Finnish Wilderness Week - just book it!
What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?
Dog-sledding was an amazing experience, like floating on top of a Christmas cake, the scenery is like Narnia untouched & spectacular with only the tracks from the sledges before you & the people on your group. The dogs howl & bark & pull until the off then they are silent through the beautiful white forest! Dinner outside making pancakes on a fire also a highlight on our last night. Ice climbing at the base itself - challenging but fantastic to learn a new skill. Snow-shoeing with a few of the group on the Little Bear Trail through forests, passing roaring rivers & sliding down embankments on our bums! Building a quinzee on a lake as a group - scary for the claustrophobic but a fantastic experience. All rewarded with a soak in the hot tub or a relax & chat in the sauna! There were so many inspirational moments, but also down-time where you could pick up a pair of snow shoes or cross-country skis, or sledges & head out on your own. The staff asked that you write down where you were going, times etc & a mobile number so we always felt safe & looked after, perfect as there were many solo travellers within the group. The chefs prepare the meals & then announce what they have made & it was always wonderful! I am a vegetarian and was happier than when at home in England! Lots of hearty stews with fresh vegetables & divine puddings such as almond & berry tart, scandanavian pancakes, cakes, crumbles - yum yum!! There is one meal choice plus lovely salad to choose from, but if you don't like fish, I would tell them you are vegetarian, as some of the soups had whole (but small) fish in them which put some people off. Vegetarians have first dabs at the vege food so the staff say to check they have had enough before the meat-eaters eat the vege dishes which I thought was lovely!
What did you think of your group leader?
Martti was with us for most of the time but also Jukka & Juuri. All were fantastic, knowledgeable, friendly, and really enthusiastic to ensure we enjoyed ourselves, but they also took our safety very seriously. Martti & one of the lovely chefs showed us to the coach at the end of the trip & hugged each one of us good bye - I really did not want to leave as they are all so wonderful & the place stunning!
Do you have any advice for potential travellers?
You really only need to bring your own thermal underwear and probably woollen socks, as everything for the days is provided. In the evenings it is very casual so jogging bottoms & jumpers are perfect - I lived in leg gins & hoodies at night. They advise the women to wear no make up as if it is water-based it can freeze, so once I got my head around it is was so lovely to not wear it for the rest of the trip even in the evenings! Expect to spend a fair bit of extra money as lunches are 11 Euros each & there is no where else to eat (but they are worth usually creamy fish or veg soups...ask if they will make the Beetroot & Blue Cheese Soup one day - it is soooo good!) There are many optional activities and they are a little pricey (290 Euros each for an extra full-day of dog-sledding), but you don't have to do them. Squash, water, tea & coffee always available to help yourself in the main building (not in rooms) but other soft drinks & alcohol is extra. Not a massive choice but we found most people were chilled out with the drinks available or had the occasional beer so it worked perfectly. I made a bottle of wine (21 Euros) last a week which was fine.
Is there anything else you would like to add?
This is the best holiday we've been on and we felt it was really well balanced in terms of activity, down-time, food, scenery etc. Even at -39 degrees celcius we can still say it was amazing & we would advise anyone to do it. The age range was 20 -60 I would say with a mix of people but we all got on fantastic although you could just sit in the main building & read a book whilst people were playing poker, or other sat by the fire having a drink & a laugh - it was great to have this variety so no-one felt they had to go back to their rooms. Definitely try the hot tub & sauna as after a day out on the snow, this is very much appreciated! But take a glove or towel outside with you as the handle back in freezes & sticks to your hand!! Overall we felt very looked after & safe & felt like we got to see how stunning the Oulanka National Park was, how lovely the people were & had a fab time trying out new activities which were sometimes tricky & hard-work but well worth it! Stop thinking & just book it!