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For those who dream of experiencing a real-life winter wonderland, look no further than Lapland. Encompassing the largest and northernmost region of Finland, this legendary province borders Sweden, Norway, and Russia, and has been inhabited by the semi-nomadic, reindeer-herding Sámi people since prehistoric times.
Here, the pristine Arctic landscape is known for its snow-capped conifers, crystal clear skies, and outdoor activities — including snowmobiling, Nordic skiing, dog sledding, and reindeer-drawn sleigh rides. Lapland is also one of the best places in the world to take in the otherworldly Northern Lights, which swirl across expansive skies as many as 200 nights a year.
During our 7-day journey through Finnish Lapland, we encounter vast snow-covered plains, towering old-growth forests, and frozen lakes. We try our hand at regional modes of transportation — including kicksleds and snowshoes — sample local cuisine, and take a deep dive into the history, folk stories, and lifestyles of the resilient people who call this region home. Our evening excursions are designed around possible views of the incandescent, Northern Lights overhead, often accented by hot drinks around crackling campfires.
When it’s time to rest, we retreat to cozy, woodland hotels and cabins, where we drift off to sleep after a full day of adventures in mythical Lapland.
Arrival & Welcome Dinner
Welcome to Lapland! Upon arrival at Kittilä Airport in northern Finland, you transfer about 30 minutes to the Hotel Taivaanvalkeat in the nearby village of Köngäs.
Known as the "Elf Hideaway," this cozy, rustic lodge is located on the River Ounasjoki, near the famed Levi ski resort, and is our home away from home for the next two evenings. Tonight, we enjoy a welcome dinner of regional specialties as we prepare for an exciting week together in the Arctic.
Hotel TaivaanvalkeatKöngäs, Finland
Housing thirteen stylish rooms decorated with traditional Finnish tapestries, this rustic lodge overlooks the River Ounasjoki and surrounding forest. With its resident reindeer, trails through "elves village", and festive décor you may feel as though you have entered Santa’s workshop.
Kicksled ‘Safari', Reindeer-Drawn Sleigh Ride
This morning after breakfast at our hotel, we venture into Lapland's vast, snowy wilderness for a guided kicksled safari, enjoying the unique scenery and some local folk stories along the way. In use since the 19th century, the traditional kicksled, or 'spark', is a sled vehicle that riders propel by kicking the ground behind its flexible, metal runners. Kicksled racing has been popular in this region for centuries and was revived as a serious sport in Finland in the 1990s.
At midday, we take a break to refuel with a traditional lunch of grilled sausages and other regional snacks.
This afternoon we meet our Sámi guide who shares stories of his family and their reindeer-herding traditions, before embarking on a reindeer-drawn sleigh ride through the surrounding forest. With miles of pristine white snow and towering evergreen trees, the landscape here is unlike anywhere else on earth.
For dinner this evening, we return to the roaring hearth inside our boutique lodge. Tonight, we hope to catch our first glimpse of the majestic Northern Lights during a walk through the trails on our hotel property.
National Museum of the Finnish Sámi, Lake Inari to Aurora Camp
Today we make a 2.5-hour transfer north from Köngäs to the shores of Lake Inari. We visit Siida — the National Museum of the Finnish Sámi, who are this region's native, semi-nomadic people.
Since prehistoric times, the Sámi have lived and worked in the northern Arctic, fishing, trapping, and herding sheep and reindeer, the latter of which they use for transportation, fur, and meat. During our guided visit to the museum, we learn more about the indigenous peoples of the Arctic and the unique survival strategies that have allowed them to exist for centuries in this harsh landscape.
After lunch at Siida, we continue to the Wilderness Hotel Muotka, in Saariselkä, an hour's drive away.
Tonight, after dinner, we prepare for our excursion to the Aurora Camp. Dressed in thermal clothing and seated in a comfortable, snowmobile-pulled sledge, we keep an eye out for the Northern Lights on the way to the camp. Upon arrival, we are met by a blazing campfire, and enjoy hot drinks and lively stories before returning to our glass-roofed cabins for the evening, falling asleep under views of the vast Arctic sky.
Wilderness Hotel MuotkaSaariselkä, Finland
Enjoy expansive views of the Northern Lights from the comfort of your own bed at this cozy collection of glass-roofed, woodland cabins, which also contain private bathrooms and saunas.
Muotka to Pyhä-Luosto National Park
After breakfast, we transfer 2 hours south to Pyhä-Luosto National Park. The fells chain of Pyhä-Luosto is one of the oldest in the world and was once considered to be the home of gods by the forest Sámi who were living in the area. Here we enjoy the sparkling, snow-capped scenery with a Nordic ski. Cross-country, or Nordic skiing, is a national sport in Finland and a traditional mode of transportation throughout Lapland. This activity is appropriate for every ability — from beginners to seasoned pros, alike — and is a terrific form of exercise. We conclude our ski at the Naava Center where we learn about the natural and cultural history of the region.
This evening we dine in our hotel restaurant where traditional delicacies are cooked on a lava stone grill in an open kitchen.
After dinner, we set out for a walk around Lake Ahvenlampi and its old-growth conifer forest, where we break for a special lesson in photographing the Northern Lights.
Santa's Hotel AuroraLuosto, Finland
Centrally located in the village of Luosto, this 23-room property features a contemporary cottage feel, complete with a fireplace and sauna in each room. The on-site restaurant features regional specialities cooked on a lava-stone grill.
Luosto Winter Adventure
Get ready! Today's agenda features a full lineup of exhilarating Lapland adventures. This morning, we snowshoe through the countryside, keeping an eye out for animal tracks, such as those of the Eurasian lynx, Arctic fox, or White rabbit. We wind our way through the forest to a hidden lunch spot where we are treated to homemade soup and a crackling fire.
This afternoon, we are greeted with a chorus of friendly barks and howls on a visit to a nearby farm that raises huskies. Here, we learn all about sled dogs which have been used for generations in Lapland for transportation, hauling, and recreational sled racing. After getting acquainted with our team of huskies and a short training session, we set off for an exciting dog sled ride through pristine snowfields.
This evening you are free to dine on your own, and possibly return Lake Ahvenlampi, a short walk from our hotel, to seek out the Northern Lights. Your guide will let you know if the aurora forecast is showing activity in the nocturnal sky. You may also choose to enjoy the fireplace and private sauna in your room — the perfect end to a memorable day in this winter wonderland.
Icebreaker Cruise & Rovaniemi
Our route today leads south toward Rovaniemi, the capital of Lapland, with a host of Arctic highlights along the way. We depart our hotel after breakfast and head to Kemi, a 3.5-hour drive away. Upon arrival, we receive a guided tour of the famous SnowCastle of Kemi, the largest snow fort in the world. First constructed in 1996, this unique "castle" features a restaurant, chapel, hotel, and 65-foot towers.
Next, we proceed to the Kemi port and prepare to board another Finnish legend: the 3,500-ton, 1961 Icebreaker Sampo, which plowed through ice fields in the surrounding seas for more than 25 years. Retired in 1987, the ship is now a beloved tourist attraction, and today, we cruise from Port Kemi, experiencing the unique sound of our steel vessel crashing through the Bothnian Sea's colossal ice field with an ever-changing sky overhead.
Along the way, we tour the Captain's bridge and engine rooms, breaking to fuel up with a hot meal in Icebreaker Sampo's elegant restaurant. Before returning to port, those who would like have the opportunity to put on survival suits and plunge into the sea for a guided float in the frozen water.
This afternoon, we transfer to Rovaniemi and check into our "treehouse" accommodations each with a private sauna and panoramic window facing the northern sky.
We gather for a farewell celebration tonight and toast to an unforgettable adventure in Finnish Lapland!
Arctic TreeHouse HotelRovaniemi, Finland
Arctic TreeHouse Hotel provides a unique blend of luxury comfort, local Lappish traditions and modern Scandinavian design. In contrast to the meticulously designed accommodation and nest-like coziness, the panoramic views from the windows provide impressive spectacles of the forest and Arctic sky.
This morning, depart at your leisure for the Rovaniemi Airport (10 minutes away by taxi) in time for your flight home.
Please note that this is a typical itinerary, and actual activities may vary due to weather conditions, local events, and to allow serendipity to play a hand in your experience. Accommodations are as outlined in the itinerary, although we reserve the right to change these or the order visited should the need arise.
Mar 1-7, 2020
$6,895 Per Person
First two reserved:$600
See single supplement policy below.
Accommodations (hotels, tents, cruise cabins) are based on double occupancy. A single supplement is paid by participants who specifically request single accommodations, subject to availability. If you reserve at least 120 days prior to departure, you may be eligible for a reduced or free single supplement.* This is generally limited to the first one or two solo travelers to reserve, and the reduction is outlined in the pricing for each trip. Please note, free or reduced single supplements are not combinable with other offers or promotions.
If you are traveling alone and wish to share accommodations, we will try to match you with a roommate of the same gender. If you reserve at least 120 days ahead and a roommate is not available, you will only be charged a “forced” single supplement in the amount of 50% of the standard single supplement* (unless otherwise noted in the detailed itinerary). Single accommodations are limited so you are encouraged to reserve early!
*This may not apply to certain trips with unique accommodation arrangements. Please see specific trip information for more details.
Boundless Journeys trips are designed for energetic and flexible individuals who like to be active and have a spirit of adventure and a positive attitude. Lapland: Experience the Arctic is rated 2, easy to moderate, on a scale of 1-5 (with 5 being the most strenuous). The terrain we cover is incredibly varied. We enjoy some gentle walks, Nordic skiing, and snowshoeing. Please be aware that activities may be changed last-minute due to weather conditions, which are highly unpredictable in Lapland.
On our dog sled safaris you are the actual musher (driver) of the team of sled dogs. Generally, there are two persons per dog sled; one person mushing and other traveling as a passenger inside the sled. Switching positions can be done during any of the breaks, but never while the sled is moving. The guide travels as the first sled, so as to set the pace and not let any teams pass. It is also common for the safari to be accompanied by a snowmobile.
It is important to remember that dogs respond differently to trail conditions, weather, people and each other on a moment-to-moment basis. For professional mushers, this is part of the thrill of dog sledding, as no two runs are ever the same!
Dog sledding is a team sport, and the musher is part of the team, encouraging the dogs, working with the sled (pushing with one foot or walking behind) when going up hills and steering and braking when coming down hills. By doing this, the dogs gain trust in your abilities, although some may still give you a backward glance with questioning eyes from time to time! While riding as the passenger your job is to enjoy the scenery, the dogs, and have fun!
Reindeer safaris are similar to the dog sledding experience but much slower, and shorter in duration. Sleds are typically connected to the guide sled who directs the team of reindeer.
All dog sled and reindeer safaris are operated locally by independent and accredited operators. Before commencing these activities the local operator may ask you to sign an indemnity form, which in such case, will be a mandatory requirement in order to participate in the activity.
It is important to see the Northern Lights as just one of many thrills of a winter trip to Finland. With luck we will see the sky ablaze with dancing lights, but this can never be guaranteed. The Northern Lights are only visible when the sky is clear and free of clouds. And, like many natural wonders, they are ephemeral — appearing for a bit, and then disappearing.
The unique colors of the Northern Lights are created by the Earth's spectra of gases and the height in the atmosphere where the collision of particles from the sun and the Earth's gases takes place. Our naked eye can most easily see the green-yellow part of the spectrum where the sun emits most of its light. Green is the most common color observed but the Northern Lights can also appear white-gray, blue, purple, or even red.
Please be prepared to wait outside while looking for aurora. It is best to dress warmly, in layers, with good footwear, gloves, hats and whatever else will make you comfortable while you patiently await the possibility of a truly outstanding light show.
Köngäs, Finland | Closest airport: Kittilä (KTT)
Rovaniemi, Finland | Closest airport: Rovaniemi (RVN)
Traditional meals in Lapland are quite simple but tasty. Potatoes and other root vegetables have an important role with the cuisine. Before modern days, root vegetables were the only vegetables to be able to store over a long winter. During the winter months, dishes can be quite heavy, and include meat, stews, hearty soups, and creamy dishes, in addition to fresh seafood. Rye or whole grain bread is often served with everything.
Breakfast is considered the most important meal of the day, and breakfast buffets at hotels are generally abundant. A typical Scandinavian lunch might consist of comfort food such as vegetable or fish soup, chicken or fish, and potatoes. Pastries such as the delicious Finnish doughnut, or Munkki, are hard to resist. Cooking is simple while still using the best ingredients to make it flavorful.
Sitting in the Arctic Circle, Lapland's climate is characterized by long, cold winters and short, mild summers. However, the influence of the nearby Atlantic Ocean helps control temperatures, which means that the weather is never too extreme.
March marks the end of winter in Lapland. While spring is on its way and the days are getting longer, the month still remains cold with plenty of snow. The average temperature in March is 25ºF with highs of 35ºF The coldest part of the day is at night, when temperatures can drop to 14ºF , so you are advised to dress in warm layers in the evening. Despite this, the crisp days of March can be quite enjoyable, with dry air and increasing sunshine.
Lapland is well-known for its dark winters, but days are rapidly getting lighter in March with 9-12 hours of daylight each day. During this trip you can expect the sun to rise between 6:00 a.m. and 6.30 a.m. and set between 5:00 p.m. and 5:30 p.m.
Regardless of the weather, Laplanders head out and get active in the snow! The local saying in the area is, "There is no such thing as bad weather, there is only bad clothing."
You may obtain more detailed weather information by visiting www.weatherbase.com.
Kristiina (Krisse) is active nature guide from Lapland. A former series soccer player and now an active mother of a 2 1/2 year-old daughter, her hobbies are cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, and hiking. With a degree in Hospitality Management, and one year of army education, she is well versed on guiding in a winter climate and handles every situation with grace and ease. She is known for her positive outlook and smile, and brings cheer to every group!
With a Boundless Journeys guide, your experience is that of friend and local adventurer. We believe strongly in working with local guides, experts in the areas to which we travel, and they hold the keys to unlocking the hidden delights of your chosen destination. Although you will never know they are at work—the mark of a truly great leader—our guides make magical things happen and add a dimension to your trip that you could not experience on your own. Over the years we have forged bonds with some of the best guides in the world, and we typically work with a small team of guides in each region. You will be informed of the guide for your trip one month prior to your departure.
Easy walking, nordic skiing and snowshoeing.
This trip can be your own adventure by taking over one of our scheduled dates, or we can request a fresh one.
By: Deborah Tobey
For those who dream of experiencing a real-life winter wonderland, look no further than Lapland, Finland's northermost region. If you’ve enjoyed reading and are inspired to join us or have questions…
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Join us to explore a real-life winter wonderland in Finland's northernmost region of Lapland, the land of the reindeer-herding Sami people, Northern Lights, and sparkling wilderness. Reserve by October 25th to save $500 per person. Conditions apply.