Dog sledding is one of the must of experiencing Norwegian nature during your stay in Norway. Operators all over the country offer tours of varying length and difficulty. It is possible to choose to be a passenger on a one-day trip, or steer your own pack of dogs for several days – the choice is yours.
Where to try dog sledding
Northern Norway is the number one destination for dog sledgers. In this region, Finnmark is the most popular place. Herein. you will find a white desert stretching as far as the eye can see, and only stars above your head (or the northern lights should you be lucky) courtesy of the long Arctic night.
Many local suppliers, most of them small family businesses, offer a range of set and tailor-made dog sledding tours in Finnmark. Among them is Holmen Husky in Alta.
Eirik Nilsen who is the owner of Holmen Hundesenter. He and his 63 dogs are eager to meet you!
– They are only allowed to bark when they know it’s time for running, – says Nilsen.
There you choose between tours in the birch forests along the Alta River, or you go up the Altadalen valley to the Finnmarksvidda mountain plateau. There are two persons on each sledge, one standing up and steering, and the other sitting comfortably on reindeer skins in the sledge. If you are too lucky you will observe elks! It is easy to steer, and easy to stop the dogs when you need to, using your feet on the break.
There are different possibilities at Holmen Husky. The short trip is about two hours. You get five dogs and a sledge on your own. You go in a line with the guide up front.
You can also go for the more challenging five-day trip from cabin to cabin in the mountains. You steer the dogs on your own on the mountain plains. This one you have to order in advance.The price ranges from 1100 to 15.000 NOK according to your preferences.
To get to Nilsen’s place, you take flight to Alta from Oslo or Tromsø. You will be picked up at your hotel and taken to the resort. There are different hotels in the city centre and the Sorrisniva Igloo Hotel in Alta is an experience far from the ordinary.
Another dog operator in Finnmar is Birk Husky situated a little over an hour drive from Kirkenes. You will be welcomed by 50 happy barking Alaskan huskies and two enormous guard dogs that protect them from the bears. But the bears are only around in summer. They hibernate all winter.
If you think the wolf-like Alaskan huskies are frightening, you have to think again. They are very friendly, social and playful dogs, and they love to run. Run fast. Run far. The owners use them in dog sledging competitions. With the steady flow of visitors, they get to run every day.
There are several trips for you to choose among at Birk Husky, and all suggestions include transportation to and from Kirkenes:
Ideal dog sledding boots | Photo: Martin Vmorris
A couple-hours tour
The perfect introduction to dog sledging for individuals with limited time and/or budget. You will get a short briefing in the mastery of dog sledging. You get to know the dogs while you help get the sledges ready for the trip. The trip starts out in the woods or along the Norwegian-Russian border river. There will be two persons per sled, one sitting and one driving. There will be a stop during the trip and you will be served coffee or tea with a little snack.
A day at dog sled
A longer tour for those wanting a real taste of dog sledging. You get a short briefing in the mastery of dog sledging. You get to know the dogs while you help get the sledges ready for the trip. There will be a stop to make a bonfire and prepare a hot meal based on local ingredients. This trip lasts about six to eight hours.
This is the musher’s ABC. Dog sledging and sleep over in a hut or Sámi lavvo. Good food and a lot of good stories. On these trips you will get the real experience of the life with a dog team. You participate in all the work, from getting the dogs ready, feeding them, making the camp, keep the fire running and so on. This is an authentic experience in the Arctic environment.
Dog sledding in Finnmark | Photo: Martin Vmorris
Large groups of people should choose the “Roundabout” taste of dog sledging on offer at Birk Husky. There will be several sledges ready for you and give you a taste of dog sledging during a short round of about one to two kilometres. You will sit in the sled or try to drive it yourself. In combination with food in the lavvo, this is the good offer for groups with more than 12 people.
Racing and feeding
Joining a dog sledding tour is also a great opportunity to feel the strong bond between man and dog. Here you will often get the chance to feed and look after the huskies yourself – something that will appeal to dog lovers everywhere.
Likewise, sled dog races are fun to watch. Each year Norway hosts two world-famous races – Femundløpet, the world’s biggest race starting in the cosy mining town of Røros, and Finnmarksløpet, Europe’s longest and northernmost sledge dog race. Both are World Cup events in the same league as the Iditarod race in Alaska.
Dog sledging tours are also available in other parts of Norway including Eastern and Central Norway. In these regions, several companies offer trips of varying duration. Geilo , Hemsedal, Ål, Nesbyen and Hønefoss, Gålå, Trysil, Sirdal are all more plausible laternatives to Northern Norway’s famous sledging centers.