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Husky Sledding in the Arctic Circle, Finland

First published on TripZilla.

Many fall in love with a husky’s lush coat and piercing blue gaze. However, did you know that a husky’s optimal working temperature hovers around a whopping negative 15 degrees? After all, huskies were originally bred to be working dogs and boy do they love to run!

Indeed, one of the most novel experiences you can ever have is to embark on a husky sled ride in the Arctic Circle. Just imagine: being pulled through a vast winter wonderland by a horde of incredibly adorable creatures. To say that the feeling is surreal is just the tip of the iceberg; the experience is really something quite extraordinary.

Many operators offer such an experience, with each session lasting from 1 to 1.5 hours. There are two timings in a day; we opted for one that was held at dusk. If you wish, there are also some husky sled rides that are held in the night, which offer the chance to go on a northern lights chase as well.

The huskies are housed at a ‘husky farm’ of sorts, where they are cared for by their handlers. The farm usually offers hotel or central pickups, as it’s located far out in the outskirts. Once you arrive, it’s time to say hello to the friendly locals!

Each sled will be pulled by 10-15 huskies, who will be strung up two at a time. They’re extremely friendly and will nuzzle into your hands for a pat. They’re also buzzing with energy; they know that a run is impending and they can’t wait to get going!

The sleds can each take two people; with one in a standing position at the back (pictured above top) and the other sitting down in front (pictured above bottom). The interesting part? The one standing will get to ‘drive’ the sled! The sled is primarily pulled by the huskies, who might – at times – get carried away with excitement. The sled is hence equipped with a brake should you wish to slow down the speed!

We were given a thorough lesson before setting off; don’t worry, the sled is very easy to operate. To slow down, all you have to do is to step on a foot pedal. The trail will not be going in a straight line all the time and will require some twists and turns. The ‘driver’ will hence have to control this as well – the person has to lean to the right in order to turn the sled left, and vice versa. It’s really easy!

You’ll also be given a ‘jumpsuit’ to wear to help combat the cold. The Arctic Circle can get freezingly cold especially in winter; it was about a negative 15 degrees when we were there. It’s also recommended to wear a hat that covers your ears and if you wish, a scarf that covers your mouth and nose. The huskies will be running through the woods and you’ll need to find a way to insulate yourself against the cold and the resulting wind.

The huskies will all start barking and whimpering with anticipation as the time draws nearer – look at them raring to go!

And we’re off! You’ll be pulled through stunning winter landscapes that stretch as far as the eyes can see.

Just imagine, travelling at top speed through a spectacular winter wonderland with nothing but barren trees and glimmeringsnow at either side of you. Don’t get too carried away, however; you have to ensure that the sled in front of you is visible at all times. It’s also ideal to maintain a certain distance and use the brake should your sled get too close to the one in front. And don’t forget to turn the sled when the trail bends!

The line does stop from time to time so that straggling sleds can catch up. There will be guides interspersed throughout the group, so simply give a shout should you encounter any difficulties! During this ‘stop’ period, the huskies take the chance to catch a breather, with some even quenching their thirst by eating snow. Some of them even start rolling around in the snow. It’s an incredibly adorable sight!

As for the one sitting down, simply sit back and enjoy the ride! Should you both decide to take turns to be the driver, you can use one of the ‘stop times’ to orchestrate a switch. We highly recommend this!

We had this husky sledding experience in Rovaniemi, Finland, which is about an hour’s flight from the capital of Helsinki. We didn’t book our session beforehand, choosing to simply walk into the city’s many tour operators instead. However, if you’re set on enjoying this experience, there’s no harm in booking your session prior to your trip.

During our trip, we also travelled to Kiruna, Sweden, which is about a 1.5-hour flight from the capital of Stockholm. There, we chose to go on a night husky ride for a different experience!

Suiting up once again – this time, scarves and gloves are highly recommended. It gets much colder in the night as compared to the day; temperatures dipped to a whopping negative 35 degrees during our ride. Yet, we somehow managed to remain rather warm thanks to the jumpsuits!

The huskies are all strung up and eager to get started! However, do take some time to befriend them before the ride starts.

The huskies are extremely friendly and will give you welcoming sniffs, with some even jumping up on you. 

As you’ll be driving through the forest with only a powerful flashlight in hand, guests aren’t allowed to drive the sleds at night. Instead, you’ll be lined up in a seating position along a sled that’s very thoughtfully lined with a fur coat. A guide will be accompanying you and she/he’ll be doing all the driving or navigating. All you have to do is to sit back, relax and enjoy the ride!

You won’t be able to see much of the scenery around you, as it’s entirely pitch-black. Look up into the sky and stargaze; if you’re lucky, you might even be able to catch a glimpse of a dancing green strip of northern lights! Otherwise, simply soak in the atmosphere and revel in the experience of it all.

At the end of the ride, you’ll be brought to a teepee containing a roaring fire. Trust us, you’ll be extremely glad for this!

Due to the extreme temperatures, we had even ice forming on our hair and eyelashes. Imagine that!

My father even had his glasses become all fogged up during the ride; needless to say, he didn’t see much of what was going on. However, there’s nothing like a session beside a crackling fire to warm right up again. What an experience!

If you can't get enough, you can also opt for a bout of reindeer sledding

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