The Autumn leaf colour, or 'ruska' to the locals, is a spectacular phenomenon in Finland, painting the landscape in deep and soft tones. The colours get more vibrant the further north you travel and what better way to see the onset of ruska than on a horse riding trail within the wilds of the Artic Circle. On this trail discover the delights of the outermost northwest of Finland, sparsely populated and geographically and scenically different to the rest of the country with mountains, fells, lakes and tundra-like vegetation. This is the only area in Finland with a Sami majority.
This 'treeless' topography is explored on this trail ride for wilderness lovers. Ride the Finnish horses by day and nights are spent in basic wilderness cabins or camping in tents; riders are asked to help look after their own horses and to help with camp/cabin chores too so a certain level of fitness and enthusiasm for the outdoors is required for this ride. Enjoy typically Lappish food dishes, and the sauna – a central feature of any Finnish home!
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Arrive at airport and transfer to Palojärvi village and accommodation in a cabin with facilities. You will meet your guide and have an introduction of the next day’s programme for your trail ride with original Finn horses. Dinner and overnight with shared facilities.
After breakfast you will pack up your bags and horses' saddlebags. Together you groom the horses and saddle them, the trail is ready to start. You will get to know the horses and routines; how to lead horses, how to start trotting or cantering etc. On the first day the route goes along sandy roads, hillocks and hills in fell forest. At the midway point you will prepare a picnic lunch by campfire. Your camp for this night will be by the shore of the river Palojoki. Here you will have a tent camp where you will enjoy dinner and overnight in the cleanest air of Europe without any facilities.
After breakfast you will pack up, prepare the horses and continue riding. The terrain is mainly treeless sandy hillocks and fells with small, beautiful streams and lakes, bogs and hills. You will have a picnic lunch along the way by a campfire. You will ride to a cabin in village Näkkälä and there you will enjoy your dinner and sauna and stay overnight in a cosy cabin or tent, hammock or under the sky.
After breakfast you will pack up your bags and horses' saddle bags. Today the route will take you to a treeless fell tundra area. The route goes along sandy roads, hillocks and hills. Lunch will again be a picnic by campfire. Your camp is in the summer grazing area of the Pöyrisjärvi reindeer herding people and for two nights your home will be very basic wilderness cabin without electricity or running water. After taking care of the horses you will prepare dinner and after that sleep well.
This day is to discover surroundings of lake Pöyrisjärvi. Daily routines are as usual. No mobile connection!
After breakfast you will prepare the horses and continue the riding back to the village Palojärvi. You will have a picnic lunch along the way by a campfire. In the late afternoon you will return to the field. After taking care of the horses you go back to the cabin were you can enjoy a sauna, nice dinner and have a relaxing sleep.
After breakfast transfer to the airport.
Sleeping bags and bed sheets/linen can be rented on-site for €25 each per person per week (in 2018). If you do not wish to rent the bed linen then please take your own sleeping bag and pillowcase.
Extra nights can be added on before or after the trail to take advantage of the extra activities that can be enjoyed in this area of Finland - choose from canoeing tours, biking tours, walking tours and fishing to name but a few activities. It may also be possible for non-riders to enjoy these activities while the riders are on the trail. Please enquire for more details.
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We're avid readers here at Unicorn Trails and have selected several books connected to this ride. If you're interested in reading more about the area before you travel, or want to get into the cultural background, here are some suggestions that may inspire you. Click on the links for more information.
Finland (Travellers) - Jon Sparks
The Sami of Northern Europe - Deborah B. Robinson
Finland - Lindy Hutchinson
Lappish cooking from fire and fell - Päivikki Palosaari
Please note: All itineraries are given for your guidance only and it may be altered on the ground and in accordance with the prevailing conditions by the organising team.
There are 5 Finnish horses available for riding, each one is regarded as a member of the family! They are all good-natured, calm and forward-going and one of them likes to compete in trotting races. Finnish horses are a hardy, cold-blooded breed who are used to the harsh conditions of Lapland. They have been used for centuries for agricultual draught work and although they are seen as 'robust' they are light underhand. Finn horses have an average height of around 15.1hh.
The pace of the riding is steady, mostly walking with short busts of trot or tölt and some cantering where terrain allows. The tack is English with leather saddles and snaffle bits. They are ridden in a loose-rein style. You are asked to help groom, tack-up and look after your horse.
All abilities from intermediate riders onwards can be catered for on this holiday. There are canters where terrain allows. Minimum age is 12 years old but children need to be strong and fit.
A general level of physical fitness is recommended for this ride; not only for the riding but also for the help that is required in the mornings and evenings when not riding. As well as riders looking after their own horse (feeding, watering, grooming, tacking up) they are also required to help set up the cabins and camps, clean and cook. There is also no running water or electricity on the trail on two of the nights in the wilderness cabin so a willingness and enthusiasm for camp life is a must!
The weight limit for this ride is 14 st/198 lb/90 kg, please enquire if you are an experienced rider exceeding this weight.
At the start and end of the trail (nights 1 and 6) you will stay in a small log cabin which is well-equipped although has shared facilities, including the all-important sauna. There is no opportunity to have a single room to yourself, you must be prepared to share. Your hosts will cook for you on these nights.
While on the trail you will stay for two nights (nights 3 and 4) in a Government-owned wilderness cabin or camps in the middle of the wilds of Pöyrisjärvi. This is cosy and rustic but the facilities are very basic with no electricity or running water. Again, you must be prepared to share bedrooms and bathroom facilities. Heating is supplied by burning wood.
A further two nights on the trail (nights 2 and 5) are spent in an apartment situated in a holiday village. The facilities are shared but there is running water and electricity and an outside sauna. Meals are home cooked and feature typically Lappish specialities such as reindeer, fresh local salmon and forest mushrooms to name but a few. Many different local berry varieties are favourites on the dessert menu.
Vegetarian or other dietary requirements can be accommodated with advanced notice. Please contact Unicorn Trails with requests.
Please note that it is your responsibility to ensure you have the correct documentation in place for your trip. If Visa’s are required the requirements can change from year to year depending on diplomatic relations. Please request information from the appropriate Consulate in your home country. Unicorn Trails will assist with any questions you have or supply any necessary supporting documents as required by the consulate on request.
General information: British citizens and EU passport holders do not need a visa to visit Finland but British citizens must be in possession of a valid passport. The maximum length of stay is 3 months. The British embassy is located in Helsinki, the British Consulate-General Address: Itäinen Puistotie 17, 00140 Helsinki, Finland. Telephone number +358 (0) 9 2286 5100. If you are a British citizen and find yourself in an emergency situation when the Embassy is closed, please telephone +358 (0) 9 2286 5100.
Your hosts have experienced a wealth of weather conditions in this part of Finland. In Enontekiö you may experience snow in August, or, as in 2013, +20 degrees!
In the summer, there is 24 hours of daylight, and for a number of weeks in June and July there is midnight sun. The warmest month is usually July.
Autumn is a time of bright colours in nature, and the spectacular “ruska” period begins in September. Please note that it can be snowing in September. It heralds the berry picking season shortly followed by the mushroom gathering season.
Winter usually brings a good deal of snow (average of 1.9m), with starry night skies and northern lights.
Winter comes in two stages, first the dark period which is called Kaamos – the darkest time of year. This period lasts until January. Then comes the light period of winter. By the end of January, the light and sun return. In early spring, the sun rises on sparkling seas and lakes still covered by thick ice. This is a time of ice fishing and skiing. The ice on the River Tornio dramatically breaks up at the end of April or beginning of May, while the ice on normal sized lakes remains until around 15 May.
Here are the typical dates for the start of the different seasons of the year: Spring 20th April, Summer 1st June, Autumn 5th September and Winter 25th October. The division of the seasons is based on the climate, where winter is defined as the period when the average temperature over 24 hours is below zero, and summer is when it is above +10°C. Spring and autumn are when the average 24 hour temperature is between 0°C and +10°C.
There are no specific health precautions to take but we do advise a high factor sunscreen (factor 50+) and sunglasses. Mosquito's can be a problem during the summer although don't carry disease. They tend to die out during mid-July and have gone by late August.
The power outlets in Finland are 230V/50Hz. A European 2-prong plug is required.
Electricity is available on 3 nights of this programme so cameras need to be charged ready for the nights in the wilderness cabins/camps!
- hiking shoes (preferably waterproof) for riding and riding clothing, two pairs of riding gloves
- outdoor clothing (preferably wind and waterproof)
- warm fleece shirt
- set of extra clothing
- thermal underwear/long johns
- swimming suit, towels
- sleeping bag (may be hired on-site)
- toiletries (including personal medicine etc)
- good sunglasses and suntan cream
- camera, headtorch
- alcoholic drinks and goodies
- mosquito repellant
Pillows and blankets are supplied every night but not bed linen so if you are taking your own sleeping bag then please remember to pack a pillowcase too. Sleeping bags and bed linen can be hired on-site. Please see our website or ask your Sales Consultant for details.
Please be aware when packing that it can still snow in August.
This is a 7 days / 6 nights programme with 5 days riding available on set dates. Tailor-made itineraries are available for groups of 4 to 6 people, please enquire.
2019: 27 July; 11, 25 August
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Travellers Finland by John Sparks
The Sami of Northern Europe by Deborah B. Robinson
Finland by Lindy Hutchinson
Lappish cooking from fire and fell by Päivikki Palosaari
Finland is an outdoor country in summer and winter and there is a whole host of outdoor activities on offer here, for riders and non-rider alike.
Your hosts are qualified wilderness guides and can speak English, Finnish, Swedish, French and German. There are many other activities on offer such as fishing, canoeing, mountain biking and hiking. There are many winter activities on offer too; for more information please see the other Finnish holidays available through the winter on our website.
There is an abundance of birds, moose, foxes and reindeer in Enontekiö but it is largely a case of they can see you but you can't see them!
Finland is Europes most forrested country and also boasts lakes over 10% of its surface areas and within those,more than 100 000 islands. With a very low population density and an open access to all land (including privately owned), the wildlife has a free rein in Finland. The range is similar to the pine and birch forests in the rest of Scandanavia and northern Russia including: reindeer, moose, foxes, ermine, deer, snow hare, bears, pheasants, partridges, owls, cranes, wild swans, lemmings, salamanders, rare butterflies.
There are also many varieties of edible berries, which are all freely avaiable for picking in the vast forests in September. As well as the more common blueberries, cranberries, loganberries there are more exotic ones such as the yellow clouberries. Just after the berries the mushroom season starts – it is advised to take a local expert guide to distinguish the many edible varieties from the few very poisonous ones!
Many wonder how Finns survive with no sunlight in the winter and nature replies with 24 hours of it in the summer. The intense contrast in light conditions has a profound effect on all walks of life in Finland. For understandable reasons, public spaces come to life in the summer. After the harsh winter, endless daylight never arrives a day too early. Summer in Finland is a time spent outside the house enjoying the short but sweet season, and all worries are postponed until nights get dark again.
70 Days without Sunset
Two thirds of all people living in areas graced by the Midnight Sun reside in Finland. In the northernmost parts of Finnish Lapland, the sun stays above the horizon for over 70 consecutive days. Below the Arctic Circle, the sun pops below the horizon for a few hours at night. This is not to say it gets dark – white nights are a fact throughout the country, and even Helsinki on the southern coast has virtual daylight around the clock.
A sauna culture pervades Finland. A house is rarely contructed without a sauna, often this is a central feature and planned before any other rooms. Any communal area such as hotel or community house, or summer house, must have a sauna.
Finland (Finnish: Suomi, Swedish: Finland) is in Northern Europe and has borders with Russia to the east, Norway to the north, and Sweden to the west.
The country is a thoroughly modern welfare state with well-planned and comfortable small towns and cities, but still offers vast areas of unspoiled nature. Finland has approximately 188,000 lakes (about 10% of the country) and a similar number of islands. In the northernmost part of the country the Northern Lights can be seen in the winter and midnight sun in the summer. Finns also claim the mythical mountain of Korvatunturi as the home of Santa Claus, and a burgeoning tourist industry in Lapland caters to Santa fans.
Despite living in one of the most technologically developed countries in the world, Finns love to head to their summer cottages in the warmer months to enjoy all manner of relaxing pastimes including sauna, swimming, fishing and barbecuing. Today, Finland has a distinctive language and culture that sets it apart from the rest of Nordic Europe.