I thought Harriniva had it all. Great accommodation, great location and great activities.
The pine clad rooms were really warm and cosy. It was hard to believe it was minus 20 outside. If it wasn't for the temperature gauge outside our room window I would never have known.
The food was excellent. Tried my first ever reindeer steak. Wow
I also loved the calm, unspoilt surroundings. It amazed me to see guests leave the hotel and head off across the frozen river on cross country skies to follow the miles of well marked trails that criss-cross Finnish Lapland.
That's the beauty of Harriniva you can enjoy the relaxed atmosphere of the hotel after your day's activities, have a few drinks in the bar, go for a sauna, book treatments at the wellness centre or head out for yet more wilderness.
Personally, the perfect ending to a perfect day was sitting in the outside Jacuzzi at 9pm with a view over the frozen Muonio River that runs between Finnish and Swedish Lapland. Very civilised!
As soon as we arrived at the Hotel we could already hear the huskies. As we walked through the entrance of the Arctic Dog Sled Centre I couldn't believe how many huskies there were. The dogs are really playful, some sat quietly in the snow enjoying the sun, but as soon as they got their harness on they were ready to go.
We got an introduction on how to handle the dogs, and how to drive the dog sled. I was a bit worried at first about forgetting the hand signs because I was so excited, but the guides were really good and made sure everyone was happy and understood before we set off. I decided to sit in the sled for the first half, and I have to say I couldn't stop laughing. As soon as my colleague took her foot off the break, we were off. I never expected the dogs to go as fast as they did. It was brilliant. As we headed out over the frozen lakes the dogs ran at a good pace, although some were keen to head off track into the deeper snow.
We stopped half way which allowed the dogs to have a rest, but as some were ready for the off we had to keep our feet firmly on the breaks. It was my colleagues turn to sit in the sled and me to drive. I enjoyed this just as much, and it took only a few minutes to feel confident that I could handle the sled. I particularly enjoyed the twisting trails through the snowy forest which require concentration and a foot ready near or on the brake to slow the dogs into the sharper turns.
(Images: Antti Pietikainen)