Found towards the top of most traveller’s bucket lists – alongside the likes of seeing the Northern Lights, celebrating Dia de los Muertos in Mexico and flying high in a hot air balloon in Cappadocia – is husky sledding. Within some of the Scandinavian and Far North countries, husky sledding is a favourite pastime for both locals and tourists. And where better to do this amazing bucket list activity than in beautiful, snowy Finland? Here’s everything you need to know about husky sledding in Finland…
Husky Sledding: When & Where To Go
Once you start heading far into Northern Finland, there are a whole multitude of husky sledding companies and tour groups operating there. Lapland (home of Father Christmas) is of course an incredible place to try it, but I’d also recommend finding somewhere just south of Lapland, near to the district of Kuusamo. The reason for this is because a beautiful little ski village (Ruka) can be found here, so you’ll be able to partake in a number of snowsports, not just husky sledding.
Erä-Susi Huskies is who we booked with, and they were awesome! They were laidback, although stern enough to ensure we all listened (properly) to their safety briefing, were incredibly friendly and you can tell all the staff really love the animals. And quite frankly, who wouldn’t?
As for the perfect time of year to go husky sledding, November to January are the common months to try it. But it’s also possible to go husky sledding in Finland throughout February, and even as late as March and April. I’ve found this guide from Nature Travels to be really thorough in explaining when is best to try husky sledding, so it’s worth taking a look at that too.
In the Winter months, daylight hours are few and far between in these Northern parts with daylight ranging from about 10am to 2pm only. Although this doesn’t stop anyone from skiing, snowmobiling or sledding huskies, it’s just something to bear in mind as you may find yourself sledding in the dark or with a deep blue sky overhead as the sun sets quickly. To be honest, I think this adds something rather special to your day, but I guess this isn’t for everyone so is worth bearing in mind.
What To Wear for Husky Sledding
With temperatures reaching as low as -20 degrees Celsius during a Finnish winter, you will need to wrap up super warm. I’m talking thermal layers, ski pants, fleece, scarf and ski jacket. As it’s so cold, and the dogs run very fast, you should find that the company you’re with provide you with a snowsuit to go over all your clothes, plus a woolly hat and huge, super warm snow boots. You may come out looking a little like the ‘Marshmallow Man’ but it’s absolutely necessary!
What Happens During Your Husky Sledding Day?
The start of your day will see you be kitted out with the warm clothes mentioned above, then a short safety briefing to explain how it works with husky sledding.
If there’s just two things you remember from the briefing, it’s this:
- NEVER get off the sled! The dogs will totally leave you behind.
- ALWAYS keep your feet on the brakes when stationary. The dogs jet off like cannons from warships and again, they will leave you behind.
The team will then take you out to the sleds where there will be about 6-8 dogs per sled. You’ll usually share a sled with a partner, with one of you standing on the back of the sled, and the other kept nice and toasty under a thick blanket inside the sleigh itself.
Don’t worry about missing out though!
The teams are really good and normally let you swap around with each other about halfway through. Remember to keep your feet on the brakes! It takes a bit of quick and careful manoeuvring to manage this, but it can be easily done.
Depending on the price you paid, you’ll probably get around 20-30 minutes total sledding time, which is more than enough to give you a taster for this incredible experience. And… you can always arrange to come back!
What Happens Afterwards?
If you’ve booked with an awesome company like Erä-Susi Huskies, they may be nice enough to take you into a little cabin where they will feed you delicious Finnish sausages, traditional biscuits and warming tea or Glögi as part of your sledding price. At least, this was what we experienced… maybe we were special, who knows?!
Animal Welfare: Do The Dogs Even Like Pulling Us?
I know it can sometimes be a worry amongst my fellow animal lovers whether we should even be doing these kinds of things when travelling. Questions like: “Are the dogs looked after?”, “Do they even like pulling us along on sleds?” And “do they get exercised too much during an average day?” often spring to mind.
Now, I’m not going to lie… there are some companies out there who will just be in it to profit from their dogs and I can only comment on the experience I had with Erä-Susi Huskies.
For a start, these dogs love being out in the snow. Their thick fur has lots of insulation in it and they are totally bred for the cold winters. There’s a reason why the husky is the dog of choice in countries like Greenland, Iceland, Finland and Norway among others.
Furthermore, the dogs were absolutely raring to go. If not standing on your sled’s brakes, they pelt out into the snow and ice like cannons being fired from warships, reaching speeds of 10-15 miles per hour. They love being out there, and make a lot of noise whilst waiting to run. We can only guess what they’re barking for, but I reckon they were telling us to hurry up!
And finally, I saw how the staff looked at and handled their animals. They positively love these animals, and the dogs love them in return. I’m a firm believer in intelligent animals like this showing signs of mistreatment from cowering away from their owners, biting them or showing signs of aggression. But we didn’t see any of this the whole time we were there. All we saw were dogs who love being out in the snow, doing what they do best with their friends. Everyone say “Aww….!”
Thus, I sincerely believe that animal welfare isn’t an issue with this company. Although I do accept that not all companies are as reputable. My advice would be to look around at review sites and travel blogs to hear what people are saying. If you have even the slightest doubt that the company you’re looking into isn’t reputable, don’t give them your money. And instead, book with those who are raved about due to first hand experiences so that you can enjoy your own experience, worry-free whilst ensuring those dogs really are cared for.
Well, that’s it from me. I could write about husky sledding through dusk to dawn, yet nothing can replace you actually getting out there and trying it yourself. What are you waiting for?!
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