Thrill of the unknown
If you’re going to drive a dog team in Tana, you’ll have to let go of your inner control freak. Dag Broch of Tana Husky, one of Norway’s best dog team drivers, likes to choose the route according to where it’s best to drive on the day. That way, you get the most exciting drive, and his dogs get to experience something new. Join Dag for a 4-day mystery tour in the mountains of Finnmark.
Dag moves in mysterious ways
The trail is created as Dag drives. If the snow clouds lie heavy to the north towards Austhavet, he turns south; if the land winds bite his cheeks, he heads north. Familiar with the area as he is, he creates a unique route for every trip, making it as much of an experience as possible for his guests. The dogs also like this; new experiences make a dog’s life more interesting.
Gamme, tent or cabin
Since the route is never known beforehand, there are several accommodation alternatives. In the Tana mountains there are many open gamme (Sami turf huts), as well as large, multiple occupancy tents. If temperatures really plummet, Dag takes guests to stay in a more conventional timber cabin. You shouldn’t expect a minibar or satellite TV, but good, warm and cosy it definitely will be!
You look after the dogs
At Tana Husky, the guests do the work. They harness the dogs, hitch them up to the sled, unharness them, cook their food and feed them, and give them plenty of loving care. The dogs are Alaska huskies, which are small, strong and fast competitive dogs. They are extremely affectionate, and quickly become attached to people, so that when it’s time to say goodbye guests are often in tears…
I look after you
Dag, on the other hand, looks after the guests. He guides you through the terrain, finds the overnight accommodation, organises beds and clothing and does the cooking. Lunch is a traditional Norwegian packed lunch. Dinner, however, is a good, hearty, typical Sami meal. On the last night in the mountains, Dag cooks reindeer meat, with delicious reindeer broth and marrowbone. On a winter’s night in the mountains, salad and croutons don’t do the job!
Be a musher
On the first morning, Dag instructs the guests in the art of dog driving, everything from harnessing the animals to showing how the dogfood cooker works. The actual driving is not usually a problem; anyone who’s skied learns the technique immediately. Even guests with no skiing experience can do it, provided they are good walkers. Should that prove difficult, it’s just as easy to sit.
The climate in the Tanadalen valley is stable, with little wind and precipitation. Extreme cold can, however, occur, right down to -40°C (-40°F) on some days. If you’re properly dressed for the conditions, you won’t be cold, but for the dogs’ sake shorter trips are advisable. Very low temperatures are not all that common in winter; they are generally between -5°C (23°F) and -25°C (-13°F).
If you decide to make the trip in the polar night of winter, you will have the very best chance of seeing the Northern Lights. In the mountains of eastern Finnmark there are few artificial sources of light, and the climate is dry and stable. This means that you can have many hours under the open sky to see the Northern Lights. Dag points out, however, that there is in fact a great deal of wonderful light in the winter; both the fantastic sunset colours in the middle of the day during the very darkest period, the magical blue light of early afternoon, and the sharp April light when the sun has returned.
At the end of the season, when the snow starts thawing in the lower-lying areas, Dag moves his entire activity to higher ground, where there is still snow and where the conditions are excellent and enable fast-paced travel with the dog team. The tour destinations then include Kjølnes lighthouse at Berlevåg and the highest point on the Varanger peninsula, the 728 metre (2,388 ft) Mount Stangnestinden. And if you come around 17 May, Norway’s Constitution Day, you can drive a dogsled in the Midnight Sun.
There at last
On the evening of the fourth day, when the dogs have been fed and bedded down, Dag and the guests check in to Ester Utsi’s comfortable Sami turf huts. Here they take a sauna, before enjoying a delicious, three-course dinner – rich reward for the effort of driving a dog team for four days.
Dag Broch is among the top 20 dog team drivers in Norway. He takes part in the annual Femundsløpet race and also in that great test of manhood, the Finnmarksløpet race. He lives all year round with his 15 huskies in addition to holding down a regular job. And be warned, Dag also plays the guitar and usually takes it with him in the mountains, so you’re likely to be treated to a few songs by the camp fire...
www.tanahusky.no has all the details!