Increasingly, people are choosing new ways to explore nature as an antidote to busy lives. Husky-sledding through breathtaking snowy forests, mountains and plains is one such antidote. Simply enjoying the moment alongside these dogs in their beautiful natural habitat is one of Lapland’s most quintessential travel experiences.

Bernhard Klammer is CEO of Äkäskero Nature Resort Cabins & Sleddogcenter by the Pallas-Ylläs National Park in Finnish Lapland. With a background in sled dog racing, he moved to Lapland from Austria in 1991, and started the business in 1993. “At the time it was pretty much unknown,” he explains.

His passion for dogs and the unspoiled nature of Lapland has helped his business to grow into the biggest of its kind in the world. With over 400 dogs, the centre arranges active holidays for dog lovers, such as husky-led snow safaris. During the winter you can go dog sledding in the wild on trips lasting anwhere from one day to two weeks, and there are other activities on offer such as snowmobiles, snowshoeing, cross-country skiing and reindeer spotting. In the summer months the nature park is ideal for hiking, canoeing, mountain biking, fishing and foraging. Depending on the time of year, the daylight and the weather, it is a wholly different experience.

Äkäskero: A Lappish adventure holiday for dog lovers

Active holidays for adventurous souls

Active nature holidays are growing in popularity as travelers seek alternatives to mass tourism destinations. Lapland’s unique culture and nature make it the perfect choice for a different kind of outdoor adventure. “You don’t have to stand still to switch off from everyday problems,” Bernhard says. Guests are typically people who like active holidays and who are willing to work hard. “It can be tough when the weather turns,” he expands.

It may not be a holiday for the faint-hearted, but for those who like to recharge with active adventures in nature, it’s perfect. “Being in nature and focusing on the dogs and the sled takes your mind off things. And it gives you a deep sense of peace just watching the huskies sprint,” he says. A week is an ideal trip length, as it takes time to relax and get to know the dogs. On arrival, there is time to settle in and spend time with the dogs, before beginning a four or five-day sled tour, sleeping in basic cabins along the way. Afterwards, you can spend a couple of days in the husky village winding down with the dogs and enjoying nature.

Animal welfare at the core

“We keep the old dogs and take good care of them,” Bernhard says. They have 90 retired dogs which visitors can take for walks in the forest and they place huge emphasis on animal welfare. “You have a commitment to each animal. Our customers are dog lovers, and they return time and again,” he says. From the very beginning, his vision was to build a place where his dogs could work and live happily, lead active lives and remain when they retire.

Äkäskero: A Lappish adventure holiday for dog lovers

Take only pictures, leave only paw prints

Äkäskero’s respect for Lapland’s unspoiled wildlife and nature is summed up in its slogan: Take only pictures, leave only paw prints. The business is fully committed to protecting the pristine nature in the Pallas-Ylläs National Park, and takes action to preserve both what Lapland was and what it is today.

The Äkäskero cabins have not been modernised, so as to remain a natural part of the landscape. “Two generations back, this was normal life; very simple but normal,” Bernhard says. “You might have had a gas-cooker in your primitive cabin or a light, but that was all,” he continues. Simple, peaceful, quiet: these are important aspects of the Äkäskero spirit.

What the future holds

Bernhard has many plans for the future, with the focus firmly on the welfare of the dogs and the purity of the experiences they arrange. “Our company is built around the dogs, and I might not be getting rich, but I trust in my kind of life,” he explains.

First on the agenda is to improve the dog yards in the husky village, to invest in the dogs and their welfare. Then he plans to improve the wilderness cabins, making them more luxurious like the cabins in the husky village, while maintaining a rustic and genuine feel, and continuing to offer adventures to even more people all over the world each year.

Äkäskero: A Lappish adventure holiday for dog lovers

Instagram: @akaskero.sleddogcenter
Facebook: Äkäskero Sleddogcenter

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