Experienced guides will show you how to prepare your team of dogs and pack your sled. Then head out for an exhilarating 12-mile journey!
Watch for the display of Northern Lights from Kirkenes on Norway’s extreme northeastern coast. © Anne Olsen Ryum
Be sure to watch the World Championships in Reindeer Racing held each year at the Sami Easter Festival in the town of Kautokeino. © Kevin Clement
Enjoy a traditional Sami meal prepared over an open fire and sleep in a Sami lavvu—a cozy, communal tent made of reindeer hide. © Kevin Clement
Take in the remote beauty of these snow-shrouded landscapes, home to the reindeer-herding Sami people. © Kevin Clement
Norway Adventure and Sami Culture Tour
The Sami were the first people to populate Scandinavia, and remain its only recognized indigenous group. Against all odds, they have preserved their traditional practices in this remote expanse of Arctic Europe, including hunting, fishing, handicraft making, and the reindeer herding for which they are best known. Join Apex on this 14-day adventure through the Eastern Finnmark region of Norway, and discover the charming coastal villages, breathtaking snow-shrouded landscapes, fascinating history and hardy people of the Sami heartland.
- Travel by Air
- Travel by Road
- Travel by Boat
- Travel by Bullet Train
- Travel by Rail
- Travel by Dog Sled
Tuesday, March 20: Arrive Oslo, Norway
Arrive in this jewel of a capital city and make your way to the hotel, conveniently located across the street. This evening, meet your fellow travelers and expedition leader at a welcome dinner and briefing. Overnight at Oslo’s Radisson SAS Airport Hotel.
Wednesday, March 21: Oslo / Kirkenes
After breakfast, head to the airport for a short flight to Kirkenes, on Norway’s extreme northeastern coast, a mere nine miles from the Russian border. Kirkenes is set along a beautiful branch of the Varanger Fjord and surrounded by rolling lake-strewn hills. The town itself is rather plain and almost entirely modern due to the nearly incessant bombing it endured from the Russians during World War II. Upon arrival, a city tour will illuminate the town’s fascinating history, with a visit to the Borderland Museum and the Andersgrotta, an underground bunker where town residents sought refuge from the bombs. Take the afternoon to rest up or explore on your own. Dinner and overnight at the Thon Hotel.
Thursday, March 22: Kirkenes
This morning, head just outside of town to the famed Snowhotel. True to its name, the structure is made entirely of snow, down to its carved-ice beds, and is rebuilt every year. Attend lessons on dog mushing and snowmobiling, followed by some time to practice on your own. At nightfall, take a short walk to a viewpoint to watch for the northern lights. Dinner and overnight at the Snowhotel.
Friday, March 23: Kirkenes / Svanhovd
After breakfast, choose between a morning of ice fishing or cross-country skiing. Enjoy lunch in town, then board snowmobiles for a leisurely ride to the pristine Pasvik Valley, and Svanhovd National Park Center. Trek in the largest tract of primeval forest in Norway, and the only area where Brown Bears breed. Look for Moose and several bird species from the Siberian Taiga, which are rare elsewhere in Norway. This includes Siberian Jay, Pine Grosbeak, Bohemian Waxwing, Common Crane and Whooper Swan. Dinner and overnight at Svanhovd National Park Center.
Saturday, March 24: Svanhovd / Kirkenes / Vardo / Båtsjfjord
After breakfast, load your belongings onto your snowmobile and ride back to Kirkenes to board the Hurtigruten coastal ferry, headed for the impossibly remote enclave of Båtsfjord. Cruise past jaw-dropping coastal scenery. Stop briefly in Vardo, Norway’s most easterly town, which is famous for its Salem-style witch hunts in the 17th century, during which 80 women were burned alive (a striking number, considering the village’s size at the time). A walking tour takes you past the witch-hunt monument. Re-embark the ferry and continue your cruise north. Arrive in Båtsfjord, one of Norway’s most important fishing hubs, and transfer to the Båtsfjord Hotel for dinner and overnight.
Sunday, March 25: Båtsfjord / Kongsfjord
After breakfast, head to Båtsfjord’s harbor for a birding cruise. See Velvet Scoter, as well as small groups of Steller’s and King Eiders among the numerous Common Eiders. Look out for waders on shore, including Temminck’s Stints, Purple Sandpipers and handsome Bar-tailed Godwits. Then, join a local crabber on a hunt for the region’s giant King Crabs. Afterwards, drive to Kongsfjord, a tiny fishing village whose fish populations are making a comeback after over-fishing nearly obliterated them in the 20th century. Enjoy a snowshoe walk through the surrounding countryside, before a dinner comprised of your catch of the day. Dinner and overnight at Kongsfjord Gjestehus.
Monday, March 26: Kongsfjord
Explore at your leisure today. Wander the streets of this charming settlement, choose to return to the Peninsula for more snowshoeing, or continue along the coast to visit the hamlet of Berlesfjord. Overnight at Kongsfjord Gjestehus.
Tuesday, March 27: Kongsfjord / Hillágurra
A scenic drive inland delivers you to the small town of Hillágurra. Here, meet the Gaups, a Sami family that still partakes in many traditional activities, such as making clothes by hand, following the summer reindeer migration and celebrating Sami festivals. Enjoy a traditional Sami meal, which will likely include reindeer stew prepared over an open fire. This evening, hear traditional folktales and learn about the language, customs, crafts and beliefs of the Sami people from the Gaups. Tonight, sleep in a traditional Sami lavvu—a cozy, communal tent made of reindeer hide.
Wednesday, March 28: Hillágurra / Karasjok
After breakfast, drive west to the capital of Sami Norway, Karasjok, home to the Sámediggi (Sami Parliament). The building is richly decorated with Sami artwork which will be showcased on a special private tour. At the Sami National Museum, see excellent displays of traditional garments, tools, and crafts. Afterwards, visit a craftsman who makes traditional Sami knives, indispensable to those who participate in reindeer herding. Dinner and overnight at Scandic Hotel Karasjok.
Thursday, March 29: Karasjok / Ravnastua
This morning, head to a local dog-mushing kennel, where experienced guides will show you how to prepare your team and pack your sled. Head out with your team of 4 to 6 dogs for a 12-mile journey to the Ravnastua Mountain Lodge, an old lodging station for priests and doctors traveling across the Finnmark plateau between settlements. Upon arrival, put your feet up by the cozy stove in your cabin or head out to the wood-fired hot tub and sauna to relax your muscles. This evening, enjoy dinner accompanied by a performance of traditional Sami songs.
Friday, March 30: Ravnastua / Karasjok / Kautokeino
This morning, mush your way back to Karasjok for lunch, then board buses for a short drive to Kautokeino. Though Karasjok is considered the Sami capital, Kautokeino has the highest Sami population and is home to the extravagant annual Sami Easter Festival, to which people travel from far and wide. Easter has always been a time for gathering in Sami culture, and the week’s festivities traditionally kick off the summer reindeer herding. This afternoon, take a stroll around town to observe the bustle of activity as people prepare for tomorrow’s Easter Festival. Dinner and overnight at Thon Hotel Kautokeino.
Saturday, March 31: Kautokeino
Enjoy the Festival today, including theater, duodji (traditional Sami handicrafts), a grand prix joik, or traditional Sami singing competition, and reindeer racing. While wandering through the hustle and bustle, admire the lavish and spectacularly colorful traditional dress worn by the Sami at this gathering. Tonight, attend a celebratory farewell dinner with your expedition leader and fellow travelers. Overnight at Thon Hotel Kautokeino.
Sunday, April 1: Kautokeino / Alta / Oslo
After breakfast, wind your way through a scenic gorge dotted with frozen waterfalls as you make your way to Alta. Time permitting, visit the impressive Northern Lights Cathedral before boarding your flight to Oslo. Dinner and overnight at the SAS Radisson Hotel in Oslo.
Monday, April 2: Depart Oslo
This morning, depart on your international flight home.
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Sami Easter Festival in Kautokeino—a showcase of Sami culture
The annual Easter Festival in Kautokeino is the highlight of the year for the Sami people whose semi-nomadic culture is based on reindeer herding. Traditionally, the Sami would gather during the Easter holiday to hold weddings and christenings before the start of the summer reindeer migration. Over time, this evolved into the extravagant Easter Festival known today—a week-long celebration with concerts, theater, and passionate competitions including World Championships in both Reindeer Racing and Lassoing as well as traditional joik singing. Here, you can see the Sami dressed in kofte, their traditional clothing for celebrations, and admire a variety of duodji, traditional Sami handicrafts such as embroidery, weaving, and wood-carving.