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.
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.
Jump on, and let’s 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.
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.)
“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?!?!?)
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.
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: