Travel writer Emma Oliver takes her family on the
trip of a lifetime to experience Arctic conditions in Lapland
Do you want to build a snowman? Or an entire snow family for that matter? Then this is the place to head. And while you are here, pop in on Santa (of course).
Families will appreciate all that Lapland has to offer though - not just the Father Christmas magical experience of a lifetime, which kids of any age will love. We found a destination to suit families that enjoy the great outdoors - and all manner of unique activities that the Arctic Circle provides.
Since 2002, the award winning tour company Activities Abroad has been bringing families (children aged 4+) to Luosto in Finnish Lapland, to revel in adventure; including husky safari, reindeer sleigh ride, amethyst mining, cross country skiing, and my particular favourite, ice fishing.
Just imagine sitting on reindeer skins holding fishing rods, the worm end of which dangles down through the metre thick ice you just drilled a hole into. There's no doubt that seeing my young children settled a la Eskimo style is going to stay with me forever, but that's the thing about this sort of visceral holiday; it is the trip of a lifetime.
Take driving a team of six huskies over a 10km safari. Mid-forest, climbing the iced track, the dogs took it in turns to look back. The image of their beautiful iced blue eyes will never leave me.
Another customary way of seeing the area is by snowmobile - a fantastic way of getting about the snow scape - which by the way was like permanently crossing one of my mums Christmas cakes. Everywhere you turn is Christmas card pretty – and Luosto is the perfect setting for a log cabin.
A traditional idyllic retreat, staying in a log cabin not only creates an authentic Scandic living experience, but will allow you privacy, and your own log burning fire and sauna to boot.
The cabins are not far from the main hotel, so the restaurant, swimming pool and spa facilities are within easy reach. There’s an abundance of sledges that are free to use. You pick them up and then discard them when you are finished. They were certainly the girls preferred mode of transport, gliding easily between the snow-capped fir lined paths and magical scenery.
The menu echoes the beautiful surrounds. From reindeer burgers to juniper gravy to pickled fish salad, you certainly eat off the land. Incidentally, my six-year-old has a nut allergy and the kitchen handled it brilliantly. A lot like the entire outfit. Nothing was too much trouble.
Activities Abroad cover everything. They answer all those questions you have at the start too, such as what clothing do we take?
Don’t worry; they will supply outdoor gear including boots. Cold can equal miserable - especially for children – and in such extreme temps (it can drop to -30 on average over Christmas) you will need to be prepared. So long as you layer up, you will keep warm, but remember with hot chocolate, sweet chai and strong coffee, there are plenty of warming moments.
One of the nicest was on our last night when we decided to head out at twilight for a walk around the frozen lake. The children bounced their way along the snowy track, throwing snowballs, making snow angels and giggling all the way until we arrived at a Koto (a Lappish BBQ hut). Here we found kindling and logs and were soon toasting marshmallows.
Walking back to our cabin, the cloud that had hung over us providing so much snow, finally cleared. Perhaps tonight the skies would turn the lights on?
There is no guarantee that you will see the Aurora Borealis. But Activities Abroad make it easy for you on the off chance they do come out to dance in the dead of night, by providing you with a mobile phone and a text message alert to wake you.
We never did see the lights and although this was disappointing, it was clear to me that Luosto offers so many other wondrous experiences, so many other northern high lights to enjoy, it really didn’t matter.
The Log Cabin Design Your Own trip in Luosto costs from £1,115 per adult and £690 per child (four to 14 years) for three nights’ half board based on two adults sharing with one child, including flights, transfers and instructors. Activitiesabroad.com
Emma Oliver and family were guests at a Luosto log cabin in exchange for this review, which first appeared in the Baby London Autumn 2015 magazine.
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