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Photo: T. Simonsen

Live Like a Husky Musher in Svalbard (Norway)

Immerse yourself in the daily life of a dogsled kennels on a private adventure at 78 degrees north

  • Guided
  • Medium
  • £1892/person
  • All year, 8 days/7 nights
  • Adults, Solo

Highlights:

  • Stay in simple cabin at the kennels
  • Interact with huskies daily
  • 3 x day tours and 1 x overnight tour during the week
  • Private experience for 1-2 persons
  • Offered throughout the year with different activities
  • Ideal for dog lovers with an adventurous spirit

Description »

Svalbard is a magical place - a wild and beautiful area and the northernmost inhabited region in the world. The spirit of the pioneer is strong here - Live Like a Husky Musher in Svalbard gives you the perfect opportunity to experience a taste of life in this unique region for yourself.

This is a private experience for maximum two persons. If you are a solo traveller, you will be the only guest for the week! Your base is a simple but cosy cabin at the kennels with the huskies on your doorstep.

Northern Lights in Svalbard

The period between September and mid-March offers very good chances to see the Northern Lights. Photo: T. Simonsen.

The week can be tailored to focus on the particular kinds of activities you are most interested in.

Your base is a cosy musher's cabin at the kennels where you will:

  • Learn to drive your own dog sled, being responsible for your team and taking part in their daily care and training.
  • Have three day tours during the week (depending on the time of year, this will include dog sledding on sleds in winter or on wheeled carts in summer/autumn).
  • Spend two days/one night on an overnight tour in the wilderness staying in insulated igloo or camping, by dogsled or hiking depending on the season. During summer and autumn, a boat may be used for the overnight tour, taking you to the remote settlements of Pyramiden or Barentsburg, for example.
  • Learn about husky breeding and behaviour and how they are used to guard against polar bears in the Svalbard region.

Working closely with the dogs and getting involved in the daily life of the kennels is very much part of the experience, but this is not a "working holiday". Typically guests will be very keen to participate fully in all aspects of kennel life, including the less glamorous sides of a musher's life such as feeding times and "poo patrol"! However, beyond the minimum requirements necessary for the experience, there is no obligation to work hard!

The intention is to experience an authentic slice of life in the Svalbard wilderness. The kennels are located just 1.5km from the settlement of Longyearbyen, which can be easily visited on foot or by bike.

Husky sledding with cart

Before the snows of winter, sled dog training and tours are with wheeled dog carts! Photo: T. Simonsen.

Live Like a Husky Musher in Svalbard experience is available year-round (except between April and mid-May, when the Midnight Sun Dog Sledding in Svalbard expedition tours take place). This will therefore be a very different experience at different times of year - see under "Itinerary" for an overview.

If you love dogs and have always wondered what it would be like to work with huskies and run a husky kennels, this experience should be ideal for you!

Here are some thoughts from a former guest, Kristianne, who stayed in October 2018 when the promise of winter is in the air and the preparations for the coming sledding season are in full flow. Every "Live Like a Husky Musher" week will be a little different - you will create your own adventure! - but Kristianne's words capture well the flavour of a typical week:

"'Live Like a Husky Musher on Svalbard has been fun, rewarding, challenging and very educational. I have gained incredible respect for the dogs and not least those who work with the dogs daily to see how they work with the animals and the respect they have for each other. I have lived in a cosy little cottage with the dogyard right outside the door, and the dogs wish me good morning every day and always say hello when I go out. The cabin has everything you need, with a cosy outdoor toilet and water you get in a container outside. When I needed a shower, I walked or got a lift to Svalbard Hall, which worked very well. There were also shower facilities at the kennels.

"The week I have been here I have had a good mix of dog breeding, a lot of dog sledding, feeding, food, hiking with the Longyearbyen dogs, cleaning the dogyard and taking part in the other necessary work needed. I learned a lot. At the kennels I have had lunch in the cabin and dinner together with the hosts.

"We have also had some fantastic nights with the Northern Lights (Aurora Borealis).

"It has given me an insight into what it's like to actually run a dog farm and that it's not a job but a lifestyle. Being allowed to take part in the handling of the dogs, and to get to know every dog, has been very educational and, not least, fun. There's a great sense of responsibility when dealing with dogs, and I have gained a lot of respect for those who do this daily, and not least the dogs. They are wonderful animals, with an enormous willingness to work.

"It's up to each individual how much you want to join in beyond the minimum requirement. For my part, I wanted to participate as much as possible, both because I wanted to learn and experience the most, but also because I like the people who run the kennels here, the way they work and their values."

Getting Involved

As with all our dogsled tours, you will be involved in all aspects of the trip, and this is very much part of the experience. You will assist with caring for your dog team, including harnessing, feeding (and, yes, picking up poo!), as well as tasks around camp such as fetching water, chopping wood, preparing food, washing up, etc.

Itinerary »

The itinerary for this experience is very flexible and will depend on a number of factors, including:

  • The time of year you are visiting (for example whether there is snow cover).
  • Weather and temperature conditions during your stay.
  • Your particular interests and preferences. As a private experience, there is a certain amount of flexibility to tailor the week to take account of individual wishes. As far as possible, your hosts will do their best to incorporate the types of activities you prefer and will discuss the possibilities for the week with you on arrival.

Dinner is taken together with your hosts at the kennels. Lunches are self-catering in the cabin when at the kennels or are included when out on day or overnight activities.

Arrival

Arrival and transfer to your cabin. Transfer from Longyearbyen airport to the cabin are included for guests arriving with daytime flights (if arriving with the late evening flight, taxi transfer must be arranged independently).

You are welcome to check-in to your cabin from 13.00 onwards.

Days 2-7

The week will include minimum three day tours and normally one overnight tour with dog sledding. Where overnight dog sledding is not a possibility, alternatives are available such as boat tour to Barentsburg with overnight in guesthouse there.

During the long winter, you will be dog sledding on snow, during the pre-season training in autumn and also summer, wheeled carts are used, while in summer the areas is wonderful for hiking.

  • September-November:
    • Preparation for the winter season with training of the dogs on wheeled carts and/or sleds depending on snow conditions.
    • Wonderful chances for Northern Lights.
    • From late October, the sun remains below the horizon and from 11th November, it is full polar night!
  • December-early April:
    • The main dog sledding season with sledding on snow. Overnight tours with dogsled are normally possible from January onwards, when you may stay in insulated igloo or possibly in tent later in the winter depending on conditions.
    • Experience the unique atmosphere of the full polar night, where the sun remains more than 6 degrees below the horizon from 11th November until end of January!
    • Wonderful chances for Northern Lights until mid-March, after which the daylight hours increase very quickly until by around 19th April it is Midnight Sun with 24-hour daylight!
  • Mid-May to August:
    • The late spring and summer season with dog sledding on wheeled carts and hiking/camping possibilities for overnight tour.
    • A beautiful time of long daylight hours and a stunning contrast to the winter period. In summer the local area is rich with flowers and wildlife including reindeer and birds. From May to August the kennels are visited by a colony of over 600 nesting eider ducks.
    • This is the time when repairs may be done on equipment used during the summer and other projects in preparation for the fast-approaching winter!

Departure

Please check out of the cabin by 13.00. Transfer to the airport for departure (unless of course you are extending your stay in Svalbard with further nights in Longyearbyen).

Dates»

Dates 2019

Every week Monday-Monday throughout the year (except * below).

Activities, itinerary and weather conditions will vary greatly depending on the time of your visit.

*This experience is not offered for weeks beginning 8th April, 15th April, 22nd April, 29th April and 6th May 2019, as the Midnight Sun Dog Sledding in Svalbard expedition tours run during this period.

Prices»

Prices 2019

Prices are in British Pounds and Euros. If you wish, you are also welcome to make your payment in Norwegian Kronor (NOK) - please contact us for details.

Standard Prices    
Per person GBP 1,892 EUR 2,099

What's Included »

Included

Accommodation:

  • Seven nights' accommodation in simple but cosy private cabin at the kennels (though note that you will normally spend one night during your stay out on an overnight trip). The cabin has one room with bunk beds for two persons, kitchenette area for food preparation and seating/relaxing area and the cabin is heated with wood-burning stove and electric heating. There is a dry outside toilet, which is heated. There is no running water at the cabin, but water for drinking/cooking is provided in containers. There is a communal building with shower facilities.

  • Free wi-fi is available at the cabin.
  • During overnight trips in winter, accommodation will normally be in insulated igloo or possibly tent depending on time of year and weather/temperature conditions. During summer, overnight tour will normally be in tent.
Cabin Accommodation

Cabin accommodation at the kennels

Meals:

Breakfast and dinner each day from dinner on Day 1 to breakfast on Day 8. Please let us know if you have any special dietary requirements. When out on activities during the day, lunch will also be included. At other times, lunch is self-catering (there is a simple kitchen at the cabin and provisions can be purchased locally in Longyearbyen).

Equipment and Clothing:

  • All equipment related to working and sledding with the huskies applicable to the time of year of your visit (sleds or wheeled dog carts, harnesses, etc).
  • Warm winter outer clothing (if required): thermal snowmobile suit, winter boots - please provide clothing (S-XXL) and shoe sizes in advance. Please note that guests must bring own warm gloves/hat. NB: For visits at any time of year, you will need to bring personal clothing for use when not working with the dogs or doing activities, such as clothing suitable for winter conditions when walking into Longyearbyen, etc.
  • Warm winter sleeping bag/liner and mat (as required). Reindeer skins are provided for extra warmth to sleep on if required during overnight tours.
  • Equipment as required for overnight tours such as camping/cooking/eating equipment, thermos.

Local hosts/guide:

  • Instruction in harnessing, sled handling, care of the dogs and aspects of husky breeding/behaviour depending on your interests.
  • Services of local hosts/guide during your stay.

Transfers:

  • Transfer is included between Longyearbyen airport and the kennels on arrival day (except if arriving with late evening flight, when transfer must be arranged independently) and on departure day.

Not Included

  • 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.
  • Transfer from Longyearbyen airport on arrival day if arriving with late evening flight (we recommend that you arrive with daytime flight, when transfer is included).
  • Lunch when at the kennels (the cabin has simple facilities for self-catering and provisions are available to purchase in Longyearbyen). Lunch is provided when out on activities.

Good To Know »

Required

Health requirements/experience:

General good level of fitness. Suitable for adults only (min. age 18).

No dog sledding experience is necessary, but you must love dogs and enjoy closely working with them in the daily life of the kennels. The huskies are friendly and affectionate!

You should enjoy the simple life of the cabin and the outdoors and be prepared to live in a fairly remote area. You will be spending time in the company of your hosts during the day and at evening meals - if travelling as a solo traveller, you will have time to yourself when in the cabin.

There is no obligation to be involved in feeding and cleaning the dogs, etc, at the kennels beyond the minimum requirements of the activities, though this will normally be something guests wish to join in with and tasks can be physically demanding.

  • Max. participant weight limit 95kg.
  • Due to the very remote nature of the region and the limited access to medical facilities, it may not be possible to accommodate guests with certain conditions such as serious allergies. Please contact us to discuss your requirements in this case.

What makes this "Medium"?

The level of challenge of this experience may vary greatly depending on the time of year (summer or winter) and weather conditions during your tour as well as the particular activities you wish to focus on. To a degree, the programme can be customised to suit different levels of fitness and different preferences. Your local hosts will discuss the most suitable programme for the week locally. Svalbard is a remote area where facilities are simple. The terrain is treeless and can be very exposed.

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.

Equipment/clothes needed:

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.

Minimum number:

This is a private experience for one or two persons. As a solo traveller you will have single occupancy of the cabin and be the only guest on the programme.

Groups

Maximum group size 2 persons.

Eco Info

This provider has a written environmental policy.

Will I see Polar Bears?

The tour takes place in areas where polar bears can be seen, and bears are occasionally spotted during tours (when made, sightings are usually from a distance). However, seeing polar bears is not a focus of the experience, and would not be appropriate either from the point of view of disturbing the animals (Svalbard has very strict guidelines on this) or for safety reasons. Every effort is made to minimise the risk of getting too close to a polar bear to avoid disturbing them.

Depending on the time of year you are travelling, you may wish to extend your stay in Svalbard and take part in wildlife watching activities (including those focusing on polar bears) independently.

Getting There »

Detailed information on travel options to this experience 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.

Please ensure that you make a booking with us first and wait for confirmation that your spaces are reserved before making any travel arrangements.

By Air:

Fly to Oslo for domestic flight to Longyearbyen. Transfer from/to Longyearbyen airport on arrival/departure is included for daytime flights.

Gallery »

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