Date of stay: Jan 2012 – 6 days
Where you stayed: Tour Accommodation
Tour or pre planned: Tour – Scanbalt Experience
The Lapland area of Scandinavia is famous for reindeer, Aurora Borealis (Northern lights), and Santa Clause. It is an area in the northern reaches where there are just 2 people per square kilometre.
I did a tour through Scanbalt Experience called the Lapland Express. The tour was a 6 day Stockholm start and finish.
The tour company specializes in Scandinavia and eastern European regions (including Russia). From this experience, I found it to be very organized and had something for everyone. The initial cost for the tour was only €330 euros and you have plenty of optional activities available depending on your budget.
This tour was truly unforgettable; we were led by our tour guide who knew her facts and figures whenever she was asked a question. We visited Kiruna which is a small city in the Arctic circle well known for its iron mining (one of the main economic growth trades in Sweden). In Kiruna we did a half day trip out to a place where we could go sledding with the husky dogs, and drive a snow mobile, definitely a highlight of the trip!
There was also the option to visit the iron mine and go 540m under the earth’s crust. This was run directly through the iron mine, and was a great insight into how mining is done and how it has changed over the years. Click on the following link for more info - http://www.lkab.com/en/
From Kiruna we visited the Ice Hotel in Jukkasjärvi which is only a 30min bus ride away, again a truly unforgettable place, and you can stay there for a hefty price, but the rooms you sleep in are all carved differently according to different artists/sculpturists.
We also went to a Sami village (the Sami’s are the native people up north in Scandinavia), and we heard stories about their everyday life, they live on a reindeer farm so it was a good way to hang out with Rudolph when he isn’t dragging Santa around.
From there we went up to Abisko National Park which is a hot spot for tourists to see the northern lights (or in the summer there’s a lot of hiking/tramping available). Here we had different activities on offer such as cross country skiing, ice climbing (up a frozen waterfall), and ice bathing! (see photos below)
Ice bathing was an experience, the hostel cut a hole in the lake for us (the ice was 40cm thick) and one by one we would go running from the lakeside sauna to the ice bath, and back again. What an experience. I would be truly regrettable if you get cold feet and chicken out (excuse the pun). So just do it!
Unfortunately we didn’t get a great look at the northern lights due to weather conditions, but you have to be in to win and there has been some great photos taken from this area of the phenomenon. See other Northern Lights blog for more information and photos.
Overall the trip was very enjoyable and it was great meeting a lot of people from all walks of life. Most of the people on the tour were students as Scanbalt offers a discounted rate, but it was open to anyone who wanted to go on the trip. Scanbalt also offers trips which are more focussed for the older clientele too.
Would you recommend this destination: Yes
Would you recommend your tour: Yes
Overall rating: 5 out of 5