I couldn’t help but squeal a little bit —in excitement, of course, being in a sleigh led by six high-strung dogs going almost 20 miles per hour is nothing to be scared of, right?— when the dogs took a turn that I deemed a little too tight.
How foolish of me. I quickly learned that any sound on my part would invariably catch the dogs’ attention, at which point they would look back and glare at me —while still racing at full speed— like I was an overly vocal scaredy cat. Which I totally was, frankly speaking, this being my first ever dog sleigh ride.
But like my friend Amanda so eloquently put it: “For these dogs, this is serious work. No giggling allowed.” Indeed — shut up already Marie, just enjoy the ride. Silently.
Little did I know at the time but my overnight at Holmen Husky Lodge would not only make me realise that I might not be such a cat person after all (post sleigh ride cuddles > sleigh rides) but also teach me a thing or two about the lives these dogs lead high up in the Norwegian Arctic Circle, nestled in a minuscule hamlet at the end of Altafjord.
Glamping at Holmen Husky Lodge
I was lucky enough to experience Holmen Husky Lodge to the fullest with the Northern Night package, enjoying an overnight stay as well as a dog-sleigh ride and leisure time in and around the property. It consists of the main lodge converted from an old barn, appointed in the finest Nordic fashion — think natural fabrics, lots of wood, neutral tones and minimalist style — and equipped with a vast lounging area, a dining room and kitchen, as well as a sauna and jacuzzi.
The best part is, no doubt, the actual accommodation. Now, if you’ve been following this blog for a while you’re well aware that camping is NOT my thing; but glamping, however, is another thing entirely, especially when it comes to these gorgeous lavvos. These traditional tents are used by the indigenous Sami people to socialise, cook and sleep, but these ones are infinitely better: they are insulated against the Arctic’s bitingly cold nights and are equipped with heating blankets and a small wood-burning stove (which, of course, this city girl was absolutely lame with), as well as a floor-to-ceiling window from which it’s possible to admire the northern lights on a clear night.
Holmen Husky Lodge – Is Dogsledding Cruel?
Shortly after I posted this video on my Facebook page, I was inundated with comments, both public and private, of readers who deemed dogsledding cruel and harmful to the dogs. Mind you, I wasn’t offended by that in the least; I was actually glad that a surprisingly large number of people actually cared about the huskies’ wellbeing, being a fervent animal rights defender myself.
But observing —hearing would be more accurate— the dogs’ reaction upon noticing their keeper come round with a harness and realising that they’re about to go riding is quite revealing. Their vigorous yipping and howling leave no doubt as to how elated and excited they are to get going. This is what these Alaskan huskies are so thoroughly bred for; these dogs are not meant to nap by the fireplace and chew a tennis ball. The kennel’s owner, Eirik Nilsen, was quick to point out that he “doesn’t breed dogs according to their looks but rather on their enthusiasm to race.” They’re athletes. Their primal instinct is to RUN.
And I really do not believe they would have it any other way given the option.
Technically speaking, though, dogs don’t normally ride two days in a row to ensure they get proper rest. Their incredibly thick fur keeps them from getting cold and they are fed regularly, and quite generously at that. Trust me when I say that these dogs truly don’t need for anything aside from the occasional petting — and must’ve given them about a year’s worth of cuddles so I wouldn’t worry about them much at all.
The Most Adorable Dogs of Holmen Husky Lodge
Holmen Husky Lodge – Know Before You Go
- I experienced the Northern Night package, which includes an overnight in a lavvo tent, typically Norwegian dinner and breakfast, as well as a dog-sleigh ride. Price is NOK 2990 per person, based on double occupancy. There are several options for summertime visits, too.
- The lodge is located about 10 kilometres outside Alta. You do not need to rent a car to get there as the package includes pick-up and drop-off in central Alta.
- If you don’t own proper winter attire, don’t worry: Holmen graciously lends thermal suits and boots to guests.