There’s something about the Scandinavian winter that inspires adventure. Perhaps it’s the vast, snow-blanketed wildernesses or the smiling enthusiasm of its peoples that have produced explorers that range from Roald Amundsen to the Vikings. And, on your very own adventure holiday you’ll be able to grab a slice of the action. Whether it’s fishing up giant arctic crabs from frozen lakes or husky sledding in Norway’s Arctic north, there’s plenty to inspire the adventurer in you.
This quintessential seasonal activity is a must for any winter trip to Scandinavia. It’s the chance to step back in history to a time when this was the only way for entire settlements to get around. Join in the tradition by learning how to mush your very own team of huskies as they bring you hurtling past snowy drifts, dodging low hanging, snow-laden branches as you go. Soon enough you’ll be speeding through the wilderness with just your dog and guide for company (though you might want to read our beginner's guide first). It’s a truly liberating experience. What’s more, after your trip, you’ll be encouraged to meet the dogs. It’s important to socialise them with humans from an early age so you’ll get to meet not only your faithful team but the oh-so-cute pups as well. And, while there are opportunities across the region, one of our favourite places for dogsledding is Camp Ripan for its excellent trails that give you the chance to spot reindeer and moose as you carve your way. You’ll even stop off along the way to enjoy a freshly brewed coffee in a traditional Sami lavvu tent, hidden among the trees.
Something a bit different to the more traditional sports on offer, this is the chance to head off the beaten track – quite literally –to discover the untouched beauty of Scandinavia’s remotes. There’s also a surprising amount of options as well. Perhaps learn how to drive a rally car on ice in Norway, where expert instructors will teach you to control your slides, drift past drifts, and yes, tutor you on the ins and outs of the Scandinavian flick. Alternatively, in Iceland, there’s the wonderfully named SuperJeep. A heavily modified and fully kitted out four wheel drive, the SuperJeep makes light work of the country’s otherwise impassable terrain to bring you to unique vantage points of everything from crashing waterfalls to giant glaciers. Or, perhaps combine your off-road adventure with wildlife spotting near Canada’s colossal Hudson Bay. Here, bespoke, all-terrain behemoths known as Tundra Buggies make use of their simply giant wheels to traverse the fractious landscape to bring you up close to the indigenous polar bear population.
Replace the yap of the husky with the guttural roar of 600 cc engine in this adrenaline-fueled pursuit. A sport to some and a way of life for others, it’s the unnatural successor to dogsledding, allowing everyone from reindeer herders to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police to go about their duties. Get a taste for the action with a snowmobile excursion, flying through the Arctic to reach powders pristine and vistas untamed. Again, you’ll have your pick of destinations but snowmobiling in Tromso ranks as some of the region’s finest. Not only is it Norway’s accessible gateway into the Arctic Circle, but it’s also one of the best places to spot the Northern Lights. This ephemeral phenomenon is at its most impressive in the winter months, when arching reds and raking greens are picked out against clear, inky skies. It’s the ideal backdrop for one of our favourite unique snowmobile trips.
There’s something perfectly fulfilling about catching, cooking and eating your own meal. And, it’s even more satisfying when it’s in one of the world’s most inhospitable environments, using techniques that have been passed down through generations of hardy local communities. One of the best places to have a go is at the Kirkenes Snowhotel. Positioned right in Norway’s arctic north, rubbing shoulders with Russia, it’s ideally located for Arctic king crabs, a culinary delight most often found in swanky restaurants. On the trip, you’ll wrap up warm and head out on a snowmobile sledge with an expert guide before sawing through the ice to cast your line. You’ll then learn to prepare your catch by the log fire of one of the frozen lake’s idyllic farmhouses. The presentation is simple; the juicy white leg meat and claws impress with naturally sweet flavours and fragrant aromas.
Following in the footsteps of explorers past, strapping on a pair of snowshoes is the opportunity to channel your inner adventurer. They’ve helped everyone from humble trappers to Pierre Espirit Radisson survive in the world’s northern wildernesses. They work by spreading the weight of a person over a larger area, to stop you from sinking into the snow. It’s a concept that was first inspired by the paws of the animal world. While the originals were made from rope woven into a lattice around a wooden frame, more modern iterations have added lightweight composite materials. That being said, it’s still tough going but that just makes the views that bit more rewarding. Especially if, after your snowshoe trek, you’re treated to the Northern Lights in Finland. You can try it for yourself on our snowshoeing holiday in Finland.