In March 2006 I took part in a difficult challenge to raise much needed funds for Battersea Dogs Home. The Challenge was to cross 195km of Arctic landscape, 300 miles north of the Arctic Circle. This was a 8 day challenge using a team of sled dogs.
If you ever get the chance to do this challenge, jump at the chance.
This trip is suited to those who would like a taste of dog sledding, an Arctic experience which provides a challenge like no other. A true wilderness experience surrounded by frozen landscape hundreds of miles north of the Arctic Circle with only the sound of the panting Alaskan Huskies and the crunching of the snow under the runners for company.
This is a unique chance to be a member of a 10- strong team who will be given expert training in dog sledding. You will be instructed on how to handle your team of dogs and how to negotiate a sled through some of the most exceptional terrain in the world.
Sweden's scenery has a gentler charm than that of neighbouring Norway's rugged coast. Much of Sweden is swathed in forest, and there are thousands of lakes, notably large stretches of water between Gothenburg and the capital Stockholm. Our trip will start from the area surrounding Kiruna, the Northernmost town in Sweden and continue in a Northeast direction. This area is also home to Sweden's highest peak and several beautiful National parks.
Day 1: Depart UK for colder climes
Depart UK and fly to Stockholm, the capital of Sweden. After a brief stop we will connect to Kiruna, in the Northern Scandinavian region. You will be met at the airport and taken to the Mushers Lodge at Laxforsen where you will recieve a full expedition briefing. You will then be given all the main items of equipment you need for dog sledding and protection from the cold. The evening is then yours to enjoy. perhaps watching the Northern Lights whilst sitting in an outdoor hot tub, before an early night in preparation for our forthcoming adventure.
Day 2: Mushers Lodge to Jakalajarvi Cabin
From the lodge you will be taken to the start of our dog sledding experience. Here you will meet your team of Alaskan Huskies, learn how to harness the dogs and use a dog sled for the first time. Today we will journey to Kakalajarvi cabins on the tobacco trail and cover about 30kms. This gives you a great introduction to dog sledding and how to handle a sled.
Day 3: On to Soppero
This morning you leave Jakalajarvi and head onto the trail covering approximately 35km of the most incredible landscape. You will travel across frozen lakes and in and out of the surrounding forest. The lodge you will stay in tonight dates back from the Sami period and thus steeped in history. It is also run by Sami descendents.
Day 4: Soppero to Jakalajarvi Cabin
Your journey today covers approximately 35kms. Today you sled through Reindeer country, taking extra care to prevent the dogs chasing after these amazing hardy creatures.
Day 5: Jakalajarvi Cabin to Vakkara Wilderness Lodge
Today you will journey up onto the plateau overlooking the beautiful forests below. The wilderness lodge is a traditional log cabin perched on the edge of a frozen lake. A perfect location to reflect on the challenge thus far and also have a rewarding hot sauna!
Day 6: Wilderness Lodge to Mushers Lodge
Our final day of sledding returning to the Mushers Lodge, where we started our challenge. Once we arrive we will step into Sweden's infamous Ice Hotel for a celebratory drink in the Ice Bar! After relaxing in an outdoor hot tub we will celebrate our dog sledding success with a gala dinner follwed by a visit to the bar.
Day 7: A Perfect Day
Today you are free to enjoy your surroundings anyway you like, on snow machines, cross-country snow skiing or to just relax and drink schnapps in the Ice Hotel bar, or wonder around Kiruna. The choice is yours.
Day 8: Homeward Bound
You depart Kiruna mid morning, after breakfast, and fly via Stockholm to the UK, arriving home early evening to celebrate your success and share the tales of your Arctic adventure with friends and family.