When travelling to Nordic Lapland, the assistance of a tour guide is often the best way to enjoy the wild beauty of the landscape and the adventures it has to offer – and Xwander is the ideal company to sort such a thing out. Since 2001, Xwander has created and delivered great outdoor experiences in Finland and Norway that give visitors an authentic taste of the region and make it accessible to all.

Xwander began as a business offering adventure group travel. Its founder Joni Kautto was born in Ivalo, Finland and had always been an enthusiastic outdoorsman. Growing up, he spent countless days hiking, fishing, skiing or snowmobiling. His grandfather had been a border guard in the Finnish army, specialised in Arctic training, and was a huge influence on Kautto. As Xwander grew, its focus shifted to creating rewarding travel experiences in Scandinavia and Lapland.

Xwander: planning adventures for all in Lapland

Xwander’s primary goal is to offer premium outdoor services, tailored to customers’ hopes and needs. Xwander employs a Lapland travel concierge who works with visitors to design a trip that delivers what they want. On staff they also have a fixer who makes the impossible possible for special events. Recently, they worked to find a crew for a big-budget TV series filming in Lapland. and successfully met the needs of the project in less than a month.

Besides these special roles, Xwander employs a team of dedicated professionals to support a variety of groups, including those with special needs. They are all highly-trained in safety, first aid and wilderness guidance. The main tourist package is the one-week Best of Lapland tour that includes the most important Lappish experiences.

Xwander: planning adventures for all in Lapland

Lapland’s eight-season year

Kautto feels Lapland has four distinct seasons with an additional four ‘half seasons’ that visitors can enjoy. “We have a frosty winter, snowdrift spring, icy spring, nights without dark in the summer, harvest in autumn, fall colours in late autumn, first snow and Christmas time,” he says. “The seasonality brings great richness to travels in Lapland. Many of our guests come back again and again to experience the variety that each season offers.”

Kautto feels the other thing drawing travellers to Lapland is the singularity of the environment. “Our backyard and playground is the largest wilderness area in western Europe. In Finland, 70 per cent of the land is covered by trees – more than any other European country. It’s a given that many people would like to experience this type of natural environment,” he says. Xwander’s clients come from all around the world. For the last few years, central Europe was its largest market, but with the pandemic receding, the number of travellers from the US, Australia and Asia are growing again.

Xwander: planning adventures for all in Lapland

Sustainability is a priority

Sustainability is at the core of operations at Xwander and an integral part of planning all their activities. Xwander focuses on working with small groups, utilising local resources and cooperating with regional partners. They offset carbon footprinting and are involved with several high-quality carbon projects. Xwander was one of the first companies in the area to take part in the Sustainable Travel Finland programme and the Biosphere Sustainable project. At the moment, Xwander is working to achieve a Travel Life Sustainability Certification.

For the future, Xwander plans to expand its trips to make the most of the eight seasons in Lapland, and intend to continue making Lapland accessible for all, regardless of ability or needs. “We help many people with additional needs to experience the region, from couples to families and groups. These days, there are lots of options that make our destinations accessible,” Kautto says. “We also offer a range of courses, including first aid, mountain biking and ice safety, so that people can begin new outdoor hobbies with knowledge and confidence.”

Xwander: planning adventures for all in Lapland

Web: www.xwander.fi
Instagram: @xwandernordic

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