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6 days - Stay at the Ranua Wildlife park, near Rovaniemi and visit Santa's secret hideout
Celebrating Christmas in Lapland is a wonderfully magical experience – with the snow topped landscapes outside, and cosy fires indoors. This Christmas tour is based in a small town outside Rovaniemi and introduces you to the incredible animals of the Arctic. Based within the wildlife park complex, you will meet and feed the polar bears as well as enjoy endless visits into the zoo.
- Action-packed Christmas holiday with the opportunity to enjoy traditional husky sledding, search for the Northern Lights and visit Rovaniemi
- Visit Santa Claus in his secret forest hideout
- Stay within the amazing Ranua Wildlife Park and meet the creatures of the Arctic. Using modern & expertly crafted enclosures, see animals such as polar bears, moose, golden eagles, Arctic foxes, otter, lynx, elk and deer in the snow setting. Grab a sled for quick & fun travel around the zoo.
- Relax in contemporary style log cabins, suitable for families and groups
- Day 1
- 23 Dec: Transfer from Rovaniemi to your apartment
- Day 2
- 24 Dec: Head out for an escorted Wildlife park tour on polar bear feeding duties
- Day 3
- 25 Dec: Ice fishing safari on snowmobiles & guided zoo visit
- Day 4
- 26 Dec: Day tour to Rovaniemi
- Day 5
- 27 Dec: Reindeer Safari & the Search for the Northern Lights snowmobile tour
- Day 6
- 28 Dec: Transfer to Rovaniemi Airport
- Start/End Place
- Rovaniemi, Scandinavia
- Countries Visited
- 6 Days
- Easy Christmas tour - suits families with children of all ages.
Return transfers from Rovaniemi airport (for scheduled flights).
- 5 nights in a self-contained apartment
- Full board incl. Christmas Eve gala dinner
- Airport transfers from/to Rovaniemi Airport on days 1 and 6 (for scheduled flights).
- All activities listed in the itinerary: Aurora Borealis Snowmobile Safari, Date with a polar bear within Ranau Arctic Wildlife park, Rovaniemi day trip, Reindeer Safari, Ice fishing on snowmobiles, Guided Zoo tour, Husky Safari, Visit to Santa Claus secret hideout and a search for a Christmas tree.
- Thermal clothing for the whole stay - thermal winter suit, winter boots, woolen socks, inner and outer gloves, winter hat and balaclava.
- Entrance fee and sled use at the Ranua Arctic Wildlife Park.
- 24-hour emergency service
- Taxes and service fees
- Domestic flights
- International flight tickets, meals other than described, alcoholic beverages and soft drinks, travel insurance, visas, gratuities and any items of personal nature.
Day 1 - 23 Dec: Transfer from Rovaniemi to your apartment
Arrival at Rovaniemi airport and transfer to your hotel (approx. 1 hour). Families will enjoy the private self-catering apartments, sleeps 6 (4 adults and 2 children) newly built in 2012. With your own sauna, lounge with log fire and kitchen in these semi-detached wooden houses, you have a great spot to relax with your family.
Upon arrival at the hotel you will be shown your accommodation and hotel services.
In the backwoods of Ranua, close to the Ranua Wildlife Park, you have the chance to visit Santa in his very, very secret place, his Hideout Cabin in the wilderness. At the reception, your family will meet your guide who drives you and your family through the dark, snowy forest towards Santa’s secret place. Within merely a 10 minute ride, you will see a tiny light flickering from far away. The guide stops driving in order to discuss what the light might mean, what it could be – in the middle of the mysterious dusk and darkness of just snow-covered trees all around. In a short moment the ride continues, ever towards the light. As you come closer and closer, you will see a tiny wooden cabin appearing in the shimmering darkness, with candle lights flickering in the windows, smoke rising up from the chimney.
You stop here; at this point the children might go and peek through the windows to try and see who on earth could be staying in a sweet little cabin like this. The children, ever more curious of the sights they might have seen, courageously knock on the door. And who comes to open the door – but Santa himself, welcoming the family to step inside and stay awhile in the comforts of his cabin adorned with a fireplace, with handmade wooden sculptures and handicrafts all around, red blankets on the bed, his books and pens on the table.
Santa explains that this is the place where he likes to come before all the Christmas work and hassle, to stay and relax, to enjoy the quiet of the woods and the nature around; where he comes after all the joy and delight of the Christmas festivities. Santa continues explaining that he remembers the names of the children; that he knew they had arrived to Ranua and was expecting the family to perhaps even visit him, as many families, having gotten a little hint of a secret place in the woods, do visit him. And Santa takes his scrapbook to read aloud who has visited him lately. Santa has plenty fun little stories to tell, and with the children he also discusses about the school, the family, and the manners of the children; if they have behaved well, what they have learnt, during the past year. Santa also listens to the children’s questions, and answers them in his utterly unique, and always supportive, positive manner. The visit takes about 20 minutes and after the fare-wells the guide drives the family back to the Holiday Village. The total program takes about 45 minutes.
Following this, you will enjoy your first taste of delicious Finnish food as you enjoy dinner with the group who will be sharing your upcoming Christmas adventure in the main hotel dining room.
AccommodationGulo Gulo Apartments
Day 2 - 24 Dec: Head out for an escorted Wildlife park tour on polar bear feeding duties
This morning, it’s time to familiarise yourself with the polar bears of the Ranua Zoo. Meet your guide at the reception, and head to the polar bears' fence. Prepare to look into the polar bear’s eyes by going through the safety instructions with the guide. You will not be allowed to go into the polar bear area, but you will have the chance to greet this largest predator in the world safely from the other side of the fence, just a couple of metres away. During this experience the zoo keeper will provide you with interesting information on the White King of the Arctic – and the Wildlife Park.
Next, you will head out into the surrounding forested wilderness in search of the perfect tree. Adults will travel via snowmobile (2 people per snowmobile) whilst the children will sit in a sled pulled by the guides snowmobile. This is a thrilling way to travel across the snow topped scenery and allows you to see more of the stunning landscape as it moves past you.
Christmas isn't the same without the ideal Christmas tree and the children will no doubt want to get stuck into this important challenge as you look around the forest. There will be opportunity to enjoy hot drinks and biscuits by the fire too as a reward for all of your hard work.
This afternoon, get set for a Husky Safari. You will first receive detailed information on steering the sled. Then, the comfortable sleds head from Gulo Gulo into the winter wonderland. A sled can transport two adults and a child. You have the opportunity to steer your own sled, and change drivers with the other adult in the sled halfway. After the safari, you have a chance to ask our guides anything you have always wanted to know about sled dogs, who love to run fast and pull a sled, thus offering the visitors an unforgettable experience to enjoy the ancient, natural way of travelling in the wild.
This evening is the celebratory gala dinner for everyone with a range of Finnish and international specialities and lots of Christmas festivities for everyone to enjoy.
AccommodationGulo Gulo Apartments
Day 3 - 25 Dec: Ice fishing safari on snowmobiles & guided zoo visit
After breakfast, get ready for a tour at the Wildlife Park. Accompany the Park Ranger on a tour to see all of the animals and you can even help out feeding some of the hungry critters! Which one will be your favourite? The Polar Bears, Arctic Foxes, Moose or Wolverine?
During the 2 hour tour, you will see some of the 50 different species residing in as authentic environment for the animals as possible. You can come back and visit for free whenever the park is open during your stay.
This afternoon, you will head to the lake to learn the secrets of ice fishing. Hot drinks are served during the trip, and any catch is fried on the open fire. You travel up to 5 - 10 kilometres, depending on the conditions, during this 3 hour trip with outer warm clothing provided.
AccommodationGulo Gulo Apartments
Day 4 - 26 Dec: Day tour to Rovaniemi
A minibus heads towards Rovaniemi straight after breakfast. The capital of Lapland is about one hour’s drive away. The first stop is the Santa Claus Village on the Arctic Circle where you can experience the wonders of the Christmas spirit. The highlights of the day are meeting Santa Claus and souvenir shopping from the wide range of local products from Lapland.
After lunch, we head towards Arktikum, a wonderful modern museum exhibiting the unique flora, fauna, weather and culture of the Arctic in an illustrative way. Alternatively, you can visit the city centre and see what it has to offer.
Head back to Ranua and enjoy the peace & quiet of your apartments.
AccommodationGulo Gulo Apartments
Day 5 - 27 Dec: Reindeer Safari & the Search for the Northern Lights snowmobile tour
Today, enjoy a more peaceful day with a reindeer safari. Take the time to savour the snowcovered landscape during a wonderfully peaceful 3km sleigh ride. As night falls, time to rev the engines again on the snowmobiles for a Northern Lights tour - fingers crossed, the Aurora will shine for you tonight?
Follow our guide from Gulo Gulo to the snowmobile track. The guide will teach you how to ride a snowmobile and what precautions to take. The snowmobiles have excellent headlights that guarantee good visibility, even on dark forest trails. We take a couple of short breaks on the way and enjoy a cup of hot juice by an open fire at the halfway point. If we are lucky, we will be treated with one of the most amazing natural phenomena in the world: the Northern Lights.
AccommodationGulo Gulo Apartments
Day 6 - 28 Dec: Transfer to Rovaniemi Airport
Today your adventure will draw to a close as you are transferred back to the airport after breakfast.
Price is per person. Family quad is total for 2 adults and 2 children age 4-14. Please contact us for a personalised quote for larger families.
28 Dec 2019
28 Dec 2019
Please note that polar bears are not native to Finland. Brown bears will be hibernating during Christmas.
Lapland celebrates Christmas on the 24th December there may some changes to the order of activities during the holiday. Your final itinerary will be provided to you upon arrival at Ranua. Adverse weather can also influence the order of activities.
Remember to bring a gift for Santa to deliver. Please note that included lunches in Scandinavia are often hearty soups with bread.
There are new glass igloos opening at Ranua in December 2018 - however, there is very limited availability over the Christmas period. Please ask us to explore this upgrade if you are interested.
Interactive Tour Map
Travel insurance is compulsory for all tours with 50 Degrees North. Please ensure that you have this organised as we will need to see proof of this upon issuing your tour documentation. Please contact us for a quote or visit http://www.suresave.net.au/
Practical Information for travelling and packing for Scandinavian Winter
- Warm wind and water proof jacket and trousers large enough to fit thick woollen jumper/clothing underneath
- Rain trousers – waterproof and breathable material
- Warm windproof cap/hat
- Warm gloves or mittens. Mittens where all fingers except the thumb are together are often warmer than gloves.
- Windproof gloves or mittens, which you can pull over the warm gloves
- Warm scarf
- 2 pairs of long woollen underwear (Merino wool in a few different thicknesses is perfect)
- 1-2 warm woollen jumper(s), or one jumper and a warm fleece
- Woollen or fleece trousers
- 2-3 pairs of warm woollen socks
- Warm & sturdy footwear with good grip
- Clothes for indoors, i.e. a shirt, T-shirts and jeans or cotton trousers
- Back pack for day trips (approx. 30 litre)
- Light footwear/trainers (mainly for indoors)
- Sun screen & Lip salve (the sun reflects off the snow and the air is dry)
- Hand warmers
- Nordic Grip anti-slip soles for walking on ice
- Personal medication
- Water bottle - thermo, or include a cover to keep warm (or you can stick it into a warm sock)
- Travel documents (including insurance)
- Photo ID
- Note book and pencil
- Camera, memory cards and charger
- Chargers for other gadgets
- Extra batteries for your cameras as they are used fast in cold conditions.
Travelling with young children
Here are some suggestions and tips from our staff who have kids themselves, for travelling in Scandinavia with younger children. We hope that you will find this advice helpful and be sure to ask us for more information before travelling as our staff have all grown up in Scandinavia.
In general, Scandinavia and Finland are very child-friendly destinations and if you have any special requests or questions while here, please contact the staff at your hotel immediately. Almost all restaurants can be considered child-friendly with baby chairs and sometimes also drawing utensils, books or toys, and when using public transport, Scandinavia offers some great support for families with younger children. Baby changing tables in public toilets, play equipment and play rooms at airport terminals and family wagons in trains with playing area for the little ones are common place.
When possible, we suggest arriving to Scandinavia or Finland a day or two earlier before your holiday program begins so that your younger children can adjust to the time zone. Young children arriving from the Southern Hemisphere generally wake up at around 4 - 5am for the first few mornings before they get accustomed to the new time zone. Be sure to have breakfast provisions ready for this, as it is unusual for anything to be provided from the hotel at this early hour. We suggest bringing packages of the child's favourite breakfast cereal from home plus tea bags etc. to help in those first few days. Likewise, quiet entertainment for those early hours might be a good idea as well.
Hotel rooms in Scandinavia more likely than not, only have twin beds pushed together to make a double if required. The spare children's beds are often foldout beds. Generally, it is easy to arrange at reception for the cots but be sure to ask for help if something doesn't seem right. We were provided a cot without a mattress once - very uncomfortable indeed if we hadn't chased that up!
Also, in Scandinavia it is not common practise to have tea or coffee provided in the room, and even if there is a kettle, there might be nothing else. We suggest travelling with a small supply of your own tea bags/coffee, and asking directly at reception for a kettle on arrival.
Feeding your children adequately is probably the hardest thing to do on an arranged holiday - kids are out of wack with jetlag, fussy and hungry for their own comfort food. When hotels and packages provide set times for meals and buffets, it is important to come prepared.
It is handy to take a small cooler bag already from home filled with snacks, utensils and fresh food. From the breakfast buffets it is usually acceptable to take a small amount of fresh food such as boiled eggs, rolls and fruit for morning and afternoon tea for the little ones.
We would also suggest that you give your kids a taste of what’s to come before their holiday on some foods that they are likely to get in Scandinavia. Meatballs, European flavoured sausages, soups & then treats like cinnamon buns and waffles are typical children's menu items. Cinnamon is a very common flavour used in Scandinavia and Finland.
If you are part of an arranged program, be sure to ask at reception if you need anything in particular. The hotel staff will be more than happy to warm up baby food and organise more snacks or fruit.
We recommend seeking all available information from the reception or activity provider when considering what optional activities will suit your younger children. These activities can be cold and involve a transfer a certain distance from the hotel. If you are uncertain why the activity is being run at a particular time, please ask for clarification as there is often a reason that you might be unfamiliar with. We all know as parents that children generally perform better earlier in the day than later, however, the activity providers might have a safety, logistic or climate reason for picking a certain time.
In Scandinavia, it is often left up to the parents to make decisions about age limits and suitability (unlike other regions where everything is stipulated) so be sure to ask reception or other guests who have done the activity for further advice.
We usually don't recommend winter activities, such as longer husky safaris, snowmobile safaris and late evening Aurora Hunts to children under the age 4-5. This of course depends very much on a child as every child is different, but for younger children we recommend shorter excursions as it can get very cold sitting still in a sled. Some operators also do not take children under the age of 5 on their tours, so please ask us specifically before travelling about these limitations.
This is going to make or break your holiday in Scandinavia in the winter. Be sure to refer to our comprehensive packing list provided in your pre-departure information and be on the look out for the best protection for your children in the cold. Winter is great time for kids to play outside and snow-based activities will keep the young ones entertained for hours as long as they have appropriate clothing.
Extra (non-cotton) layers that can be added or taken away when needed, heat warmers and slip on crampons for the older children are recommended. Mittens where all fingers except the thumb are together are often warmer than gloves, and extra pair of mittens will come in handy after building a snowman or two. A balaclava type of hat that covers both the neck and ears and which can also protect part of child’s face if needed, is also great under a warm and windproof beanie.
The base-layer next to skin should be either wool or synthetic blend, never cotton. With perspiration cotton turns quickly damp and then cold, no matter what other warmer clothing items are layered on top of it.
Many of the hotels and activity providers also do offer warm outer clothing for hire, but if traveling with small kids, please do check beforehand that correct sizes are available.
- Heat warmer pads for inside gloves and boots. Please note that these should not be used directly against the skin, hence for hands, you will need to use the pads in between the two pairs of gloves/mittens recommended in our packing list
- Good boots and warm woolly socks for your little ones
- Bags & suitcases that can easily be carried by one parent if the other is carrying children. Many of us use Trunkies for our travels so that our kids can sit on them, or sometimes the kids can pull the cases themselves. If your child is small enough to be carried, we highly recommend a baby or toddler carrier that leaves your hands free for handling the luggage.
- Provisions for the first day or two whether it is snacks, nappies or fruit drinks.
- Books, drawing pencils or other tranquil inside activity and your child’s favourite teddy!