An expedition under your own power into the remote wilderness of Finnish Lapland
At around 100,000km2 and with just 180,000 inhabitants (about 3.5% of Finland's total), Finnish Lapland is the country's most sparsely populated region and where some of its most remote wilderness is to be found.
Backcountry Skiing and Tipi Camping in Eastern Lapland takes you deep into the wild, as you ski with pulk through the arctic landscapes of Urho Kekkonen National Park and Kemihaara Wilderness Area led by an experienced local guide. You will be skiing a landscape of forest and lovely frozen marshland areas on relatively flat/undulating terain.
Finnish Lapland is vast - there's plenty of space to explore! Photo: UT.
You will need a high level of fitness and stamina and a taste for adventure, but only limited previous ski experience is required. The tour is not suitable for complete novice skiers - you will need some technique and balance - but a backcountry ski tour is trekking on skis, and in general the terrain is not technical.
The group will be completely self-supported during the tour - there is no snowmobile transporting your luggage and no shops to re-supply along the way! Each person will ski with their own "pulk" (sledge), containing personal equipment and a share of the group's communal equipment and provisions.
Flexible itinerary and daily distances
As a camping tour, there is great flexibility to vary the daily distance covered and the route taken, and the itinerary can be adapted depending on weather conditions and the group.
The distance covered each day will vary - progress is slow on a tour of this kind and may not seem far in terms of total kilometres. The element of winter camping and the routines around camp will also take time and are very much part of the experience.
A communal tipi with lightweight, wood-burning stove will be your portable home. Photo: UT.
In general, you should expect to be skiing for around 6 hours per day plus breaks. The emphasis is on enjoying the adventure and giving you the best chance to experience the beauty of the arctic, rather than on covering a set distance/route or reaching a specific goal.
Traditional Finnish sauna and "luxury" camping under arctic skies
The first and last nights of the tour are spent at Savukoski, with accommodation in 2-4 person rooms or cabins and the possibility to relax into the experience with a sauna on Day 1 and soothe those tired muscles on your return with another sauna on Day 7!
During your 5 days/4 nights out skiing, you will be winter camping each night in tipi. The camping component of the trip increases the level of challenge compared to a tour staying in cabins, but this tour has a little touch of "luxury" - your tent is heated!
As part of the equipment, the group will carry a lightweight, durable titanium wood-burning stove, which heats the tipi and helps to keep the elements at bay during the night (someone may need to wake up every now and again and feed the fire!). The warm winter sleeping bags and sleeping mats provided will also help to keep you comfortable.
"Luxury" is relative of course - the wood burner will certainly help to make the tent cosy, but this is still a fully fledged outdoor winter adventure with a high level of challenge.
Camping in the wilderness in wintertime is a magical experience. Snowshoes make it easier to move around camp. Photo: UT.
You will be getting to know your guide and fellow skiers very well during the week and you should be comfortable living closely together with others.
One tipi tent is used for the whole group, where you will cook, socialise and sleep. The tent is suitable for up to 6 persons. An additional tent shelter may also be carried on the tour, where the guide will sleep if the group is fully booked.
Tours take place during the "spring winter" in March and April, the time the locals consider the best time for winter activities. With long hours of daylight and the promise of spring in the air, March and April are a wonderful time for winter camping tours. Far from light pollution, you also have very good chances for Northern Lights for tour dates up to around early-mid April.
Everything you need for a week in the wild
As well as all camping and cooking equipment, ski equipment (skis with skins, warm winter boots and poles) are all provided, and also snowshoes to help you move around the camp more easily after you've taken off your skis for the day.
The skis used are "forest skis", around 7cm wide and 2-3m long, ideal for exploring this type of terrain.
Each person will ski with a pulk on the tour. Photo: UT.
You will need to bring your own personal clothing of course, and a detailed packing list will be provided as part of your tour documentation.
Backcountry Skiing and Tipi Camping in Eastern Lapland is ideal for solo travellers or for an adventure with friends. Public tours are guaranteed to run from the first booking and have maximum group size 6 persons. If you are a group of 4-6 persons, you can also book a private tour on dates by arrangement.
The Finnish wilderness awaits - time to strap on your skis!
NB: You will normally need to overnight in Helsinki before travelling to Kuusamo.
Day 1: Arrival
Transfers will meet flights as follows:
- Tour 17.03-23.03.24: Finnair flight AY485 from Helsinki arriving Kuusamo 11.55 (departs Helsinki 10.10). Alternative option: For guests arriving in Kuusamo by public transport or overnighting locally before the tour, pick-up will be from Kuusamo town centre around 11.30-13.00.
- Tour 31.03-06.04.24: Finnair flight AY489 from Helsinki arriving Kuusamo 10.45 (departs Helsinki 09.05). Alternative option: For guests arriving in Kuusamo by public transport or overnighting locally before the tour, pick-up will be from Kuusamo town centre around 10.30-12.00.
Transfer to your accommodation (approx. 3 hours) at Savukoski, where you will have dinner together and information about the tour to come.
Days 2-6: Into the Wilderness
Breakfast followed by transfer (approx. 1.5 hours) north to Urho Kekkonen National Park. Here you will pack the pulks and make final preparations for your backcountry ski tour.
Communal equipment and items such as camping gear and provisions will be distributed between the various members of the group, before your expedition into the wilderness begins!
Later in the day, you make camp at a suitable spot for your first night under canvas beneath the stars.
Over the next few days, you will explore deeper into the wilderness. Each participant has their own pulk and the group will be completely self sufficient, carrying everything you need with you for the trip.
Each night you will camp at a suitable location, sleeping in the heated tipi tent.
You will make fires with wood collected from the forest, and get your drinking water either from rivers along the way, where you encounter open water sources, or by melting snow.
Everyone shares equally in setting up the camp and in the various tasks and duties required for a winter camping tour of this kind and this is very much part of the experience.
On Day 6, your tour ends at Kemihaara near the entrance to Urho Kekkonen National Park for transfer (1.5 hours) back to Savukoski and your accommodation for the last night. Here a traditional Finnish sauna awaits as a wonderful, relaxing end to your adventure and a chance to soothe those tired muscles!
Dinner and accommodation at Savukoski.
Day 7: Departure
Transfer to Kuusamo (approx. 3 hours) for departure. Transfers will meet flights as follows:
- Tour 17.03-23.03.24: Finnair flight AY486 from Kuusamo arriving Helsinki 15.25 (departs Kuusamo 13.40).
- Tour 31.03-06.04.24: Finnair flight AY490 from Kuusamo arriving Helsinki 1225 (departs Kuusamo 10.45).
Guests overnighting locally in Kuusamo after the tour can have transfer to Kuusamo town centre on departure (must be advised well in advance).
Guests departing Kuusamo by public transport should plan for departure time earliest 1.5 hours before flight departure as above.
Dates & Prices»
- March: 17.03-23.03.24, 31.03-06.04.24
Private tours for groups of 4-6 persons on other dates are also possible on request between 1st February and 15th April. Please contact us to discuss your requirements.
What's Included »
Sleeping accommodation is shared on all nights with other participants in the group. There is no possibility for private sleeping accommodation on this tour.
- Days 1 and 6: Accommodation in 2-person or 4-person rooms or cabins at Savukoski (bed linen and towels provided). Rooms/cabins may have en-suite or shared WC/shower facitilies depending on arrangements. Sauna is available on these nights. There is no possibility for washing/bathing during the expedition part of the tour.
- Days 2-5: Communal sleeping in 6-person tipi tent (see images below). The tent is heated with lightweight, wood-burning stove and is used both for sleeping and for eating/social area in the evenings. An additional shelter is also normally taken on the tour and, where the group is fully booked with 6 participants, the guide will sleep in the shelter. Winter sleeping bags (down), sleeping bag liner and sleeping mats (usually one inflatable + one foam roll mat per person) are provided. If you wish to use own sleeping bag, mat(s) or liner, you are welcome to do so provided these are rated for extreme winter use. Please advise in advance if you plan to use your own equipment and provide the specifications of your sleeping bag/mat so that we can confirm suitability.
Typical tipi tents used for the tour (bottom left image shows wood-burning stove). Photos: UT
- All meals from dinner on Day 1 to breakfast on Day 6. Guests should bring snacks for extra energy when skiing.
- Experienced and knowledgeable guide accompanying you during the tour.
- Communal tipi with lightweight, wood-burning stove, which serves as the area for preparation of food, socialising and sleeping. An additional tent shelter may also be taken, where the guide will sleep if the group is fully booked.
- Warm down winter sleeping bag with liner and sleeping mat (normally two mats per person, one foam, one inflatable). NB: Sleeping bags are down - if you have a down allergy, this must be advised in advance to confirm if alternative equipment can be provided. If you wish to bring your own sleeping bag and/or sleeping mats, please contact us with specifications so that suitability can be confirmed.
- Cooking equipment (including cup/plate/cutlery).
- Snowshoes for use around camp.
- Backcountry ski equipment (skis with skins, boots and poles). Please provide height, weight and shoe size in advance. Skis used are normally Peltonen Metsä, either with scales + skins or always-on skins, 7cm wide and 2m-2.8m long, good for skiing in soft conditions. Boots are Kamik Alborg, Sorel Caribou or similar. The ski bindings are compatible with any winter boots. If you prefer to bring your own boots and/or ski equipment, please contact us with specifications so that suitability can be confirmed. Your ski boots will also be used around camp - no other winter boots are needed for the tour.
- Pulk - each person will pull their own pulk carrying personal and a share of communal equipment/provisions. Pulks used are normally Savotta Paljakka, Fjellpulken or possibly larger "Swedish army"-style pulks. Typical pulk weight once loaded for the tour will be in the region of 20-30kg.
Typical skis and boots provided for the tour. Photos: UT
- Local transfers between arrival/departure airports and start/end points of the tours in connection with fixed flight times as per itinerary.
- Travel: We do not arrange flights or domestic travel, but are happy to advise on suitable connections and assist you with any aspect of planning your journey. See under "Getting There" for general travel information.
- Alcoholic drinks.
Good To Know »
Minimm age 16 (provided participants have suitable level of fitness and ski experience).
For this tour, at least some previous experience of cross country or downhill skiing is required. While the skiing is not technical and terrain is predominantly flat or undulating, some ski technique and a sense of balance are required.
A general high level of fitness and stamina is required. This tour is a physically demanding winter expedition and you will be skiing with a pulk in very remote terrain with variable weather conditions.
You should have general previous experience of the outdoors and be prepared to live in close proximity with others. One heated tent is shared by the whole group for eating, socialising and sleeping.
Skiing time will normally be around 6 hours per day + breaks. The itinerary is flexible and daily distance and route taken will be adapted depending on factors such as wind and weather conditions and the needs/abilities of the group.
What makes this "Hard"?
This tour takes place in a very remote area and is based on winter camping. The provision of heated tent adds to the comfort level of the tour, but as a winter camping tour the level of challenge will typically be higher than when staying in cabins.
The group will be completely self sufficient during the tour and will carry everything needed with them. Each participant will ski with a pulk with personal and a share of communal equipment/provisions.
NB: Perception of difficulty is very subjective. What is hard to one person may be easy for another and vice versa, depending on factors including level of fitness, age and previous experience. Weather conditions/temperatures can also dramatically affect the actual level of challenge encountered.
For information on any equipment and/or clothing included as standard for this experience, please see under "What's Included".
A detailed recommended packing list for personal items to bring will be sent with your booking documentation.
NB: We advise you not to buy equipment or clothes for your trip or to incur other non-refundable expenses such as flights until you have received confirmation of your booking from us in writing. Note of course that the most appropriate clothing to use as well as the level of challenge experienced during any outdoor activity may vary significantly depending on factors such as the time of year and the particular weather/temperature conditions during your trip.
Preparing for your trip:
For further reading, we also have a number of general information articles to get you ready for your trip, covering a wide variety of topics from what to do on a city break before/after your tour, advice on packing, eyewear for winter and considerations for female travellers.
The tours have no minimum and are guaranteed to run from the first booking.
Maximum 6 participants. Groups may be made up of participants from a number of countries. You are welcome to book as a solo traveller.
Private groups of 4-6 persons can book this experience on other dates by arrangement - please contact us to discuss your requirements.
This provider has a written ecotourism policy.
Getting There »
See below for a summary of travel options. To learn more about how to travel to this experience, please get in touch!
Detailed information on travel will be provided in response to your enquiry. We are happy to advise on suitable connections and assist you with any aspect of planning your journey.
NB: Please ensure that you make a booking with us first and wait for confirmation that your spaces are reserved before making any travel arrangements.
Fly to Helsinki for onward travel to Kuusamo. Transfers at fixed times between Kuusamo airport (approx. 3 hours) and the start/end points of the tour are included.
Train from UK to Stockholm (Sweden) for ferry to Helsinki and onward train to train + bus to Kuusamo.