Winter Wonderland in Finland

"There's not much that can make a 40 year old grown man feel like a fairy princess but being driven through snow covered forests in a sled pulled by 6 eager huskies is about as close as you can get!"

When you think of holidays in Finland you probably associate it with the tales of trips to Lapland to see Santa that Joyce from the office took her kids on last Christmas. Or perhaps you've heard about a trip to an Ice Hotel, sleeping under reindeer skins in sub-zero temperatures (just doesn't appeal to me). Maybe you know someone who's been lucky enough to see the Northern lights; which I am told you have a 50% chance of seeing on a clear night, in an area of low light pollution, between late September and Early March! Well  I don't have any kids but I went to Finland just after New Year, didn't see the Northern Lights but still had a fantastic time!

On my trip I went to the Iso Syote hotel, for a holiday based around outdoor winter activities and it was much more fun (and significantly cheaper) that the usual Alpine skiing holiday. Although Finland isn't as popular for skiing as other European resorts, I was surprised at the number of obviously seasoned skiers on the plane out, and ever more  amazed at the baggage carousel when these ski-heads collected their massive bags of skis and boards. The major difference between the Finnish Skiing resorts and an Alpine one is that they offer less in terms of Kilometres of Skiing. But this is made up for by the wealth of other activities you can do in Finland: as well as downhill skiing and some snowboarding I tried and loved cross-country skiing; a snowmobile safari; a fantastic all-day Husky Safari and did some fantastic snow walking in the amazing Finnish countryside, which is amongst the most beautiful scenery I have ever seen in all of my travels.

Whilst it is difficult to pick out one favourite aspect, the Husky safari was very special. After getting all snow-suited up (all your snow gear including shoes is kindly provided by the hotel) we had a comfortable taxi ride to the Finn Jaan Husky farm. After an instructional talk we were seated in our sleds, amongst 36 eager, barking dogs anxious to pull us around the breathtaking Finnish countryside (6 dogs to each sleigh). Driving a Husky sled is easy: you just lean slightly to turn corners and let the dog team take you to your destination. The only challenge is when you stop and have to stand with all your body weight on the brakes, those dogs are super-keen to get hauling and can be a struggle to stay still! After an hour and a half of travelling magically through the enchanting country side of Finland, and laughing at the snow-covered firs and how much they resembled ice sculptures, we stopped for a warming 3 course campfire lunch. Once rested and bellies full we continued, the dogs as keen as before after an hours rest. When we got back to the husky farm we got the opportunity to say thanks to the dogs and give them a bit of petting; the dogs were so friendly and obviously loved their work. I loved getting to know our 6 dogs a bit better as we had become obsessed by them, giving them names and loving their eagerness and individual quirks. There's not much that can make a 40 year old grown man feel like a fairy princess but being driven through snow covered forests in a sled pulled by 6 beautiful huskies is about as close as you can get!

Before I left for Finland i was apprehensive about the cost of incidentals on my trip: I have heard stories from friends who have paid £14 for a pint of beer in Sweden. However in Finland i was pleasantly surprised; i paid just over £5 for half a litre of larger and just £7 for a burger lunch including a drink, on the ski slopes at lunchtime. Another surprise to this seasoned traveller was how genuinely friendly, interesting, helpful and kind the Fins are. I would heartily recommend a trip to Finland if you want to visit an amazing country which is perfectly geared up to a variety of brilliant winter activities.

November 2012

Latest Offers Ticker Tape