“Travelogue” is a new series that details National Geographic staff member’s most recent travels throughout the world. Learn from their experiences to help you decide on your next awe-inspiring adventure.
National Geographic staff member Laura Farrell recently ventured into the Scandinavian wilderness for a dogsledding adventure across snowy Swedish Lapland. Here, she talks saunas, Viking ships, and bonding with her team of huskies, and explains why she still hasn’t taken dogsledding off her travel wish list.
What was your favorite activity on this trip? Dogsledding of course! I loved getting to learn the ins and outs of not only driving the dogs, but also harnessing, feeding, and caring for them. You gain a special relationship with your team and get to know their personalities, as well as their strengths and weaknesses on the trail.
Describe a local custom you adopted while on the trip. Spending time in the sauna every night. Every accommodation that we stayed in had a sauna, and each had its own character. During our night at Lake Väkkärä, we could even see the northern lights while looking out the sauna windows. It’s a quintessentially Scandinavian custom, and one that I really enjoyed adopting!
What was the best museum you visited? On the first full day of our trip, we visited Stockholm’s Vasa Museum—the most-visited museum in Scandanavia and home to the world’s only preserved 17th-century ship. Standing at over 170 feet tall and 200 feet long, the ship capsized and sank in Stockholm in 1628. After 333 years on the sea bed, it was salvaged and restored. Being able to see this ship in all its original glory was truly special.
What day did you love? Day five was by far my favorite of the trip. It was our first day with the dogs, which we were all anxiously awaiting. The weather was perfect, with blue skies and fresh white snow for miles. After sledding with the dogs for 18 miles, including a break along the way to enjoy a delicious local lunch around a campfire, we arrived at our home for the night—a farm house in the middle of the wilderness at the base of Vittangivaara mountain. The lodge was located in an abandoned village, and we had the entire place to ourselves. We capped off the day watching the horizon turn green as the northern lights danced across the sky.
Tell us about the places where you stayed. Each accommodation was unique. They ranged from a Sami homestead and a farmhouse in the Lapland wilderness to quaint and cozy log cabins, as well as a hotel made entirely of ice! Each location had its own character and truly contributed to our overall experience. There is no way I could pick a favorite.
Did this trip change your travel bucket list? Yes! Initially I expected this dogsledding trip to be one of those experiences that I would do once and check off my list, but that’s not the case! The experience of being out in the wilderness with my own team of dogs just made me want more! This is certainly an experience that I would like to repeat—possibly on a longer dogsledding adventure though Norway, Finland, and Sweden.