Living on the island of Ireland we are very fortunate to live in a rural area with zero light pollution. On a clear night the stars shine brightly and many of our galaxy constellations can be seen. How on earth can we top that when we travel? Well, maybe if we had a snowmobile, a sleigh and a reindeer hide for warmth; we’d be close! That’s exactly what we had when we visited Finnish Lapland and took a Starlit Sleigh Ride with Rukapalvelu Safarihouse in Ruka. Having already done Ice Fishing in Ruka with the same company, we knew our evening would be enjoyable. And who knows, maybe we’d get to see the spectacular Northern Lights!
STARLIT SLEIGH RIDE IN RUKA
On a cold clear night we were greeted at the Rukapalvelu Safarihouse reception area by Antti, our guide for the Starlit Sleigh Ride. As with our Ice Fishing excursion, we were led to the back of the shop to clobber up. A thick snowsuit was provided to wear over our own clothes for additional warmth. As well as the warm snowsuit, over-sized boots and merino wool socks that Granny used to wear; plus a helmet for safety. Outside temperature was -28°C and, even with light pollution from Ruka Village; twinkling stars were plentiful. Our mode of transport for the Starlit Sleigh Ride was a snowmobile which was towing the sleigh we’d be seated in.
READ ALL ABOUT OUR ICE FISHING IN RUKA IN FINNISH LAPLAND
DASHING THROUGH THE SNOW
Sitting in the sleigh you can relax under a warm reindeer hide and admire the starry sky of a wintry night. Only when the slopes close to the skiers for the day does our Starlit Sleigh Ride journey begin. An exhilarating ride that takes us up and over the slopes to Ruka Valley. The snowmobile weaved through snowy pine forests and along snow covered trails that were barely lit by the lights of the snowmobile. Aside from the temporary noise of the snowmobile engine, the night was calm and very peaceful. After a short journey of around 10 minutes or so, the snowmobile ground to a halt. On our right an open frozen lake, and to our left pine forests. In the dark we could make out the silhouette of a log cabin nestled amongst the snow-covered pine trees.
STAR LIGHT, STAR BRIGHT
Antti wasted no time in lighting a fire to keep us all warm on this cold winter night. Birch being the burning wood of choice. Birch bark peels and burns just like paper, making it the perfect kindling for starting a fire. The fire was soon roaring. Lily-Belle and Matilda sat enchanted as the embers danced skyward toward the bright stars. The fire gave off great heat. As we chatted about Finnish winter, Antti produced sausages and rye bread from his cool box. Both foods seem to be a staple diet of Suomalaiset (Finns). From what we can gather, no one, and we do mean no one; leaves home without a knife, a flint and a packet of sausages! Kettles were filled with snow and placed on the fire grate. Do I smell coffee?
HAPPY WEDDING ANNIVERSARY
Lily-Belle and Matilda played in the deep soft snow beside the log cabin as the sausages spat and sizzled. Although the night sky was clear and the stars were out in abundance, the Northern Lights had not been predicted to show. We were a little disappointed as today, the 5th March 2019; happened to be our 15th wedding anniversary. Nonetheless, what a great way to spend this special day, drinking great aromatic coffee and eating fat sausages by an open fire whilst admiring the beautiful diamond-like starlit sky above Finnish Lapland…spectacular!
READ ALL ABOUT OUR NORTHERN LIGHTS HUNT IN FINNISH LAPLAND
AMAZING PEOPLE MAKE AMAZING COFFEE
After a very early start to our day to take the girls skiing, Matilda began to flag. After all, it had been a very long day and it was now well past her bed time. Exhausted, Matilda curled up on the wooden bench and began to doze off. I removed my Rukapalvelu Safarihouse snowsuit and covered Matilda to keep her warm…the little lamb was asleep in seconds! Daddy, Mummy, Lily-Belle and Antti sat beside the smoking fire eating sausages, cheese on rye bread and drinking coffee. And, just as Henri made great coffee during our Ice Fishing in Ruka; Antti did the same. One thing I will say about the Finnish people is that they make great, no…unbelievably tasty coffee. The coffee aroma and flavour are definitely among the best I’ve ever tasted on our travels.
IF YOU SNOOZE YOU LOSE
After our tasty treat of sausages, cheese on rye bread, coffee and hot berry juice; a brief walk. Matilda was awakened so we could take a stroll through the pine trees to track animal footprints. The most common footprints we saw was rabbit, and just to say; the rabbits in Finland are not like rabbits in the UK or Ireland. Finnish rabbits are pure white in winter and huge, the size of a cocker spaniel. Other footprints were from squirrels, and birds. Lily-Belle and Matilda loved this part of the Starlit Sleigh Ride excursion the most. The snow was deep in the pine forest and almost swallowed the girls whole. A brilliant way to end our Starlit Sleigh Ride and then a snowmobile journey back to base. At ground zero it took longer getting out of the clothing than it did putting them on. Brilliant adventure in the Finnish wilderness.
WOULD WE GO BACK?
Before the throttle could ease on the snowmobile, we’d be back. There’s something truly magical about looking up at the diamond-like stars on a clear night. For me, the stars are a calming influence for our souls. The Starlit Sleigh Ride was a great way to spend our 15th Wedding Anniversary. And although the Northern Lights failed to show, we did see them later that evening back at our cabin in Ruka. We also saw them a few days later on our Aurora Hunt with Mikko.
With a very special THANK YOU to:
- Rukapalvelu Safarihouse – for your exceptional kindness, warmth and generosity.
- Pirjo – for your kindness, communication and for organising our excursions.
- Antti – for a wonderful evening on the Starlit Sleigh Ride, for keeping us warm and for great coffee.
We are very grateful to each of you for making our trip to Ruka memorable. Our Starlit Sleigh Ride excursion was romantic and thoroughly enjoyable. Hope to see you all in 2020, but until then…Hyvästi nyt.
LILY-BELLE SAYS (10)
It was a really cold night and the camp fire was nice and warm, the hot berry juice was tasty. I liked our trek through the snow looking at the different animal footprints.
MATILDA SAYS (4)
I was very tired. The camp fire was nice but I didn’t like the hard bread. Why can’t they cook chicken nuggets and pizza?
Starlit Sleigh Ride Excursion: booked with Rukapalvelu Safarihouse in Ruka.
How to Book: we recommend contacting Rukapalvelu Safarihouse via their website prior to your trip.
Website: click to visit Rukapalvelu Safarihouse
Contact Tel: (00)358 10 2710 500
Pricing: adults €69pp – children under 12 €35pp
Price Includes: guide, equipment, transportation and snack/drinks (meet/return to Safarihouse in Ruka)
Date of visit: 5th March 2019
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[AD disclaimer: our Starlit Sleigh Ride excursion from Rukapalvelu Safarihouse was gratis in return for social media and blog coverage]
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