Dog sledding at Engholm Husky Lodge
Glide out of the yard, through the woods, and onto the frozen river—pulled by huskies
Katrin Konradt & André Fey
The first time we traveled to northern Norway was over Easter a few years back. During our research of what to do up there, we had come across a recommendation for staying at Engholm Husky Lodge, a husky farm six kilometers outside Karasjok.
Though the webpage is quite simple, in reality it is an amazing place: a big farm in the forest with around 10 small cottages, all self-built by the owner Sven, with a great eye and love for details.
Everything is made from natural materials: carved wood, rough stone, forged iron, fur, etc.—but with all the amenities you hope to find in the wintry North.
There is also a wood-heated sauna and hot tub outside, a barbecue hut with a big fireplace where all can get together, and of course, the doghouses behind the main building.
We really were blown away by the atmosphere of the place, the great hospitality of Christel, Sven, and their team, the lovely dogs, and last but not least, the excellent homemade food.
We had never been on a dog sled tour before, and it sounded like just the perfect first adventure in our new country. So we booked the dog sled ride daytrip in advance, as well as a cozy hut for two days.
Together with two other couples, we got dressed up with huge boots, two pairs of gloves, and leather capes (made by Sven and Christel) that would keep us warm, and we gathered at the dog yard.
Around 50 dogs live there, and they are surprisingly quiet most of the time. Not, however, when they know that soon some of them will be picked for a ride—then they get really, really excited. And all want to join, of course, as they have a huge desire to run.
And here we were in for a real surprise; we had expected to be the only passengers, comfortably sitting on the sleds, while the dogs would do the work and somebody from Engholm Husky would drive it.
But that wasn’t the case; they assumed that we would like to drive a sled ourselves. After about 30 minutes, everything was ready to start. We were invited to help get the dogs ready for the ride, which was really special for us and also the moment when Kati fell in love with all of them.
“Don’t you want that?” they asked. Well we are not shy, so we happily accepted that invitation with some played confidence, feeling maybe a bit less brave on the inside.
The two minutes of instruction didn’t help a lot to make us feel much more confident, but we decided to give it a try and off we went—out of the yard, through the woods, and onto the frozen river!
The ride itself was just stunning, including everything about the atmosphere and the sensation: being out in the wild in an untouched winter landscape, riding quietly on the sled, hearing the dogs breathing, gliding through the forest, hills, valleys, and frozen lakes—it was true magic!
So, is it difficult? Not really, but a bit challenging in terms of keeping your balance when going through deep snow or during turns. Once you find your position and get used to steering and braking, you will feel more comfortable keeping balanced.
The dogs just follow the first sled—always a member of the Engholm team—so there is not much steering to do, just occasional braking by stepping onto a kind of rubber mat for softer braking or some metal hooks for hard braking.
But be aware of trees; the dogs run very close around obstacles and under trees, and they do not really take into account that you are a bit taller than them!
Kati got kicked off her sled when she was riding over some soft, deep snow, making the sled tilt to one side. And the dogs were off, leaving her behind in the snow, head over heels. Luckily, the leader saw it and was able to grab the driverless sled and bring it to a stop.
Otherwise the dogs would have just kept on running!
During the day ride, the group stops once for a nice break somewhere in the woods. Coffee is served and you can roast the sandwiches you prepared in the morning over the fire while sitting comfortably on reindeer fur. After 20 minutes or so, the dogs get restless as they known the group will soon start again, and the tour heads back home.
Arriving at the lodge, you may or may not want to help the dogs out of their harnesses (we did!), cuddle a bit with them (they stink quite a lot, by the way), and then bring them back to one of the little huts. The cuddling part was probably what my wife liked most, and as there were 46 dogs at that time, you can imagine how long it took her to say thanks and goodbye to each of them (and how she smelled!).
The rest of the evening we just relaxed in front of the fireplace, read a bit, and enjoyed a good dinner prepared by the Engholm team in the main house with the other guests.
What a great day!
Katrin and André are two travel-happy Germans in their early forties. After moving around a bit, they settled for good in Norway in 2011, exploring the beautiful country ever since. They spend every free day traveling to famous sightseeing spots as well as discovering lesser-known stunning places and unique traditions off the beaten tracks—and meeting great people everywhere. What started as a simple homepage for family and friends, explore-norway.org has meanwhile grown into a blog with 25 tour descriptions covering all parts of Norway, an Oslo guide, and a large picture gallery for Norway enthusiasts.
This article appeared in the Dec. 16, 2016, issue of The Norwegian American. To subscribe, visit SUBSCRIBE or call us at (206) 784-4617.