A Winter Adventure in Lapland (7)

Unfortunately today is our last full day in Lapland. Luckily we still have an activity booked and there’s also something that we still haven’t tried in Muotka. There’s also still another evening so a possibility that we may see the aurora again.

Husky sledding

Today we were up and out early, in the dark as we were booked in for a visit to Husky and Co. We travelled by mini bus and it was only a short journey.

On arrival, we were introduced to the guides and given instructions on how to drive the sled. Basically the dogs will pull the sled whenever you take your foot offf the brake. Other than this the driver stands on two footrests, whilst the passenger sits in the sled.

Andrew was the driver. The dogs were keen to set off as soon as you got into the sled, so he had to keep his feet firmly on the brake until the group were ready to set off.

Once unleashed they set off on the track through the forest. They go amazingly fast on the flat, too fast down I’ll, requiring lots of braking, but on the uphills Andrew had to step off with one foot and push sling like you would with a scooter.

I really enjoyed it but it did make me a little bit nervous at times, especially on the downhills when even the strongest of braking didn’t seem to slow the dogs that much.

After the sled through the woods we were invited into the wooden building where there were a couple of roaring fires and we were given salmon soup, potato bread, hot juice, coffee, cinnamon buns and biscuits.

We were then taken to see the puppies, some of which were only 4 weeks old.  They were beautiful. All the dogs seemed well looked after and eager to meet people. They seemed happiest when they running and although I had reservations at first, I was comfortable with the set up.

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Sledging – don’t remember it being this hard as a child!

The only thing that we had not done whilst we had been here was take the sledges down the toboggan run. This afternoon we decided to give it a go.

Unfortunately neither Nick or Andrew we’re feeling very well, so Julie and I braved the slippery slope whilst Andrew took some photos.

its amazing how things that didn’t feel very scary as a child make you feel really nervous as a grown up. I was too wary to go from the top of the run so managed half way down. The hardest part was getting out of the sledge at the bottom and walking back up the hill with the sledge once you reached the bottom.

After a couple of runs, with lots of screaming on the way down and hysterical laughter at the bottom, covered in snow and very hot, we decided to give in. It’s definitely a pastime for children, but was great fun!

Aurora lights the skies again

On the way for our meal this evening, the aurora made another appearance. It was very faint at first but during our meal the sleet kept going off so we were in and out looking up to the skies.

The light display was amazing for several hours this evening and was brighter last night and was even dancing at one point. Apart from Andrew and Nick not feeling well it was a superb way to end the holiday.

So now we are on our way to the airport after an early start. As we head for home I am so glad that I had this experience. The hotel has been wonderful, the staff amazing and it’s been worth every penny.

Goodbye Muotka,  thank you for a wonderful holiday

A Winter Adventure in Lapland (5)

This morning was slightly overcast, but the snow had stopped and the temperature had raised overnight to a much warmer just below freezing. The heavy snow overnight had left another couple of inches of soft powder on the paths and it feels a little bit like the buildings are going to disappear completely if it continues. We are told by the staff that so much snow is unusual for this time of year, but it is amazing to see.

A snow mobile journey

Todays activity was a journey on the snow mobiles, to a reindeer farm. We all donned the layers, along with balaclavas and helmets. We looked a bit like the riot police in the full gear.

Being on the snow mobiles, in the dry slightly warmer weather was an amazing experience. The snowy landscape is so beautiful and a little surreal, more like a painting or a storybook. I chose to sit on the back, rather than driving as Andrew loved the driving and I was comfortable and probably safer on the back. We followed the guide along the snow mobile tracks for about 16k.

Reindeer farm

The reindeer farm we visited was a traditional Sami reindeer farm. On arrival we were introduced to the reindeer and were then taken for a short ride in a sledge pulled by one of the reindeer.

We then had a demonstration of reindeer lassoing (using reindeer horn on a block on the floor and thankfully not a real reindeer!), then people were allowed to have a go.

Afterwards we went to the hut where we were treated to hot tea and cake and one of the Sami ladies talked to us about the reindeer and the Sami way of life. She showed us reindeer antlers, which are naturally shed and passed them round for us to look at. She explained her traditional beautiful bright coloured dress and how different areas will wear different colours. The jewellery that they wear is handed down through generations. The ladies also wear a traditional hat which we were told, depending on how you wear it, indicates whether you are married or single.

The best soup in Lapland

It was then back on the snow mobiles to travel to Savottakahvila restaurant for lunch. We were told they serve the best soup in Lapland. It was definitely amazing soup. I had tomato and vegetable whilst everyone else had elk soup (it was so good we all had second helpings). There was bread, rye bread or crackers. This was then followed by hot coffee and Jaffa cakes. Absolutely lovely food and a warm and friendly atmosphere.

After lunch we were back on the snow Mobiles to make the journey back to the hotel. It was just starting to get dark as we returned and just after we got back inside it began snowing again.

It was an amazing day and an experience I will remember for a long time, made even better by the great company and the lovely guides, who kept everyone safe and laughed along with our banter.

What’s happened to the snow?

After our evening meal we stayed in the hotel for a few hours, having a few drinks and playing cards. At about 1145pm we decided to go to bed as we are getting up earlier tomorrow. When we came out the temperature had risen to +1degree. The huge piles of snow on the trees had completely gone and if you looked at the trees you would have not known it had snowed at all. There is still tonnes of snow on the ground, but it is now much wetter underfoot.0F179D56-9B3D-4E54-893D-B82729B4F056.jpeg

A Winter Adventure in Lapland (4)

New years day was another bright day, once it became light at around 10am. It’s was a freezing cold morning, at -16 degrees. We went to the hotel and had breakfast and then booked out the skis for the morning.

Skiing to Kakslauttanen

Once we had all got our skis on and the required layers of clothing, we set off on our cross country adventure to Kakslauttanen (or Klatterslappen as we keep mistakingly call it).

This is another small holiday village approximately 3km from Muotka. We managed fairly well in the tracks, but when it comes to crossing the roads, or areas where there are no tracks, it’s a little more difficult and there were a few falls along the way. The hardest part for me was going down hill as it feels like you build up a tremendous amount of speed. I resorted to coming down them sideways, to avoid quite some much speed. I did manage one hill, but screamed coming down as if I was skiing down a mountain off piste, when it was actually just a small hill.

It was so cold that ice crystals formed in any area where you were warm, or where yo were breathing. We had ice crystals on our hats, on my eye lashes and when you breathe through your nose the hairs in your nose freeze. However with all the effort of skiing you still remain warm inside all the clothes.

Once we reached the village, we called in for a hot chocolate and a look around the gift shop. We then put all the layers and skis back on and headed back for lunch. The ski home didn’t seem to take any time at all.

After lunch we had a restful afternoon and as it started to come dark around 2pm, it makes it feel really late. Afternoon naps are definitely required, especially if you are going out in the evenings.

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Aurora hunt by car

After our evening meal, we were then booked to go out aurora hunting in the mini bus. By this time it was snowing heavily and we knew that there was little chance of seeing them.

The trip out was worth it, just to see the amount of snow falling and the amazing drier, who seemed undeterred by the blizzard and carried on regardles, stopping just once to clear the ice from the wipers.

We stopped at a couple of points to get out and look at the sky, but due to the amount of snow there were no auroras to be seen. The temperature reached -21 degrees at one point.

We were provided with the customary hot chocolate and cookies and then returned home at midnight.

We have a couple more trips out to look for auroras, but as it’s a natural phenomenon there are no guarantees, but perhaps that means we have to come again if we don’t see one

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A winter adventure in Lapland (1)

On our latest travel adventures, we have decided to come to Muotka Wilderness Lodge Hotel in Finland for a 7 day adventure. We booked with Inghams Travel, choosing a package where everything including all the activities. The friends that we have travelled with have been here before and highly recommended it.

The flight was a chartered flight with Jet2, at 7am (U.K. Time) which was on time and arrived promptly at Kittilia Airport at 12 noon (Finnish time, 2 hrs ahead). However because the airport was so busy we had to sit on the plane for half an hour as there wasn’t room for us.

When we actually got into the airport it was chaos, absolutely packed with people arriving from different fligh s and only two baggage carousels. About an hour and a half later, we managed to retrieve our luggage and made our way to the transfer coach. Unfortunately we then waited an hour for other passengers, before we finally set off on the three hour transfer to Muotka.

Well worth the wait

The drive to the Wilderness Lodge was a lengthy one, but well worth the wait. The driver took us through piles of snow on the side of the road which were taller than me. There was some snow on the roads (enough to have me refusing to drive if it had been on the roads at home)

when we arrived at the hotel it was like stepping into a Christmas card. Everywhere was completely covered in snow, lots of snow! We went into the lodge and were given a welcome talk by Nina, the manager. We were allocated our lodges and then took our luggage on a sledge to the cabin.

The accommodation is absolutely beautiful – wooden lodges set in a snowy Forrest. There is a small kitchen ar a, a wooden bed in the middle of the room, a bathroom and sauna. The room was lovely, warm and inviting. After a quick look round and dropping off the luggage, it was back to the hotel centre for our evening meal.

We all had onion soup with fresh homemade bread. I followed mine with salmon and potatoes with salad. Everyone else had moose stew, which I was told was very tender and tasty.

After our meal we went to get kitted out with all our winter gear. For some reason my snow suit appeared to be for an 8ft 20 stone rugby player, but I was told it needed room for layers! I’m not sure how my thermals are going to make me any taller, but more about that later.

So after a long day travelling, it was back to the lovely warm cabin and the big wooden bed, where I fell asleep in no time. Absolute silence and complete darkness-heaven!