Today we took a snow mobiling safari. We got all kitted up in snowsuits and helmets. The snowmobile was a two-seater so Gavin took control. It was a lot like a water ski. Our guide was very nice. In single file, we followed our guide along the frozen river. Gavin floored it on the wet patches. It was fun yet scary at the same time. We continued down the river for about 30 minutes, and then pulled into a side trail through some spectacular snow covered trees.
This was one of my favourite sights although it was only a two-minute trip. We then arrived at the reindeer park. The people at the park were dressed in traditional Lapland costume. The reindeers could be patted as long as you were wary of their antlers. They felt very wiry.
Now it was time for the big test. I got to drive the reindeer. All I had was an orange rope, flick to go pull gently to stop. Gavin was my passenger on a sleigh made of wood, sacking and reindeer skin.
The reindeer have had three years training and knew exactly what to do so it was a bit of a farce to receive my reindeerâ€™s driverâ€™s licence. If only driving a car was this easy.
While trotting nicely around the trail Gavin felt a tickle behind him, the next reindeer in fact. It was intent on being first and so went past us on a single file track. My reindeer was embarrassed by this so to compensate he took off at a great rate of knots. Luckily there was not far to go and he slowed down and pulled into park vertically in the exact spot it was meant to. It was a pretty smooth ride.
Reindeers are now herder mostly using snowmobiles. Electric reindeer as Gavin put it. They live to approx 12 years of age. But donâ€™t worry they are not wasted. Once they have had babies, pulled people around, raced professionally, they are then killed, skinned and eaten. There skin makes a lovely mat. No wastage! They can go about 60km an hour after training.
Warmed cranberry juice from a billy over an outdoor fire was in order. It was lovely. The buildings at the farm were log cabins and there was one tepee shaped building but with woven sticks rather then cloth and skins. Everything looked fantastic â€“ no wonder the term winter wonderland was coined. I got to slide down the hill on a bit of plastic before we were off to walk around the rest of the farm.
We were soon back at our snowmobiles. As we were a small group we had a lot of extra time so our guide took us further us the river. We got a chance to see real ice fishing â€“ although only a brief glimpse as Gavin had the hang of snow mobiling and had decided to see what it could do. That amounted to about 80km and me holding on for dear life â€“ not to mentioned the closed eyes.
By the time we got back the sun was on its way down, 2pm and we went off to have McDonalds in the most northern McDonalds in the world. With hardly any daylight left our bodies constantly thought we should be sleeping so we lazed about for the afternoon, nothing much was open anyway as it was the Christmas holiday.
After dinner this evening we got to sauna. I had no one to share the experience with but nevertheless stayed towelled up. It was incredibly hot the air was dry and it felt a little like your nose was burning. Gavin tried the traditional method and shared with one other guy. I’m still undecided on the experience but would do it again with some company. A traditional way to end our stay.