Last week, we travelled inside the Arctic Circle to the Norwegian city of Tromso. As the largest hub in the northern part of the country, Tromso is a popular destination for travellers in search of the Northern Lights and thrilling outdoor adventures. Aurora chases that take place through the night, snowmobile safaris, whale watching excursions and more can all be booked from this relatively small city, making it a hive of activity all year round and a favoured stop for cruise ships.
However, whilst the image of the Northern Lights dancing across the sky will live with us forever, there was one other highlight that we can wholeheartedly recommend to anyone making a similar trip. Husky sledding.
Even before we had booked our break, we were excited about the prospect of gliding through snow-covered forests in remote Norway, helped along by a trusty team of beautiful huskies. These expectations were met and surpassed, as the adventure turned out to be one of the best things we did during the trip and we would urge everyone to give it a try.
Born To Run
After being picked up by coach in the city centre, we travelled about 45 minutes into the wilderness. A journey involving tunnels, bridges and miles upon miles of breathtaking scenery took us to an area called Ramfjordbotn and the home of the huskies. As soon as we stepped off the bus, we could hear the dogs howling and barking as they were being organised into formation, eager to get going on their daily run.
They would have to wait a short while longer, though, as we headed into a wooden cabin to receive a crash course in driving the sleds from the guides. As well as being told about the three different ways to slow down/stop (black, moderate brake; silver, sharp brake and red, emergency brake), the instructor showed us a standing position dubbed ‘Charlie Chaplin’. This is where the driver stands with their feet turned outwards like the iconic actor, resting their heels on the wooden legs of the sled and their toes on the black brake. This ensures you’re always ready to slow down if you need to.
So with Charlie Chaplin nailed and warnings to brake when going downhill so that you don’t run over the dogs ringing in our heads, we donned our thermal suits and headed outside. Each sled was to be pulled by a team of six huskies – a group specifically chosen to match the weight and experience of each pair of driver and passenger. Diego and Debbie were leading our band of hard-working dogs and eagerly began tugging at the ropes as we climbed on board our sled.
Mushing Through The Snow
A quick check from the guide and we were off, following a well-worn, luge-like trail through the snow that the dogs seemed to know very well. There were around ten teams in total, all situated about ten metres apart in a chain. We sped past snow-dusted trees, through untouched fields and up various hills which required an extra push from the driver to help the dogs conquer the incline. All the while, dramatic peaks loomed around us, creating a stunning backdrop that we had no choice but to admire.
Halfway along the course, we swapped the drivers over so that both people in the two-man team could have a go at standing. Although this person had the responsibility of ensuring the safety of the dogs, this was undoubtedly the fun bit and give us a real opportunity to experience what life is like for the indigenous people that have used this mode of transport for hundreds of years (albeit just a small taste).
Returning to where we started, via a series of exciting downhill stretches, we parked the sleds and gave each member of our tireless team some well-deserved affection. That wouldn’t be the only dogs that we got to cuddle, though. We headed into a tent to warm up with some hot chocolate and lefse filled with brunost (Norwegian flatbreads topped with traditional brown cheese), but it wasn’t just refreshments that were waiting for us. In a wooden box on the floor were six adorable husky puppies, no more than six weeks old.
These curious canines wasted no time in exploring their surroundings and soon found their way into many of our arms. It was great to see how much the company running the tours clearly cared and looked after their dogs. Each animal seemed happy and healthy and these little ones were already showing signs that they wanted to get out into the wilds and investigate.
After many more strokes for the puppies and a few lefses for the road, the coach arrived to take us back to Tromso. All in all, the excursion lasted about four hours and we loved every minute of it. We were back in the city in time for lunch with plenty of the day left to discover what else there is to see and do.
If you would like to plan your own holiday to Tromso, we can help tailor-make a trip that includes everything you want to do. We could even add this to some time in Oslo or a few days exploring the Norwegian fjords. Call us on 0800 988 3369 or contact us through the website.