers, four nights’ full-board (hotel), activities above, cold-weather clothing and guides/instructors.
For families with older children...
Lappish forests and the ICEHOTEL, Sweden – from £1,745 per adult and £1,145 per child (aged 8 – 11)*
A new destination for this winter is the Forest Hotel – located in the Lappish community of Tärendö, 80km north of the Arctic Circle. Family-run with quirky details – such as a wooden canoe breakfast bar – the hotel has a Northern Lights door knocking service and an array of Arctic activities on its doorstep, as well as snowshoes, kick sleds, forest skis and sledges all waiting to be used. Learn to feed, lasso and drive reindeer with the local herder Sámi Peter, transform blocks of snow into sculptures and speed through wintery landscapes pulled by a team of huskies or aboard a snowmobile. There’s also a tour of the famous ICEHOTEL, before a visit to a moose park. The six or seven-night ‘The Forest Hotel – Adventure and the ICEHOTEL’ tour is suitable for everyone aged eight upwards.
*Price includes flights (London), transfers, six or seven nights’ full-board (hotel), activities above, cold-weather clothing and guides/instructors.
For adults short on time...
A long weekend in the white wilderness, Finland – from £1,245 per adult (aged 16 and over)*
New to Activities Abroad is the three-night ‘Husky and Aurora Weekend’ – an action-packed long weekend of husky sledding, snowmobiling and (hopefully) Northern Lights-viewing. With Harriniva (230km north of the Arctic Circle) as your base, you’ll spend the first morning learning how to look after and mush your own team of huskies, before setting off across the snow. Covering around 20-25km each day, you’ll pass snowy forests and cross frozen lakes and rivers, before reaching a remote wilderness cabin. Away from light pollution, it’s the perfect spot to see the Northern Lights. Next day, back in Harriniva, there’s time to relax, before you hop on a snowmobile and head to the top of a fell for another chance to see the Aurora Borealis. Extend your stay and visit the Lainio Snow Village for your last night (additional costs apply).
*Price includes flights (London), transfers, three nights’ full-board (two nights hotel/ one night wilderness cabin), activities above, cold-weather clothing and guides/instructors.
For adults wanting real exploration...
Sámi spirit and skills, Finland – from £1,795 per adult (aged 18 and over)*
Plunge into the Arctic way of life, learning Sámi skills on this two-centre holiday in Finnish Lapland. Starting in Utsjoki on the banks of the Teno River, this six-night ‘Utsjoki and Inari - Sámi Spirit’ adventure (one of Activities Abroad’s most northerly trips) takes you to a place where reindeer outnumber humans – the very heart of Sámi country. Meet a reindeer herder and take the reins of a reindeer sleigh, break the ice to go fishing, admire spectacular white landscapes from a snowmobile and eat lunch in a kota (traditional Lapp tipi). Following a drive to Northern Lights hotspot Inari, there’s a visit to the Siida Sámi Museum (Inari’s the capital of Sámi culture), a snowmobile safari to some ancient Sámi sites, a husky safari, and a snowshoe walk in search of the Northern Lights – forecast by NASA to be the best this winter for 50 years.
*Price includes flights (London), transfers, six nights’ full-board (three nights winter cottage/ three nights hotel), activities above, cold-weather clothing and guides/instructors.
Contact Activities Abroad on 01670 789 991 (http://www.activitiesabroad.com).
ENDS – 2 November 2011
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