The practise of using dogs to pull sleds dates back to around 3000 years ago when working dogs were used for hunting or transporting loads amongst the indigenous people of North America and Siberia. It was only introduced to Scandinavia about 150 years ago because reindeer always did the hard work before their arrival.
Although initially they had a practical purpose, the popularity of using dogs recreationally grew in the 19th and 20th century and today husky sledding can be seen in world famous and highly competitive races such as the Finnmarkslopet in Norway or Iditarod in Alaska. Of course it is also a hugely popular excursion for visitors to Scandinavia and is included in nearly all of our trips.
The dogs that are used are Alaskan Malamutes, Alaskan Huskies and Siberian Huskies, or mixed breeds of these. Dogs are chosen for their strong work ethic, friendliness to humans, good stamina, speed, strength and endurance. Sleds are pulled with a team of four to six dogs usually, with the leader dogs selected carefully for intelligence rather than strength (they are usually female!). As pack animals the dogs will fall into line behind the chosen dogs and are highly obedient of the mushers.
The stronger dogs are positioned closest to the sled as their brute force is required to get it moving (these ‘wheel dogs’ are almost invariable male!).
You will usually travel two per sled, with one driving the sled and another sat inside enjoying the white world rush by. We say drive but really they follow their adored musher. It’s your job to stand on the brake to slow the dogs down as there is nothing they love more than running and will never really want to stop.
What we say about it…
Husky sledding is perhaps one of our most requested White Circle experiences. There is something about travelling in this time honoured fashion that is seemingly appealing to all.
Once you have experienced it, it is easy to understand why. Compared to the likes of snowmobiling, husky sledding is firstly an almost silent experience. Once harnessed up the dogs will run at full pelt in the soundless white world, the only noise you will hear are their eager paws on the snow and the gentle swish of the sled’s runners. The deep snow coverage in Scandinavia serves to muffle exterior noise and husky sledding into the empty wilderness serves to highlight this in an astonishingly wonderful way. This silence allows you to really view your incredible surroundings and see parts of the wilds that would otherwise rush past you.
When travelling via husky sled you’ll be overwhelmed with the vastness of nature here and there is a great feeling of historical tradition, travelling in a way that people have done for centuries. The dogs really do love nothing more than to run and, initially, are sure to make you aware of this with their excited barking! As you journey on, they will soon settle into a relaxed pace though making the journey the ideal combination of giddy exhilaration and total tranquillity.
The vast majority of our White Circle trips include husky sledding in one form or another and they come in a variety of lengths and durations. For those who have enjoyed husky sledding in the past, we also have an exciting range of longer safaris which you can read about here .
What you say about it…
“Seven day husky safari was brilliant. The sense of achievement in being in the wilds with no power or running water in the huts and making fires and cooking and looking after the feeding and bedding for the dogs was fantastic. Scenery was magnificent. People who I had never met before were so friendly and up for mucking in and everyone helped each other. Dogs were so powerful and friendly and our guide was absolutely the best.” M Chisholm, Harriniva, Dec 2012
“The cherry on the cake had to be the husky dogs, the whole day was absolutely amazing. Every person on the planet should experience working with a team of huskies pulling a sleigh in the silence of this winter wonderland, the only sounds coming from the swish of the sleigh being pulled through the snow with a team of dogs in flight there in front of you in the beautiful Finnish countryside, it was breathtaking. The sheer joy of the whole experience makes me cry just writing about it.” S Dial, Kittila, 2012
“It was wonderful to experience the silence and beauty of the surroundings in such a natural and traditional way.” P Weightman, Nellim, Dec 2012
“The husky ride was great fun and gave a good adrenaline rush especially when the dogs were pulling at the leash. Tremendous.” D Timms, Inari, January 2013
“…it was brilliant to be powered along the ice lakes by the dogs, and lovely to see them working, but having a great time.” E Payne, Nellim, Jan 2013