Sledding-through-the-Taiga-forest

Finland Trip Guide

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Finland's seemingly endless winter offers a plethora of activities in the Arctic snow. We love the vast expanses of fluffy white, cloaking the hardy pine trees. Winters here usually offer relatively stable conditions, with light winds and irregular rain or snowfall. However, the extreme temperatures mean that a blanket of snow will almost definitely be found covering the ground between December and May. This winter playground holds an enchanting pull, as the indigenous Sami people create a breadth of exciting adventures interspersed by cultural traditions. 



How to get to Finland


You will need to arrive into Kuusamo airport (KAO). 

From the UK, there are direct flights to Kuusamo from London Gatwick, Manchester and Birmingham with TUI or Finnair and Air France offer flights with a layover in Helsinki. Flights from Scotland and London Heathrow all go via Helsinki. 
If you're coming from the US, Finnair offer flights with a stopover in Helsinki from New York, Los Angeles and Dallas . From Atlanta and Miami you will need to fly via one of the other US airports or have a stopover in Europe and Helsinki. 

Travelling Responsibly
Alternatively if you wish to travel more responsibly, then there are other ways to reach Kuusamo. The journey from London to Kuusamo takes around 3 days by train and bus. Taking the Eurostar to Brussels, stay the night in Brussels then get on the InterCity Express or ICE train to Hamburg where you change to a sleeper train to Stockholm. From Stockholm a very luxurious overnight ferry called the Silja Line will take you direct to Helsinki. From here, the Onni  M5-SKI bus leaves late night on a Friday, arriving into Kuusamo mid morning the next day.   This option isn't cheap or fast, expect to pay somewhere in the range of £500 for your journey. However, it is great value for money, a greener alternative to flying and means you can start your adventure early!  


Our Finnish adventures


FINLAND MULTI ACTIVITY | Discover the serene landscapes of Finland, exploring one of the most stunning and isolated parts of Europe by foot, sled and snowmobile. This multi activity trip sees you embarking on a series of mini adventures; trying your hand at dog sledding journey on a traditional Finnish sled, snowshoeing through the tranquil, Taiga Forest, getting the adrenaline pumping on a snowmobile safari and drilling through the frozen lakes to learn the art of ice fishing. 


FINLAND DOGSLEDDING EXPEDITION | About as far off the beaten track as you can get, this adventure pushes the realms of teamwork between man and his four legged friend. Mastering the Finnish art of dog-sledding we forge out into the wilderness on a 5 day expedition, lead by our furry companions. An exceptional and unique experience, sledding across the beautiful, frozen Taiga landscape in the heart of the Hossa National Park. Build up a close bond with the huskies as you feed, lead and care for them each morning and evening before settling into truly off-grid cabins and toasting your day to the flicker of the fire.



When to visit


You can find detailed advice on when to visit in our Finland Travel Guide.


This is a brief summary. Finland is a beautiful country to visit in winter or summer with stunning snow cover in winter, and dense, woodland landscapes in summer, both these are great options. Our favourite however, is definitely the winter. You can expect relatively short days with calm conditions and drawn out nights providing excellent Northern Lights viewing opportunities. In the far north the sun will never fully set in summer and you can experience the "midnight sun", then in winter it remains below the horizon and  "polar night" lasts for 51 days. We think this is the best time to visit Finland, but with temperatures between -15˚C and -1˚C, it is cold! Being prepared for the cold will greatly increase your enjoyment of the trips, so pack your thermals and plenty of layers, in short, come prepared.


Training for your trek


Our Finland adventures involve taking part in physical activity up to 5 hours per day. In good conditions, these can feel easy but if you encounter poor weather or conditions, they can feel very difficult indeed. Trekking through snow can be very tiring, and the cold weather conditions can also make hiking feel much more challenging. In general, however, the routes have little ascent and descent so anybody with a good level of fitness should find them well within their capabilities. We would recommend heading out into your local hills in the months leading up to your trip to get used to being out for 6-7 hours per day. As well as taking part in your activities, you will also be assisting with cooking, caring for the animals and fetching snow for water. There are no porters, cooks or waiters when out on your activities or on expedition, you are part of the team and must do your share of the work. Although this makes the adventure more demanding, it also adds to the enormous sense of satisfaction and achievement at the end of your journey.



Training for your dogsledding adventure


Dogsledding for multiple days in a row is definitely a little unusual for most of us, so it is really important to train the muscles in your arms and core in particular, to withstand your week long dogsledding trip. This trip is more taxing than you might imagine, particularly if the snow conditions aren't ideal.  You will need to train your entire body to help steer the sled and assist your canine team in pushing the sled up the hills, as contrary to popular opinion, the dogs wont be able to pull you up on their own! Using a cross trainer, going swimming or running are all good activities that will help to build muscles in your whole body. Below is a more in depth guide on how to train for this activity. 



Equipment


Good equipment starts with your feet. Do not turn up for your trip in a shiny new pair of boots. Make sure your boots are well worn in and are comfortable. After your feet, make sure you are looking after your head. You will need something really warm like a woolly beanie to prevent you losing heat from your head. Finally, think about clothing layers, the extreme cold is an important consideration in Finland and particularly your base layers, will make a huge difference to how warm you are able to stay. Having base layers made from fast drying materials or materials that stay warm when wet, like wool, mean that if you get a little sweaty on your activities, your body will still be able to keep warm. Another great way of coping with the cold is with layering rather than relying on one single jacket. Other critical items are trekking poles for snowshoeing, a head torch, a comfortable day pack and lots and lots of high factor sunscreen (the snow can intensify the sun dramatically). 


RECOMMENDED EQUIPMENT


Accommodation and food in Finland




On our Finland trips we stay in lodge accommodation which is located on our Basecamp in the heart of the Hossa National Park, more than 60 miles from the nearest village or shops. There are 23 inhabitants in and around Hossa, most of whom are reindeer farmers. Here we work closely with the authorities to protect and preserve the stunning beauty of this National Park. During your stay you may cross pass with local ice fishers or Nordic skiers. 


Dependent on availability we will either stay in a lodge or cottage.

The lodges have a double or twin room with lake views, private bathrooms and access to the shared saunas on site. Sheets, blankets and bath towels are all provided although we recommend you bring a second towel to use in the sauna. Single supplement is available upon request. 





The cottages or mökki are an integral part of Finnish culture. Mökki have a double or twin room with lake views, private bathrooms and a private sauna attached. Sheets, blankets and bath towels are all provided although we recommend you bring a second towel to use in the sauna. Single supplement is available upon request.  



The traditional log cabins we stay in whilst on our expedition are a truly off-grid experience; that said, they are all well-equipped and many even have Finnish saunas attached! They usually contain a single, shared dormitory for 4 to 6 people and a communal living area. There is often no running water or electricity in the cabins and compost toilets will be found outside. Heating is provided by wood burning stoves which warm the cabins quickly and efficiently. Single supplement cannot be accommodated in the cabins.


Toilets


In Finland, your lodge accommodation will have western style flushing toilets. Whilst out on expedition, the toilets will be dry, compost toilets. During the daytime, it is a case of finding somewhere hidden, away from the tracks and digging a hole. We can guarantee it will be a very scenic toilet break! Please remember to bring toilet roll and a lighter to burn it after use. 



Budget



The currency in Finland is the Euro (EUR).  For the latest exchange rates please see www.xe.com

 

Foreign money can be exchanged at the Forex in Kuusamo airport on arrival or you can bring money already exchanged with you, as the Euro is an open currency.  We would recommend the latter as we will be heading to a remote area of Finland, so you may find it difficult to exchange your money after leaving the airport.

 

The simplest way to pay for things in Hossa and Kuusamo is to use an international credit card or debit card. Visa and Mastercard are accepted everywhere alongside standard travel cards such as Monzo and Revolut. You may wish to have some Euros to hand, to pay for drinks or personal expenses from our basecamp. As with most of Scandinavia, Finland is not a cheap place to be, although it is cheaper than it's Scandinavian neighbours. In Kuusamo, a meal for 2 in a mid range restaurant will cost around 80 Euros ($86/ £68) and a taxi starting price will be around 7 Euros ($7.50/£6). As this trip is Full Board from dinner on the first night to breakfast on the last day, you only need spending money for souvenirs and drinks.



Tips


Tipping customs vary all over the world and can be very confusing when travelling to a new country. There is not a strong culture for tipping in Finland, tips are not a substitute for good wages: our guides are all well paid and well looked after. Tipping is completely voluntary, and at your discretion. If you are unsure of how much to tip, a general guide of €10 per person for the entire trip should suffice. On the other hand, if you receive bad service or have not been treated well, you would not be expected to tip at all.