I’ve been fortunate enough to visit some truly beautiful places in Scandinavia during the winter months. Over the last six or seven years I’ve visited the area known as Swedish Lapland extensively; most especially the region of Norrbotten and the Luleå Archipelago which are located on the fringes of the Arctic Circle.
Of all the beautiful things I’ve seen, the Luleå Archipelago in winter is definitely one of my top five. A frozen expanse of endless white crispy snow and ice where once there was water, which glistens like crushed fragments of diamond and where the wind whispers chilly secrets in your ears. Nowhere else, apart from Svalbard, have I had the experience of such endlessness, where land and sky embrace one another and blend into a murky horizon creating a strange sense of detachment and being the only person in the world to experience it.
Well… you and your fellow snowmobiliers that is!
During my archipelago safari I had the company of five enthusiastic Travel Counsellors – all keen to experience something completely different and special. We decided to travel with two people per snowmobile, giving us the opportunity to swap around half-way.
One minute the track ahead was bathed in sunlight – blindingly white and dazzling – and the next it was as though it had been air-brushed by some giant hand making it eerily misty and ever so slightly intimidating. Our guide, well used to sudden weather changes, had told us to maintain a distance of about 30 metres between snowmobiles and now we understood why – this wasn’t just so we could follow one another…it was also so we didn’t lose one another! The mist was magical but soon evaporated to leave blue skies, sunshine and the return of our eternal horizon.
The lack of obstacles such as trees and buildings, made it easy for us to pick up speed and set a course for the far outer reaches of the archipelago. Here the relative smoothness of the terrain is broken up by enormous mounds of pack-ice, created when smaller chunks of floating ice fuse together to form gigantic sculptures. When approaching by snowmobile these sculptures resemble distant snow-covered mountains and tricked us into believing they were further away than they actually were. We took the opportunity to park up and trudge through the snow to stand alongside them.
Even took the time for a sneaky selfie!
Fresh air and exercise are notoriously amazing for the appetite and, being a bunch of foodies, we were all ready for something to eat, though being in the middle of nowhere we expected this to be rather simple and likely to be accompanied by something from a thermos. It turned out that our guide was something of an expert with a BBQ – but nothing like the BBQs of numerous suburban back gardens! His was something rather special, a semi-permanent basecamp set up in preparation of a season of outdoor cooking. Perhaps one of the best BBQs we’ve ever eaten!
Snowmobiling is certainly the quickest way of travelling across Arctic snow and ice and is perfect for anyone who wants to see as much of their location as possible as their speed and agility allows you to cover considerable distance featuring a mixture of terrain from frozen sea, lake and fjord to mountain plateau and sprawling forest.
Of course, it’s also very important to remember that sometimes being in the Arctic is also just about being able to chill out – if you’ll forgive the pun!
If you’d like to experience a holiday in Swedish Lapland, take a look at our website www.scandinaviaonly.co.uk.