For families with older children we fully appreciate that the whole ‘Father Christmas thing’ is not going to be top on a list of holiday requirements.
We have designed this 6 night holiday for families who still want to be surrounded by a winter wonderland and try all of the key activities but who don’t need a man in a red suit to make their Christmas magical. We also know that for many families a sighting of the Northern Lights is definitely on the list so this holiday includes evening activities to help maximise your chances.
We can’t guarantee that you won’t encounter the occasional elf or stray Santa but it’s highly unlikely and the focus here is very much on enjoying the Great Outdoors and the Narnia-like countryside in an active and enjoyable way.
For the Aurora hunting family Menesjärvi’s location is ideal. You are far from any significant light pollution and deep in the Aurora Zone. With the activities we’ve included you should stand a very good chance of catching an Auroral Light show if the conditions are right.
This holiday is about shared family experiences and activities and getting to know the real people of Lapland, their culture and the landscape in which they live. It’s a magical place to spend time together as a family and search out the Aurora Borealis.
Any active families with children aged 8 years and over.
Day 1: Flights, arrival and introduction
Today you will leave the hustle and bustle of Heathrow and arrive at tiny Ivalo Airport, the most northerly in Finland. The contrast could not be greater and once you are on your way to Menesjärvi you will be able to get a sense of how sparsely populated it is in this part of the world.
A warm welcome and dinner awaits you at the Hotel Korpikartano this evening.
Day 2: Snowshoes, kick sledges, cross country ski tour and Aurora workshop
If you arrived in the darkness then this morning you will get your first glimpse of where you will spend the coming days. The hotel’s lakeside location is sure to take everyone’s breath away. You will also realise that there is a massive wilderness just waiting to be explored.
The best way to get acquainted with your new surroundings is to get out and about in the snow trying some of the most popular Arctic activities. Snowshoeing is great fun and kick sledges can be hilarious so you’ll have the chance to try both this morning.
After lunch at the hotel your guide will teach you the basics of cross country skiing before leading you on an easy trail this afternoon.
Later there will be presentation on the Northern Lights and some hints and tips from your local guides on how to capture the Aurora on camera. You can then take a walk down to the lake to watch the skies and perhaps see your first Auroral display.
Day 3: Reindeer farm and Aurora snowmobile sleigh ride
Reindeer are synonymous with Lapland and although Santa may not feature heavily in this holiday, a genuine reindeer encounter is a ‘must’.
You will be transferred to a local reindeer farm where you will meet with your Sámi host who will give you an insight into the lives of the herders and their animals. You will meet the reindeer, feed them, try your hand at lassoing and take a short sleigh ride.
Tonight your Aurora hunting begins in earnest as you are taken in a snowmobile–pulled sleigh on a search for the Northern Lights. Your guide will use his or her local knowledge to find you a vantage point from where the views of any Aurora will be uninterrupted.
Day 4: Wilderness skills, wooden sauna and Northern Lights snowshoe trek
Wilderness skills are a vital part of any Lappish upbringing. Your Finnish Ray Mears will take you into the forest on snowshoes and will teach you how to navigate using GPS and a compass.
You’ll do some map reading, learn how to identify animals from their footprints, how to light a fire and safely put a wood knife into use (under supervision). Another vital Lappish skill is learning how to heat a wooden sauna and hot tub, which you can enjoy in the afternoon.
If you are travelling on the 23 December departure then today there will be a special Christmas dinner.
This evening you'll strap on the snowshoes again and head out with your guide in search of the Northern Lights.
Day 5: Husky safari, Sámi Siida Museum
Husky safaris are key to any winter holiday and today after full tuition you will get to take control of a team of dogs and explore the trails with your guide on a safari lasting around 1 hour. This is one of those family experiences that you will never forget.
This afternoon you head to the famous Siida Sámi Museum. We know that the word museum strikes fear into the hearts of many children but this place offers so much. You’ll learn about the Sami people, the local nature, traditions and watch a DVD.
Day 6: Winter fishing by snowmobile and Aurora dinner
By now you should have a pretty decent sense of Lapland’s scale but today we’ll get you even deeper into this completely unspoiled wilderness. Snowmobiles are thrilling and after a full safety briefing you’ll head out to explore the trails with your guide. You’ll head to a local lake where you will be introduced to the ancient art of ice fishing.
Tonight you will be served a wonderful farewell dinner in one of the wooden kotas down by the lake. Eating around an open fire is such a wonderful family experience. Your Aurora guide will be joining you afterwards to lead you to an Aurora viewpoint, quite often guests stay on the lake near the hotel as it is an exceptional place from which to view the night sky.
Day 7: Departure
Tourism in Finnish Lapland has become the main source of employment and income, replacing traditional industries such as forestry. Working within this growth industry in rural and remote areas means that we must take a great deal of responsibility; socially, environmentally and economically. We fully appreciate the impact of tourist visits on local communities and their residents and strive to ensure that we are having a positive effect.
The wilderness hotel in Menesjärvi is owned and run by the Lappalainen family, whose Sámi routes have been in this area for centuries. They have a strong sense of tradition and we encourage all of our clients to respect and embrace the lives and culture of all Menesjärvi’s local inhabitants by learning a few important words: hello, goodbye, please, thank you etc. We have also included activities with a cultural base. In addition, we always encourage our clients to get involved in local events and activities which help to sustain traditional values and customs.
In all of our destinations we ensure that we use local accommodation, transport and activity providers, enabling locally owned businesses and the economies in which they work to benefit directly. The hotel in Menesjärvi also serves as much local produce as possible and stocks locally made souvenirs. Through the tourism multiplier effect, this all helps to generate incomes and employment where the drift might otherwise be towards larger employment areas such as towns and cities. In a small and remote village such as Menesjärvi the effects of such a drift could be devastating.
The use of small family run hotels and businesses means that the tourism income, generated by our presence stays where it should, in the local economy. We firmly believe in paying a fair price for all the services provided by our suppliers regardless of where they are in the world.
Our holidays rely on visiting beautiful and un-spoilt areas, and they don’t come more un-spoilt than Menesjarvi. Naturally we wish to maintain the natural settings in which we work, not just for the future of our company, but also for future generations. We will always insist that our local providers are equally conscious of this need.
We do appreciate that some may feel that snowmobiles should not be included in such itineraries however in areas such as Menesjärvi they are a way of life. They are the only means of keeping in contact with remote reindeer herders and communities as the road infrastructure is not extensive. All trails are well managed. The alternatives to snowmobiles would in most cases be large, gas-guzzling off road vehicles. All snowmobiles are regularly serviced and kept as fuel efficient as possible. The snowmobile service industry is also another vital source of employment in these remote areas.
We always ensure that all litter is removed from any of our activity sites, we strongly encourage group transfers to reduce traffic volumes and we make our clients aware of their obligation to the environment. We always offset our air travel emissions and would encourage you to do the same.