Behind the Scenes of Creating our Finland Winter Wilderness Adventure
Have you ever wondered what goes on behind the scenes with creating a brand new adventure from scratch? From choosing the destination, the environments, modes of transport, the activity, the food, the accommodation? How we can best support the local communities & areas we visit whilst providing you with an epic experience and one that move your soul and maybe even raise an eyebrow over dinner? One that will inspire you to step out of your comfort zone and one that will harness the power of travel to unite us all across the globe. Plus finding that gem of a local operator who lives and breathes our same beliefs, our ethos, our desire to go off piste and has a genuine care for each and every person that travels with us together with all the necessary paperwork.
Well here’s the nuts & bolts of how we came to create our brand new Finland Winter Wilderness Adventure and we’re super excited to share it with you.
It mainly starts with selecting the destination. We’ve been wanting to set up an adventure in Finland for a number of years now given it’s fusion of wild beauty, being continuously voted to be ‘the happiest country to live in the world’, it’s winter magic and it’s Nordic culture. Together with the Finnish Government’s Programme for an ‘Inclusive and competent Finland of a socially, economically and ecologically sustainable society’. Plus Finland’s Arctic Strategy of driving sustainable development in the Arctic, which has set sustainable tourism as one of its priorities, it was the right time to support this forward thinking country with developing a new adventure to it’s admirable shores. So the process begun.
Take that first step
We live and breathe what we do. Taking that first step out of our own comfort zone is where the magic happens and just one of the many benefits of taking that first step, is the people you meet and the connections you make! This is how our Finland connection all started…
10 years ago this year, Adventurous Ewe’s Sue took the plunge and flew to Beijing ➡️ Bole ➡️ Ürümqi China to be volunteer race crew member for Racing the Planet’s Gobi March ultra-marathon (250km in 7 days). As with the start of all new adventures, Sue was filled with both excitement and nerves with journeying into the remote province of Xinjiang, solo. However, taking this initial first step has given Sue a whole host of incredible experiences and created so many fab friendships across the globe. It also inspired Sue to complete RTP’s Madagascar ultra in 2014 and return to be a race volunteer in the Namib Desert in 2018. The RTP family and network span many years and many countries. One of the great benefits that these big adventures bring.
Thanks to this network, Sue had the great fortune of meeting Riitta Hänninen, the then Event Director at Racing the Planet. A very cool, calm, collective and caring event logistics guru from Finland of whom they’ve remained in touch with over the years. Riitta has an immense passion for the outdoors, winter sports and her home country of Finland and it’s Nordic culture. Having an MBA in Tourism & Events, being on the management team for over thirty RTP ultras in extremely remote locations on every continent AND that Richard Branson recently selected Riitta to create and host a bespoke winter adventure for one of his teams earlier this year, it’s with much excitement that Sue and Riitta have worked extensively together to create a brand-new winter wilderness adventure in Finland.
“Together we created this trip to help ordinary people have extraordinary experiences based around outdoor activities, learning new skills and being part of our local culture, and part of a like-minded community – so that you can do something you love, take home new skills and make new friendships.” Riitta
The nuts & bolts
With Riitta’s (pictured above) extensive knowledge of her homeland thanks to many years of exploring during the pristine winter months, she established that Pallas-Ylläs National Park, the oldest and largest of the 41 NP’s in Finland, was the optimal place to host our human powered adventure. This white wilderness lent itself to vast and diverse landscapes to learn and experience snowshoeing and back country skiing. Carving new paths in the pirstine snow. This topped with being able to overnight in traditional lumberjack huts with the ability to have a soothing wood-burn sauna following a day’s adventure. Riitta & Sue were also keen to include the opportunity to learn more about the Sámi culture, mingle with the locals who will share stories about their way of life, culture and the nature of Lapland, as well as the fascinating history of the lumberjacks.
We even considered staying a night in a traditional Finnish Army tent in the height of winter which was heated by a wood stove. However when delving further into the finer details of these tents and added costs with transporting and setting up them up in the depths of the frozen landscape, we opted to use the traditional lumberjack cabins with saunas and the chance to warm up after a big day out in the elements. Plus these cabins are run by local people who’s passion for their preservation and sharing the history of this industry is really interesting.
As well as the opportunity to learn to snowshoe and back country ski, the plan was to create an itinerary that gives you the choice to try something new that was of interest to you. You can tailor make part of your own itinerary. Therefore, with cold water swimming increasing in popularity, we thought why not take it up a notch and offer an ice dip which is a common Nordic activity. Not everyone’s cuppa tea (and maybe you’ll need one after this), but you can try to submerge yourself in the icy waters followed by a sauna within a safe environment. Plus you can take on a traditional husky ride, have a cross country ski lesson followed by XC skiing outting or even a snowbike adventure? There’s plenty for you to choose from to make your winter adventure more personal, fun and memorable for you.
As the ole saying goes, ‘timing is everything’ and it’s so important when planning adventures. Most of us only get a small window of time each year to venture away and explore. With precious time off work and the time taken to save up for these off the beaten track adventures, we take everything into account as much as we can to ensure we schedule our trips to maximise the local conditions, seaons, any cultural activities, the type of moon, natural phenomenon, flight times and more.
To add to the mix, Finland is the land of 3 winters! The first is the Snow Period (Oct-Nov), then the Polar Night (Dec-Jan) and finally the Snow-crust-season (Feb-April/May). Depending what type of scenery and weather you want to experience, the choice of timing is important. So naturally we were guided by Riitta’s expertise and opted for the Polar Night season which is stunningly different but also much colder. It’s also the best time to experience Arctic conditions with temperatures from -10C° to -30C°, the central part of this winter adventure. But according to Riitta, “Don’t worry. With exercise and warm clothing combined, you will stay warm. Arctic clothing will be provided, with insulated boots, a woolly hat and large mittens, -20C (-4F) can feel rather pleasant.”
Plus one of the bonus’s of travelling to Lapland is the opportunity to witness the skies alive with the Northern Lights. Auroras, caused by solar winds, occur year-round but the nights need to be dark enough for us to be able to catch a glimpse of this phenomenal light show. The best aurorae-watching season starts at the end of August, when the nights get darker, and ends at the start of April, when the nights start to get lighter. Seeing them requires clear skies and just a bit of luck: the Northern Lights are visible on roughly 200 nights a year – or every other clear night – in Lapland. Your chances of catching them get better the further north you go. Therefore this 6-day adventure in the far north of Finland in Pallas-Ylläs National Park with the polar winter night skies, gives you the best chance of seeing this magical display.
The always awkward yet fundamental part of any trip……the cost. Thankfully we’re only a small business and don’t have huge overheads to cover yet we don’t cut any corners either. We pride ourselves in ensuring that every person who is part of this trip is paid fairly and as much income as possible stays in the local communities we visit. We always monitor the costs of similar trips and do our upmost to ensure we are more reasonably priced. However we won’t compromise on quality, safety and doing the right thing. This is a fundamental part of being a Travelife Partner, so you can rest assured that Adventurous Ewe complies with more than 100 criteria, related to an operator’s office management, product range, international business partners and customer information when it comes to curating new adventures.
So that’s a bit of a snoop from behind the scenes of pulling together our new Finland Winter Wilderness Adventure which we hope you’ve found interesting.
Some great news is that you’re invited to join Riitta & Sue on this amazing trip and get your 2024 off to a magnificent start.
Picture yourself high above the Arctic Circle in Finnish Lapland, a magical place of unspoilt Arctic landscapes, snow-dusted woodlands and traditional lumberjack huts. The perfect setting for a winter adventure by snowshoes and back country skis. No experience needed as all training and equipment will be provided. It’s an ideal opportunity to learn new skills and carve new paths in the powdered terrain.
For more info, simply take your first step over here or get in touch. We’d really love to share this brrrrr-illiant trip with you.