My heart is literally bursting with joy after our Arctic adventure and all the memories made during our trip to Finnish Lapland. We based ourselves at The Wilderness Hotel Nellim, in Northern Finland. The hotel is located very close to the Russian border and boasts beautiful scenery.
I am so pleased we made the choice to stay at The Wilderness Hotel; the location was enchanting and the staff were all very accommodating whereby nothing was too much trouble. What pleased us most though, was the non-commercial atmosphere and relaxed welcoming feel Nellim had.
The Wilderness Hotel in Nellim offers a mixture of accommodation from hotel rooms, suites, log cabins and aurora domes.
For the first three nights we booked a hotel room, reserving an aurora dome for our final night in the hope we would sleep under a starry and electric sky. We kept the room too as the domes do not have showers (they do have loos though).
Due to the hotels small size we were lucky that all the excursions we took were in small groups which made it feel extra special.
Arriving in Nellim during the late afternoon there was time to have a quick play in the snow before the light faded and it was time for supper, and collecting our complimentary cold weather clothing for the duration of our stay.
Now that I have experienced and been spoilt by Lapland snow, any future snow in the UK will only be a let down.
Starting the next day slowly, we made our way to breakfast before having more time to familiarise ourselves with our new surrounds.
Both of us are big kids at heart and could not resist the urge to make a snowman atop a secluded hill. It turns out I was a little out of practice at this as in the time that it took Chris to roll his lower and mid sections I was still rolling his head.
Once he was all put together Chris recorded me goofing about dancing to The Snow Man theme tune, for which he then distributed among my family!
Chris took great pleasure in collecting items from supper over the next couple of nights to add to our snowman’s character. Carrots for eyes and a banana for his mouth (the banana skin was my idea).
Our excursions started the following evening in the form of an aurora snowmobile safari, which had us speeding off into the night across frozen lake Inari in search of the northern lights.
Despite not seeing the lights that night, it was an experience nonetheless. One which left Chris a little bruised as I kept squeezing him to slow down. Later yelling at him to go faster!
Once across the lake we all settled huddled around a campfire in the woods sitting on the warmth of reindeer hides, sipping on berry tea and eating gingerbread biscuits (I pocketed a few of these for the way home), all the while chatting to an interesting couples about their adventures.
After a hearty breakfast the following morning, it was back on the snowmobiles for a full-on snowmobile day whereby we started with a spot of ice fishing on Lake Inari.
I must admit this did leave me feeling a little worried as we drilled into the ice around our feet.
After not catching a thing it was back on the snowmobiles and on to our next destination which was a visit to a local reindeer farm.
Walking amongst the semi wild reindeer and having the opportunity to feed them was a lovely way to spend a morning.
Once we had spent time with these majestic little fellows it was time to warm up around another fire to learn more about them over reindeer soup, while more yummy berry tea brewed. Time soon passed and we were once again hopping back on the snowmobiles.
Halfway through the day I decided that I had built up enough courage to drive the snowmobile. And chose to do so in the most inappropriate place, through the woods!
Always thinking of others, I decided to switch back after about 10 minutes (at least I gave it a go)! I felt bad that the couple behind had to drive so slowly to accommodate my lack of skill. It was at this point that their vehicle overheated (something to do with going too slow)……
While our tour guide fixed the vehicle, another group came up the track and ran in to difficulty as the lead driver tipped over in the deep snow after hitting a tree stump. This gave us all the opportunity to take pictures in the snow-covered woods.
While I was busy taking pictures, Chris was busy being helpful trying to get everyone back on board so that we could set off to the Russian border!
The last stop of the day was to Nellim Church and what a pretty church it was tucked away in the woods.
Our last full day was spent out in the wilderness with huskies, what an experience this was.
I was a little anxious as a friend had mentioned the night before that she had read some awful articles about the conditions the dogs are kept in at some farms, this was something (very unlike me as someone who would normally investigate these things) I had not considered before booking our trip. I therefore much to Chris frustration spent the next hour or so reading up to ensure where we were going was a kind and responsible husky farm.
Trying to not interrogate our guide and to reassure myself that we were not funding something cruel, I went armed with many questions about what the dogs were fed and how often, what the dogs end of life care plan was as well as their summer lifestyle. None of my questions were brushed off and I was happy to hear that all the dogs had names, where they could, would be rehomed once retired, they also went walking and swimming during the summer months and having a husky holiday.
Once we had had the instructions for driving (if that’s the correct terminology) the huskies we made our way across the lake to the farm where the huskies were waiting for us. We were designated our dogs, for which I am sure we were allocated the quickest of the lot and caused us to be on the break frequently as within seconds of slowing up they were eagerly pulling to overtake the dogs in front time and time again, no one else appeared to be having this issue.
Within minutes of meeting our team we were swiftly cut lose from the rope holding the sledge, and were pulled away at a much higher speed than I was anticipating.
Going out across the lake and through the woods with the huskies was my favorite part of the trip by far, it was such an incredible experience; these dogs are pure powerhouses!
The landscape, the dogs, their pure power, and when we were not on the breaks the tranquility and silence of what seemed so effortless for these dogs as they pulled the sledge through the snow is something I will never forget. My fingers are still thawing out from the experience however.
An hour in to the trip, my eyes were struggling with the cold and rummaging through the backpack I found a pair of Chris’s sunglasses which were a welcome find, shame I had not purchased that balaclava too! I was otherwise layered up to the nines and looked quite a sight but I was warm even if a tad frosty on the outside, and that was all that mattered.
Aside from my fingers still thawing out, my sides still ache from laughter caused by flying back down a hill heading towards the farm later in the day. The dogs let loose and I literally came out of the sledge with Chris only just about hanging on as we flew down hill and around tight bends. It felt like something out of a comedy high speed car chase! Back at the farm we got time to cuddle with the dogs, who were quite possibly the sweetest most loving dogs I have ever encountered.
We also met two massive Pyrenees Mountain dogs who loved a cuddle.
Moving into our aurora dome for the last night I had still not given up hope that we would see the lights.
Both myself and the camera were ready and waiting.
Then it happened.
At 8 pm our aurora alarm went off. Rushing into our snow suits, pulling on our boots and grabbing the camera and tripod we ran down to the lake where we found many other people gathering.
We saw a little display of the lights, and felt satisfied that it was the perfect end to the trip and proceeded back to our dome for the night.
Much to our delight, as soon as we shut the door and climbed out of our snow suits, the buzzer went off again. We opened the door and stepped out in to the night once more to find the lights were literally dancing above our heads!
This time the lights were so vivid whirling around above us, that my hands flew to my mouth in pure delight and tears pricked my eyes. It was the most moving experience I think I have ever had.
It was truly the most “out of this world” sight.
I was most surprised to find that at first the lights appear as a dull mist which you could easily dismiss as being a cloud, yet as they come to life they start to transform themselves in to their vibrant colours.
A big tick off of the bucket list for us on this trip and one that I can highly recommend for any adventure seekers out there.
We booked our trip to The Wilderness Hotel through The Aurora Zone, who I can’t recommend highly enough; the whole process was seamless, even down to the packing list!
I loved Finland and hope to visit again one day. For now though we are counting down the time until our next adventure which will be our honeymoon!
Love Emma x