Responsible tourism: Family vacation in Finnish Lapland, pick and mix activities
Vanha Karhu Apartments allow guests to maintain a low carbon footprint during their stay. They are located in the very courtyard that all sporting activities begin from, as well as being within walking distance of the local shop, the main restaurants and the activity booking office. Should anyone desire to arrive at these destinations by other means, there is a shuttle bus, therefore transportation will be shared, rather than guests traveling individually. This significantly reduces the amount of fuel consumption that would occur should guests require a car to reach essential locations.
Ruka takes great pride in their traditional Finnish wellbeing facilities, promoting health, welfare and local culture. They particularly encourage the use of their sauna in Iisakki village, which has been awarded The Authentic Finnish Sauna Experience certificate. Up to 30 people can enjoy the sauna at once, and it is wood-fired, using a traditional energy source rather than using a more polluting means of energy, such as electricity.
Where activities are concerned, many of them are non-polluting and non-harmful to the environment, such as snowshoe walking, husky safaris, reindeer sleigh rides and ice fishing. Following ice-fishing, those who make a catch are taught how to prepare their fish for dinner and cook it naturally on an open fire, meaning that the fish is not caught wastefully. When machines are used for activities, such as snowmobiles, they are always shared by two people. Halving the number of snowmobiles that could be taken out at any one time, reduces harm to the environment by reducing the number of chemicals being emitted.
All of our animal-focused activities work with the utmost respect for their animals’ health and welfare. The husky farm takes great care of their dogs, who receive regular visits from the local vet as well as receiving provincial veterinary services. The farm is also strict about the running distance of each dog per day so that they are never too tired and have time to rest and relax between working.
As well as the saunas, another important cultural aspect of Iisakki Village is the local restaurant. Guests at the apartments are offered wild food dinners, which consists of a menu complete with fish, wild game and wild berries. Encouraging clients to buy local produce not only advocates tradition and cultural exchange but also benefits the economy of the local community. Wherever possible, guides are locally sourced to maintain financial security in the area.
Many of the activities provided focus on authenticity, particularly those that include eating or living ‘like the locals’. Clients can spend the night in a simple wilderness hut, with open fire cooking facilities and a traditional fire-powered sauna. They are also offered the opportunity to stay in an igloo for the night. These back-to-basics experiences offer insights about historical Finnish conventions and promote spending the evening without electricity, using natural energy sources.
Other activities involve furthering guests’ knowledge about the local culture. During the husky safari and reindeer sledging, the guides teach visitors about the animals’ lives and how they serve as an advantage to the community. This furthers clients’ understanding of a tradition that, for many cultures, is seen purely as a source of enjoyment and entertainment, rather than an essential part of Finnish life.