This is one seriously cool Best Life Adventure – in more ways than one. The magnetic magic of the Northern Lights has long been a drawcard for me to explore the frozen tundra of the Arctic Circle; hence, the Tri-Nation Arctic Challenge was born.
This Extreme Dreams expedition will see us power our way to the confluence of three snow-covered countries in the depths of winter, with the iconic Aurora Borealis to light our way.
Together, we’ll tackle an endurance journey along the Nordkalottleden trail, before climbing aboard a dog-sled safari into the frozen wilderness.
But, that’s only the half of it. We’ll also enjoy a number of other mad experiences, which are best suited to the Arctic (think ice lake immersions and fishing in the snow followed by sauna sessions and ski shots to warm the cockles).
Then to end our week we spend time with the indigenous Sami people to hear their stories about survival in the winter wilderness and wrap it up with a day on the water for an Orca Whale Safari or a kayak along the fjords, depending on the weather.
This will be a true challenge of the mind and body for us all. To step away from comfort and take on something new is the epitome of adventure, right? Who knows what we’ll find when we get out there.
Physically, this is one of the toughest expeditions you'll ever take on. So, grab your down jacket, find your winter gloves, chuck on your snowshoes and bring on the adventure of a lifetime. See you in Norway!
Arrive in Tromsø
Welcome to this fascinating city, nestled in an archipelago of islands at the northern tip of Norway. Famed as the perfect viewing point for the Northern Lights it's where our Extreme Dreams expedition starts. Please ensure you arrive in Tromsø no later than midday today for your check-in at the Radisson Blu Hotel.
Today, we issue you with the essential winter clothing required to adventure deep in the Arctic Circle, pour over maps of the area as we run through the itinerary, before dining on a sumptuous dinner of local delicacies.
Snowshoe to Gappohytta
We leave the comfort of Tromsø behind and take a transfer to the start our journey along the Nordkalottleden - an 800km Scandinavian trail that winds its way up the spine of Norway.
Strap on our snowshoes, load the sleds and head up the valley on a trail that winds through silent birch forest, up onto exposed, frozen Arctic tundra where the challenge of the expedition becomes real.
Today we snowshoe 12km to Gappaahytta Hut in Norway, and overnight in wilderness cabins. On arrival, we light the fire, crank up the stove and prepare to soak up the most remote location on the trip, and if we're lucky the Northern Lights will be firing across the skies above our heads.
Explore the border around Gappohytta
Waking up in the Arctic wilderness on the border of Norway and Sweden is an incredible experience. We spend the day recovering from our monster efforts, take in the majesty of the region, learn how to dig a snow cave and spend the night back in our comfortable, wilderness cabin.
SNOWSHOE to Goldahytta
Leaving the comfort of the hut behind, we venture into the frozen Arctic wilderness as first light touches the horizon, far away to the south. We walk as far as we can during the twilight hours, to reduce time under headtorch at the end of another physically and mentally gruelling day.
Keep your eyes peeled for Moose, Arctic Fox and Reindeer as we drop into the gorges and across frozen lakes.
Today we snowshoe 12km from Gappohytta to Goldahytta Hut in Finland before overnighting in another wilderness cabin.
SNOWSHOE to Kilpisjärvi
Our final day on snowshoes is an epic one! Leaving the hut behind we navigate our way through the frozen valley to one of the most iconic destinations of the trip - the Three Country Cairn that signifies the point where the borders of Sweden, Finland and Norway meet.
From here the twinkling lights of Kilpisjärvi, our destination for the night, guide us towards the end of our mammoth snowshoe adventure. In the evening we celebrate with a mammoth local meal, and enjoy the Finnish tradition of a steaming sauna and a dip in the ice-covered lake. It's the perfect tonic for our aching limbs.
We depart from our accommodation in Kilpisjarvi and head out to learn the ropes of what it takes to become an experienced dogsledder with a morning of exploration and discovery along the snow-covered trails around the local valley, along riverbanks and lakes, before dropping down to follow the ice-covered river back to camp and lunch.
That night we join a local reindeer herder in Kilpisjarvi for dinner, and fireside chats to learn about Sami traditions and a life spent in the company of thousands of reindeer in one of the world's coldest and most barren environments, with nothing more than a few thousand animals for company.
Dogsled Marathon & Sami Camping Experience
Once again we meet up with our dog sled teams and prepare for a huge day on the second part of our Extreme Dreams expedition. Our route takes us along the valley that divides Finland and Norway, before breaking for lunch, head up across a mountain range, then tracking through the snow-laden forests and finish up by the ocean, at Skibotn. Normal dogsled adventures cover up to 10kms a day...we push you a little further with a challenging 40-50km marathon!
Our home for the night is a short ride away at a remote wilderness camp, complete with traditional Sami dinner, tales from the locals and a comfy bed you'll need when you're not out marvelling at the Aurora Borealis!
Day of the sun - Kayak the Fjords
Today is a very special day in the north of Norway. After two months of virtual darkness, the sun finally breaks the horizon and the locals love it! The Day of the Sun is celebrated by eating doughnuts (or Sun Buns) and locals climb a mountain to witness the big fiery ball return. Summer is on the way.
After a week of constant physical exertion, it's time for us to relax and take to the ocean for an expedition of a different kind, with a kayak along the Norwegian fjords alongside seals and potentially orca whales.
That night we return to our hotel in Tromsø for a farewell celebration dinner and some well-earnt rest.
**Your Best Life Adventure ends here**