03 Dec

Finland - Lapland - Pallas-Yllästunturi National Park

3rd December 2016 - Duration 3 nights

Flying from Newcastle Airport to Kittila Airport with Thompsons Airlines as a package holiday. Something which we would normally avoid as we know we can always find flights and accommodation cheaper by booking separate, however for this type of trip we found it was really the only way to do it for what we wanted out of this experience.

It’s December and Steven and I are heading to Lapland, the home of Santa Clause himself! Upon taking our seats onboard the aircraft, we realise half of the flight are very excitable children… its always annoying when you get that one annoyingly excited kid next to you on a flight, but what seemed like hundreds for a flight of 3 hours, was going to be, eh, fun… Anyway, the plane took off and all was well, apart from the fact half of the smaller kids realised at that point they didn’t like flying…. Owell, tough! :’D The flight takes a turn when we realise all of the cabin crew are all actually Santa’s Elf’s, which was actually quite funny. The Elf’s’ finished their inflight duty’s and then began singing Christmas carols, starting the Christmas spirit off with a bang.

During our first approach to Kittila Airport our pilot had to abandon the first attempt at landing the plane due to a severe snowstorm in the area and so had to ‘pull up’ the aircraft quite sharply to get back to a higher altitude to reattempt the landing.  I couldn’t see a thing out of the windows, just the whitey grey colour of the snow outside. It was all quite intense inside the cabin, the lead Elf had even stopped the singing of Rodolph the red nose reindeer (that’s when you know things have just got real). I could feel the plane climbing and then turn as the pilot re-aligned for the runway. Finally, we hit the runway with a bit of a ‘on you go’ (may need the suspension looking at), we made it.

Upon our arrival at Kittila, after all the airport security and baggage bit was done, we were taking to a large hanger and given our snow suites, boots, gloves, hats, scarfs and socks which we would put on over our normal cloths every time we went outside during our stay in Lapland. This was part of the package. We were then pointed to the awaiting coaches which would take us to our hotel.

Have I mentioned the SNOW yet?! EEEK!! The cars in the airport carpark are covered in 2 feet plus. The road, the trees, the buildings everything…. A thick thick blanket of white! I had never expected there to be so much snow. More than I had hoped, all this and I hadn’t even left the airport carpark... I love snow by the way.

Snowy Cabin

On the way to the hotel, we passed a snow plough/gritter truck with its plough down, ploughing, the fresh snow was being pushed up and to the side of the road with immense force… I had never seen this before in real life! Just in the film ‘Home Alone’.

Arriving at our hotel ‘Snowy Wilderness Lodge’ which was just over an hour’s ride made entertaining by the cheery singing from more Christmas Elf’s… As we are driving along we realising we really are in the middle of nowhere and the snow is getting deeper. The snow is really coming down. We drive through a cosy looking ski resort, Levi, which is all lit up as it’s getting dark by this point.

Driving along what seemed to be a normal two-way road, in fact was the only road in and out of our hotel, and so at the end of the stretch there it was, our hotel, ‘Snowy Wilderness Lodge’ or Lapland Hotels Pallas for when it’s not Christmas magic time.

Time to disembark the coach… wow its cold!!! Straight into the hotel, its cold even for me, and I like cool climates. The hotel is warm and inviting with soft lighten on. The smell of pine wood log fires is insanely beautiful and catch your noise straight away. There’s a cute little gift shop that also sells essentials, as we are in the middle of nowhere, and reception desk on the right when you walk in and on your left is the entrance to the bar and restaurant which is really quite inviting.  We are given our room keys and told that a welcome meeting was being held in one hours’ time and so we went off to our room so sort our self’s out. The welcome meeting included a safety briefing for the cold climate considering we were about to be going into -15 to -30 degrees below freezing and also general housekeeping. This was also our last chance for making sure all of our snow suits fit as that would be the last chance to ask for any size changes. The coach we had arrive on was everyone that was staying at the hotel for the next 3 nights which was pretty cool. We were just Itching to get outside to explore by this point.

We are already in our snow suites by this point and so head straight for the front doors! Absolutely amazing… so dark but so white! The snow must be about 4 feet plus in places. 

Sun setting on an evening... perfection

You truly feel like you can lose yourself here. Being a big kid in the snow comes naturally. You just automatically roll a snowball and before you realise you’ve made one, you’ve already thrown it at your friend… funny thing is, everyone looks the same in their snowsuits so it takes a minute to realise you have accidentally hit Susan in the face who sat three rows behind you on the coach. She’s slightly confused as to why you just did that and is wondering why you’re now waving at her frantically shouting for her to come build a snowman with you.


A night time snowmobiling safari was offered for any takers and Steven and I jump at the chance… we are the only two on the whole trip. Fantastic! A van collected both Steven and I from our hotel and drove us approximately 1 hour to where we would embark upon our adventure. The price was £80pp for 2 hours on a ski mobile, in wild Lapland =D Riding our very own ski mobile, trying to keep pace with our guide, who was a great local guy. We came across plenty of wild reindeer, which lit up in our head lights, the snow was falling, but we were snug in our snowsuits, and electric heating handle bars… I felt like we were in a James Bond film, only going at much slower speeds due to fear of death from hitting a tree. Totally amazing experience. 

Snowmobiling time

The next day we boarded the coach and headed to a small set up further in the Pallas-Yllästunturi National Park. Here we experienced Lappish culture to the full, starting with a reindeer sleigh ride, husky sleighing and traditional clothing. All over are ‘Lavvu’ which I now know to be their robust tent like tipis designed specifically for the harsh conditions. Log fires are roaring and plenty of marsh mallows for toasting. Hot mulled wine and apple cider is also on the go. All of this and we are in the Arctic Circle!!! This is a bucket list moment!

Feeling exhausted after all of this excitement and from being pushed over countless times from Steven who thought it was hilarious to run at me when I am stood knee deep in snow so I lost my balance, its finally time to head to the next destination, the Snow Village in Kittila. En-route we stop at a local super market in the nearby town of Muonio for supply’s as our hotel has no shops nearby, or anything for that matter… which is bliss.

You've got to try local produce!

Our coach arrives at the Snow Village & hotel and we are greeted be a Lappish Lumberjack with an axe who ordered us off the bus and straight into the woods… so off we go, no questions asked. He asks our group of warm and slightly sleepy travelers to go find him a Christmas tree to chop down for to be decorated at the end of the evening. So off we all stumble, in the dark. The group decide on a plump little one and off he hacks. We never did see that guy again… 

Ice carvings within the ice hotel

There was the tree at the end of the night, decorated by some of our group whom had chosen to stay inside with the comfort of the fire.

During our time here in Lapland, we were enjoying about 4 hours sunlight each day… that said it did seam brighter because of the bright white snow reflecting the little light we did have.

Snow Angel!!!

Day light short, but sunsets have been breath taking… best I have experienced almost anywhere in the world! With the sun setting over the snow-covered trees the camp fires are just beginning and the long night is just about to start.

Steven & Jamie at the campfire

It was here in Lapland where I witnessed the Aurora Borealis, (Northern Lights) for the first time, just at the back of our hotel… a green swirly line taking over the starry night sky, although not as sharp and vivid as I had imagined it was going to be. Still, this was my first time and I was pleased it was in the freezing Arctic Circle. What an experience! Turns out using a 1st generation Go-pro Hero to capture this event wasn't the best idea. 

Aurora Borealis... I'm also very disappointed in myself

Here's a photo of some reindeer to make up for my last photo

Our last full day here in Lapland, and we spend it gaining some immense experiences. We start the day sledging down huge slopes back at our hotel, Snowy Wilderness Lodge, which is like a land from our dreams…. Isn’t everything when we add snow?

We go ‘snowshoeing’, walking on fresh deep snow easily without sinking down into it, as we have these tennis racket like things stuck to our feet. All provided by our hotel…. For me it was more like having a kayak strapped to each foot as I suffer from size 12 feet. Snowshoes work by distributing your weight over a larger area so you don’t sink into the snow, making it possible to walk around.

Late afternoon we're off, errrm Husky Slaying... we’re not killing Husky’s, I’m meaning, as in Husky’s pulling the Slay we are stood/sat in…. I don’t know the correct terminology, please forgive me.

Moving on swiftly, this is an adrenaline pumped activity that involved 5 naturally hyped up husky’s that were raring to pull our slay. These dogs are the closest things to wild wolves out there and are perfectly adapted for these Artic Conditions. Little did I know that Steven and I would be going out with these dogs on our own. After a 5-minute brief on how to work the sledge, the ropes and handle the dogs, we were off, to follow the group ahead. This was insane! 5 testosterone filled wolves at the end of a piece of rope, a head torch to highlight the ass of the nearest dog to me and Steven, who’s sat just below me on the slay as I took fist control…. There was a piece of wood with serrated metal that digs into the snow at the back of the sledge that I can stand on in order to slow the dogs, it took I bit of getting used to but was simple enough. Half way through the tour Steven and I switched places and Steven took to the rains. It was my turn to be the passenger, to sit and watch the wilderness go past, how dark and starry it is out in the middle of literally nowhere. The only light is from the headtorch which Steven now has on and a faint one in the distance from the group ahead. You can admire the peacefulness of the Arctic Wilderness, only the crunching of your dog’s footsteps racing through the snow in front of you and the rustle of the sledge beneath. The peace is interrupted when the sledge comes to a halt because one of the dogs stops for a pooh, followed by his friend straight after, the smell is horrific…. But hey, let’s embrace nature, after all there having to pull us around! We get back to the camp and we disembark our slay. We get to pet and cuddle our dogs who are a lot more chilled and relaxed now. We get many selfies with these amazing beauties and then off they go for their tea. This was amazing fun and such a life experience!

Husky dogs

Later this evening Steven and I get to meet Santa Clause himself at the Snowy Wilderness Lodge… can Christmas get any better? 

Had to be done, he was just there after all. 

We have an amazing Christmas meal and lots of drinks and relax in front of the roaring log fire… truly a Christmas to remember!

Thanks for reading my travels to Lapland.


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