Located in the northernmost region of Finland, Lapland offers a myriad of activities all year round including: snowmobiling in Early Spring, hiking during the Nightless Night, foraging for berries and mushrooms during the Harvest season, reindeer sledding and Aurora hunting during the Polar Night. It is also home to the cleanest air in the world, if you need proof, look out for the moss that grows on trees like beards.
During the Ice Age, old mountains were grounded down by the glacials and caused far-reaching changes in the rock foundations, creating several fells in the process, one of which is Ylläs.
We spent our first evening in Lapland in a charming lodge set on 30 hectares of land and surrounded by the national park, with the most beguiling history. The lodge was built in 1989 by bankers as a retreat, and is made up of kelo trees, just before they were no longer allowed to be used. As the land is believed to be sacred, the bankers were warned not to build on it. Of course, they did not heed their advice and during construction, lightning struck the roof and burned it down. After asking forgiveness from the trolls, the lodge was finally built.
Today, the lodge has gone full circle and belongs to the Qvist family, with a piece of the land actually belonging to Mrs Qvist’s family and for them L7 is incredibly special, It is also the most idyllic place to feel the silence of the Lappish land and truly unwind. It features a roaring fire with cosy sofas and if that doesn’t warm you enough, try the Finnish way and take advantage of the in-house sauna or the hot tub that looks out onto the wilderness.
Enjoy dinner at L7, where the seasonal menus are often sourced from the local forests and the food is simply exquisite. When in Lapland, one must try reindeer – the population of Lapland remains the same as the reindeer at 200,000 and it is the most organic meat you can eat. While, all reindeer belong to a farmer, they are also free to roam the forest, where they forage on berries.
Siberian huskies have a top speed of 28mph and the best thing is, they love to run and are put to ‘work’ in the winter, with training starting in autumn and a long summer holiday to rest. The welfare of the huskies are Wild Motion’s top priority, which was clear to see when all the dogs were sitting by their sleds waiting patiently and wagging their tails, eager to set off, and when they did, there was nothing more exhilarating. Hold on tight, you are in for a wild ride.
Levi is the place to see and be seen. Arabic princes and Formula 1 drivers are regular faces at the largest ski resort in the region.
Let rip on one of Kinos Safari’s snow mobiles as you go from 0-60 mph gliding along the ice, in the open. it is the most invigorating activity of all and the best way to experience the Lappish nature. The most thrilling moments are when you drift through narrow lanes of snow with limitless woodlands on both sides – word of advice, take it easy around the corners.
With the snow falling and the Lappish forest surrounding us, it resembled a scene from a fairytale, complete with a little teepee, where Mika, our guide, started a fire, and made us fresh Finnish coffee and hot juice, paired perfectly with his grandmother’s freshly baked cookies, there was no better way to warm up as we sat around telling stories.
The Northern Lights Ranch was a place of fanciful reverie and Instagram dreams, where their Lilliputian cabins, made of glass and wood, offered unparalleled views of the wilderness. If you’re lucky, on a clear night, the glass ceiling will also give you exceptional views of the the northern lights. To make it easier to enjoy the view, the electronic beds allow you to sit upright and elevate your feet. Savour the peace and quiet of the Lappish land and enjoy a great night’s sleep.
Rovaniemi is the capital of Lapland, the official hometown of Santa Clause and part of the arctic circle.
We arrived at Lumi Resort to experience Finland’s longstanding sauna culture – most households will have an inbuilt sauna at home, with an estimated two million saunas for a population of 5.3 million. In a climate that regularly sees temperatures of -40 degrees celsius, the sauna is imperative as it helps to take the cold out of you and once you’re warm enough, it is tradition to jump in a freezing cold lake after. The evening started with a drink, before stripping off, showering and finding a spot in the wooden sauna that offered views of the idyllic river-valley and hill landscapes. It’s understandable why it is a celebrated social tradition, it’s an intimate environment where everyone is nude and before you know it, you’re two hours deep in a tête-à-tête and nearly late for dinner.
We arrived to a harpist’s rendition of ‘Silent Night’ booming delicately out of the speakers, the trees and Santa’s lodge adorned in fresh, powder snow, it truly was a winter wonderland. We were greeted by one of Santa’s elves who gave us a tour of his grotto, before finally meeting Santa himself. He told us about his busy life planning for Christmas, Rudolph’s adventures in Australia on a business excursion with the kangaroos and how Lapland is the perfect place to make a wish because it’s full of magic, and I couldn’t think of anything more true.