Fly to Kiruna via Stockholm; transfer to Lappis Lodge
We spend the day close to our base learning to build igloos - still used by the Swedish army for shelter in emergencies. Using shovels and spades we create a mound of snow, which is later hollowed out to make sleeping quarters (2-3 persons per igloo). You have the option of sleeping in your construction, but the warmth of the lodge is just a short walk away. Depending on the season, we usually have time to try ice-fishing today, and hopefully catch something to supplement our dinner. Out here, where there are no other sources of light, we have an excellent chance to see the incredible Northern Lights.
Spend the morning learning the basics of dogsledding, and after an early lunch, you and your riding partner (you ride 2 to a sled) head head out with your own team of 5 to 6 dogs. The dogs are well trained and extremely friendly, and most of all they love to pull sleds. Anyone worried about driving their sled can opt to ride with the guide or to simply sit back and enjoy the ride in the cosy passenger seat of their own sled while their riding partner does all the hard work. In deep snow you may need to help push the sled; if the trail is more compacted, the dogs can travel up to 15 or 20 km/h. Falls are not uncommon in the first hour or so. If you do fall, the only rule is 'don't let go of your sled', as the dogs don't stop to wait for you! Our night is spent in the wilderness in a simple lodge, nestled between the Kaitum and Kalix rivers.
Those who want to can rise early to help feed and water the dogs and get them ready and harnessed for the days sledding. We take a different route back to our homebase, with plenty of time to enjoy the scenery and the excitement of mushing your own team. Lunch is usually taken by a campfire by the side of the trail, in a simple cabin or sometimes back at base, depending on conditions. While on the forest trails keep your eyes peeled for Elk (Moose), Snow Grouse (Ptarmigan) or even Capercaille.
Back at our base in Lappeasuando we head out into the wilderness using snowshoes, where the duration can vary from 2-4 hours subject to conditions. This is the perfect way to get closer to our winter surroundings as we break new trails through the snow, reaching those areas where the snowmobiles and skis could not. We return for a well earned evening of relaxation back at the Lappis Lodge.
Today is a free day to experience the optional activity of snowmobiling. If you take this option then you will have a fantastic ride starting along the frozen Kaitum and Kalix Rivers. The route then takes a wide loop over lakes and through forests before arriving back at our base. Alternatively if snowmobiling is not for you then there are further activities available from the Lappis lodge (please see the 'optional excursion' section of the trip notes for more details). After lunch we transfer (approx 45 minutes) to the fabulous Icehotel. We try to get to the hotel for mid-afternoon, with time for a guided tour of the individually designed rooms, chapel and Absolut ice bar. Our rooms are available from 6pm and dinner (not included in trip cost) is reserved in a nearby traditional homestead or the Ice Hotel restaurant depending on availability.
Transfer to Kiruna Airport, fly to Heathrow via Stockholm.