This week I had one of those moments. You know, when you are in the midst of doing something so amazing that you think to yourself, “girl, you gotta remember this moment forever because this is so awesome” and you try to soak everything up like a sponge so you can replay it again and again in your head.
I’ve not had many of those moments, but driving a husky sled through a silent, snowy Scandinavian landscape with the stars twinkling above me was definitely an experience I’ll never forget.
I arrived in Rovaniemi (that’s Finnish Lapland – and the home of Santa Claus FYI) and immediately booked myself in for a husky sled ride with Bearhill Husky. I did a lot of research before choosing Bearhill as I wanted to support a company who treated their dogs well – and it didn’t hurt that they were ranked number one on TripAdvisor.
I was picked up promptly after lunch and off we went in a minivan into the arctic wilderness. I was childishly excited to find that our guide, Brendan, was also a kiwi – there’s not many of us this far North!
We were taken into a yurt (I love that word!) and were given arctic snow suits, shoes, socks and gloves – everything we’d need to stay nice and warm in the Arctic. After a quick run down of what we were going to be doing, we went outside for a quick lesson….and this is where I am embarrassed to admit that I thought driving a husky sleigh would be like a horse and cart – sitting up the front, shaking the reins and saying giddy up in a genteel voice. It was actually way more exciting than that – driving a husky sled means that you balance on the back of it with one foot on each runner and support yourself using the handle bar. There’s a long metal pedal which is there to press your foot down on to brake – the rest is all up to the dogs!
After just this two minute lesson, we were off! I was partnered with Alistair, a newbie like myself from Australia – he took the reins for the first drive whilst I sat in the sled, bundled up and cosy with a woollen blanket around me. This was perfect as it allowed me to take photos as the sun was setting (the polar twilight starts at around 3pm and lasts for an hour) and my goodness, was it spectacular. We sped silently through snowy forests and over frozen lakes, over icy banks and fields – I felt just like the white witch of Narnia, but unfortunately without the fancy fur robe.
When it was my turn to drive I found it to be easier than I expected, but holy moly was it cold. Temperatures in Rovaniemi often dip below -30 degrees Celsius, so I was very thankful for the arctic snowsuit I had on. Driving was a blast (literally – a blast of cold air) and though there wasn’t as much opportunity to gaze at the landscape I absolutely loved every second of it. We stopped regularly so that Brendan could check that we were ok and safe, and that the dogs were doing well too – we were well looked after throughout the afternoon.
Unfortunately for us, it was over far too soon – though ideally, I’d have preferred if the sledding never came to an end!
Back at the base we parked our dog sleds and were allowed to play with our newfound fluffy friends (who were gorgeous, friendly and very well looked after) and we also got to spend some time with an energetic bunch of young husky puppies.
Our last stop was for hot juice and cookies in the warm yurt, where Brendan answered all of the questions we had about the dogs.
So, would I recommend Bearhill Husky?
Yes, yes and yes!
I went home absolutely buzzing from the experience and couldn’t wait to tell everybody I knew about how great it was. It was expensive but worth every penny – if you get the chance, go!
It is definitely a once in a lifetime op-paw-tunity (I had to slip one dog pun in, sorry) and it is not to be missed. Fabulous!
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