Arrived in Finnsnes just after eleven in the morning, about 10 minutes ahead of schedule, which meant that for once we were off the ship and waiting on the quay side for the coaches to take us on our next outing. Well I say outing but really it’s an adventure, in fact it’s a Wilderness Adventure.
The coach journey is about an hour and a half and takes us along snow clad icy roads through beautiful wild country, even seeing Elk grassing at the side of the road. During the trip there were various multi media presentations giving us information about the various places that we were traveling through. We eventually arrived at Camp Tamok, which is in the Tromso region and is our final destination. Before we are allowed to disembark from the coach we are greeted by one of the Sami guides and told that we must sign a form to say that we have read, understood and accepted the terms and conditions. Basically, are you pregnant, do you have a heart condition, we accept no responsibility……….etc. You know the sort of thing. In the end it was a simple list, write your name, date of birth and sign, however there were a number of people who did want to read the T’s & C’s, really you’ve come this fare paid a couple of hundred quid are you seriously not going to do this?
We are then herded into a wooden hut where we are suited up in large snow suites, boots gloves and whatever else we may need. We are then basically divided into two groups, there’s the Dog Sledding and Skidoo (snowmobile) party, they are sent off to do their sledding first and then there’s the rest of us who are doing Skidoos followed by Reindeer Driving. Steph really wanted to do the dog sledding but unfortunately it was fully book, and I haven’t heard the end of it since, obviously I should have sorted it earlier!
We were told to ensure that we had our drivers licence with us as it would be required before we were allowed to drive the skidoos, guess we look so old that they just assumed we all had a licence. There now followed a short training session:
- This is the key, turn once for the engine, twice to start
- On the right handlebar is the throttle, press gently
- On the left handlebar is the brake, press gently
- The big red button is the engine cut off
- The big blue button is the handlebar heater
- Use your weight to stabilise the snowmobile, otherwise it can tip over, also don’t lean the wrong way or it will tip
Lesson over so now it’s two to a snowmobile and off we go. As Steph jumps into the driving seat she comments, “I hope we get a practice and don’t have to go straight down that icy slope”, wrong! It’s follow my leader straight down the slope and off on our adventure and it’s not long before we no longer see the snowmobile in front of us. Still not to worry as we soon catch them up as everyone has come to a stop on a rather steep icy incline that someone just can’t quite get up. We soon come to a rather narrow, snow covered wooden bridge that we have to cross, for goodness sake don’t lean the wrong way now or we’ll end up soaked. This weight shifting business is not as easy as it sounds, I know that we both have more that our fair share but trying to move it in a coordinated manner in the right direction is certainly not easy!
Still we managed to arrive safely at the halfway point where we stopped the snowmobiles and got off for a stretch of the legs, needless to say Steph got off took one step and fell flat onto her back! She says that it was just that the snow was too deep to stand in, but you know Stephs penchant for falling over. It was unfortunate that my camera was still in the camera bag, typical, the shot of the day and I missed it.
Anyway now it was my turn to get in the driving seat and off we went. It’s not as easy as it looks driving a snowmobile, they don’t appear to respond as quickly as one thinks they should, which when you’re heading straight for a tree at 25 kilometres is not really when you want to discover this minor inconvenience. What an experience, absolutely exhilarating and fantastic. Would we do it again? Absolutely!
Next came the reindeer driving which was conducted by a lovely Sami family.
We were given some insight into the Sami life and culture and how it is unfortunately changing with the times with less of the younger generation willing to live their lives driving reindeer herds 600 kilometres between winter and summer pastures.
It’s a life style, not a living. I can’t honestly say that it is an experience that I want to partake in again, it is actually rather uncomfortable laying/sitting on a sleigh that is being pulled by a reindeer.
Once finished with the reindeer we were driven a short distance to a wilderness camp where we were served Malash (reindeer stew, sorry Rudolph), griddle cake and coffee. We were all sat round a huge log fire in a wooden circular building with a canvas roof, on long wooden tables and benches, wonderful.
Before leaving we were at least able to go and see the Huskies, pet them and take a few photos though by this time it was getting late, dark and still snowing. Time to take off the snowsuits, get on the coach and spend the next hour and a half dreaming of the adventurous day we’d had. We rejoined the ship in Tromso in time for a shower and then onto dinner.
After dinner I sat in the library updating the blog, uploading to Facebook and listening to various people chatting and complaining. Apparently the Viking feast the night before had not been up to scratch, they hadn’t had time to finnish their meal and were much too rushed. It would appear that with the frequency that the ship runs this should all run like clock work, be slick and not have any delays! Hello, it’s sub zero outside, there’s ice and snow on the ground, you were taken on an hours coach journey and you’re complaining, one day of light snow in the UK and EVERYTHING stops!
I’ve heard a number of complaints from “they could have informed us better as to what clothing to bring”, to the food not being gourmet enough, the beds too hard, and so on it goes. I guess that you can’t please everyone but I must say that so far we have no major complaints about anything. Yes there are niggles, but then there always will be, nothing is perfect. Live the experience for all that it is worth.
Way over the Arctic Circle now and still no lights, will we actually ever see them.