Silence and stillness, darkness and light: in the northern Norwegian interior, life is reduced to its most elemental.
Deep in a boreal forest of birch and pine just outside Karasjok, Sven Engholm is a man who has found his place in life, far from the world and its noise. The founder and 11-time winner of Europe’s longest dog-sled race, the 600-mile-long Finnmarksløpet, and a veteran of Alaska’s epic Iditerod, Sven is perfect company for mushing a team of huskies into a land yet to be tamed by humankind.
‘This is not a job for me,’ he says. ‘I just love it out here. It’s clean, pure. It’s the exotic light, the darkness and the great plateau. This is one of the last great wilderness regions left in Europe.’
In the strange blue half-light of the forest, sounds are invariably few – the panting of the dogs, the coarse scrape of the sled across the ice, the crunch of heavy boots in the snow – but they seem amplified in the mute landscape.
It is possible to simply immerse yourself in this silent world, to just sit back on the sled and enjoy the ride. But mushing your own dog team is central to the whole experience – after careful instruction from, and under the watchful eye of Sven. The quiet thrill of standing tall behind the sled while you rush through the snow – at such moments Sven’s love for ‘the freedom of being in wilderness’ makes perfect sense.
‘Travelling with huskies,’ he says, ‘you feel you can be a part of nature, work with the dogs and have a relationship with them. Once infected with the mushing virus, there is no cure. There is only trail.’
- Four- to five-hour husky trips with Engholm Adventure Tours cost £137 per person (engholm.no).
- Engholm Husky Lodge Owned by Engholm Adventure Tours, the lodge’s comfortable cabins are in the forest, four miles outside Karasjok. They come complete with hand-crafted reindeer-antler coat hangers and hanging slate tables (from £240).
The article 'Dog-sledding in Karasjok, Norway' was published in partnership with Lonely Planet Magazine.