For the Aurora hunting family, Menesjärvi’s location is ideal. You are far from any significant light pollution and deep in the Aurora Zone. Over your seven nights you should stand a very good chance of catching a display of the Northern Lights should conditions be favourable.
Your hosts, Anne and Timo, are two of the loveliest people in Lapland and really do all they can to make sure you have an unforgettable holiday. The accommodation at Menesjärvi is warm and welcoming offering simple and cosy décor (some elements have been crafted by Timo using local wood), and hearty home cooked food; perfect for the winter climate.
By the end of your action packed week at Menesjärvi you will have travelled by snowshoes, dog sled, kick sled, cross-country skis, and snowmobile-pulled sleigh. Furthermore, you will have encountered reindeer and gained an insight into the remarkable culture of the Sámi people who make their home in this remote corner of the world.
As a family you will learn about the Northern Lights during an Aurora Workshop with an expert guide. Each night you can all walk down to the frozen lake in front of the hotel to gaze at the sky in search of the Northern Lights and there are some special evening activities to take part in which will help to maximise your chances.
This is a wild location with a truly warm welcome and provides an ideal playground for any active family who wants an escape from the every day and some unforgettable shared experiences.
Any active families with children aged 8 years and over.
Day 1: Flights, arrival and introduction
Having left the hustle of Heathrow behind this morning you will land at Ivalo, deep in the heart of Finnish Lapland. The contrast could not be greater and once you are on your way to Menesjärvi, you will gain a sense of what a special wilderness this is!
A warm welcome and dinner awaits you at the Hotel Korpikartano this evening. You can settle in to your rooms before trying out your winter clothing and perhaps heading down to the lake in front of the hotel in search of the Aurora.
Some groups may be arriving on a later evening flight – should this be the case, you will be given a chilled platter on arrival and be given your introductory talk the following morning.
Day 2: Snowshoes (by day & night!), kick sleds, cross-country skiing and Aurora Workshop
This morning you will get your first real glimpse of where you will spend the coming week. You can look out across the stunning frozen lake and take in the views of the winter activity playground.
We want to get you out and about in the snow straight away and so you’ll have a fun-filled morning trying out snowshoes, kick sleds and cross country skis, with tuition from your guide. This equipment is available for you to use free of charge throughout your stay and so it is really key that you gain initial instruction today so you can use it at your leisure through the week.
After lunch, you will have the afternoon free to spend together with your family. You can try and hone your new found skills from this morning and explore independently or you may simply like to take to the sauna and relax after your first snowy forays.
Later there will be a presentation on the Northern Lights and some hints and tips from your local guides on how to capture the Aurora on camera (an excellent family portrait!). You will then take a walk down onto the lake on snowshoes to watch the skies together and see if you can track down a display.
Day 3: Visit to a reindeer farm
Reindeer are synonymous with Lapland – its indigenous Sámi culture, traditions and people and a genuine reindeer encounter is a ‘must’ when in the region.
Today 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 enjoy a short sleigh ride; a great experience for all the family.
After lunch in the hotel, you will have the afternoon and evening free to spend as you wish. With free use of the winter equipment, there are plenty of ways to enjoy The Great Outdoors.
After dinner this evening there is the chance for you to join an additional Aurora hunt using snowshoes. Details can be found in the ‘prices and availability’ section.
Day 4: Wilderness skills
Having some basic wilderness skills is a vital part of any Lappish upbringing so today your Finnish Ray Mears will take you into the forest on snowshoes to teach you how to navigate using a GPS and traditional compass.
You will do some map reading, learn how to identify animals from their footprints, as well as how to light a fire and safely put a wood knife to good use (under supervision). Lunch will be enjoyed in a Lappish hut around an open fire: a true wilderness experience!
This evening there is no scheduled Aurora hunt but there is the option to add in a Northern Lights hunt travelling in a snowmobile-pulled sled, details can be found in the ‘prices and availability’ section.
Day 5: Winter fishing by snowmobile
Snowmobiling is exhilarating and allows you to travel deeper into the great expanse of the Lappish wilderness. Your guide will provide a full safety briefing and instruction before you all head out onto the trails for a thrilling safari. To drive a snowmobile in Finland you need a full driving licence and should be over 18, children will therefore travel in a sled which is pulled behind the guide’s snowmobile and parents will travel two people per machine.
The destination for your adventure is a frozen lake where you will be shown the art of winter fishing, something which has been practiced in the region for centuries.
Upon your return to the hotel the afternoon is left free for your family do spend as they wish.
Day 6: Husky safari, Sámi Siida Museum and Aurora dinner
In our opinion a husky safari is a key element of any winter holiday and today, after full tuition, you will get to take control of a team of dogs and explore the trails on a safari lasting around one hour. This is one of those family experiences that you will never forget. You will travel with two people per team and children will ride tucked up in the sled (it may be possible for older teenagers to drive the sled at the guide’s discretion).
After enjoying lunch in the village of Inari, this afternoon you will head to the famous Sámi Siida 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 fascinating Sámi people, as well as the local wildlife and the Northern Lights. There’s also a great gift shop for some souvenir shopping.
At the hotel this evening, you will gather by the lake for dinner in one of the traditional wooden kotas. Eating around an open fire is a wonderfully atmospheric experience. Following on from your delicious meal your Aurora guide will join you to lead you to one of their favourite viewpoints. In some cases guests don’t have to venture too far as the Northern Lights can often be seen over the hotel.
Day 7: Free day
Today we have left free, so you have the opportunity to plan your own day however you wish. You could explore the local area independently by snowshoes, skis or kick sledges, or you could simply relax inside the hotel. There may also be the chance to enjoy some additional activities which can be arranged and paid for locally.
Day 8: Departure
Today your adventure will draw to a close as return to the airport for your flights home.
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 a local 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.