8 layers. 6 participants. 2 degrees. 1 river. If you like to go ice swimming in Lapland, you do have to be a bit crazy. “How on Earth will we ever fit into this ..?”, Christine next to me is about to give up wriggling her way into the waterproof, well-sealed overall. Underneath, she is wearing ski undies, shirt, fleece, ski jacket & another overall against the cold. Finally, I can see her wearing the ice swimming overall while she’s out of breath again: Martin, our guide at Oulanka National Park, has strapped the life vest tight against her torso. Dear me. Before finally floating on the 1 degree icy river waters looking like a well zipped-up, buoyant body, I do really take a moment to ask myself: “What are we actually doing here?!”
Fins are ready for just about anything to do with the cold: Ice swimming, ice fishing, ice sauna, you name it. Their enthusiasm warms the hearts of all of us happy Lapland travellers.
So ice swimming in the river, really, is just the beginning. Have you ever been out on a snow mobile? Hunted down some northern lights? Or even met with Santa Claus, the one and only Santa Claus, out here in Finland?
If travelling to Lapland, you will do well taking a great portion of enthusiasm for the outdoors with you. “My ice float on the river really felt like a comfy water bed”, I beam at Christine after my adventurous ice swim. “Beautiful, as if nothing else mattered … a great feeling!”
Where ice fishing & snowmobiling are among the coolest things to do, Huskies cannot be far either. We have paid a visit to “Erä-Susi” – the wolf man! – near Ruka-Kuusamo.
Only about fifteen minutes drive from our Ruka ski resort town, Jukka Nordman runs his husky farm of about 200 dogs. He does, however, prefer to introduce himself as follows: “My real name is Jukka .. But you can call me Susi.!” SUSI. Said by a tall & strong Fin. Because that means “wolf”. Only, it’s in Finnish. But I cannot help myself, but think of a small girl (in German) when he says, “Please call me Susi .!”
After a short introduction into the art of husky sledging, we are ready to go: The dogs even more, “they are born to run and pull a sleigh”, Mister Susi tells us in his authoritative, yet warm voice. A little later, he returns holding a five week husky puppy on his arm, happy to pass him around. Blown away by the magic of this spot, and steering our own husky sledge, I respond with my love for travel photography.
(Snowshoe) Hiking in the national park, skiing as well as abseiling from a frozen waterfall are definitely state-of-the-art here in Lapland. Must-dos for all those adventurous at heart!
Have you ever listened to the “sound of silence”? Lapland’s deeply snow-covered winter forests offer you this unique opportunity. It really is, absolutely silent. I do dare to say that this has all but vanished from the hustle & bustle of life in Central Europe. Mile after mile, just silence. Not even the “sound” of freshly falling snow, let alone some animal, wind or cracking in the woods.
Consider stepping on to that stage of nature by taking a guided (snowshoe) hike in the national parks of Finland. Check this out.
Last but not least, “Sauna’s calling”.
Because I do take that you, just like me, are pretty cold now. Shivering from being afoot in the snow and well, nothing else is going to help you but a visit to the sauna. A real and true Finnish sauna at that. Because the Finnish sauna isn’t an awful 80-90°C hot, but rather a warm & welcoming 55-65°C, I learn. Including high humidity from hot steam. Not even I knew that, despite being called a real “sauna freak” by my dear friends sometimes!
Check out why the Fins, in turn, have decided to stage a whole sauna tour around their most popular world export item.
Fancy watching even more Lapland photographs? Here they are. See you soon in Finland! 🙂
Disclaimer: We have been invited by VisitFinland on this trip to Lapland. All opinions are my own.