I have recommended this tour to several friends and associates. We have the happiest of memories and wish your company continued success.
J & R Sunderland, Roof of Europe
Our Nordic adventure has begun. We fly into Finland, a beautiful country with a turbulent history. Originally claimed by Sweden, by the late 12th century it was considered an integral part of the country. Finland remained under Swedish rule until the Finnish war with Russia in 1808. Russia won that war and Finland was incorporated into the Russian Empire. It wasn’t until 1917, following the Russian Revolution, that Finland finally declared itself independent.
Helsinki was founded as a trading town by the Swedish, then chosen by the Russians to be the capital of Finland. The city shows signs of this mixed parentage. First, we explore a little of its Russian side. Senate Square, built in the 19th century, was inspired by tsarist St Petersburg. The same architect designed Helsinki Cathedral, an Evangelic Lutheran church and a symbol of the city. Later we visit Rautatieasema Square, headquarters of the Central Railway Station. Designed by Eliel Saarinen, the brilliant Finnish architect, it is considered one of the world’s most beautiful train stations. After lunching at a local restaurant we check in to Hotel Kämp, our residence for two nights. The elegant hotel has been a Helsinki institution since 1887 and has hosted numerous dignitaries since.
This evening, we dine in one of its fine restaurants.
There are two Your World experiences for us to choose from today.
The night concludes with a traditional Finnish dinner at Savoy. In its 75-year history, the restaurant has hosted everyone from world leaders to holiday-makers, so we’re in good hands.
We depart Helsinki bound for Kemi. Located by the Bothnian Bay at the mouth of the river Kemijoki, it was founded in 1869 by Russian Emperor Alexander II.
Many of the town’s buildings are in Gothic Revival style. However, its most famous structure is the SnowCastle, the world’s largest snow fort, reconstructed every year in a different design and location. While its design changes every year, it always contains a chapel and a restaurant. Tonight we dine in the Snow Restaurant, with its ice tables and seats covered in reindeer fur.
Our lodging is in the adjoining Seaside Glass Villas. With their transparent ceilings and big windows, they offer spectacular views of the Baltic Sea, snow and ice.
Today an extraordinary adventure awaits. We travel to Safari House, where we change into snowmobile gear, which includes mittens, boots, a snowmobile suit and a helmet. We then embark on our snowmobile safari. The route sees us leave the snow and take to the ice. We glide across the frozen sea until we reach our destination, the Sampo Arctic Icebreaker. Formerly the icebreaker for the Finnish government, it offers a unique cruising experience on the Gulf of Bothnia. We are served a delicious lunch in the ship’s restaurant and afterwards have the opportunity to swim in the ice cold black waters, surrounded by chunks of frozen ice. This experience is possible as we are dressed in warm, impermeable, survival suits.
The programme for the day also involves a visit to a village on a nearby island, where everyone can experience a reindeer sled ride.
We dine tonight in a traditional Lappish hut, well sheltered from the wind and with a roaring campfire. Grilled Finnish sausages are on the menu, as we eat we are regaled with tales about life on the shores of Bothnian Bay.
There are two incredible Your World experiences available today.
Today a private flight takes us to Ivalo, a village in the municipality of Lapland. We transfer to The Dome, a luxury campsite that has been set up exclusively for us, featuring special cold weather tents shipped from Switzerland. This evening, a sumptuous dinner awaits. We retire early, in anticipation of tomorrow, when we meet the Sámi herders.
After breakfast we meet the Sámi herders and get prepared to accompany them as they escort reindeer on their annual migration. The Sámis' best-known means of livelihood is semi-nomadic reindeer herding. And, for traditional, environmental, cultural, and political reasons, reindeer herding is legally reserved only for Sámi people in some regions of the Nordic countries.
To prepare we must be adequately fitted out with warm Arctic clothes and other essential equipment. The night concludes with a Sámi campfire dinner, providing us with the perfect opportunity to gain further insight and appreciation into this unique tradition and how they manage to maintain it.
We join our Sámi herders and experience the reindeer as they embark on their annual spring migration. They are the only indigenous people of the region recognised and protected by the international convention of indigenous peoples. Still, their way of life is under threat. Times have changed and herders, rather than having free rein, are now assigned specific parcels of the reindeers grazing territory. Because we have the ability to, we will be raising funds on this journey which will be given directly to the Sámi community to help them preserve their way of life.
After spending the day accompanying the Sámi herders as they escort reindeer, we return to our luxury camp to rest and prepare for tomorrow.
Each day we leave our camp and travel by snowmobile to link up with the Sámi herders.
Sámi herders call their work boazovázzi, which translates to ‘reindeer walker’. They don’t restrict themselves to travelling by foot though. Reindeer are fast-paced, so our Sámi herders use wooden skis to keep up. The Sámi are not averse to modern inventions, and employ ATVs and snowmobiles - these help them maintain hundreds of miles of fencing and move herds in accordance with land-use regulations. After another full day in the outdoors with the Sámi herders, we again retire to our camp.
There, hot food and a warm bed awaits. It will be an early night for most as we have another big day ahead.
Following a good night’s sleep, indulge in breakfast at the camp. We then gear up, hop on our snowmobiles and head out to meet the Sámi herders again. They use the reindeer for food, making clothing and for labor. There was even a time when they were used as a form of currency for trading. Travelling with them in this white wilderness we notice the bond the Sámi have with nature is both impressive and humbling.
Today is our last day spent with the Sámi herders. By now, we have almost certainly made friends of the herders, learnt a few words of Sámi and developed a newfound appreciation for their rugged way of life.
The morning sees us transfer back to Ivalo and board a private flight back to Helsinki. Our lodging for the night is at Hotel Kämp. The hotel has luxuriously appointed private dining rooms, which make a perfect venue for our farewell dinner. Share stories with your fellow travelers, reminisce, eat well and have a good night’s sleep.
Our trip of a lifetime has drawn to a close. The morning sees us board a flight back to Australia. We have had some big adventures and the flight offers the perfect time to catch up on any sleep we may have lost.
Sometimes travelling can be a chore, distracting you from the fascinating places you are in. That’s why everything mundane has been moved behind the scenes. You will never have to carry a map, luggage, small change for tips or bargain for a taxi fare.
There are no hidden costs. Everything is included – flights and other travel arrangements, luxurious accommodation, travel insurance, all dining and drinks, and even sightseeing trips - including those by helicopter or reindeer sled. Even the Your World experiences within your itinerary and internet access when available.
Fares include Emirates flights from Sydney, Melbourne or Brisbane. Prices from other cities available on request. All regional flights are in Economy Class.
Land Only guests join the tour in Helsinki for dinner on Day 2 and depart Helsinki after breakfast on Day 13.
Solo supplement is available on application – please contact our Tour Sales Consultants for details.