Menesjärvi Half-Term Northern Lights Adventure
- Duration:4 nights
- Suitable for: Anybody aged 8 years or over (younger children may join the holiday, but may not be able to participate in all the activities). Please see terms for details
- Flights: return flights from London Heathrow to Ivalo via Helsinki. Flight routes are subject to change
- Transfers: return airport transfers
- Accommodation: 4 nights hotel accommodation
- Meals: 4 breakfasts, 3 lunches, 4 dinners
- The following activities are included: Snowshoe hike, kick sleds, cross-country skiing, Aurora workshop, Aurora snowshoe, morning with a reindeer herder, Sámi Siida Museum, wilderness skills, husky safari, Aurora snowmobiling (the order of activities is subject to change)
- Cold weather clothing for the duration of your stay
- Fully qualified wilderness guides and instructors
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 four 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 stay 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. Perhaps the most thrilling of these activities is an Aurora hunt by snowmobile with adults driving and children sitting in a sleigh pulled by the guide’s machine. It is an incredible family experience, particularly if the lights appear overhead.
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 enjoy some unforgettable shared experiences.
Image credits: Timo Halonen & Ville Heimonen, Steve Williamson (client), Duncan Milne (client)
Day 1 Arrival and Welcome
Having left the hustle 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 await you at the Hotel Korpikartano this evening. You can settle into 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.
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, Sámi Siida Museum and Northern Lights by Snowmobile
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, this afternoon you will then head to the colourful Sámi Siida Museum in the village of Inari. 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.
You will enjoy dinner at the hotel restaurant before heading out for a snowmobile safari. Your guide will lead the way across the frozen lake to an area free from any light pollution and where you can enjoy unobstructed views of the night sky.
Adults will travel two per snowmobile (drivers must be 18 years and older and have a full driving licence) whilst children will travel in a sled pulled by the guide’s snowmobile. Full instruction and a safety briefing will be provided before departure.
Fingers crossed you are successful in your search and see the Aurora in all its glory!
Day 4 Wilderness Skills and Husky Safari
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!
In the afternoon, you will enjoy a husky safari, which in our opinion, is a key element to any winter holiday. After full tuition, you will get to take control of a team of dogs and explore the trails on a safari lasting around 2 hours and 30 minutes. 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).
Dinner will be enjoyed at the hotel restaurant this evening.
Day 5 Departure
Today your adventure in Finnish Lapland will draw to a close and you will be transferred to the airport for your flights home.
Included in price
When it comes to remote locations there are few that compare to Menesjärvi. Pristine and unspoiled, it is the perfect place for an Arctic family adventure in search of the Aurora.
Menesjärvi is a traditional reindeer herding community and what was once the local school is now the Hotel Korpikartano. Owned and run by Timo and Anne you are sure of a warm and traditional Finnish welcome and our guests often say that they leave feeling like they are part of the family.
The hotel is split into two buildings with the main building housing the dining room and reception as well as some bedroom. The annexe, which is approximately 50 metres away, houses the majority of the bedrooms.
- There are saunas available in both buildings for guests to use free of charge
- Free Wi-Fi is available throughout and there is a PC available
- Most meals will be served in the hotel dining room. The set evening meals are self-service and the food served is simple and hearty home cooking. In our experience, it has always been delicious and ideal sustenance after a day’s adventuring
- A selection of games and books is also available but we find that most of our guests spend their time outdoors gazing at the skies or simply enjoying the snow
- Cross-country skis, snowshoes and kick sleds are available to use free of charge
- The hotel’s Aurora Lounge offers the perfect place to relax after a day of fun in the snow with tea and coffee available for guests, as well as a small library, TV (with Finnish channels only) and cosy fireplace
Twin, double and family rooms: The hotel is anything but standardised, with no two rooms being the same shape or size. There are 27 rooms in total, all of which have en-suite shower rooms and hairdryers. There are kettles and cups provided and tea bags and coffee are available in both buildings.
The rooms are comfortable and many are decorated with locally sourced wood and pieces of furniture which Timo has handcrafted.
Varying from double and twin rooms to more family-style accommodation (sleeping up to six people) you will be allocated the most suitable room for your party at the time of booking (subject to availability).
Image credits: Timo Halonen
Dates & Prices
We include more, no hidden costs
Adult (15+) price based on 2 sharing a twin or double room; child price based on sharing with 2 adults and using an extra bed
Next season’s pre-sale dates and prices
To secure your holiday for next season, you can make a pre-sale booking and fix the price of your trip at the pre-sale price displayed below. Simply by paying an initial deposit of £50pp, you will protect yourself from any package price increases. The departure dates and itineraries remain preliminary and we will contact you when the final dates and itineraries are confirmed, you will then have 14 days to decide if you would like to go ahead. A further deposit payment of £350pp is due by 01 April 2019 or at the time of us confirming the trip details to you, whichever is sooner. If you decide not to travel, we will refund your initial £50pp payment. We reserve the right to charge supplements where there are significant changes to an itinerary or increases in flight costs. Any non-package rates remain subject to change.
Sun 16 Feb 2020
to Thu 20 Feb 2020
|Adult price (per person): £1865.00||Child (age 12-14): £1645.00||Child (7-11): £1525.00||Enquire|
For our full booking terms and conditions please click here
Holiday group size (approximate)
Minimum of 4 people and maximum 20 people (approximately)
We always try to provide an approximation of the group size you can expect to be with for the duration of each of our holidays. It may be that you are joined by others for parts of your holiday (such as transfers and particular activities) but the above number reflects those you can normally expect to be with from beginning to end. If group size is something which is particularly important to you, please speak to our Travel Experts and they can suggest the best holidays for you.
Tailor-made holiday group sizes will vary for all activities as will the group size for any additional activities you book.
Minimum numbers required for a holiday to operate
Some of our holidays require a minimum number of participants to operate (as listed in the ‘Group Size’ section). If your holiday departure has not yet reached the minimum number, you will be told at the time of booking. In the unlikely event that your chosen date is not guaranteed by nine weeks before your scheduled departure date, we will contact you to discuss the available options as per our booking conditions.
The order of activities is always subject to change and you will be provided with your final itinerary upon arrival at your destination.
Please note that some of our holidays may incur a single supplement. Please speak to one of our Travel Experts who will provide you with a quotation.
Medical history and advice
We want our holidays to be accessible as they can be and will do our best to accommodate any special requests and requirements where possible. We have a wide range of holidays and destinations and so our travel experts will help find the best holiday for you.
In order to give us the best possible chance to do this we ask that if you or any member of your party has any medical condition or disability which may affect your holiday or has any special requirements, that you tell us at the time of enquiry or booking. You must also promptly advise us if any medical condition or disability which may affect your holiday develops after your booking has been confirmed. You may need to provide a doctor’s note and proof of insurance in some cases as the health and safety of our clients is absolutely paramount.
In providing this information you are allowing us to work with our expert local partners to ensure that your whole party can enjoy the holiday. By letting us know in advance we can discreetly work with you to adapt any part of the holiday which may potentially be challenging. Being able to prepare for this in advance makes an incredible difference to what we can offer and minimises any impact on your party and the rest of the group.
Unfortunately, if you choose not to share this information with us in advance then it may limit some or all of the itinerary you have booked, and we cannot be held accountable for any additional costs or missed activities resulting from this.
Insurance is not included in your holiday, but it is a pre-requisite to travelling with us. You will need to ensure that you have cover for all the activities that you will be participating in during your holiday.
It is extremely important that you take out a suitable travel insurance policy at the time of booking. Plans do sometimes change, and you will need this policy should you need to cancel your holiday.
If you are struggling to find a suitable policy then details of our preferred provider, who will cover you for all the activities we offer, can be found on our website by clicking here. Please note that this policy is available to EU residents under the age of 75 only.
If you have a reduced level of mobility, then please contact our travel experts to discuss the suitability of this holiday in relation to your requirements.
Experience and fitness
Most of the activities we offer have been designed for beginners who have no prior experience and are of all age ranges and fitness levels. Our guides provide expert advice, tuition and instructions prior to any activity going ahead. Activities are designed to be enjoyed and not endured, but some, do require a more basic level of fitness than others. If you have any questions, then please contact one of our Travel Experts who can provide first-hand advice.
The only holidays which are not as suitable for complete beginners are the multi-night safaris which involve several days in wilderness cabins travelling by either snowmobile or husky safari. Again, this all depends on the individual taking part, but some prior experience and understanding of these types of activities can be very helpful and a greater level of fitness is recommended.
Guides & Safety
When partaking in any activity, it is imperative that everyone in your group listens very closely to the instructions provided by the guide and that they are abided by at all times. Our guides are experts in their field and no one knows the environment better than these highly knowledgeable and experienced providers.
Prior to starting any activity, please make it clear to your guide if there is any element of the safety briefing you are unsure of or would like to clarify before you set off.
Our guides will always take local conditions into account when considering whether an activity can go ahead. This is, in part, why your itinerary is subject to change at short notice. This rarely happens, however, if it does, we will always endeavour to reschedule the activity for later in your holiday. If this is not possible then the cost of the activity will be refunded to you when you return home.
Our guides' word on activities is always final and your safety is their principal concern at all times; please respect their decisions. By following their instructions, your safety and enjoyment during each activity will be greatly enhanced.
NB: In order to participate in our holidays, all guests must be able to understand instructions given in English. These instructions may be delivered verbally or in writing and will include vital safety information and ongoing instruction during activities.
Minimum and Maximum Age
The minimum age for this holiday can be found in the ‘Key Facts’ section of the holiday overview.
Younger family members may be able to participate but may not be able to take part in all activities. Please contact one of our Travel Experts if you have any questions.
Booking activities locally and equipment hire
Additional activities can be booked locally in almost all our destinations. However, as per our booking conditions, we cannot be held responsible for any injury or loss incurred through participation in activities which are booked at your destination outside of our holiday itinerary (see our ‘Terms and Conditions’ for further details).
When arranging any such activity please always ensure that safety is your primary concern.
In some of our destinations, you can borrow or hire equipment for use in your free time. You do so entirely at your own risk. You must ensure that you are properly prepared, have the necessary equipment and knowledge (maps, etc) and ensure that where applicable, you follow marked routes. We recommend discussing your plans with the local teams who will be able to advise on the most suitable options for you.
Always let the reception/guide know where you are planning to go and take a torch and mobile phone (with the hotel/guide’s phone number stored). It is also a good idea to leave your contact number and the time you expect to return to the hotel should the hotel need to contact you.
If your trip includes car hire the named driver must have a credit card registered in their name which they can present when they collect their car along with their driving licence, as a deposit will be held on the credit card. Please see your trip dossier for full details.
Travel Safety and Foreign Office Advice
Our clients’ safety is at the centre of everything we do, and our operations team continually assesses and monitors the destinations we feature. We carry out thorough risk assessments and work closely with all of our suppliers to continually follow best practice. For up to date travel advice the UK government offers its Travel Aware website as well as the advice detailed below.
The Foreign and Commonwealth Office Advice
We receive all updates from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) with regards to travel advice and we always ensure that we follow this advice in our operations. The FCO issues travel advisories for countries based on a very wide range of factors. They may provide notification about things as simple as a football match and crowds, or they may go so far as to advise against all travel to a region. We ask all our clients to refer to the relevant Travel Advice by Country for the destinations they are visiting in order to make an informed decision on the safety of the destination based on the details provided. It also provides vital information regarding entry requirements, embassy information, local laws and customs as well as specific safety and health. Guests should take responsibility for keeping themselves up to date with this advice. Please also ensure that, if you are transiting through another country, you have read the advice and meet the entry requirements for that destination too.
The FCO travel advice is applicable to British Passport Holders. Most governments will issue their own travel advice for a region and, if you are not a UK resident then you can find some helpful links below:
Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade http://www.smartraveller.gov.au/ New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade http://www.safetravel.govt.nz/ Canadian Consular Affairs Bureau http://voyage.gc.ca/ The U.S. Bureau of Consular Affairs http://travel.state.gov/content/travel/english.html
If the FCO deems that there is an unacceptable level of risk for UK citizens then, together with the government, they may issue an advisory against all travel to a region or country. If such an advisory is published, then we will act accordingly, and this may require the cancellation, curtailment or amendment of a holiday itinerary. These decisions are made on the basis of ensuring our clients’ safety and will affect all clients on the holiday, regardless of their nationality.
If one of our local experts suggests an amendment due to a situation which develops locally then we may also take the decision to amend an itinerary appropriately.
If we have to cancel your holiday prior to departure you will be offered the option of an alternative trip (where any price difference will either be refunded to or covered by you) or a full refund of the monies paid.
If we have to curtail a holiday, then you will be refunded for any costs for the elements we have been unable to deliver, where we have been able to secure a refund from our suppliers. If we must reroute a holiday, then any basis for refund is determined on a case by case basis and dependent on whether the central holiday experience was provided or not.
Flight schedule changes and connecting transportation
On your documentation, we will confirm your flight schedule. Sometimes the flight number, routing and timings might change prior to your departure. If the change is classed as a significant change then we will contact you to discuss this. Please see our booking conditions for details.
Flight schedule changes can impact on your pre and post-holiday travel arrangements if these have been booked separately to your holiday. We strongly recommend that you do not book transport (such as trains or transfers), car parking or non-connecting flights to the departure point for your holiday until you have received your final confirmed travel times when your final travel documents are issued. We are not responsible for the effect of any schedule change on your pre or post travel arrangements. We strongly recommend that you do not purchase non-flexible or non-refundable tickets to avoid cancellation and penalty charges.
Booking your own flights - cancellation disclaimer
If you have chosen to book your own flights, then you will need to wait until we confirm to you that the holiday departure has met the minimum numbers required to run (if applicable to your chosen holiday). Once the holiday is guaranteed to run, you will be informed and you can then make your arrangements.
If transfers are included in your holiday, please ensure that any potential flights will be met by our standard transfers (speak to one of our Travel Experts for advice) otherwise private transfer supplements may be applicable. Once your flights are booked, please send us a copy of your detailed flight itinerary.
Please be aware that most tickets are non-refundable in the case of cancellation. For this reason, we strongly advise you check the rules of the ticket and check the limitations of your cancellation insurance before booking. We cannot be held liable, in the unlikely eventuality that we should be forced to cancel or amend your trip, for losses incurred relating to any flight booking you have made.
Children and snowmobiles
For safety reasons, children under the age of 16 will typically travel in a sledge pulled behind the guides’ snowmobile on any snowmobile tours. From approximately 15 years onwards, children may be allowed to ride pillion on the back of a parent’s snowmobile. The guide will make a decision on the day as to where each individual child shall travel, and this may depend on the child’s height and the guide’s confidence in their ability to travel safely as a pillion for the duration of any safari. The guide’s decisions are final.
The driver of a snowmobile must be 18 years or over and have a valid driving licence. If an adult is unable to share a snowmobile with either a child or another adult in their party, they will be required to pay a single snowmobile supplement as all prices are based on two people sharing.
Menesjärvi - Half Term Northern Lights Adventure 17 February 2019 by The Ford Family
The mix of activities really made the holiday. The activity guide at the hotel (James) was really knowledgeable and helpful. One of the highlights of the holiday was seeing the Northern Lights but also to get some good photo memories. The Aurora workshop run by James was extremely helpful. If we hadn't know how to set up the camera we would not have got such good photos.
Menesjärvi - Half Term Northern Lights Adventure 17 February 2019 by The Glister Family
We fully enjoyed the entire experience - all well organised. Our activity guides, James and Rosie, were lovely and really good with the children. Reindeer herding and the spectacular Northern lights display we were lucky enough to see on our last night.
Menesjärvi - Half Term Northern Lights Adventure 17 February 2019 by The Winchester Family
The local guides were all lovely. Very helpful and friendly. The hotel staff were also all really friendly. Food was great - no choice which was a good thing. All wholesome and hearty - just what was needed for such cold weather. Cold weather gear was really good. I loved the husky dog sledding but we did have a sunny day for that activity which really added to it's enjoyability and you can't control that. When we were able to let them run it was amazing - it was harder when you had to keep breaking because your dogs wanted to go faster than the ones in front! Also, seeing the northern lights on the last night - we had a really good show - can't control that either! A perfect ending to the holiday.
We had a fantastic holiday 11 February 2017 by Vera So, Andrew and James Bonsall
We had a fantastic holiday. Everything we need to know is in the information pack. Very well organised. We loved it all. We think the arrangement is perfect. We really like the variety of activities and also enjoy the free time to explore on our own.
Every interaction with the company has been excellent 11 February 2017 by Duncan, Jane and Freya Milne
This was the first holiday we have booked using Activities Abroad. I came across the company after an internet search for winter family holidays - after some research on company reviews, I gave Activities Abroad a call. From that moment - every interaction with the company has been excellent. I received really useful information and insight from the advisor (Barry Nolan) who guided me towards Menesjärvi based on what kind of holidays my family enjoyed. We all (2 adults plus 12-year-old daughter) had an excellent time in Lapland. All of it was really enjoyable but the stand out was the husky sled safari and visiting the reindeer herder plus of course seeing the Northern Lights in this beautiful location. We all enjoyed everything we did and made the most of the "free" time to cross-country ski across the lake, snowshoe walk in the woods and sledging down the hill outside the hotel. No time was wasted. Great hosts and staff at the hotel and good quality provider of the other activities. Tanya at the husky dog safari was brilliant and very informative.
No improvement needed, it was all first class... 11 February 2017 by Steve, Diane and Annabel Williamson
Hard to pick a favourite, I would say the reindeer trip; my wife would say the husky sledge.
Menesjarvi at half term 14 February 2016 by Rosalind Cook
Most enjoyable activity? Husky sledding, reindeer herder day. Seeing the Northern Lights and making pancakes over the open fire which the children loved.
This really was the holiday of a lifetime; everything was perfect 14 February 2016 by Anthony Moran
It was excellent. This really was the holiday of a lifetime; everything was perfect. The activities were varied and offered enough to do without ever feeling rushed or that we were doing too much. The hotel was fantastic; the hosts and guides were all very welcoming, friendly and knowledgeable and the use of equipment and outerwear for the whole week was brilliant. We felt like we got to experience the real Finland and get some sense of traditional life in the Arctic Circle in the most beautiful of surroundings. And to top it all, we were lucky enough to see a spectacular display of the Northern Lights! Just magical. Thank you so much for such a memorable holiday - it was a truly amazing experience. When Amy (in your office) said that Menesjarvi left a special place in your heart I didn't know quite what she meant - but now I do.....
What a wonderful, magical place and the people we're so friendly and interesting 06 March 2014 by Colin McCaffrey
What a wonderful, magical place and the people we're so friendly and interesting. The equipment provided was free to use all week and the warm weather clothing was so good we needn't have taken our own boots or mittens. We knew there would only be one option at meal times so we took noodles and rice to fill the kids up. Having said that they did enjoy the majority of the meals served.Seeing the aurora tops the list, closely followed by the husky rides and sauna. Everything else was amazing too, total grin factor from start to finish.Thank you for providing us with a perfect family holiday, it can be tricky to accommodate a large family of 7 with a wide age range, but we can honestly say we all had the best time and didn't want to leave. Although we can say we've ticked that one off our bucket list, we just want to do it again!!
Wow what a great time 24 February 2014 by Adrian Langford
Wow what a great time.All of the activities arranged were excellent and our whole family had a wonderful trip.Our only gripe would be the accomodation size and lack of food choice, but the positives far out way this minor flaw.Having never been on a holiday like this before, we were pleasantly surprised by the activities on offer and the overall experience from booking to arriving home. We would definitely recommend Activities Abroad and the overall holiday to friends.I have never visitied anywhere in the world quite so tranquil as the very northern part of Finland.If you are thinking of going, please do. Just make sure you take a few things for the kids to do and I guarantee they won't get bored, just very tired.