Following on from the my last post Visit the Real Santa in Lapland! Whilst at Saariselkä, we made use of the amazing Toboggan Run which is situated on a mountain (Fell/Fjell) that is also used as a ski run. We borrowed sledges from our hotel reception, free of charge, for a deposit of 2€ each. The run just 100 meters from the hotel, and is the longest toboggan run in Northern Europe at 1,200m long and a vertical drop of 130m! It took me FORTY-FIVE minutes to walk up to the top, and felt very deceiving as I kept thinking I was at the top only to realise I had ‘another section’ in view as I’d reach a false summit. It was definitely NOT something my 6 year old would have managed. It is a long way to walk all the way to the top so getting the bus to the top of the fell is a good idea if you are travelling with children.
We had hoped to catch a glimpse of the Northern Lights when we went, and this was one of our motives for selecting Saariselska when we decided to visit Santa in Finland, as it’s considerably further North than Katitla. However, being a mountainous region, there is a micro-climate that often makes conditions difficult to view the lights as it gets very cloudy (you need clear skies to see the Aurora). When conditions are right, this is apparently a spectacular place to view them. The peak of the Fell is also meant to be the best place to view the Northern Lights if you do plan to try and spot them… Though the weather conditions weren’t right when we went. Apparently the best time to see them in Saariselska is February/March time, and between 11pm-2pm is the ideal viewing time.
Having walked 45 minutes to the top of the Toboggan run, it took me a good 5-6 minutes to toboggan down (granted I wont be breaking any records with that time). This is the video of my run (I only did it once).
This kid does it in just over half the time I did it in!
The fastest part of the slope is the bottom section which you’ll find easy enough to walk up, though it gets packed at the bottom, and navigation is hindered by masses of people in the way-imagine a game of human bowling, with people as pins and the sledge as your ball, and you have a good idea of what the bottom of the run is like. Getting further up the slope is advisable, even with children. The section just above the area where most people run is probably the best part of the run.
How to Steer a Toboggan:
DO NOT LEAN – I was pretty useless at steering a toboggan initially, and thought I was supposed to hold the string and lean my bodyweight to one side if I wanted to turn that way. This resulted in lots of screaming and scary moments where I thought I would wipe out the other people on the run, and a few well deserved sarcastic comments from people advising me to get LEARNER PLATES
My partner, who had clearly had lots more practice than me, and is annoyingly good at everything he does quickly taught me that this is how you steer and control a toboggan:
Sit in the toboggan with your legs out at the front, lay back and hold the straps
NB – Expect some snow spray to catch you in the face. The wider your legs are-the less you will catch (but the less dignified you will look)
Tips if you are planning a visit:
- In order to reach the summit, you can either catch a bus from the town, or walk.
- The summit of the toboggan run starts at the same place as the ski lift, but since the bottom of the ski lift is about 10 minutes walk from the bottom of the toboggan run it’s not ideal to use the lift, as it’s not a cheap option either.
- There are plenty of sledges at the bottom of the slope, you just help yourselves (no hire charge, though you can expect many of these to be split or broken). If you’re going to the top of the run-take your own sledges, as it’s unlikely there will be any spares up there.
- There is a cafe at the top of the run if you want refreshments up there.
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