a 4 day snowy adventure holiday for grown-ups as much as children, with a ride on a snow sledge to see Father Christmas in his Lapland forest hut and a valedictory visit from him before you leave. Arranged as an ‘UNTOUR’ for you to be together as a family when you want to be and with like-minded people when you need to.
the remote wilderness of Menesjarvi close by Inari in the spiritual heartland of the Sami people as immortalised by Philip Pullman in his trilogy ‘Dark Materials, and where from the surrounds of the Lodge Hotel Korpikartano you can literally hear ‘the sound of silence’. A husky safari with Tinja Myllykangas known locally as the ‘dog whisperer’, a morning feeding reindeer with Sami herder Petri Mattus; an evening family safari to see the Northern Lights; snow fun in the forest and on a frozen lake with tobogganing and kick sledding. And of course a visit to see Father Christmas plus a valedictory visit from him.
It’s hard to imagine anywhere or anything as authentically redolent of Sapmi, and Sami culture, as wife & husband Anne Harju & Timo Halonen’s Korpikartano Lodge in the village of Menesjarvi (pop 47). Converted from a primary school that closed in 2005 the Lodge’s two separate buildings are set slightly apart with one being the ‘main’ one housing the restaurant, reception and small sitting room and the other a dormitory with lake view rooms. Each building has its own sauna and our rooms overlooking the frozen lake, have a private WC/shower; hairdryer, TV/Radio and been furbished in a simple pristine style with pine clad walls and homely fabrics. In the surrounding grounds there is a glazed roof Kota where you can wait around an open fire for the Aurora to show; snow shoes, kick sleds, toboggans and skis to use as and when you please. Above all the Korpikartano is Anne & Timo and Anne & Timo are the Korpikartano. It’s their special hospitality in quite literally the middle of nowhere that makes this a very, very special place.
fly from London Heathrow on Santa’s official airline (Finnair) scheduled flight via Helsinki to Ivalo in Finnish Lapland. Meet your driver guide at the airport, transfer to the Lodge Hotel Korpikartano, try on your thermal clothing and settle into your room. Welcome supper in the hotel.
after breakfast meet Sami Reindeer Herder Petri Mattus from whose farmhouse on the edge of Menesjarvi you’ll travel on the back of his snowmobile hay sledge out into the forest to a clearing where he’ll unload the hay shouting ‘oyyyyyyyaiii…oyyyyy-ayiii’ in the rhythmic fashion of a Joik or Sami song poem. Gradually you’ll hear what sounds like rain falling on canvas gradually morphing into a clicking sound as the reindeer come closer to feed, and with luck right up to the sledge. Take sooty coffee with Petri who’ll tell you of his daily life and the lives of Dasher & Dancer, Dunder & Blitzen, Comet & Cupid and Rudolph. Warm up and buffet lunch in the your hotel. This afternoon your local guide will set you up for tobogganing, snow shoe kick sledding and cross country skiing. He or she will teach you how to handle each piece of equipment and where you can go in the adjacent forest or on the lake to enjoy the white wilderness at any time during your stay. In between times children will be invited to a special Elf workshop for tuition in the art of writing a letter to Father Christmas, storytelling and crayoning whilst concurrently each family has the chance of taking a private sauna. Early supper in the hotel after which there is family hunt by snowshoe for the Northern Lights before bedtime.
set off to meet Tinja Myllykangas known locally as the dog whisperer; Tinja has a special talent with dogs and keeps just 40 or so in her kennels. There are black & white ones, white & black ones, brown & white ones, all sorts: every one with their own name. After a short handling tuition and with children safely tucked up under a reindeer skin on your other half’s lap, set off mushing your own team in the enchanting wilderness of Inari, the spiritual homeland of the Sami people. As the dog’s excited barking subsides the only sound is of your sled’s runners slicing through the snow and the muted padding of their paws. En route you’ll make a pit stop and swap drivers as well as take pictures of the children with their dog team. Warm up and buffet lunch in the your hotel. During the afternoon make your once in a lifetime private pilgrimage by snowmobile (with children safely tucked up under insulating reindeer hides on a sleigh towed behind your guide) to see Father Christmas in a hut hidden in the woods at a secret location where he stays when he’s not in Korvantunturi. As you arrive you’ll need to bang loudly on his door if he’s sleeping (which he invariably is) but once inside you’ll get to know him really well. Whilst waiting your turn to make you journey into the forest the children will be initiated into the art of cookie baking. Supper of traditional Sami specialities in a Kota close by the hotel during which Father Christmas will visit and dispense small gifts for both grownups and children.
breakfast in your hotel before a private group transfer to the airport and your return flight to the UK.
Scheduled return flight(s) return from London Heathrow to Ivalo via Helsinki
All passenger service charges & airport departure taxes
Pay on board cabin service
Private group return Airport/Hotel transfers
3 nights’ accommodation in twin rooms with private WC/Shower at Hotel Korpikartano
3 breakfasts, 2 lunches and 3 dinners
Visit to husky kennels and husky safari
Snowmobile sledge safari with Reindeer Herder to reindeer feeding ground
Children’s letter writing workshop and cookie baking
Snow fun activities including tobogganing kick sledding, cross country skiing and snow shoeing
Optional private family sauna
Private guided family visit to and EXCLUSIVELY a 20 minute audience with Father Christmas
Small gift from Father Christmas
Smuggle Father Christmas your own present facility (how this works is you bring a present for your children and we smuggle it to Father Christmas who will hand it over as if by magic he knows what they want)
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 ScanAdventures Courier and local guide.
£1295 per adult , £1190 per teen (age 12-15), £999 per child (age 6-11) December 15th & 18th 4 days/3nights LHR 10.20 IVL 18.00/IVL 13.05 LHR 17.10
Finnish Lapland hasn’t quite reached the state of a New York department store that once advertised “Six Santas – No Waiting’ but there’s no question some mass market places have more than a hint of Alton Towers in the snow about them. So we think we have the answer with our ‘Un Tours’ which aren’t, in the accepted mass market sense of the word, really tours at all. We set the scene in family owned places that play out traditional Lutheran customs in a commercially unsullied way. We take groups of seats on flights rather than charter a whole plane so we can take small groups of like-minded people. We arrange the story we have to tell the children over two or three days with relaxing intervals. We take you with your children to see Father Christmas in the forest and also arrange for him to come and visit you. Our reindeer herders are genuine Sami ones rather than people dressed up for the occasion; our huskies live in kennels where they were born and our snowmobiles are 4 stroke turbo charged ones with comfort rear suspension. [If the latter description leaves you cold it means you can enjoy a ride without your coccyx being jammed up your throat]. Where things need to be done in a group they’re organised that way and when they’re not, you can keep yourself to yourself as much as you please. Our couriers work rather like Club Med GO’s (gentils organisateurs, if you haven’t been) who are there to give you as much of a hand as you want or need, and no more. Because we’re on first name terms with Father Christmas, we arrange for him to come down from Korvatunturi on different days to Harriniva’s Hotel Jeris, the Hotel Lodge Korpikatarno by Menasjarvi and Hotel Kultahovi in Inari: remote villages in the snows where traditional Finnish Lutheran customs are still played out on a small scale. Where everybody can enjoy snowmobile rides, husky mushing, reindeer safaris and children get to visit Father Christmas; where you’ll find tobogganing & snowmobiling not discos; ice-fishing not fast food; pine clad rooms or open-fired log cabins not soulless cell blocks and herds of huskies not people. We think seeing Father Christmas should be magical, mystical and very, very special for both you and your children.
Father Christmas lives in the Finnish part of Lapland on a fjell or hill called Korvatunturi, which means ‘the hill with ears’, because of its shape. It is from there that he listens to wishes from children all over the world and, if they have been good, tries to make them come true. Some American children think that Father Christmas lives at the North Pole which is really rather silly, because if he did, Rudolph, Prancer and Dancer and all the other reindeer would have nothing to have to eat because there is only snow and ice at the North Pole. He shows himself only to children who believe in him and who are lucky enough to be taken to see him. Some grown-ups never, ever see him because they don’t believe he really exists. In December his elves help him move to the fjells further south because it gets very cold in Korvatunturi and he needs to be really warm before he sets off around the world on Christmas Eve.