A week long holiday adventure with days spent Snowmobiling, SnowShoeing, Husky Mushing, Reindeer Sledding & Classic Style Cross Country Skiing beginning with orientation and starter tuition days and then graduating to longer safaris worthy of Bear Grylls. You'll stay at owner drivers at Wilderness Lodge at Saija by the frozen Lake Jokijarvi where they keep 160 Siberian Huskies; Loops and trails prepared and unprepared, with terrrain ranging from frozen lakes and mires to more hilly routes from 4km to 30km, start from the Lodge Yard. During your Adventure you'll also have the chance to sleep in a Snow Igloo, watch for the Northern Lights from a Kota on the edge of the forest and bathe your skin in the sap filled steam of a wood smoke sauna.
By the side of Lake Jokijarvi the Saija Wilderness Lodge is made up of a main building and two terraces of cabin apartments built in traditional pine weatherboard Finnish farmhouse style with high gables and log wood porches. The main building houses the reception, dining room and most importantly the kitchen, where owner Helena Karppinen oversees the cooking and makes sure evening dishes of salmon casserole, sauteed reindeer, forest cattle and foraged local vegtables are rotated during your stay. The cabin apartments have their own sauna, WC/Shower, separate living room and twin bedroom furnished in a simple rustic manner, with light pine tongue & groove wall facings and natural countryside coloured fabrics. In the surrounding grounds there is of course the Dog Yard & Kennels with its 160 pampered & permanent residents, a traditional wooden Lavvu or Kota where you'll spend an evening round its open fire whilst making repeated forays outside to spot the Northern Lights; a traditional smoke sauna and from Mid- January until April a Snow Igloo. Harjajarvi is a simple one up one down wilderness cabin with sleeping berths for 4 on the ground floor, 2 above on a 'mezzanine' floor, adjacent sauna building (where your guide sleeps) and outside loo. The cabin is heated by an open fire, lit by candlelight and watered with water brought from a nearby spring. Simple and Simples.
fly with Finnair to Kuusamo in Eastern Finland via Helsinki; transfer to Saijan Lomakartano and check in to your terraced logwood cabin with its own living room. Take supper in the Lodge restaurant
after breakfast your hosts Helen & Asko will talk you through the week ahead, kit you out in thermal clothing and orientate you to the Lodge's surrounds and kennels. You'll also be formally introduced to Asko's dogs, mostly thick furred, triangular eared Siberian ones but one or two Alaskans as well. If you want to get up close and personal with one, you can take him or her for a walk. Supper of perhaps salmon casserole or reindeer stew at the lodge.
after breakfast your guide will introduce you to the 'Classic' technique for cross country skiing which anybody of reasonable fitness can pick up quickly (skiers will of course be able to get their ski legs back more or less straight away. You'll then take a short guided tour in the flat terrain close to the Lodge). After lunch you'll swap skis for husky sleds with your guide showing you how to balance your body on a larchwood sled; how to brake brake, steer and generally handle your own 4 or 6 dogs before lacing up your own team and setting off for a 13km or so mush. The cacophony of barking, yelping and woofing suddenly vanishes into the snow as you set off for the forest with the only sound to be heard, the slicing of your sled's runners. After supper spend the evening in a Kota with frequent forays outside to the forest to spot for the Northern Lights.
today it's time for snowmobiling: riding one through the forest is just about as boy's own racer as it gets. The Ski-Doo GX with its low centre of gravity is easy and safe to drive, controlled for acceleration and braking from the handle bar, and has a 'kill switch' to shut down the engine in emergencies. Scooting through the forest along soft snow trails, over frozen ice lakes and mogul littered tundra is a magic way of enjoying the Taivalkoski landscapes. At the mid-point of your safari you'll take a breather while your guide prepares an al fresco lunch around an open fire, and you savour the silence of the wilderness broken only by the sound of the wind winding round the tops of the pines.
after breakfast get prepped and ready for a 3 hour guided snow shoe trek along a trail through the snow sprinkled forest, during which your guide will walk you along local trails, identifying the tracks and habitat of different animals along the way. Modern snowshoes have lightweight aluminum frames, neoprene decks and an undersole traction system for grip, so are quick and easy to get used to. En route stop for some sooty coffee round a camp fire in a glade.
By now you'll be on a par with bear Grylls, fit and ready to ramp up the action a bit with a 25/30km mush along well marked trails stopping for a lunch of hot broth, farm baked bread and sooty coffee around an open fire. At the end of the day you can lose the chill from your bones with a savusauna (smoke sauna), the Sami's ancestral way to evaporate every ague and restore the soul.
after breakfast, today is something of a 'take it easy' day with a visit to Juha Virkkunen's reindeer farm that dates back to the 17th century. Juha has a carefully selected group of reindeer trained for pulling sleds and he'll take you on a short safari marked only by the sound of slowing padding hooves. Afterwards you take coffee or hot berry juice with him as he talks you through reindeer husbandry, the history of the farm and how Van Gaal is getting on at Manchester United!
breakfast at the Lodge restaurant before transferring to Kussamo airport for your return flight(s) to the UK.
Return scheduled flight(s) with Finnair from Heathrow via Helsinki to Kusamo
All passenger service charges and airport departure taxes
IN FLIGHT PRE-ORDERED CHOICE OF MEAL,COFFEE,TEA & BLUEBERRY JUICE
Carriage of luggage (1pc Cabin & 1pc Checked)
Private group return Airport/Hotel transfers
7 nights’ accommodation at the Saija Wilderness Lodge
Lodgings in 40 square metre cabin apartment with own porched entrance, private WC/shower, sauna & separate sitting room
7 breakfasts, 7 lunches (2 Arctic Al Fresco) and 7 suppers
Cross Country Skiing (2hrs)
Husky Mushing Tuition & Freshers Session (2hrs)
Snowmobile Safari (5 hrs)
Husky Safari (4/6 hrs)
Reindeer Corral safari (4hrs)
Northern Lights Evening in Kota
OPTIONAL NIGHT SLEEPING ON ICE IN A SNOW IGLOO
SMOKE SAUNA SESSION
Complete set of protective clothing:thermal salopette & jacket or onesie; gloves, mittens, ribbed socks, snow boots, scarf & deer flapped hat for duration of stay
Services of local guide(s)
Saturdays December 5th & 12th 2015 January 2nd to April 9th 2016 From £1829 per adult FLIGHT PLAN LHRHEL 1020 1515 HELKAO 1630 1745 LODGE TRANSFER 60/75 MINUTES OULHEL 1410 1515 HELLHR 1655 1810