This trip starts at Rajamaa, a complex of cosy wooden chalets on a remote island in the River Muonio with views over both Sweden and Finland. At check in, we are welcomed by the friendly Malmström family, our hosts for the week, who have been running the accommodation for more than three decades. Depending on the arrival time of the group, the main briefing is usually done tonight or tomorrow morning (D).
After a hearty breakfast, we are provided with all the equipment and information needed for a week of activities in Arctic conditions. Setting off on our snowshoes, we venture into the fabled wintry landscape surrounding Rajamaa and learn more about the unique raw nature of Sápmi (also known as Lapland). Our guide will help us to spot the tracks of birds and other local fauna in the snow and explain how the trees and bushes have adapted to this harsh climate. We enjoy lunch by a log fire in the forest, before walking back over frozen hills and through snowy landscapes to our chalets.
In the afternoon, we have free time to enjoy the sauna or a hot drink in the dining room. Over the course of the week, we enjoy presentations about some of Scandinavia's big predators: lynx, wolverines, bears and wolves (B/L/D).
This morning, we visit a small husky kennel run by neighbours of Rajamaa. We meet Anna, a professional musher, who tells us about the life of the friendly Siberian husky dogs, their training and behaviour. She also explains a few simple rules to safely ride and lead the dogs. Divided into pairs, we then enjoy the challenge and adventure of driving our own dog sled for approximately 9mi (15km) through a winter landscape of snow-clad forests and frozen swamps. Taking turns during the tour gives you the chance to feel like a real musher and to enjoy the landscape when sitting on the dog sled as a passenger.
In the afternoon, we return to our accommodation and familiarise ourselves with forest skiing in preparation for our two-day expedition later in the week. Forest skis originate from Scandinavia and Russia and have been used in this area as a means of transportation for thousands of years. They are usually wooden and differ from cross-country skis as they are longer and broader. They come with simple bindings that you can use with your provided winter boots.
This evening, before a hearty dinner, we enjoy another wildlife presentation at the main lodge (B/L/D).
Today is free for you to enjoy one of the optional activities available locally. You may decide to experience the thrill of driving a snowmobile through snowy forests and over frozen lakes or explore the surroundings on snowshoes with a fun geocaching activity. Alternatively, you may choose to relax at the lodge and enjoy the tranquillity of this beautiful setting (B/L/D).
Today we have a special insight into the life and work of a reindeer-herding Sámi family. Between 75,000 to 100,000 Sámi people live in the Arctic regions of Norway, Finland, Sweden and Russia, preserving their unique languages and ancient customs. We travel by foot and in traditional reindeer sleds to a kåta (typical Sámi hut), where we feed the reindeer before spending a couple of hours beside a crackling fire, conversing with the family and learning about their culture, as well as the complex challenges they face. We enjoy a warming lunch and hot coffee in the kåta before returning to Rajamaa and have free time to enjoy the sauna or relax before dinner (B/L/D).
Today, we start a two-day tour on forest skis. On our adventure, we carry only the necessary equipment for the day in a backpack while the rest of our equipment is transported for us by snowmobile. We venture deep into the forest, crossing frozen lakes and pine-clad hills, until reaching our special accommodation for the night, a cosy log cabin. Traditionally used for forest workers, the cabin is heated by log burners and we cook using water collected from the frozen river nearby. We all participate in the preparation of tonight's dinner and may enjoy an optional sauna before going to sleep in our dorm-style rooms. That is, if the impressive Aurora Borealis is not keeping us awake! (B/L/D).
After breakfast, we get on the skis and head back to Rajamaa, stopping for lunch by the fire on the way. If we are lucky, we may come across the tracks of lynx or wolverines during our journey. Back at the lodge, enjoy a well-deserved sauna before our final dinner of the week (B/L/D).
The trip ends this morning and we begin our return journey home with plenty of tales and memories to share with friends and family (B).