Tracks and Trails / Cross Country Skiing / Nordic Countries: Finland, Sweden, Norway / NEW: Ski the Finnish Russian Frontier

NEW: Ski the Finnish Russian Frontier

Aurora Borealis

Northern Lights

A unique ski journey along the frontier between Finland and Russia. This guided hut to hut tour follows the Eastern Border winter trail taking you through pristine wilderness areas. If you have a sense of adventure and would like to experience the joy of skiing through a beautiful winter landscape where few others go then this is the trip for you. If you are fortunate you may even witness the Northern Lights dancing across the night sky!

  • Epic journey on a remote frontier
  • Ski tracks prepared just for you
  • Cosy log cabins in the wilderness
  • Saunas in the woods
  • Local expert ski guides
  • Learn about reindeer herding
  • Chance to see The Northern Lights

 

Departures

Trip Departure date End date Price Status
FRF1 Sun 18 February 18 Sat 24 February 18 £1295 Trip Closed
FRF2 Sat 10 March 18 Fri 16 March 18 £1295 Trip Closed
FRF3 Sun 25 March 18 Sat 31 March 18 £1295 Trip Guaranteed | Make a Booking

Introduction

This is a new trip for Tracks and Trails in winter 2018. We have teamed up with excellent Finnish ski guides to take you on an incredible journey through the winter landscape. A wonderful opportunity to learn about the culture and people of this Russian Finnish frontier area. From December to April the area is deep in snow, offering a long season of winter ski tours. Don't be worried that it will be too cold, even if the it drops to -25 degrees Celsius the dry continental climate doesn't pose a problem. Throughout our ski trip we stay in comfortable wilderness cabins and guest houses, with saunas available every night except one.

Ski Conditions

We go at the time of year when the snow is at it's best, which is from mid-February onwards. Each day we ski between 17 - 25 km which with breaks for snacks and rests takes around 5-7 hours. For this trip you need previous cross country ski experience and you a good fitness. Each morning our snowmobile will forge ahead of the skiers and create a fresh ski track which we follow throughout the day. This trip is done on 'classic' cross country skis which can be waxable or 'fishscale'. You can expect to be skiing with guests from various countries, but the group will be guided in English. Our guides are Finnish and hugely knowledgeable about the country and very experienced in ski guiding.

Trip Level 

This trip is suitable for those with previous cross country ski experience and a good level of fitness. However, the terrain is mostly gently rolling and therefore there are no steep technical descent or ascents. It means the trip is ideal for 'advanced beginners', or 'early intermediate' skiers. In other words you should be able to maintain a good 'kick and glide' and have reasonable control of speed when required. This does not exclude 'advanced' skiers from joining or enjoying the trip!

Itinerary

We always aim to complete the itinerary as outlined below. However it will be followed only when conditions and weather make it appropriate, both in terms of safety and enjoyment. Your guide will make a decision on your route based on those conditions.

Due to restricted availability in Martinselkonen Wilderness Centre there are some changes to the accommodation for the 10th March departure as detailed in the itinerary. The accommodation list for this departure be as follows: Days 1 and 2: Jatkonsalmi cabin Day 3: Rajakartano Day 4: Kovavaara Days 5 and 6: Arola. Skiing: On day 2 a day tour (20 km) will be skied in Hossa and on day 6 in Martinselkonen nature reserve (20 km).

Day 1 Arrival

Today you begin your journey in Finland with your arrival at Kuusamo airport. Kuusamo is a major center for winter sports with around a million tourists every year. One of the largest ski resorts in Finland, Ruka, is situated in Kuusamo. Ruka is also the host of many international competitions in ski jumping, cross country skiing and Nordic combined. The 2005 World Championships of Freestyle Skiing was held in Kuusamo. The airport is just 6 km's north-east from Kuusamo town centre. Your guide will meet you at the airport and you will then take a transfer of 1 hour to Hossa. The Hossa National Park was established in 2017 as the 40th national park in Finland with the aim of marking 100 years of independence.The village is a popular outdoor tourist destination and is known for the oldest rock paintings in Northern Finland, dating back to 1500-2500 BC. The name "Hossa" originates from the old Sami word Huossa meaning "a place far away". Tonight we stay in a traditional log cabin in Jatkonsalmi on the shore of Lake Jatkonjärvi complete with a sauna. For our 10th March departure night one and two is spent at Jatkonsalmi.

Day 2 Ski to Rajakartano 17 km

After breakfast we start our ski week on the well-prepared tracks of Hossa Hiking Area. Here the landscape is dominated by handsome pine heathlands, ridgelines, small lakes and streams. We will have lunch at the Hossa Visitor Centre, where we can also take a look at the exhibition on Finland's newest National Park. In the afternoon we can relax in a traditional Finnish sauna and the more adventurous among us can even try ice swimming! At night we will visit a local reindeer farm where we will enjoy a delicious dinner and of course, learn about reindeer herding. Our accommodation tonight will be at Rajakartano a former frontier guard station. Showers and sauna are available.

Day 3 Rajakartano to Kovavaara 25 km

We have our longest skiing day today and it all begins on the tracks of Hossa, before following the border guard’s trail towards the south. We will cross many small marshlands and ski through some ancient forests. Slightly before the midway point, at Vieremäjärvi, we can have a rest and enjoy a picnic lunch around an open fire. Hot coffee and soup will be prepared and served with sandwiches. Accommodation for the next night will be in a rustic old house on the top of the hill Kovavaara. The house is very simple, and accommodation will be between the main building and two smaller log cabins. There is a sauna to relax the muscles after your ski day, but no shower. Even if the temperartures are cold the house has a wood burning stove which makes it very cosy. Even if Kovavaara doesn’t have modern comforts our guests usually say it is one of the highlights of the tour. For our 10th March departure night three will be spent at Rajakartano.

Day 4 Kovavaara to Arola 19 km

This morning we begin a journey along the Russian border zone. We will follow the border zone markers, which are coloured yellow, and these will be our guides for the whole day. On several occassions today we have a view into Russia. In the afternoon we will arrive at Arola situated just a stone’s throw from the Russian border. Arola is famous for delicious food made by our hostess Helena out of local ingredients. The farmhouse, which was built in 1936, also has an interesting history. At that time the owner, Lempi, towed her children on a sledge for over 10km to escape from Russian soldiers invading Finland. She was able tro warm the villages in the area of the danger and the villages were evacuated. All this and more to be learned over a cosy dinner in a traditional log house. For our 10th March departure night four will be spent at Kovavaara.

Day 5 Arola to Martinselkonen Wilderness Centre 22 km

Today's route passes through the Martinselkonen nature reserve through open marsh and spruce forests following the paths of reindeer herds. We will have a picnic lunch at one of the wilderness huts operated by the Finnish Forest and Park Service. Martinselkosen is a wildlife centre in the midst of the great Kainuu wilderness. The area around Martinselkonenis rich in wildlife and famous for brown bears, moose, wolverine, and capercaillies. Don't worry the bears are hibernating in winter! The accommodation for the last two nights will be at Martinselkonen Wilderness Centre, another former border guard station renovated into a modern guest house. For our 10th March departure night four and five will be spent at Arola.

Day 6 Day tour from Martinselkonen 17 km

On the last skiing day we will make a day tour in Martinselkonen nature reserve. We will ski across the winter landscape, over frozen lakes and swamps and through forests covered in a thick white blanket. In the evening there is the last opportunity to have a sauna and after that, the well-deserved farewell dinner will be enjoyed.

Day 7 Return

Breakfast and transport to Kuusamo airport. The details of which airport is most convenient for your return journey are yet to be finalised. Please contact us to confirm arrangements before you book any flights.

Price

Included: The price includes full-board accommodation for 6 nights, based on accommodation in rooms for between 2 - 4 people. On days 5 and 6 some rooms with private facilities may be available. Transport from and to the airport. Services of a English speaking local expert ski guide. Services of a skidoo driver who will transport the luggage every day. Sauna's every night except the arrival night. Bed linen supplied.

Not included: Insurance, flights and transfers, extra snacks and drinks, ski hire 60 Euros for the trip. Height, weight and shoe size to be supplied at the time of booking.

Accommodation

On this hut to hut ski tour we stay in comfortable wilderness log cabins and guest houses. All the accommodation except Kovavaara has electricity. All the accommodation except on your arrival night will have a sauna to ease those muscles! The accommodation is mostly in twin and triple rooms, but in some (few) cases quadruple/mixed sex rooms may be used too. If the group size is small, single rooms may be available on some nights but they cannot be booked in advance.

Getting there

The meeting point for this trip is Kuusamo airport in Finland. Transfers from the airport to the first accommodation, and from the last accommodation back to Kuusamo airport are included in the tour price. Transfers are organized to coincide with the following Finnair flights. Other airlines such as Lufthansa also do regular flights from to Helsinki the Finnish capital where you will change to the local flight to Kuusamo.

The times below are for Finnair, please check the flight details with the airline to ensure they are correct at the time of booking:

Arrival: Sunday 25 February, Sunday 25 March - HEL-KAO AY487 1550hrs - 1705 hrs

Arrival: Saturday 10 March HEL-KAO AY487 1550hrs - 1705 hrs or HEL–KAO AY487 19.10–20.25

Return: Saturday 3 March, Friday 16 March, Saturday 31 March - KAO-HEL AY486 1335 hrs - 1445 hrs

Please note that we provide only one airport transfer for each group on arrival and departure (unless otherwise indicated). Before making any flight reservations we advise you to check with us your intended airports and transfer schedules. Due to the remote location and long distances, private transfers are very difficult and expensive to arrange. If you arrive/depart on flights that do not coincide with these single timed group airport transfers, you should wait at the airport or in the town.

NB: It is also possible to book extra nights, and take time to explore Helsinki, if the flight schedule dictates it and for any arrivals with a few hours spare before the transfer then we suggest time at the local spa hotel in Kuusamo.

Arrival by train and bus

It is possible to take a train from Helsinki to Oulu, and then a bus from Oulu to Kuusamo. Schedules and prices for trains at www.vr.fi and for buses at www.matkahuolto.fi Please note that the price of the train ticket depends on the date of purchase.

Ski Rental

The total ski hire for the weekend is expected to be 60 Euros for 5 days. These are lightweight classic track skis, non-metal edged.

To ensure we get the correct sizes equipment hire is arranged in advance. Please make note of your equipment hire on our booking form. We will need to know your height, weight, normal shoe size (you must give us your everyday shoe size and not your personal adjustment for wearing boots) and the measurement of your height up to your armpits (for ski pole hire). The skis we use are “normal” cross-country skis for classical style and the width is usually 44 mm. They are not 'metal-edged' as these are heavier than required for this trip. Rental skis can be waxable or non-waxable. Glide and grip waxes, wax removal liquid and other material needed for waxing (eg. iron for applying glide wax and a heat gun for wax removing) are provided. A waxing bench will be available too. Please note that you are not permitted to take wax removal liquid in the airplane.

All the rental skis are with Salomon SNS bindings. If you prefer to bring your own shoes and rent just skis and poles that is possible. Please make sure that your boots are compatible with SNS bindings.

Minimum Numbers

This trip requires a minimum of 4 clients to book before it can be guaranteed to run and we take a maximum of 12 clients. This is slightly more than our normal group sizes of 8/9 and is due to the easy nature of the terrain and the highly experienced local Finnish guides who are used to working with this number. It makes for a sociable trip!

Our Partners

As our niche trips such as our Ski the Finnish Russian Frontier, are of a specialised nature we work with our partner companies to attract sufficient clients to reach the minimum number of participants to allow these trips to go ahead, meaning you are more likely to have your chosen holiday 'guaranteed'. Tracks and Trails in these instances may, in collaborating with our associates, make use of their guiding services. If you have any queries with regard to this please contact us.

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