Lapland was once a vast wilderness in the Arctic Circle. Now, still retaining its hinterland status, it spans the northern edges of Norway, Sweden, Finland and Russia, and continues to live up to its Arctic dreamlike status.
Home to the indigenous Sami people, whose culture continues to thrive, Lapland remains a largely untouched and protected canvas, even with the introduction and growth of tourism. As a result, there’s a variety of activities, both relaxing and adrenalin-fuelled, to get you right into the heart of this snow-blanketed Narnia and indulge in the very best of the region’s winter cultural traditions and natural sights.
So what adventure will you choose to undertake in the flawless northern hemisphere?
Chasing the dancing lights of the aurora borealis (northern lights) tops the list of many. It’s a rite of passage here to see the night sky swirl in colour, and there’s no doubt you will spend every night in Lapland chasing the clear and starry sky in the hope it will light up. Pack a lot of patience and layers, and you may well be rewarded for the outdoor wait. It is said the northern lights can be seen for some 200 nights a year from 6pm until the very early morning hours. I caught my glimpse around 10pm, where hues of green captivated the audience for hours.
While it is your job to run, jump on, balance and control your sled, your endurance team of six huskies (in relay with many others), are ultimately the ones in control. These beautiful dogs have been a core part of the hunting traditions of the Arctic and were once used to travel long distance. Much loved and integrated into daily tourist life, the huskies are not the only ones who enjoy the thrill of the chase. I have never forgotten the feeling of shooting off into the wilderness at natural racing speed, both at the back (on the pedal) in sheer concentration, and in the sled, where I was pulled along the flattened snow pathways in awe.
Another traditional activity on offer in Lapland are reindeer safaris. Sure, they can feel gimmicky, but they are a means of seeing these incredible creatures in their natural habitat. You can get close, help feed them, and speak with the herders and learn about the continuing importance of reindeer in Lapland. Not only do sleigh rides allow you to live out your childhood Christmas dreams of dashing through the snow, they also sustain a way of life and a tradition that would otherwise be lost, as modern forms of transport take over.
There’s nothing more exhilarating than being able to plough through the powder at huge machine speed to get right into the heart of forest and way out into the empty wilderness. I enjoyed it more at night when the blackened surroundings felt even more mysterious and we could chase the northern lights in convoy before setting up a temporary camp and cooking sausages over a fire. These machines are not as scary to operate as they look, and you’ll soon be on another as you try to up your game by crossing a frozen lake or negotiating a slight incline in the deep woodland.
Any avid rambler or hiker will enjoy this winter sport that was once the travel method of choice of hunter–gatherers who went on expeditions with their traditional latticed snowshoes made of animal skins. Strap on a pair of aluminum frames and take on the snowy forest landscapes with an adventurous stride. No trekking experience is off limits in the height of winter with a pair of snowshoes strapped on, so sink into the snow and walk the wonderland with these handy soles. Stumbles and snowball fights are an essential part of the experience.
G Adventures runs a number of departures in Lapland encompassing a wide range of departure dates and activities to cater for different tastes. We’re thrilled at the prospect of showing you this big blue planet of ours — check out our small group trips here.