After my helmet was fitted, I beamed around at the others in the group before heading outside to cool down whilst I waited for the rest of the group to have their helmets fitted too.
Once we were all outside our guide Laura called to get our attention and introduced herself and the other guide before taking us over to a row of large red and black snowmobiles. We all listened attentively whilst she showed us the controls and the hand signals we would use on the safari. Once we were all confident and found our snowmobiles we set off in single file, moving through the snowy landscape.
For those that really push themselves, there is a reward waiting for them near the village of Luosto.
There is a refuge café called Torvisen Maja, that sells munki (freshly made doughnuts) and reindeer pancakes. The tiny little cabin is the oldest café in Luosto. It is situated on the side of the cross-country track and is easily accessible for the Finnish locals who have been brought up cross-country skiing but more difficult to reach for the eager tourists, who rather than having to battle with the hard cross-country ski runs, take the two-hour snowshoe walk to get here!
The Finns have something like 50 words for different types of snow and you will be able to see a range of types on the way to the amethyst mine - even if you do not know the Finnish words for them yet! On the last stretch of the snowmobile journey from Luosto to the mine, you will find ‘tykky’ in abundance; large chunks of snow frozen onto the trees, to the point that they no longer look like trees and have taken on the persona of alien sculptures creating a science fiction-esk landscape.
The snow is thick on the ground and untouched by human feet and the landscape is worth a visit but you are here to ‘dig yourself rich’ with some amethysts (well perhaps!).
Arriving at the reindeer farm in Luosto we were met by a fellow in a startling blue cloak decorated with a bright red trim. On his head sat a giant fur hat with flaps similar to that of a deerstalker; his feet were as interesting as the rest of his outfit as, casting my eyes down, I noticed he wore furry shoes that could have been furry slippers that curled around at the toe.
He welcomed us by opening his arms and standing very straight and tall and introducing himself as Joonas; telling us that he is a reindeer herder before he led us towards his reindeer, about 30 metres away. The reindeer stood fairly still as we approached, moving their heads only to check who we were. They were then harnessed up and attached to a sleigh and behind that reindeer’s sleigh was another reindeer and then another sleigh and so on; so standing in front of us was a ridiculously cute reindeer train!
Tell us a little bit about your role here in Luosto
'My job consists of meeting the customers, giving them an orientation of this pretty winter village, explaining what they can expect during their stay, giving them helpful tips and hints. I then spend my time catching up with my customers over the week and help with any queries they may have.'
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