What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?
Dog-sledding was, undoubtedly, a highlight. The choral howling of the Husky teams augured the delights to come: crisp, cold air; views of white expanses and distant hills; and, best of all, the responsiveness of these powerful, beautiful beasts, with their dense fur, icy eyes and impressive abilities to poo while in full flight. There’s also perverse enjoyment, not to mention satisfaction, to be had from building your own quinzee, and – if you must – sleeping in it. We didn’t bother with the latter, having sent our respective Tyler Durdens on vacation elsewhere; but construction was made easier by the ‘can-do’ attitude of Rebecca and Andrew, our partners in architectural crime. The wind whistling through our snow-sodden clothes seemed a little less harsh, thanks to both of you. The propulsive powers of the f-word proved remarkable on a steep incline. Indeed, as most of our remaining time was spent falling over or crashing into things, we swore the air into a deep, deep shade of blue. It matched the bruises.
What did you think of your group leader?
A passionate ambassador for the outdoor life, Noora was also a knowledgeable and approachable leader who acted promptly on requests. Indeed, all of the staff were very friendly and helpful, and the chef had made an evident effort to accommodate our dietary needs.
Do you have any advice for potential travellers?
It was a little cheeky of Exodus to describe the trip as an 8-day holiday, when two of the days consisted entirely of travelling to and from our destination. The lengthy transfer from Rovaniemi to the lodge was especially unwelcome at the end of a 15-hour journey, much of which was spent loitering around airports, waiting for flights. If sentenced to spend an age in Helsinki airport, break up the time, as we did, by taking a Finnair bus into the city centre – a journey of 30 minutes, at the most - and seeing the sights on foot. We found the food at Basecamp Oulanka to be suitably hearty fuel for an active(ish) break, but to other group members it seemed stodgy and over-fried. Stock up on extra fruit, perhaps, if travelling outside berry-picking time: the seasonal menu meant that it was noticeable by its relative absence. Finally, be prepared to NOT see the Aurora Borealis. We didn't. However, if you stare at a lightbulb and then rub you eyelids vigorously, you can achieve a pretty convincing approximation.
Is there anything else you would like to add?
In contrast to the experiences of other travellers, we really cannot say that we were misinformed by Exodus. The costs of optional activities were described accurately, give or take a few Euros, as were the facilities provided by the lodge. We re-checked the trip notes on the way home, and found that some of the complaints we'd heard were about matters pre-emptively addressed in the literature. Make the effort to read all of the available information before booking. One last point: Teddy’s energy bars, which are only available at the lodge, are things of wonder and joy. If you need to feel virtuous about partaking, a couple are just the ticket on a long walk. If you simply like feeling happy, sod the exercise, eat them anyway and imagine – as we did – that they contain a secret ingredient. Something did.