Snowmobiling is a way of life in Lapland – essential to get around and a very practical option in this snowy wilderness. For us though it was unusual and exciting and I can definitely say there is no more exhilarating way of exploring the wintery woods and landscape than on a snowmobile.
We booked our guided snow mobile tour with a local company based in Levi. Not cheap but we reasoned we couldn’t come here and not try it out. We arrived at the base already well kitted out in thermal layers and waterproof outers but gladly took their offerings of extra clothing and piled it on top. Bundled up in oversuits, helmets, gloves, balaclavas and boots we were ready to go.
Children under ten are not allowed on the snowmobiles but can ride in a covered sleigh, towed by the guide’s snowmobile. Safe and convenient but a little bumpy at times, Son and his two new friends who rode with him loved the experience. Children under two years are not permitted to ride in the sleigh, however I would have thought, to be on the safe side they would need to be at least five.
After a brief demonstration of how the machines worked and some safety information it was time to set off. We climbed onto our Arctic vehicles and hit the road or more appropriately the trail. There is a whole network of carefully managed trails criss-crossing the beautiful white expanses of North West Finland. They follow forest tracks, cross frozen lakes and let you speed across snowy plains.
We sped through a snow covered forest, crossed one lake and then our train of snowmobiles stopped right in the middle of another lake for about ten minutes. We watched the sun set over the forest, it was simply spectacular. Add to that the time – 1.30 pm – this was such a cool experience.
The whole snowmobile tour was 15km but at the half way point we stopped at a reindeer farm. Everyone dashed inside to warm up with coffee and doughnuts. Half an hour to explore and look around was welcomed by us.
Son fed the reindeer moss, found an igloo to explore and climbed into a sleigh harnessed up to two white reindeer for a quick trip.
We got chatting to the owner who told us some fascinating reindeer facts. Apparently the animals pull sledges all winter – mainly for tourists – and stay in the various reindeer farms. In the summer they do not work but roam freely in the forests. Every winter, amazingly, they then make their own way back to their own farms. Every reindeer knows where it needs to go.
Back on the snowmobiles and back to Levi, the return trip was speedy and more than a bit thrilling. Husband thought he was James Bond, I clung on behind for dear life as we sped and bumped across the tracks. An amazing experience, we all loved it and agreed it was an adrenaline rush from start to finish.