The ice quest
Venturing deep into untouched countryside on a quest for glacial landscapes, The Fridge Foundation set out to find the coldest destinations so you can choose the best routes for your real arctic adventure.
Discovering the beauty of Northern Norway, chasing the light displays of the aurora borealis, marvelling at the fjords and the unspoiled countryside from a snowmobile or a sled pulled by dogs: arctic adventures promise all this and more.
Even though the weather can be bitterly cold and even reach 25 degrees below zero, this type of trip always guarantees a unique experience.
Couples young and old, singles and even families can enjoy these trips of discovery to cities packed with festivals and culture. Stefano Serra from Blueberry Travel Company, a travel agent specialising in custom package holidays to Norway, Sweden and Finland, explains, “We organise “made-to-measure” soft adventure holidays; we offer people the chance to get the very best from these places with trips on dog sleds and snowmobiles and sojourns in the mountains to admire the aurora borealis.” This solar phenomenon attracts many tourists who hope to see the colourful auroral arcs which vary from green or red to blue. Stefano Serra explains further, “The arctic adventures are usually three to five night trips as you need at least this long to visit these places. We also offer nights in an ice hotel, like the Sorrisniva Igloo Hotel on the River Alta, which has bedrooms sculpted into the ice.”
Visitors can also travel from Nordkapp to the Lofoten Islands on the Hurtigruten, the famous fjords mail boat that sails the entire coast of Norway.
Sportier tourists can visit Holmenkollen not far from Oslo, where they can get their skis on and admire the breathtaking views from the top of the world’s largest ski jumping hill. A trip to the aquarium to see the seals and penguins is an absolute must for families with children; the aquarium is in the city of Bergen, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. One experience that everyone loves is the Husky Safari, “Lots of people, particularly men, want to do the snowmobile trip, but once they have ridden a sled pulled by huskies they appreciate just how truly unique this experience is.”
Those who love learning about other cultures and their customs will find the experience with the Sami people absolutely fascinating. The Sami live in the Finnish village of Inari where they breed reindeer and invite visitors to try their traditional cuisine in the typical houses, or kota. “The thing that most often astonishes tourists is the food,” Stefano Serra concludes, “The local diet is quite basic, consisting mainly of fish, herrings and reindeer meat, but they always return home singing the praises of this unusual yet tasty cuisine.”
Temperatures often drop to 25 degrees below zero in countries like Norway, Sweden or Finland, and the windchill factor can make it feel even colder during excursions or snowmobile rides.
Thermal clothing to insulate against the cold and the right equipment are essential for ensuring you enjoy the vistas and this experience to the full.
Good underwear should never be underestimated; tights and vests in direct contact with the skin use body warmth to insulate the body against the cold, and woollen fabrics are the best for this. The Italian company Rewoolution, from Biella, makes clothing from oil-free, natural pure Merino wool; these garments combine the great “Made in Italy” textile tradition with state-of-the-art technologies. The tights morph to fit the body and ensure great freedom of movement. Another must-have is a breathable thermal vest, like the ones in the Hybrid line by The North Face, which ensure maximum comfort even during demanding sports like cross-country skiing. A fleece top or sweater will keep you warm under a heavy coat or parka, best to wear a knee-length one with a fur hood. The bright coloured O’Neill parka is perfect as it’s got a small iPod pocket so you can choose your favourite soundtrack for your adventure. The bottom half of your body is just as important. Padded trousers in waterproof fabrics with windproof zips are best, like the fashion-forward technical garments with Hyperdry and Hyperflow features from the Outerwear line by O’Neill. As your feet are always on the ground it’s important to protect them with socks made from wool or a breathable technical fabric, and sturdy, nonslip yet comfortable footwear for long walks over sometimes tricky terrain – the women’s Snow Betty Boots with nonslip rubber soles by The North Face are ideal for this type of endeavour. Accessorise your outfit with the right gear to protect your head, hands and neck with a touch of unique style. Gloves should fit well with room to move your fingers, O’Neill makes a pair with Velcro fastenings so no wind, snow or rain can creep in.
You lose a lot of heat through your head so it needs to be covered with a woolly hat, a close-fitting cap and a hood.
The classic bobble hat made by O’Neill comes in traditional mountain colours. A traditional scarf isn’t always enough to keep your neck warm, so add a fleece or thermal snood with an adjustable drawstring.
The frigde outfit
Wearing the right clothes when tackling an arctic adventure is essential. Here are some tips for surviving the freezing temperatures.
1. Journey Jacket, the warm parka by O’Neill with a blizzard-proof faux fur collar.
2. Breathable pure Merino wool thermal top with a zip by Rewoolution.
3. Morritz woollen beanie hat with a pom-pom by O’Neill.
4. Windproof and waterproof technical gloves with an adjustable wrist strap by O’Neill.
5. Rewoolution thermal tights made from natural fibres that capitalise on the wool’s antibacterial power.
6. Padded trousers from the O’Neill Adventure line.
7. The North Face Snow Betty Boots are robust and versatile, ideal for walking.
Arctic travellers always need to make sure their backpack contains the little things that make excursions easier. It’s a sensible idea to have a small, wind-up flashlight to light the way in the event of an emergency, a whistle to let people know where you are in snow or if visibility is poor, and a water bottle or a thermos flask for hot drinks. Don’t forget to put a bar of chocolate The backpack or a snack in your backpack to keep up your calorie intake; a combination of the cold and exercise can cause your blood sugar and energy levels to drop during the journey. The cold and air at altitude can make your eyes red and irritated so it’s a good idea to keep some eye drops in your bag just in case as these will provide immediate relief.