Travel: Northern Highlights

    Travel writer Emma Oliver takes her family on the trip of a lifetime to experience Arctic conditions in Lapland

    Do you want to build a snowman? Or an entire snow family? Then this is the place to go. Families will appreciate all that Lapland has to offer – not just the magical Father Christmas experience.

    Since 2002, the award-winning tour company Activities Abroad has been taking families (children must be over four) to Luosto in Finnish Lapland to revel in all manner of activities that the Arctic Circle has to offer: husky safaris, reindeer sleigh rides, amethyst mining, cross country skiing and, my particular favourite, ice fishing.

    Just imagine sitting on reindeer skins holding fishing rods, the worm end of which dangles down through a drilled hole in the metre-thick ice. There’s no doubt that seeing my young children doing things Eskimo-style is going to stay with me forever, but that’s the thing about this sort of visceral holiday: it is the trip of a lifetime. Lapland3

    We took a team of six huskies on a 10km safari. The image of their beautiful, ice-blue eyes as we climbed the iced track will never leave me. Another fantastic way of getting about is by snowmobile.

    Everywhere you turn is Christmas-card pretty and Luosto is the perfect setting for a log cabin. An idyllic retreat, a log cabin not only creates an authentic Scandi-living experience, but will allow you privacy and your own log-burning fire and sauna to boot.

    The cabins are not far from the main hotel, so the restaurant, swimming pool and spa facilities are within easy reach. There is an abundance of sledges that are free to use: you simply pick them up and then discard them when you’re finished. They were certainly the girls’ preferred mode of transport, gliding easily between the snow-capped fir-lined paths and magical scenery.

    The menu echoes the beautiful surrounds. From reindeer burgers and juniper gravy to pickled fish salad, you certainly eat off the land. Incidentally, my six-year-old has a nut allergy and the kitchen handled it brilliantly. In fact, nothing was too much trouble.

    All outdoor gear is supplied, including boots. Cold can equal miserable, especially for children, and in such extreme temperatures (it can drop to -30˚C over Christmas) you will need to be prepared. Layer up and you’ll keep warm – and with regular hot chocolate and sweet chai stops, there are plenty of warming moments.

    Lapland4On our last night we decided to head out at twilight for a walk around the frozen lake. The children bounced their way along the snowy track, throwing snowballs, making snow angels and giggling all the way until we arrived at a Kota, aka a Lappish BBQ hut. Here we found kindling and logs and were soon toasting marshmallows.

    Walking back to our cabin, the cloud that had hung over us providing so much snow finally cleared. Perhaps tonight the skies would turn the lights on? There is no guarantee that you will see the aurora borealis, or northern lights. But on the off chance they do come out to dance in the dead of night, you’re provided with a mobile phone and will be sent a text message alert so you don’t miss out.
    We never did see the lights, and although this was disappointing, it was clear to me that Luosto offers so many other wondrous experiences, so many other northern highlights to enjoy, it really didn’t matter.

    The Log Cabin Design Your Own trip in Luosto costs from £1,115 per adult and £690 per child (four to 14 years) for three nights’ half board based on two adults sharing with one child, including flights, transfers and instructors.