We had to get up at 10 past 6 on our last day in Lapland, as we’d booked in for a Husky Heaven Safari. The coach left at 20 past 7, and was supposed to deliver us back to the hotel at 9:15, which would leave us just over an hour to pack before we were taken to the airport. Because, of course, we hadn’t bothered packing the night before…
DS was not impressed about having to get out of bed at such an ungodly time; he’s a 12 hours a night kind of boy. He consequently refused to go to the toilet and of course we didn’t dare put him in his snowsuit until he’d been, but in the end we bribed him with our last remaining Tesco’s chocolate pancake. We wore all our kit down to breakfast, which was interesting and hopped straight on the bus after eating.
The trip to the husky farm didn’t take long, around 25 minutes, but we could see that the weather had become windier overnight, and was consequently colder. DS was still not happy about getting up so early and was trying his best to go back to sleep. Once we got turfed out of the bus at the husky farm, we listened to the safety talk (pretty much the same as the previous day: Use The Brake and Keep The Trace Taut) then got shown to our sled.
The sleds were slightly different to the ones we’d used the day before; they were metal, not wood, and slightly longer.
Our family was split into two groups and we had a driver for the two older girls, a nice young lady called Sue. The DD’s took to her immediately and she had them singing all the way around the trail. DH drove me holding DS, while DD3 sat in the front of us. I was going to swap at the half way point, about 15 minutes into the adventure.
The dogs on the Activity Day trail had been noisy but the noise coming from this lot were amazing! Not only were our dogs howling to be allowed to run, but every single dog on the farm was joining in. 130 dogs in all; what a din!
We were one of the last sleds off, so DH was standing on the brake for dear life when we were finally unroped. The dogs seemed kind of unruly to me, compared to the ones from the previous day, our last pair kept fighting and the lead dog seemed a bit unsure. DS was still whinging and crying, so I was hanging onto him when we set off. It was very cold, and dark too. We had no head lamps this time, so the only light was from the snow mobiles of the guys supervising the trail. We had to stop now and again to keep the required 10m between us and the sled in front, and a couple of times the lead dog went off to the side, instead of staying in front and we needed assistance to start off again. Luckily we’d been taught a few hand signs and one was for ‘Help’! Other than that it was a smooth ride.
The worst bit was the stink of the dogs. They reeked anyhow and every now and again one farted and it drifted back to us, but mostly it was a peaceful experience. So peaceful in fact, that DS fell asleep cuddled up to me and so I forfeited my chance to swap and drive at the halfway point in an effort to keep the peace. Besides, I didn’t really want to have to run beside the sled up all those hills.
On the way back, we had to stop for a while as each sled in front of us was secured, and our lead dog went off to the side again, then kept going until he’d gone back behind and around the sled. Then the two last dogs had a scrap around DH’s ankles, and the leader tried to go forwards again, but from the wrong side. We had to signal for help, which came quickly. The bloke called the dogs ‘stupid’, along with some other words, and then started flashing his headlamp for assistance. I tried to explain what had happened, but was largely ignored until they sorted it out for themselves. Finally we got out of the sled and walked 100 or so metres back to the farm where we remembered to get a photo of Barnaby Bear with the dogs.
Then it was back to the hut for hot juice and biscuits, then onto the bus. We got home just before 10, so packed in record time. It was pretty simple really; dirty clothes in the BIG suitcase, clean in the small!
We had to be at the tiny Ivalo airport 2 hours before our flight, just like for any other international flight, so the coach was on a tight schedule. We were amused to see cheeky Elves hanging off various road signs on the way out of Saariskella and into Ivalo. We hoped they hadn’t been there long as it was pretty cold out there!
It was quite slippery going out to the plane, and for some reason they had tried to seat us as a group of 3, 2 and then 1 separately, after been told we’d sit in the same seats on the way back as we had on the incoming flight. It all worked out in the end and the 4 hour flight home seemed to go quickly, as the staff had decorated the plane and organised quizzes and games to pass the time.
We had the excitement of an aborted landing at Gatwick and then we touched down in the UK on a grey, rainy Friday afternoon 2 days before Christmas. We didn’t feel very Christmassy though; where was all the snow?
We travelled with Esprit to Santa’s Lapland on the Santa’s Spectacular 4 day and stayed in the Holiday Club. We also did the Reindeer Run and the Husky Heaven optional extras. We thought the food and accomodation was average, the staff and organisation was good, but the entire experience was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Visiting the Real Santa was definitely a highlight.