Dog sledding in Norway: Mush your own husky team

by Norway

When in Norway, do as the Norwegians do: Go dog sledding! But forget all of those ride-along experiences if you want a little adventure with your dog sledding in Norway. You really can mush your own team of huskies through a snow-covered forest.
Alaskan Husky Tours dog sledding in Norway

Ketil showing us how it is really done when driving a dog sled.

We had the opportunity to do just that, having the golden chance to be taken out by four-time Iditarod competitor Ketil Reitan and his Alaskan Husky Tours when we stopped into to the mining village of Roros. Normally, Roros is an area with very cold and stable winters, but the winter of 2014 was a little late arriving. Our timing, however, was excellent for dog sledding in Norway: Ketil told us the snow had just started falling! Our sledding experience with him in late November was to be the first time he and his dogs had gone out on snow with sleds rather than on training carts with wheels. That made it an extra special experience.

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Jump on, and let’s go dog sledding!

Dog sledding in Norway with Ulu.

Ulu awaiting someone, anyone, to show up with a harness and an offer to go dog sledding.

We think Ketil (and his dogs, including Nanok, Nara, Mira and Baldo, among others from his pack of 45 or so) were just as thrilled as we were with the big soft flakes and the white layer on the ground.

Dog sledding in Norway Michael harnesses a dog

Michael learning about harnesses.

Now this is not a dog sledding experience like you may have if you were somewhere in the United States where liability and lawyers and lawsuits are in everybody’s thoughts: Ketil picked us up in Roros at our inn, then we drove out a half-hour or so to his kennel and home. There were no contracts or liability waivers or medical clearances. You suited up. You worked with him in harnessing the dogs (stepping in a bit of poop here and there). He basically said something like, ok, stand on the runners this way,… here is the brake,… lean this way if you want to go that way,… lean the other way if you want to go that way,… let’s go!

Showing off dog sledding in Norway

Michael had tried dog sledding before (at an Iditarod race a number of years ago as a journalist), but this was my first time. Certainly, I’m ready for the next adventure wherever that takes me, but suddenly zooming out of the kennel being pulled by dogs who were on the snow for the first time (i.e. jumping out of their skins) was quite the dog sledding experience in Norway!!! (We are of course convinced Ketil is subtly sizing you up while talking to you to determine how much you can do and adjusting dogs, sleds and your dog sledding experience based on that assessment.)

Dog sledding in Norway with Therese mushing her own sled.

Therese mushing her team over a snow-covered bridge.

“I like to show my favorite sport to people from all over the world,” Reitan told HI Travel Tales. “People are always very happy. Many people say this is the best thing they’ve ever done in their life.

“Some people come and are afraid of dogs,” he said, “and after awhile they are not. It’s nice that you can do something to change people too.”

Combo mush and ride during dog sledding in Norway

Ketil mushed one team, and Michael and I took turns mushing the other team, with the non-musher trading out for the passenger seat on Ketil’s sled. Can I say exhilarating??? (Although I’m not sure the dogs thought so since they kept looking over their shoulders, with this doggie grimace, like, what the h— are you doing?!?!?)

Dog sledding in Norway mushing with Michael

Michael having the time of his life flying along behind an eager team of huskies.

Alaskan Husky Tours offers half-day and full-day trips with some guests just coming in for the day from Trondheim, Reitan told us, since that city is only two hours north. The company also offers other adventures for groups, such as skiing, snowshoeing and outdoor meals, with kennel visits and training cart rides in the summer. Oh, don’t forget the puppy hugging. That’s available all year.

Even though you can go dog sledding as a day trip from Trondheim, we do recommend a real stay in Roros, however, since it’s a quaint little UNESCO World Heritage Site. Do check in with the Roros visitor office if you have any questions, since the group there is wonderful too! And read our story on Roros here.

HITT Update: In 2015, Reitan moved back to Alaska, where he had lived for seven years previously, to run his company offering guided polar bear tours. Alaskan Husky Tours is still operating, but no longer has a website and is being run by his associate, Markus Ingebretsen. His email is [email protected] Phone for the company is +47 942 81 212. Though we have not personally experienced a trip with this company, Husky Point Roros also offers guided dog sled adventures.

To see more of our adventure with Alaskan Husky Tours and to learn more about what mushing your own team will be like, enjoy this short video:

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There are so many things to do besides dog sledding in Norway!

Nearby Roros, where we went dog sledding, is just one of the picturesque places in Norway. Trondheim, Alesund, Bergen, and Kirkenes will each offer their own unique adventures. Be sure to read Eight reasons to visit Trondheim, Beautiful Alesund inspires artists and photographers, Kirkenes Travel Tips: An Arctic frontier at road’s end, and Bergen travel essentials – what to do in Bergen.

If you are looking for a different kind of adventure than dog sledding, then perhaps exploring the coast of Norway is something that intrigues? Then be sure to read our entire Hurtigruten cruise advice series: Hurtigruten Cruises: Travel booking tipsPlanning Your Hurtigruten Cruise Excursions; Hurtigruten Cabins: Differences, Details; Food and Drink on Hurtigruten Cruises in Norway;and Hurtigruten Video Tour – Planning Your Next Trip.

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Heads up! This information on dog sledding in Norway was accurate when we published it on HI Travel Tales, but, as we know, traveling is all about changes (and inflation, sadly). It is your sole responsibility to confirm prices, transportation schedules, hours of operation, safety and health considerations, and any other important details before your adventure.

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Therese Iknoian

Co-Conspirator at HI Travel Tales
Little did her parents know that a short trip to Europe in high school would launch a lifetime love of travel, languages and cultures. Trained as a news journalist, Therese Iknoian now focuses her writing and photography talents on travel. Fluent in German, Therese also runs a translation business (ThereseTranslates.com) working primarily with companies in the outdoor/sports/retail industry. She's a French speaker, and loves to learn a bit of the language wherever she goes -- gdje je kupaonica? Мне нужна помощь! -- often embarrassing herself in the quest for cross-cultural communication. Therese is an award-winning member of the North American Travel Journalists Association.
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