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Head north for an amazing ‘snowfari’

Head north for an amazing ‘snowfari’
From my time spent in Kenya, where I learnt to speak Swahili, one word I particularly remember is ‘Safari’, which translates as ‘To travel’. Because of that etymology, the term is most closely associated with wildlife-spotting journeys in Africa

Hang on, though. Head north, to the countries closest to the Arctic Circle, and we have snow safari (snowfari), where travellers can explore the winter wildernesses of Scandinavia, Lapland, Iceland and Alaska by husky sled, snowmobile, cross-country skis, kick-sleds, snowshoes or boat, to see what wildlife wonders are on offer.

Artisan Travel offers a range of stunning trips across these vast regions, combining exciting wilderness adventures with cosy lodges, local experts – on two legs and four – and opportunities to witness heavenly spectacles (the Northern Lights) and earthly wilds… snow-blanketed landscapes, wild moose and birdlife.

Springtime is ideal for a ‘snowfari’, as the temperature in the Arctic Circle is milder than during the deep winter months. Snow blankets the ground, landscapes are enhanced by endless ice-blue skies, plus the daylight hours are much longer, so there is more time for activities.

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The Karasjok Husky Safari offers an extraordinary adventure, when guests stay in wilderness cabins (© Engholm Husky)

A husky safari with a world-class musher, in Norway Spend four nights in the remote wilderness of Norwegian Lapland with Scandinavia’s 11-times winner of the Finnmarkslopet (the longest dog-sled race in Europe). In Sven’s capable hands, this trip travels across frozen lakes and marshland, over snow-laden hills and through valleys, staying in wilderness cabins and at the Engholm Husky Farm. The Karasjok – Three Day Husky Safari is a real adventure with the gentle swish of the sled and the padding of eager paws as the only sounds to accompany your journey. Four nights from £2,145* pp (two sharing), flights included. Departures until mid-April 2017 and then from December 2017.

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Snowmobiles light the way across the frozen tundra in Harriniva, Finnish Lapland (© Antti Pietakainen)

A snowmobile safari in Finnish Lapland – For those looking for more action, then perhaps the Harriniva – Powder Pro Snowmobile trip  will tick the box. The snowmobile is ubiquitous up here and a three-day safari speeding through snow-covered forests and across frozen lakes will provide a real sense of the full scale of the Arctic wilds. To really maximise the thrilling fun of this machine, though, is a chance to get out into the deep snow in the treeless fell region – what this adventurous trip is all about. Four nights from £1,195* pp (two sharing) flights excluded. Departures until end of March 2017 and then from early January 2018.

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Head into the dark wilderness and experience the true majesty of the Northern Lights in Menesjarvi (©  timo)

A Northern Lights short-break safari in Finland – Of course, a huge draw to these northern climes is the Aurora Borealis (Northern Lights). This short trip includes two nights out in the dark wilderness – one on snowshoes and one by snowmobile – where the chances of spotting this ethereal spectacle are best. This packed itinerary in Menesjarvi also includes dinner cooked over an open fire in a Lappish ‘kota’, the chance to don skis and head off cross-country to explore, and the option to take a husky safari. Three nights from £1,225* pp (two sharing), flights included. Departures until the end of March 2017 and then from early December 2017.

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Fancy being a musher for a day… Guests at Sorbyn Lodge can enjoy a husky-led trip (© Graeme Richardson)

A tailor-made pick-and-mix safari in Swedish Lapland- For those who would like to create their own adventure, this new Sörbyn Lodge tour will be perfect. There are many activities on offer, including various safaris by snowmobile – trips lasting from just three hours or up to 150km – plus Northern Lights safaris, a moose safari or husky-sled trips. There is also the chance to try ice-fishing, snowshoeing, to visit a Sami family, or become a musher for a day. All of this happens in a lakeside setting, far off the tourist trail, giving a real sense and understanding of Lappish wilderness. From three nights, from £655* pp (two sharing), flights excluded. Extra nights from £158 pp and activities from £92 pp each. Departures until 30 April 2017 and then from late November.

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Musher braves the Yukon River, Galena, Alaska, on the Iditarod dog-sled race (© State of Alaska | Chris McLennan)

Dog-sled racing and safari in Alaska- Covering over 1,000 miles of harsh yet beautiful terrain across Alaska, the Iditarod is one of the world’s greatest dog-sled endurance races. Meet the mushers, including Iditarod champion Dallas Seavey; attend an Iditarod Mushers’ Banquet; join one of the teams for a safari before they set off to start the race; and enjoy the exhilarating race start itself. The Spirit of Alaska: Iditarod also features a husky safari, snowshoeing, a small-ship cruise into Prince William Sound, scenic rail travel between Anchorage and Fairbanks, an Aurora watch at Chena Hot Springs, glacier hike, and a visit to an ice museum. 11 nights from £2,495* pp (two sharing), flights excluded. Departures on 1 March 2017 and then in February 2018 (date to be confirmed)

A whale-watching experience in Iceland – OK, so safari might be stretching it slightly, but this Winter Break in Reykjavik and Keflavik includes wildlife and Aurora spotting, so is absolutely worthy of mention. There is a whale-watching trip to Faxaflói Bay, where frequent sightings of humpback and minke whales occur, and a Northern Lights Tour, which heads out into the darkness in a 4×4 super jeep, on a hunt to spot the breathtaking colours and shapes dancing in the dark Arctic sky. Added to this is a dip in the Blue Lagoon, and plenty of time to explore Reykjavik’s many attractions. Four nights from £995* pp (two sharing), flights excluded. Departures until 31 March 2017 and then from 30 September.

* For individual trip inclusions, see the direct page link to Artisan Travel’s website (www.artisantravel.co.uk) for each holiday listed

* For more information, or to speak to an expert, please visit www.artisantravel.co.uk, or call 01670 785 085.

Independent specialist holiday company, Artisan Travel, provides life-enriching holidays, crafted by experts, which marry expertise and local knowledge to deliver unforgettable bucket-list experiences for adults. It is a sister company to family travel specialist Activities Abroad, and Northern Lights specialist, The Aurora Zone.

Main image: Enjoy hunting the Aurora by 4×4 super jeep in Iceland (© Ragnar Th Sigurdsson and Arctic Images)

About The Author

Mike Cowton

Michael Cowton, an outdoors writer, editor and photographer with a passion for nature-based travel and wildlife. He is a former editor of EcoTravel, Outdoor Pursuits, Camping, Lakeland Walker and Which Motorcaravan magazines, and national newspaper journalist.

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