Thursday February 23, 2023
We set off early yesterday morning to arrive in the snowy landscape around Rovaniemi around four o’clock in the afternoon. Another two hours’ drive through the snow-covered forest towards Överkalix in Sweden. Check in and view the rooms with a view of the frozen river. After dinner, choose warm clothes: thick jacket, trousers, hat, balaclava, mittens, snow shoes, everything for the polar climate here.
Breakfast at 8 am and then a walk through the village in our polar clothes. Överkalix is not large, but has the necessary supermarkets and shops. Furthermore, it is a dormitory town of about 1200 inhabitants. The sky is gray and sometimes it seems to be snowing a bit. At the end of the village we take a different route back to end along the boulevard. The beach along the river is not very attractive with all the snow, so we skip the sunbathing. A group from the hotel is cross-country skiing on the snowy river, it looks fun. We walk a little further along the river and arrive back at the Grand Arctic Resort in time for lunch. Relax for a moment and then dress up. At 2 pm we are waiting at the reception in full uniform. The guide takes us to the activity center for some helmets and then outside. The snowmobiles are ready here and we receive a short instruction. Braking and accelerating. Put on a dead man’s rope and, above all, keep a good distance from the vehicle in front. Top. On our way then. There is a clear path across the river and we follow the track. Through the forest, 30 km/h is the maximum with all the bumps and trees along the side. On the river a bit faster. The sun is shining and it is beautiful. Halfway there is warm blueberry juice and then we go back slowly. After dinner we watch a movie. We still have an hour to go when the hotel app shows that it has cleared and we have to look outside. The Northern Lights can be seen quite clearly from the hotel window. Go outside where the Northern Lights can be seen much better and brighter. Fantastic. Suddenly a meteorite passes across the sky and eventually falls apart into parts. Wow. The hands have now cooled down, despite the undergloves. Back into the hotel and warm up.
The next day after breakfast we drive half an hour north. The Elk Farm. The elderly owner welcomes us with a long story about his Lappish family and the elk. The elk are waiting outside for the (tourist) carrot. The fur is surprisingly soft and the elk are very large. Young or not. Most have already shed their antlers, but one is still walking around with them. Beautifull sight. Thereafter coffee and cake inside. The owner puts on a traditional shirt and matching hat. He continues to narrate and explains that they also herd about 1,500 reindeer. This herd roams an area of 2,200 km2. The family has been doing this for 8 generations and his children have taken over. The elk farm is for fun and tourists.
Saturday morning it is still quite cold at -15°C. A little later in the morning we go out and take a walk along the river. Now along the other side of the village. After lunch, cross-country skiing is on the program. Guide Elisabeth gives a short instruction and ensures that we get the right stuff. Then go outside and set off through the snow. Some trails have been marked out and the long slats slide through the tracks. Sometimes the track is damaged by the snowmobiles. The ladies of De Schuttertjes immediately drop out and the five of us continue. I quickly got back into the swing of things and it goes quite well. We take the long tour through the forest and the trail suddenly ends. There is a snowmobile trail that we take. Beautiful path between the birches in the deep snow. Absolutely great. Then back across the river via a detour back to the hotel. Relax for a while and then have a bite at 6 p.m. Read a book and relax tonight.
As usual, breakfast around 8 am. Change, put on the thick clothes again, and go to the lobby. The bus is ready and we can get on. On the way to Pojmis. We’re there in half an hour and the huskies are already barking. The dogs are prepared and pinned to posts. This is necessary because the dogs want to accelerate. We receive a short instruction about braking and staying on the sleds. We have a four-in-hand team and Marien starts on the sled and I stand on the back. The dogs are super enthusiastic and want to be cuddled. Seems to be different sometimes. We start slowly and it’s sledding with the brakes on all the time. Otherwise the dogs will go too fast. They prefer to overtake the predecessor. The trip is over the lake and through the woods. Beautiful. We change halfway and go back slowly. Back at the kennel, more cuddling and we can feed the dogs frozen meat as a reward. The owner talks about the training and selection of the dogs and then, after the hot drink and cake, it is time to go back to the hotel. A late lunch and some reading and the sauna in the afternoon. Relax the muscles for a moment. After dinner have a coffee in the lobby, read a book and relax. According to the aurora app, the chance of seeing the Northern Lights is extremely high tonight. Exciting. Unfortunately it is slightly cloudy and not visible yet. Maybe just get up at 2 o’clock tonight. At half past nine I go outside with some other guests. Suddenly the Northern Lights are there, right above the hotel. You can even take a photo with your cell phone. It can be seen brightly for a brief moment.
Monday morning is walking on snowshoes. We walk up the now famous frozen river. The scooter track runs quite well. A little further on we can try to walk through the fresh snow and I immediately sink 20 cm deep and occasionally half a meter. That is a lot more tiring. Over the river and then into the forest. Nice weather. When we walk back to the hotel, the temperature appears to have risen considerably and it is thawing. This also means that the snow sticks under the shoes. This isn’t going anywhere. It’s a good thing we went this morning and not this afternoon. Change clothes and have lunch, relax a bit and then take a walk to the viewpoint on the local hill just outside the village. The way there is via road over slippery snow and ice. The last part goes up quite steeply and the viewpoint is at the closed restaurant. Nice point where you can see the surroundings well. It is quite windy here, so we quickly go back into the forest. A little higher up the mountain. Another viewpoint, but now the other side of the mountain. Strong wind here as well. An alternative route back, through the forest, to the village. Nice. Just relax and read a book. Dinner at 6 p.m. and the show starts immediately after dinner. We see the northern lights again. It rises several times tonight, but not always very strong and the clouds that blow over don’t help either. Read a book, go out into the cold and warm up again. At midnight it is enough.
We have an excursion on Tuesday afternoon. We get into the spacious bus and it takes us to the Arctic Circle, which means a sign along the road that says “Arctic Circle”. We see an ice road across the river to the other side. There is a ferry here in the summer, but now you can cross it with passenger cars. Then a little further we stop again and follow the host via a path to the viewpoint along the river. From here you have a beautiful view of the waterfalls, Jockfall. He talks about the gigantic salmon swimming around, 1.5 m long and weighing 45 kg. Impressive. Next to the waterfalls is a fish ladder that we can view. Then into the visitor center for hot chocolate with cake and a video about fishing. Apparently 90,000 fishermen come here every year hoping to catch a mega salmon. Then get back on the bus and back to the hotel. Meanwhile, evening falls and the sky turns red. Beautiful. After dinner, take a sauna and a dip in the hot tub. Unfortunately no northern lights on the last evening, too cloudy. But we were spoiled this week with this natural spectacle.