I couldn’t feel the cold. The predominately white landscape whooshed by me in unadulterated purity and secluded frostiness. Paradoxically, I felt complete stillness and unrestrained speed at the same time.
A few metres ahead of me a dog side-stepped to the right, plunging her furry face into a mound of melting snow and came back up with a mouthful of fresh cold water. All of this without skipping a beat. The pack pulled her back into her rightful place while her tongue slumped out of her mouth in ecstasy followed by a sassy grin.
She was a white Siberian huskie named Luna. One of 8 strong, beautiful huskies bounding in pure, natural delight through the Finnish forest, pulling along a wooden sled filled with my dearest loved ones. The only smiles larger than Luna’s belonged to my children.
It was the ultimate family Christmas. A Lapland winter paradise.
I love dogs. I have a Jack Russell dog back in Australia, named Snuffy. I miss him terribly so the idea of visiting a husky farm conjured warm memories. We chose the Husky Family Safari through Lapland Safaris. It seemed to offer the perfect family friendly pace we were searching for.
We arrived half an hour before our tour departure at the Lapland Safaris head office in the Rovaniemi city centre. It’s location overlooks the Kemijoki river, which was partly frozen and provided stunning photographs.
Before the trip we had organised snow coverage through Travel Insurance Direct, our preferred travel insurance company. So when we arrived and signed the waiver paperwork we could do so knowing that any potential problems, albeit unlikely, were covered.
The office was mammoth with several rooms. Each one focused on a different type of clothing. We were instructed to strip off our jackets and shoes and were provided warm snowsuits, boots, gloves, scarves, and beanies – you name it. To our immense surprise they even stocked clothing and boots for our 6 foot 9 (205cm) member Daddy Bender. No small feat since he wears size 15 shoes (51 European size).
It took awhile to get all geared up (nothing different from dressing kids anyway) and then we were out the back door and onto the waiting shuttle bus that drove us out of the city and deep into the alabaster-coloured Lappish forest.
Hopping out of the bus and landing in the softest, freshest snow I’ve ever experienced in my life was electrifying. The suits worked perfectly and we didn’t feel the cold at all. We were greeted by Ola, who welcomed us to the husky farm.
This farm is home to 275 huskies. Each has a name and it’s own kennel. The staff members learn all their names and know each one of them individually - all their personalities and peculiarities. The dogs spend all year outdoors and love people, so are always ready for a cuddle or scratch behind the ears.
But there’s nothing huskies love more than running at full stride through the forest. As we got closer to the team who was going to pull our sled they started to howl and fidget impatiently. The excitement was tangible.
Josh decided he would be the driver so Mia, Caius and I stepped into the wooden sled, while he stood on the back. He would be helping push the sled when the dogs needed it, along with the occasional braking, but there wasn’t any real steering concept so not much else to do.
The take-off was swift. The huskies were busting to run and as soon as they were given an opportunity, they were off and racing accelerating rapidly. 6 strong males and 2 healthy females. Smarter huskies had been placed at the front of the pack to lead the other dogs. The strongest were at the back to carry the weight of the sled.
The forest was pure white. Snow clung firmly to branches, looking like a winter scene out of the movies. The ground was littered in fresh, fluffy snow. And while there were zero daylight hours in Rovaniemi at this time of the year, a certain ethereal ambiance from the indirect sunlight and the reflection of snow illuminated the unimaginable vista.
We were rocketing through the forest. All I could hear were gleeful giggles from Josh on the back, as much as from the kids. The huskies gave an occasional yap in response to the hollers from our guide who was on a snowmobile at the front of the pack, setting the pace.
Words failed me. This had to be one of my most incredible experiences in my decades of travel. My cute kids, warm and cosy in front of me, and my husband hooping and hollering behind me.
It was over all too soon and we were back at our starting point, disembarking to give the dogs a cuddle and kiss in appreciation for the riveting journey. Most of the huskies are Siberian, but there were a few Alaskans tossed into the mix. They usually have brown or blue eyes, but there were several with both. The blue-eyed huskies were adorable and when I looked at them they seemed to see right through me with a piercing icy gaze. The brown-eyed huskies were just as huggable.
We walked over to a wooden lodge nearby for warm berry juice, gingerbread cookies and a bit more information about the husky farm.
After we caught our breath we took a walk around the farm with our guide to meet more beautiful huskies. Another highlight was the delightful puppies that were eager for our attention. Without question, the most adorable creatures ever!
Finally it was time to leave and I gave one last lingering look over my shoulder at the picturesque farm and it’s sweet, lovable huskies. I imprinted the image in my mind and on my heart before a snowball hit me in the back of the head. I turned to chase down the little rascals before the bus driver called us to come.
For an unforgettable experience I would highly recommend the Lapland Safaris Family Husky Safari without a second thought. It’s a memory my family will cherish forever and a highlight in our search for the Ultimate Family Christmas. And of course it was a woofing good time!