The most amazing welcome to Lapland
As soon as I arrived in Rovaniemi, I got straight into my first activity – a snowmobiling adventure with Lapland Safaris called ‘In the Heart of Nature’. This was the most amazing welcome to Lapland and included a number of different activities in the one tour, so if you are short on time in the region, this would be an excellent option.
The six-hour tour began just before 11am, where we checked in and got geared up for our day on the snow. We were given an extra pair of thick woolen socks, snow boots, a scarf, balaclava, mittens and a very warm jumpsuit – this extra gear really helped keep us warm throughout the day.
We then grouped together and were briefed on how to ride the snowmobiles and what we had planned for the trip. Our guides Samuel and Teemu were very friendly and professional, making us feel in safe hands. You could tell that they enjoyed their job and that enthusiasm really added to the experience.
It was then time to fire up the ignition and set off for our arctic adventure! We drove our way down along a path which then opened up on the frozen river. This felt very bizarre to me as I had never been in a place cold enough where I could actually walk on a lake, let alone drive a heavy snowmobile over it!
We all safely followed our guide in a single file and communicated about the conditions ahead via hand signals we had learned in the briefing.
What really surprised me was the number of locals on snowmobiles – I have probably seen more of these than cars since I have been in Rovaniemi. There were specially-built snowmobile roads with street signs and speed limits! The locals also shared some of these trails so we just ensured to keep to the right hand side to let them pass.
These trails were surrounded by glistening forests and occasionally we passed through underground tunnels or over wooden bridges. This was my favourite place to drive through as it just felt so magical, especially with the golden sun beaming through the trees.
We followed the trail to an end-point where we found an open tee-pee made of timber which had a toasty fire roaring and seats covered in reindeer hides. There was also a chef that had been preparing a delicious meal – we enjoyed a chicken paella and fresh breads for lunch, followed by coffee and sweet buns for dessert.
It was great to have some downtime to sit and meet fellow travellers, while taking in the breathtaking environment we were in.
After our food had settled, our guides had setup snowshoes for us to put on and go for a hike along a short trail. There was no particular skill involved in this, you simply had to walk (with a slightly wider step) which was great.
We followed the trail through the arctic wilderness which soon opened up into a frozen lake.
It was at this point that I looked up at the sky and saw the sun sitting quite low on the horizon and the sky starting to glow. Not once did it cross my mind that this was actually the sun beginning to set, I still thought this was the morning sun rising! I don’t know the exact time but it would have been around 3pm.
Next our guides met us out on the ice with some gear for ice fishing.
They showed us how to drill into the ice which was over a metre deep, and then gave us some tips for catching fish. It didn’t take long, after about a minute of lowering my baited hook into the water, a got a nibble and hooked my first rainbow trout!
A got a photo with it and then tried my luck again. After another 30 seconds I had caught another fish, this time it was a larger rainbow trout and we decided to keep it. Our guides drove it straight back over to the fire and freshly cooked it up for us. It was delicious!
As the sun was starting to set, it was time to make our way back to town. We drove our snowmobiles back through the snowy forests and across sparse frozen rivers, again stopping occasionally for photo opportunities.
We drove for over 60km through the Finnish wilderness throughout the day. The snowmobiles were very easy and comfortable to drive, almost like a quad bike. The handles and accelerator were heated which was a very nice addition. Knowing what the temperatures were, I had imagined myself sitting on the snowmobile shivering from the cold, although this was definitely not the case! The gear we were provided with was super warm and the heat from engine stopped any chill from getting through.
For safety reasons we were unable to photograph or film while riding, although we stopped a number of times so that we could take snaps along the way. If you wanted to take your GoPro, a head strap or clamp-grip mount would probably be best as I didn’t see any mounts on the vehicles or helmets.
We finished the tour with a thrilling ride back along the frozen river until we reached the iconic Rovaniemi bridge.
The team at Lapland Safaris were so welcoming and well-prepared, making you feel in very safe hands. The excitement after the tour lasted the entire night and even following day! This was an unforgettable experience and a brilliant way to start my trip in Lapland.
Thank you to Lapland Safaris for welcoming me on your In the Heart of Nature experience. For more information on their tours, visit their website www.laplandsafaris.com