Responsible tourism: Northern Lights and dog sledding vacation, Norway
As tourism has seen an increase in Northern Norway, particularly in winter, excursion group sizes have increased. As a result many people feel that traveling in the Arctic is becoming a victim of mass tourism which can also have a detrimental impact on the environment. As a tour operator we wanted to offer our guests something smaller, less manufactured and more intimate. We also wanted guests to learn about living in nature from those for whom it is second nature. We think the guides in Norway are exemplary in this way. Our guests can learn to value having time outdoors and bring back home the desire to be in nature on a regular basis. This can have a positive effect in many ways. Our guides offer this inspiration and their local knowledge contributes to this directly.
On a more tangible level, the camp has a minimal impact on the environment. Presently there is an electricity supply to the cabin but the amount of usage is small in comparison to a hotel. The four rooms of the cabin use electricity for lighting and for powering appliances. All other energy supplies are from renewal sources. Wood felled in the surrounding forests is the main source of energy for the lavvo tent and for the stove. Wood is sourced in a sustainable way. Water comes from the nearby stream and there is a composting toilet for waste. We will be eating locally sourced and cooked food throughout the camp to include produce such as berries, fish, meat and other vegetables – some fresh and some preserved.
Our activity providers ensure that all activities such as snow shoeing, skiing and husky dog sledding have minimum environmental impact. We work on a ‘leave no trace’ basis which is essential for all our activities. Guides are trained in order to maintain biodiversity. The use of motorised vehicles is kept to a minimum.
This community is tiny but significant for the future of the people living in the Dividalen Valley. As the Norwegian army is currently leaving its base in this region, an important economic pillar of the community may be lost forever. So the local people must find ways to bridge this gap which otherwise may see the start of migration to the surrounding towns and cities.
The community this trip supports is a young one creating a living from offering guests a unique insight into its life in the Arctic wilderness. The lead guide owns the pack of dogs and land on which we will be staying and it is his livelihood and family we will be supporting directly. It’s a brave project on his behalf despite his many years as a dog-sledder, teacher and host.
His work will have a knock-on effect in the community as other services will be required such as food supplies and local craftspeople. As we develop this unique camp location, we will be building a long-term, sustainable future for the community.