Turtle, Ecuador

Your words, not ours

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Your Words - We tell it like it is! Holiday Reviews by previous Exodus travellers  

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  • Reviewed February 2018
    Edward Scarth

    Arctic dog sledding safari (5 days)

    5 day husky safari in Lapland - an amazing adventure with fantastic dogs, a great guide, in a breathtaking landscape. Book it now!!

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Spending time with the amazing dogs. As dog owners we appreciated how important it was for the dogs to be looked after and loved which they clearly were.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Catherine was brilliant as our leader. She was patient and very knowledgable. We always felt safe with her and would ant her as our guide on future trips. Highly reccommended.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Different kit lists seem to be available for this trip and some items were not required for trips in Jan / Feb but would be needed for trips in March / April. The arctic kit provided by Harriniva is excellent so do not buy this yourself. Hand and foot warmers are essential (either buy in the UK or can be purchased at Harriniva, we used Hot Hands which were great). The following are clothing suggestions but you'll find out what works for you after a day or two (you may find you are too warm or need an extra layer - my wife and I wore a different number of layers). Feet - liner socks then foot warmer followed by thick sock followed by another thick sock provided by Harriniva. Skiing socks worked well as thick socks. Legs - underwear plus thermal bottoms plus either second thermal layer or skiing trousers followed by arctic trousers (provided by Harriniva). Body - thermal top, mid-layer, fleece, jacket followed by arctic jacket (provided by Harriniva). I needed an extra layer sometimes. Hands - liner gloves (merino wool) and insulated gloves to wear on top are good when harnessing the dogs. Harriniva supply liner mitts and big mitts. The big mitts are really good. Whilst sledding I wore my own liner gloves and then had hand warmers in the mitts and my hands didn't get cold. Head - your own hat is useful to have when you aren't wearing the following - balaclava and arctic hat both supplied by Harriniva. I also wore a neck warmer / buff which is good to go over the balaclava as other the latter freezes. I changed by liner socks and underwear daily but everything else is reusable as didn't smell. There were only two occasions when I got cold and both times it was my hands and it was whilst helping to feed the dogs. In retrospect this was probably due to my core not being warm enough as didn't have full kit on so my advice would be to put all your kit on even if you are only "going to feed to the dogs". One morning it was -34 and I really suffered with cold hands and painful rewarming for several minutes even though I was only outside for about ten minutes. A head-torch is essential (lithium ion batteries are better in colder conditions). One member of our group had a charging bank so if you think you'll need to recharge your phone / camera batteries it's worth considering buying one in the UK. The cold conditions definitely drains batteries quickly so when not using electrical kit keep it close to your body - if condensation is an issue consider keeping in a plastic bag with a silica gel pouch which you can buy online). There is no mains power in any of the wilderness lodges or running water. Water is collected from frozen lakes or frozen rivers. One cabin is close to a shop (30 minute walk) so take some euros with you on the safari as there is a wide selection of souvenir items to buy. Ear plugs are essential! A small camping style lamp might be useful. Be aware that "Harriniva Hotels & Safaris" own three hotels locally so you may not stay at Harriniva at the start or end of the safari. We stayed at Hotel Jeris on our first night and Torassieppi (which was excellent) on the final two nights. So it may mean a bit of unpacking an re-packing. You depart on the dog sledding safari from Harriniva and your cases are stored securely until you return. All meals were provided throughout the entire trip (not just the safari) and were of a high standard. If you have specific dietary requirements it really helps the guides if you tell Exodus before departure rather than on the first day of the safari (this happened with another group). If there is more than one Exodus group then the groups may be split so you may meet fellow Exodus clients on the first evening but may not necessarily be with them for the safari depending on numbers (max 7 clients - we had six on ours). Despite being in the wilderness you can sometimes get a mobile signal (but it's a lovely just keeping the phone on flight mode or just switched off!). The "washing in the sauna" worked a lot better than I thought it would and is a nice way to relax at the end of the day. Baby wipes are handy. There are different jobs to do at the start of the day and on arriving at your next wilderness cabin each afternoon. It's important for everyone in the group to pitch in and help out with different chores.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Our flights were booked by Exodus from Heathrow (T3) with Finn Air via Helsinki to Kitttila. Be aware that the flight change at Helsinki can be pretty tight (less than 1 hour) although our luggage transferred without any problems. No chance to buy anything at Helsinki airport. If you don't live near London Heathrow then consider investigating whether you can fly from a closer to airport to Helsinki or even direct to Kittila although I'm not sure if you might have to pay for a private transfer to the hotel from the airport if the flight didn't arrive close to when the "group flight" landed - check with Exodus. We live in Devon and only discovered on our return flight that there was a direct flight from Kittila to Bristol with easyJet. I tried to buy some alcohol at Heathrow to take to Finland (for an evening drink on the safari with the rest of the group) but was not allowed so if you do want to take something you'd probably have to have it in your hold luggage as no opportunity at Helsinki to buy duty free due to short transfer time.
  • Reviewed February 2017
    Janice Anderton

    Finnish SDogsledding Adventure

    Scenery was fantastic and dogsledding through the wilderness was breathtaking.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Seeingall the dogsled circling the lakes and then disappearing through the trees. the dogs were superb. Not being a dog person, I was a little apprehensive but these dogs were exceptional. they were well taken care of and they responded to us without hesitation.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Pirjo was excellent. She was clear with her instructions and helpful when we asked anything. She always checked the dogs were harnessed correctly. Her ability in the wilderness was second to none and her cooking throughout the expedition was delicious.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Whilst warm clothes are needed, during the expedition the outer clothes provided by the company were of a very good quality. I never felt cold. Be prepared to help with the dogs and with some housekeeping at the cabins - everyone helped and worked well as a team.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Would love to go again - great experience.
  • Reviewed January 2017
    David Issitt

    Dogsledding in Finland

    A really amazing experience that made this the best Exodus adventure I have had (and I've been on some fantastic trips).

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Learning to work with and look after my own dog team who then took me through some wonderful and inspiring landscapes. Staying in some marvellous wilderness cabins - basic, but very cosy once the fires were going. Travelling with a great bunch of people.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Pirjo was a great group leader. She shouldered enormous responsibility (7 untrained dog handlers, 40 huskies, varied weather, ensuring that we were all well fed (dogs and humans alike) - the list goes on), but she rose to the challenge brilliantly. Thank you, Pirjo, for a wonderful holiday.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    The arctic kit you will be given at Harriniva is second to none, but I would recommend taking the following: thin, but warm, gloves for use when sorting out the dogs' harnesses etc (mitts are the warm and comfortable, but not good for fiddly stuff), a flask to carry a cold drink for each day out (it can be very thirsty work), UK-made Buffalo clothing was exceptional (I wore a Buffalo top under my arctic kit, and my wife used Buffalo mitts). Expect to work hard, the dogs will need help going uphill or through soft powder and handling a sledge takes some getting used to.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    For the free day at the end, some of us went snowshoeing in the National Park. This was great fun and, after a great lunch, we went to the sauna followed by a lake swim - invigorating doesn't come close! Thoroughly recommended for the reckless.
  • Reviewed March 2016
    Christopher Jennings

    Finnish Dogsledging Adventure

    Lapland is without doubt my favourite part of the world. The winter wonderland landscape takes your breathe away and is simple stunning. So what better way to see this up close and personal than on a sledge being lead by a team of friendly hard working amazing huskies. Staying in basic wilderness camps with no electricity only serves to add the to the experience (mobile stayed off all week :)) these camps once the wood burning stoves have been lit become warm very quickly and it was part of the experience to collect water / top up the wood for the next visitors.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Unharnessing one of my lead huskies at the end of a day and he wanted a cuddle - how to melt the coldest of hearts. All of the huskies on my team were as good as gold and frankly I wanted to steal them all.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Pirjo was an excellent leader, issuing clear instructions / detailing what we would encounter during the day out on the trail. Importantly the food she prepared was excellent.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Take hand wash for use after trips to the outside loos. Neutrogena hand cream would have been very useful - a number of the group suffered with cracked hands from the extremes in temperate between the warmth of the provided mittons and having to remove them.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    If you have any sense of adventure and enjoy the snow / winter holidays and dogs then this is a must!
  • Reviewed February 2015
    Eleanor Webb

    Epiphany

    This was possibly the besterestest holiday I have ever been on. The dogs are very special: not pets, but pack-dogs and working dogs. They are sweet-natured, enigmatic, focussed and completely beguiling. The landscape is open spaces and frozen forests, where you understand how Nordic minds might have been inspired with trolls, dwarves and moomins.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Riding the sled with my own thoughts in hours of golden, low-slanted sunlight.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Knowledgeable, courteous, effective, humane.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    -The kit is excellent: I've been a lot less comfortable in much less cold conditions. It is much, much warmer than ordinary ski or outdoor gear, so don't compare how you feel in that. To wear under I had full merino thermals and a merino jumper, with a second woolly jumper in reserve. In the evenings, I had ordinary walking trousers over my thermals, and I deployed the second jumper for walking to the loo or sauna. If I were to do this trip a second time, I'd probably take an additional fleece for those trots outside the cabin, as it would have been less faffy than putting the jacket back on - but that is as close as I got to a kit drama. -The driving is single-file and the gaps depend on how your team's speed compares to the teams before and after you. You do need to enjoy your own company on the sled. A compact camera will take photos of the northern lights, if you can find the manual exposure settings and improvise a support to allow shutter speeds of 15-30sec at a wide aperture. Spending any time doing this at -20C will run down the battery *very* rapidly.
  • Reviewed February 2015
    Danian Li

    Finnish Dogsledding Adventure

    Without doubt one of the most extraordinary experiences I have ever been lucky enough to enjoy. If you like outdoor adventures, pristine wilderness and have even a passing interest in dogs, you'll probably love this too.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The huskies were the highlight of the show for me. I went to Finland expecting to fall in love with several of my dog team but didn't expect to want to bring about a dozen of the dogs home with me. The huskies are beautiful, their enthusiasm for running is infectious and their endurance is amazing to behold. Some are true working dogs that show little interest in human contact - although none were in the least bit aggressive - although many behave like lovable pets you might meet in the park at home, except these pets can happily run for 40-50km lugging three times their body weight. Seeing the Northern Lights three times, including one spectacular show, was a bonus although obviously that can't be guaranteed. The lunchtime stops in the forest are magical.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Very good overall. There wasn't a whole lot of instruction in driving the sleds, harnessing the dogs or carrying out the daily duties of gathering wood, lighting fires, etc, although that adds to the sense of adventure. We were expected to harness our dog team from day one, albeit the pros checked what we did and helped out where needed.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Some fitness is definitely an advantage as it allows you to better enjoy getting involved in gathering wood, collecting water and feeding the dogs, and you need to help your dog team by pushing or walking up occasional uphill sections. A little upper body strength and ability to use an axe are also useful for chopping up wood and frozen slabs of husky food! Warm gloves attached by a cord so you aren't worried about dropping them while on the go will make it easier to take photos.
  • Reviewed April 2013
    Anonymous

    FINNISH DOGSLEDDING ADVENTURE

    This was an incredible holiday - an experience I would definitely recommend.  It was brilliant to wake up each day and feel the excitement build, in both the adventurers and the dogs.  The dogs were brilliant and definitely wanted to run, as evidenced by their impatience to get going everytime we stopped!

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    I am not sure there was one moment, but the feeling of confidence that grew as the days passed and each day we got better & more confident about getting ready (harnessing the dogs, packing the sleds), releasing the brake and enjoying the beautiful scenery and then at the end of the day settling the dogs in and light the fire for the suana.  This holiday was truely a world away from the daily routinue of work!

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Our group leader was Meku and I have nothing but the highest of praise for her. Her organisation skills were brilliant and definitely made the holiday run smoothly and added to the enjoyment of the holiday.  Her instructions for what was expected of us in driving the sleds, caring for the dogs and making camp each night were very clear.  The meals that Meku prepared each night were delicous and dietary issues were handled with out any difficulty.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    The snow conditions at the end of the season might make it harder on your knees.  There is nothing to be concerned about regarding the cold, the clothing (trousers, jacket, snow boots, hat, gloves etc.) provided is excellent.  No experience necessary - just do it!
  • Reviewed March 2013
    Anonymous

    FINNISH DOGSLEDDING ADVENTURE

    Pristine snow, enthusiastic and energetic dogs so eager to get going, they can hardly contain themselves with the excitement. This is like cross-country skiing without the effort, going through beautiful landscape seemingly far from civilisation.If you've been thinking about this trip for a while, don't hesitate, just go for it!

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The dogs are the best! Their strength, stamina and resilience are awe-inspiration. And they are incredibly friendly. Gliding over expanses of pristine snow with just the sound of the sledges swishing over the compacted snow. Clear blue skies and sunshine all day, followed by a night sky so full of stars, you could see the Milky Way, Pole Star and constellations more clearly than ever at home.Going through woodland tracks with trees and branches bent down low into snowy arches felt like we were travelling through the Narnia forest. You could almost image that Mr Tumnus would appear from around the next bend. One morning it was so cold that the moisture in the air sparkled with ice crystals, and two pillars of refracted light appeared over the frozen lake. Quite magical.Eating lunch cooked by Raikka at an open fire close to the track, that tasted more delicious than anything eaten in more mundane environments.Lots of laughs with a great bunch of people!

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Raikka worked incredibly hard to make this this memorable holiday for us all, with expertise and sensitivity. He cooked wonderful meals and told interesting stories of previous trips that kept us all amused.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Even in mid-March it can be incredibly cold. We had night-time temperatures of -36 degrees Celsius and -25 in the day, which is way below the norm. I managed by wearing all my 4 baselayer and 2 midlayer tops under the outer jacket I was provided with by the clothing store, but I still felt cold at times, and wished I had not left my puffy gilet at the hotel!I wore marino wool leggings, thick fluffy jogging bottoms and 4way climbing trousers under the salopettes provided by the clothing store, which kept me comfortably warm. When I didn't wear the climbing trousers I felt the cold. Also, do not leave your Polartec hat at the hotel, believing that the hat provided by the clothing store would be warm enough. I was provided with a synthetic 'fur' hat that was not warm enough, although I managed by wearing my balaclava, hood from my midlayer jumper, and another hat provided by a fellow traveller underneath the 'fur' hat. This was OK.Bring alcholol disinifectant gel for your hands, as there is nowhere to wash your hands. (In the lodges there are bottles of alcohol liquid, but this I found stung my hands.) The alcohol gel was also invaluable for de-icing my glasses and goggles that kept icing over from the condensation caused by my breath, making it impossible to see. By squirting a bit on the goggles and then rubbing it off with a tissue provided me with about 20 - 30 minutes of clear vision. The only other solution it seems is not to pull the balaclava and neck warmer over your nose, but then your face freezes!On three nights out of 4 in the forest lodges I woke with a headache, which I later thought might be due to the cold. So on the last night I wore a hat in bed, and woke up headache-free. (After all, people used to wear nightcaps in bed in the past.)You can buy hand warmers and foot warmers at the hotel if you have forgotten to bring any. I found them invaluable, as they kept my hands and feet warm all day.I wore silk liner gloves and Polartec gloves under the mittens we were provided with, which were great for when we needed to unclip the dogs' harnesses and for other fine finger movements.My ankle-high sheepskin slippers were great in the lodges. Flipflops or light weight shoes intended, for walking on rocky riverbeds or shorelines would also have been good for walking on the icey and/or muddy floors between the sauna and changing rooms.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    You do not need to be super fit to come on this trip. I am 58 and lead a pretty sedentary life, where gym and exercise are more of an aspiration than a reality. However, this is a full-on holiday where you have to join in all the chores. You also have to cope with the earth loo in a shed a little way from from the lodge, but if I could do it, then so could most people. (This can be a challenge however first thing in the morning!)
  • Reviewed January 2013
    Anonymous

    FINNISH DOGSLEDDING ADVENTURE

    This trip was absolutely fabulous. My only complaint is that I had to go back home far far too soon! Our Guide was excellent. I am vegetarian, and was catered for exceptionally well. The dogs were gorgeous, with a multitude of personalities, and it was really fun getting to know them. We had so much fun, from making snow angels next to the trail, to cooking sausages on a log fire in the wilnderness, to impromtu self-made sledging exploints in the evening, it was a week filled with fun and laughter. Definitely to be recommended.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    - Staring at the millions of stars in the Arctic sky - a more peaceful feeling, I cannot imagine.- Being given dirty looks by the lead dog for standing on the brakes when the team were just getting going.- Seeing the teams ahead and behind trailing through the snowy white wilderness.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Excellent, couldn't have asked for better.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Leave your phone and your watch at home. You won't be needing them.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Can I go again please?
  • Reviewed February 2012
    Anonymous

    FINNISH DOGSLEDDING ADVENTURE

    This was the best holiday I have ever had. It was just incredible, being responsible for the care for our teams of dogs from harnessing them each morning to settling them down for the night. The scenery was a true 'winter wonderland', and just perfect for photography. Every scene was a postcard! While we were 'roughing' it by staying in wood cabins lit only by candles and heated by a wood fire, with the only water source being what we bucketed from beneath the ice on the well or spring, it was also the most relaxing and comfortable holiday in terms of simplicity. I cannot recommend this trip enough. Every moment was magical.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Every day with the dogs was inspirational. The dogs are so gorgeous and funny. Each has a distinct personality and it was so much fun getting to know them all through the week. They just love to run and pull the sled, but they also love a cuddle. However, in terms of inspirational moments, seeing the northern lights (the aurora borealis) was probably the icing on the cake. It was a magical moment that we all shared, complete with me dancing and shouting with joy in the snow.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Our group leader (guide) Catherine (Katrin in Finnish) was just outstanding. It is hard to put into words just how incredible she was. She is super-capable with everything, from cutting kindling firewood, to lighting fires in the snow for lunch, to preparing the most exquisite salmon dinner roasted over an open fire, to explaining to beginners how to safely care for the dogs, and everything else needed for this winter safari. She was at all times calm and collected, and yet great fun to be with. She explained all the tasks that needed to be done, and let us self-organise as to how to achieve everything. She inspired the necessary team work to make a comfortable holiday whilst being in an environment where there is no electricty, no running water, no gas heating. Her love for the environment and enthusiasm for dog sledding is obvious and infectious.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    You don't need a lot of clothes, but you do need the RIGHT clothes. Pack with essentially 'two outfits' in mind. That is, the series of layers you will wear during the day under your Arctic Suit, and the other being what you will wear around the cosy cabins in the evening. For me, I found that four layers of thermals / fleeces on the top half, with two layers on my legs, was sufficient for -28C temperatures, coupled with 3 layers of wool socks and my own gloves under the provided gloves. The Arctic suits provided (jacket, pants, boots, hat and gloves, and a very good sleeping bag) are very good. I would recommend bringing your own balaclava if you have a good one that fits well. And bring your bathers / togs for the saunas, and a travel towel. Or if sauna-ing is not your thing, then bring 'baby wipes'. Bring an extra battery for your camera if you have one. The cold weather tends to cause the batteries to discharge more quickly than usual and you might find your camera 'flat' before you have finished taking photos. But most of all, bring your sense of fun and adventure. This could the be most amazing holiday you will ever have!

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    If you have ever thought about doing dog sledding, then ponder no longer. Book it! You do need to be reasonably fit (controlling the dogs and the sled on descents requires some skill and effort), but you do not need to be superman/woman. If you want a holiday with a difference, with the opportunity to be part of a team in a beautiful winter wonderland, where everyone pitches in, where you will really forget the worries of daily life in the office, then this is the trip for you. You don't have to love dogs, but if you do, then you will be truly in your element.
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