5 reasons to come to Fell Lapland this autumn

5 reasons to come to Fell Lapland this autumn

The travel industry is going through trying times, and so are travellers themselves. It is clear that both travel businesses and travellers alike are going to see the industry change irrevocably, and lets hope for the better! Many are wondering right now where they could go and spend their hard-earned holidays, while at the same time being safe and following the given guidelines to ensure everyone else’s safety as well. Already strong trends, but now even higher up in people’s priority lists, values such as sustainability, locality, authenticity, peacefulness and purity are the buzz words of the post-corona era travel. People are yearning to be away from it all, to leave the cities, and to have meaningful experiences in the nature.

People are also afraid of crowds now, and for a good reason. We have also been shaken into the realisation of the effects of overtourism. How it affects the delicate ecosystems of the destinations and how irreversible the damage can be. Travellers are starting to really ponder about the effects of their travel habits. The same naturally applies to businesses within the travel industry; how to be better at sustainability and how to ensure responsible yet unforgettable experiences for one’s customers. Not only this year, but for years to come.

If you are able to travel within the EU this autumn, we’d like to throw our contender into the pool of options you might have in mind for your late summer/autumn holiday. What else than Lapland! Particularly so of course our very own corner of it, the Pallas-Ylläs National Park area in the Fell Lapland zone. While we are understandably biased in our opinion, we think you’d love it here. Lapland as a destination ticks all the boxes for the conscious nature loving traveller. You probably had no idea that Lapland even has a summer or autumn, let alone any reason to come here during off season. If you’d give us a second, we’d like to prove you wrong.

Note – We are not encouraging any travel outside official governmental guidelines, please do follow the guidelines given both by your country and by Finland before you travel.

1. We have the cleanest air in the world – Yes, really!


Swans in Äkäskero

Our own municipality Muonio, where we and a part of Pallas-Ylläs National Park are located, has the cleanest respiratory air in the world. This is data from WHO’s 2016 report on air pollution, so while we acknowledge it’s a few years old we think it’s fair to say the status has hardly changed too much since then.

A researcher from the Finnish Meteorological institute explains:

Finland is located far enough from big European cities, so emissions from long-range transport of pollutants remain low. On a global scale, there is really only one big city in Finland, Helsinki, and even its air quality is excellent. There are also few inhabitants and little traffic in Lapland. A very significant aspect is also that Finland has managed to curtail industrial emissions. In addition to good cleaning methods, industrial processes operate with clean technology.“

Did you know that lichen, that grey and green fungus that lives on the ground, on tree trunks and branches, and on rock surfaces, is particularly sensitive to air pollution? Some lichen types die away when they come into contact with pollution. Lichen is ample in Lapland and you can see it pretty much everywhere you look. Most famously you can find it hanging from tree branches, closely resembling an old man’s beard. The more you see those wisps of grey beard hanging from trees, the cleaner the air you are breathing is. The arctic air adding a twist of freshness to it too.

Due to the lack of pollution in the air, you can see tens of kilometres in every direction from atop of a fell, and thus truly feel that you are at the heart of Europe’s northern wilderness.

2. 3rd largest national park in Finland  – There is more than plenty of room for everyone


Pallas-Yllästunturi National Park covers an area of 1,020 square kilometres. Apparently, billions of years ago this area was crisscrossed by an alpine-like mountain range. These mountains were grinded into round stumps by time, but these fells still dominate the landscape and the fell chain stretches 100 km throughout the national park. So there is definitely plenty of room for everyone (both horizontally and vertically).

Pallas-Ylläs National Park has dozens upon dozens of different trails crossing through the area, from fell top to fell top to wetlands and through the ancient taiga. The trails range from very easy day hikes to more demanding ones with overnighting in the park. The great thing about this particular national park is that it is so accessible: The availability of easy hikes makes it possible for the whole family to enjoy the gorgeous nature together for a few hours, but then being able to return to the comfort and warmth of your cabin by the end of the day. But if you want to really challenge yourself and get lost in the wilderness with your tent and lots of blister plasters, you can do that too.

More about the trails here.

3. Lapland is one of the last great wildernesses in Europe


Särkitunturi midnight sun

The world is getting smaller around us and the modern society has penetrated even the most remote places on earth. It is difficult to find areas on this earth that have not been touched by pollution, light pollution and human dominance in general. One definition of the word “wilderness” goes: It is an uncultivated, uninhabited, and inhospitable region. In Europe the only true wilderness that still exists (apart from the Carpathians) is the region above the arctic circle in Lapland. This area is a great landscape of nothingness, and stretches across the Finnish, Swedish and Norwegian borders. Arguably now more than ever, the nature loving traveller yearns to experience the true wilderness, the unforgiving, organic, untouched and raw nature. The good news is that we have plenty of exactly that.

Many has heard of Lapland, but few really know much about it. And even fewer go and explore it, particularly outside the snowy high season. But how about late summer and early autumn? Summer and autumn are perfect for hiking, mountain biking, kayaking, river rafting and animal watching up in the arctic. The flora and fauna that have been in deep hibernation under the heavy cloak of snow are up and active during the months of June to October.

Highlight of an autumn trip is definitely the autumn foliage you can witness all around you, from fells to lowlands and through forests to shrubbery fields. The arctic conditions make the autumn foliage, Ruska in Finnish, more spectacular than in warmer climates.

You will be able to experience a firework reds, oranges and yellows as the leaves prepare for winter. We’ve written an article about that, if you’d like to learn more about the Lappish Ruska.

Summer highlight will definitely be the wonder of the nightless night. The sun won’t set the whole summer up here! One of our guides’ favourite things to do on a summer’s day is to hike up the trail on top of Särkitunturi fell and admire the midnight sun and the view that opens up to all directions from atop the fell. Here are a few things our guides love to do around here during summer time.

Wilderness Tour

For winter, the number one authentic arctic wilderness experience is, hands down, the week-long Wilderness Tour dog sledding adventure. This one takes you away from all civilisation for a week, simply gliding through the silent, white landscape while you ride your own team of sled dogs. You overnight in tiny wilderness cabins, admire the millions of stars that dot the night sky, while catching the occasional Aurora Borealis dancing through the darkness. Read our article on highlights of the Wilderness Tour, the best things to look forward to when embarking on this adventure.

4. Super food straight from the bushThis year the blueberry and cloudberry harvest is going to be abundant



Think about the vivacious colours of bilberries, cloudberries and bright red lingonberries, and all the other 20+ kinds of edible berries one can pick from the wild in Lapland. They get both their delicious colour and taste from the arctic long summer days and the cool temperature. What makes them superfood is the high concentration of vitamins and polyphenols within them. They are high in antioxidants, which include vitamins C and E, beta-carotene, selenium, zinc, carnosine and ubiquinone. There are a lot of them particularly in wild berries, which grow freely and bountifully in Lapland. In addition to being vitamin bombs (and being really very good for you), you can be sure they are free of any chemicals and pesticides, as they are not farmed nor does the air pollution get to them.

You are allowed to pick berries and mushrooms to your heart’s content in the wild, for as long as you do not damage the bush or the surrounding area. So if you feel like a vitamin boost into your system, some clean, hormone free food, and a hike in untouched nature on top of that, I think we’ve made our case here.

5. Spend an autumn activity week training with huskies while enjoying the Lappish nature


“Watch out for dog sleds”

Would you like to experience all the above, but not exactly sure how to go about it? We’ve got just the thing for you! With the added flavour of sled dog training activities (if you want, that is).

Learn about our dogs, their care and how sled dogs are trained. You can get as hands-on as you like, we are happy to share all the secrets of the trade with you. It’s up to you how much you want to be involved with the dog activities. If you’d prefer, you can also simply just kick back and enjoy the nature.

You’ll get to experience some of the best hiking trails in Finland in the surrounding Pallas-Ylläs National Park, go berry and mushroom picking, bird watching, reindeer spotting – the lot. While overnighting in our Husky Village cabins and welcoming the starry night by campfire. Read more about the offer here.

6 historical facts you probably didn’t know about sled dogs

6 historical facts you probably didn’t know about sled dogs

Dog sledding in deep snow
Same view today and a thousand years ago

Did you know that the very first domesticated animal was, who else but the dog. Man’s best friend has been our loyal companion possibly for up to 30 000 years. As a point of reference, horses were first domesticated about 5500 years ago

The earliest dogs were tame wolves, which humans started to breed for different purposes as time went on. At first the dog was primarily used for guarding purposes – alerting people when strangers or wild animals would approach their settlement. Later on dogs were bred to accompany humans for hunting trips to alert, attack and pick up the game. In addition to breeding wolves to guard and hunt with us, humans bred dogs to look more pleasing to the human eye, which is why we find dogs so doggone adorable!

When humans started to inhabit more remote areas, including the harsh subarctic areas of the world, they took their loyal friends with them. In these nearly unattainable areas the dogs became absolutely essential for survival by providing a mode of transportation for both goods and humans themselves. A sled pulled by dogs became the best way to transport food and supplies when waterways could not be used inland or due to ports being frozen in.

Huskies racing in snow
Wilderness Tour racing

Today, guests at Äkäskero can experience the ancient mode of travel through arctic wilderness by taking part in our week-long Wilderness Tour. For 5 days we will depend on our sled dogs to take us from one cabin to another, crossing up to 60 km a day in the pristine taiga and through the fells that dot the North-Western Lapland of Finland. As the surrounding landscape is so untouched by modern society, you will get a very good idea of what it was for people in bygone eras to live and survive in exactly the same conditions.

If you are left in awe by these magnificent animals, and want to learn more about them first hand, come and join us this autumn for sled dog training and nature activity week! For €450 (sponsors) and €650 (normal) you get to join us for a full week of autumn training with our dogs, and learn everything you ever wanted to know about sled dogs. Learn more about the week here!

For your information and entertainment, we have gathered a few historical anecdotes and peculiarities about sled dogs and their history as humans’ companions. Enjoy!

1. The origins of the word ‘mushing’


Mushing means the act of driving a dog team, be that on a sled or a kick-bike or even a quad bike, and in any terrain. The word originates from French occupied Canada from the 1600s, where young French men would go and live with the indigenous peoples to learn their way of life in the extreme conditions of Northern Canada. The word literally comes from the French command Marche! Walk! Which turned into Mush! in the mouths of English speaking Canadians.

2. Sled dogs are banned from Antarctica since 1992


First arctic explorers arrived in those icy shores with sled dogs. The unimaginably harsh conditions of both North Pole and the Antarctica were possible to defy only with the help of sled dogs, who were able to withstand the freezing temperatures and trail-less vastness of these unmapped polar regions. The famous polar explorer and first man to reach North Pole, Roald Amundsen, drove sled dogs on his expeditions, and his exploration of the Antarctica was planned around a team of 97 sled dogs.

Sled dogs were used for transportation and companionship in the Antarctica all the way up until 1992, way after the invention of motorised vehicles that could withstand the hostile environment. However, sled dogs were banned altogether from the continent in the early 90’s by the Protocol on Environmental Protection to the Antarctic Treaty, to protect its unique and fragile ecosystem. Dogs, who are not native to Antarctica, could possibly endanger the native fauna by bringing canine diseases with them that could transfer to the local seal population. Better safe than sorry of course, but that meant the end of using sled dogs in Antarctica. Not to worry however, sled dogs are used in areas they are and were native to still to this day.

3. Bringing mail and law and order into the most inaccessible parts of the world


Sled dogs in morning fog
“Going anywhere in any weather”

The use of sled dogs has enabled human life and the building of societies in the northernmost places in the world. Before the time of the snowmobile or helicopters, sled dogs were particularly important in accessing the inaccessible. They were less expensive than horses, significantly easier to care for, but most importantly, they were a lot more equipped to pull large loads in freezing temperatures and deep snow where there were no trails or roads available.

The sled dogs have not only been used by indigenous people, but were used all the way to the 20th century by governmental authorities for mail delivery and police and border patrols, where horses simply could not be used. Think about it, getting your bills and postcards delivered by arguably the cutest postmen possible, the happy and furry kind (with boundless energy)! To this day there are areas in Alaska, Canada and Greenland, where sled dogs still help people manage their everyday lives and enable the habitation of those remote corners of the arctic world.


4. The Era of the Sled Dog


The Gold Rush in Alaska in 1800s and 1900s renewed interest in the use of sled dogs for help with transportation of goods, as most gold camps were utterly inaccessible during winter time. If anything was to move anywhere in the Alaskan wilderness, it would move on sleds pulled by sled dogs. That would be everything from doctors, medicine, tools, news and mail, books and fancy fabric for the sheriff’s wife’s new dress – you name it! The era of the North American Gold Rush which largely coincided with the era of Polar Exploration led to the renaissance of interest in sled dogs, and this era was nicknamed, you guessed it, as the Era of the Sled Dog.

5. The Sami people believed dogs to be the only animals with souls


Sled dog covered in snow
Lance facing the elements

The first people arrived in Finland around 11 000 years ago, and they brought the domesticated dog with them. At this time the area was still partly covered by a huge ice sheet, the remnant of the last ice age that was still blowing its freezing winds across the inhospitable land. Summers were short and winters long, harsh and snowy. The dogs were used not only as hunting partners to hunt bears, beavers and seals, but also to pull sleds to move haul back to the camp from the hunting grounds.

The indigenous people of Finland, the Sami, believed that the only creatures on earth who had a soul were humans and dogs. The Sami respected and valued their button-eyed companions deeply, as they felt the dogs were the thread that connected humans with the surrounding nature. The dogs’ unmatched ability to sense phenomena that humans could not, let the Sami to believe dogs can also sense the presence of the supernatural: The gnomes, the elves and other spirits of the world. The dog has a stellar role in Sami folklore as the unwavering and loyal friend, who always manages to save the day. A tell-tale of the respect the Sami had towards their companion, are archaeological findings of dog burials.  The loyal friends have been buried with the utmost care, and deep enough into the frozen ground to ensure wild animals would not get to the remains of the valued family member.

6. The hero sled dogs of Nome, Alaska – Togo and Balto


Togo the hero dog
Togo in 1925 (Photo: George Rinhart/Getty Images)

You may have heard of this story before, but it is such a great story it deserves an honorary mention. In 1925 the town of Noma in Alaska was in peril: The town was facing an uncontrollable epidemic of diphtheria. There was no medication left in the hospital storage and the population of 10 000 people were under serious threat of being wiped out by the disease. The town was inaccessible from every direction as sea was frozen shut, aircrafts were not developed enough to fly in those conditions, and roads were snowed in. And time was running out. Government officials decided to try the impossible in desperation – A team of 150 sled dogs ran the distance of 1085 km from Nenana to Nome, using a mail delivery route, in 5,5 days to deliver the antidote to the townspeople of Noma. The route normally took 30 days to travel, but the serum was estimated to last only 6 days in the cold conditions of the trail. There was no time to waste.

Two hero lead dogs, Togo and Balto, led the expedition into Noma through the brutal landscape in record time. They were experienced lead dogs, intuitive and confident in erratic conditions. The serum was delivered in time and the town was saved. A bronze statue of Balto (who lead the last 55 km into Noma, and picked up all the credit) stands to this day in New York’s central park as an homage to the animal we as humans have depended on throughout our history, and to whom we owe a debt incalculable.