Husky Dog Sledging in Lapland
One of my absolute favourite experiences to date was to go on a husky dog sledging. And there’s only one place on earth to really do it justice; In my opinion, that’s Lapland.
There’s something about this magical region of Finland and Sweden that makes it feel even more special. The setting here, with the snow so thick and the trees so heavy with snow that they no longer resemble their normal shape, makes it even more of an adventure.
Taking a husky dog sledge ride was always on my bucket list but until I actually did it I didn’t realise how amazing it would be. There is nothing like the pull of the dogs and feeling the wind wrap around you as you rush through the snow-laden forest. Taking a husky dog sledge ride is one of those times you can feel alive and in the moment and at peace. It is a one-of-a-kind experience that is just so full of feel-good.
About the husky dog sledge
Known as mushing, the use of dogs to pull sledges dates back to at least 6000 BC. It’s a well-practised sport and even has Olympic status. For me the setting is everything and being in Lapland, the unique wonderful part of the world does make it feel even more wonderful.
Dog sledges have been used for centuries in this part of the world although now they have mostly been replaced by snowmobiles. The dogs initially would have been working dogs, which were used to haul wood from the forest to keep the fires burning. Using the dogs and a sledge was the best way to get around and although reindeer are also used in this part of the world for pulling sledges, they are much slower.
Today the use of husky dogs is mainly kept as a tradition and carried on with families, for visitors and as the sport, less so for actual practical uses.
Experiencing the husky dog sledge
On our first visit to Lapland, I was worried that it might feel a bit cruel, with the dogs pulling people through the snow. However, it was clear immediately that this is an activity the dogs thrive on and their yapping and howling before we left, trying to tug at the ropes to get going showed that these working dogs love nothing more than racing around and pulling the sledge.
Lapland in winter is very cold (it can range anywhere between -30°C to 0°C) and this is most definitely an experience you want to properly wrap up for as racing through the landscape with the icy cold wind on your face makes it feel even more chilly (I suggest wearing something that covers your face, such as a snood).
There is nothing like the sensation though, the sound of the dogs running, the sights of the forest bathed in the almost permanent dusk of Lapland in winter. We’ve been lucky enough to return to Lapland on another two occasions, every time taking a husky dog sledge ride is the first thing I book in.
On our recent DIY trip to Lapland, we organised our own visit to a husky dog farm in Rovaniemi. You can easily do this yourself or you can book a dedicated tour as part of your holiday package – most all-inclusive trips to Lapland include at least a taster session. I would say go for the longest trip you can afford or have the time to fit into your schedule. If you have the time, you could also take husky dog sledge trips that last a whole day or even several days so that is now on my Lapland bucket list the next time I return, to really embrace the experience.
Usually, you’re given the option to either have one of the staff drive the sledge or you could have a go at this yourself. It’s a fairly physical task that involves standing on the back of the sleigh and leaning the dogs into the turns. There’s also a break which is fairly rudimentary and involves heavily pressing down on the backpedal to drag into the snow. I have always preferred to sit in the sledge rather than drive it. There’s something about being able to take in the whole landscape and all the twists and turns of the journey that I love, without worrying that the dogs may be veering off course.
If you are interested in having a go at dog sledging yourself then there are lots of places around the world to give it a try, you don’t even need snow as it’s possible to travel on sledges with runners instead.
Tips for booking a Husky Sledge Ride
- My top tips are to look at the reviews beforehand. Try to book a trip with a company that doesn’t take out coach loads of visitors at a time. Ideally, you want as few other people taking part at the same time as possible, to enjoy the environment.
- Try to organise your trip between the hours of 11 am and 3 pm to maximise the amount of sunlight you will get, this will allow you to really take in the surroundings.
- Wear gloves that give you enough dexterity to allow you to take photos without having to take them off as your hands will get so cold.
Whatever you do though I would definitely urge you to add husky dog sledging in Lapland to your bucket list. It’s the most exhilarating of experiences and one you most definitely will never forget.
About the Author
Based in Bath in the UK, Nichola runs the family travel site Global Mouse Travels which is aimed at keeping families travelling once they have kids but also getting off the beaten track. The site features long haul destinations to places like Oman and Vietnam, as well as weekend breaks across Europe and plenty of UK coverage too.
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