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Lapland is a magical place of pristine Arctic landscapes and snow-dusted woodlands. In this winter wonderland, the cold air is cut only by the sound of rushing rivers and panting huskies as they prepare to rush across this impossibly vast, white wilderness. Strap on your hiking boots and crunch a path through Finland's spectacular taigas, get cosy with the locals over a glass of salmari and experience the rush of a real dog-sled. From the docks of Helsinki to remote Yllastunturi and Santa's workshop in Rovaniemi - witness a beautiful part of the world where Christmas feels always close. Learn how people in the North cope with extreme temperatures. You may even find your inner Finn enjoying the solitude while in pure pristine nature.
Day 1: Helsinki
Welcome to Helsinki, Finland. If you’re in the city early, head out and discover a wealth of historical sights and gastronomic wonders in Helsinki. Surrounded by the sea, Helsinki is a modern European city that offers an endless array of options. Maybe check out the magnificent Suomenlinna Sea Fortress, Senate Square or catch a performance at the National Theatre. You may want to consider purchasing the Helsinki Card – an economical way to travel on Helsinki City Transport (HKL) services, as well as free admission to the main Helsinki sights and nearly 50 museums. Throughout its 450-year history, the city has often been the buffer between the east and west. This is shown in their cuisine, with a mix of root vegetables, berries and fresh fish. Perhaps head out in the evening to sample some traditional dishes with the other members of your group.
Day 2: Helsinki / Overnight Train
Join your leader on an orientation walk around Helsinki in the morning. Once you get the lay of the land, the rest of the day is completely free for you to explore Helsinki in your own time. A few options to consider during your time here are a visit to the city's cathedral or the Design Museum. Don't miss the historic harbour-side market and market hall for local oddities. If you didn’t have time yesterday make sure you take a short ferry ride to the magnificent Suomenlinna Sea Fortress, a World Heritage-listed site that was once an important point of defence for the city and often referred to as the Gibraltar of the North. Later in the evening, you’ll board the comfortable overnight train to Rovaniemi (approx 12 hours), a quaint town in Finland’s far north, known to many as the hometown of Santa Claus, located just 6 km south of the Arctic Circle.
Day 3: Rovaniemi / Yllastunturi
The train arrives in Rovaniemi early this morning. Continue by private vehicle to our family-run guesthouse deep in the Finnish forest (approximately 3 hours). This will be our base for the next 4 nights, located near Yllästunturi, a popular cross-country and downhill skiing destination. Perhaps sweat out the rest of the day in a traditional sauna. Finnish saunas have a millennia old history, and are integral to the Finnish national identity. It is common for locals to visit a sauna at least once a week, and most apartment buildings in the cities have saunas for residents. Even the parliament building in Helsinki has one.
Day 4: Yllastunturi
Make sure you rug up for today’s adventures, as you’ll be pulled across the landscape at high speed on the back of a dog sled. These incredible huskies are doing what they love most – making a lot of noise before rushing along sprawling trails. With the wind in your hair, ride through the snow as your new four-legged friends pull you onwards in a truly memorable experience. After the ride warm yourself by an open fire and chow down on sausages and drink some coffee or tea. If you’re lucky, you might get to give the dogs a pet and a cuddle – just be sure to ask the sledmaster first!
Day 5: Yllastunturi
Your next adventure in Yllästunturi takes you on a visit to a traditional local family, who will guide you through their world and lifestyle. Their reindeer farm has been operating since 1861 and you may have the opportunity to feed and watch these cute animals go about their daily routine. You will be shown their skills in reindeer herding with the option to get close and personal with some of the animals on the farm. If the skies are clear tonight, why not take a stroll out into the snow and look skywards for the dancing green lights of the Aurora. Far away from the city lights, the guesthouse is an ideal base to see the Northern Lights. The natural display of coloured lights in the night sky are often visible in the high northern hemisphere, and there is even an open-top shelter nearby from which to observe the lights. Grab a hot drink, rug up and head out into the winter wonderland.
Day 6: Yllastunturi
Yllästunturi is home to the largest skiing resort in all Finland, boasting some of the longest downhill skiing runs through its rolling snow parks. Today you’ll have a free day to explore this winter wonderland with plenty of optional activities that your leader or the accommodation owners can help organise for you. You may want to explore the snow-dusted wilderness with a snow-shoeing expedition, or alternatively ice fishing is also an option for anyone who’s after a more relaxing experience, with the added bonus of a self-caught dinner to boot. If it’s very cold (around minus 30 degrees C) try throw boiling water in the air and see it freeze before it hits the ground. It’s called the ‘Mpemba effect’ and it’s free to try.
Day 7: Rovaniemi
Depart in the morning to Rovaniemi, the capital of Lapland, by private vehicle (approx. 3 hours). This city is an urban oasis amidst the Arctic wilderness, full of culture and stunning scenic hikes. With a free afternoon to explore the city and its surrounds, you have the option of visiting Santa’s workshop, or taking part in the numerous activities that the city has to offer. Maybe meet Siberian huskies at the Arctic Circle Husky Park, or go hiking and witness spectacular rapids and aapa mires. Make the most of your time here as tomorrow is your departure day – perhaps meet up with your group afterwards for a farewell dinner.
Day 8: Rovaniemi
Your adventures through Lapland come to an end today after breakfast. If you would like to extend your stay in the region we are happy to book additional nights for you (subject to availability).
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The trip was both both educational and exciting. I very much enjoyed the sights and culture.
The itinerary was just as I expected! The guide was very good as were the accomodations
Intrepid did such a great job. I never had to worry about where I was supposed to be and it felt so good not to worry about a thing but just to enjoy myself. Our guide was extremely knowledgeable about culture and history.
Taiwan people very friendly. Accommodation were centrally located and easily accessible. Did extra activities then in brochure which was greatly.
Larus our tour guide did an excellent job and was very attentive to our needs. He is very knowledgeable and has a great sense of humor.
Our guide Tarang chandola was exceptional. Courteous, knowledgeable, organized, polite, professional and went above and beyond taking care of our needs and requests offen anticipating what that might be. He made sure we all had the best possible time and offered suggestions to meet the needs of everyone on the tour. This made the trip even more enjoyable.
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