OK, not husky dogs then (you read the last entry, ‘Scouting for boys’). You don’t want that kind of tourist activity. You want the genuine item, the Real Deal. Reindeer.
A reindeer outing – now that’s tricky. Reindeer aren’t so tame these days. Modern herding methods have made them more wild so they don’t pull sleds anymore. Sami reindeer herders haven’t used them that way for at least 50 years now. But if you want you can go and see some specially bred reindeer in a small enclosure, and ride behind them on a sled. There’s an entrance fee and at least you get to read some real history about the Sami. But it’s not very thrilling – perhaps not quite what you had in mind.
Ok, you say, we’ll ditch the whole ‘animals in the arctic’ idea. Snow scooters then. These are for real – you’ve seen pictures of Sami reindeer herders speeding over the wide open landscape, so you know this isn’t something just for pubescent thrill seekers.
Sami have been using snow scooters for sometime now, but generally they haven’t been in favour of the rest of the population having the same right. Snow scooters are damaging to the environment, to the landscape itself as well as to wildlife, and if not used responsibly, are even a threat to reindeer herds. Despite this opposition there’s been a huge increase in the recreational use of snow scooters so now almost everyone up here has one.
So, in theory, you can join the club and speed away, snow spraying from your machine as you disappear behind the mountain. Only, being a foreigner, you can’t hire your own snow scooter – you have to go on a ‘tour’.
The tour will, of course, be on a prepared route, and (sound familiar?) probably go round in a circle in a forest, with a short burst of speed in the middle when you cross a frozen lake. Apart from the few minutes on the lake, you’ll be on bumpy tracks between trees, trying not to hit the snow scooter in front or inhale too much of their petrol fumes. Or you’ll be on a ten-lane snow scooter super highway, trying to avoid the groups of snow scooters speeding in the other direction. Sound fun? I thought not.
There will be the obligatory stop in the ‘tepee’ (see, ‘Scouting for boys’). Some people will complain about the clothing provided being too big or uncomfortable, or – having thought it too unfashionable to wear – will be complaining about possible frostbite. But help will be at hand in the form of the traditional camp fire – if your tour guide has managed to get one started. That might take some time. When finally he manages to get it going you’ll be impressed, as he proudly shows you his special flint and magnesium firelighter that he bought last year in Stockholm.
Enough already! Ok ok, I hear you say, we’ll skip the snow scooter tour. And the sled dog tour. And the reindeer ride. But please, please, please – can you arrange for someone to show us the northern lights?
Yes, any one of the tours – sled dogs, snow scooters, and even the reindeer experience – can be ordered in combination with the northern lights. All you have to do is fill in the online form with your request – date, time, and your preference for pink or green aurora, curtains or showering effects – and the tour companies will happily book you on to a tour.