The curtain poles were branches, with lengths of thin rope supporting the curtains. The kitchen shelves were made of slate, and the sink in the bathroom was a block of stone, expertly carved into a bowl – complete with gleaming tap.
A stay in a unique cabin at the Husky Lodge is an unforgettable experience – and the huskies will steal your heart. By Penny Bunting
A holiday with
“Can we get a husky puppy?” It was a question we would hear a lot during our stay at the Husky Lodge.
We were lucky enough to time our visit with four new arrivals: little black, white and tan bundles of furry mischief that were utterly adorable.
Named Cocos, Mango, Kiwi and Melon – huskies are often named as a litter, with fruits being the theme this time – the nine-week-old puppies had joined the team of 53 dogs at the Husky Lodge, and were in the early stages of their training. A key part of this is socialisation, so – much to the delight of our daughters – guests are encouraged to stop by and say hello.
Huskies are not the only attraction at the Husky Lodge though. Located in a beautiful wilderness region of northern Norway, the cabins in which guests stay are extraordinary – and staying in one is an experience in itself. These 'design cabins' are all different – but each is special in its own right.
We stayed in a large log cabin called Soarvi that sleeps up to eight people. When we first stepped through the door we were stopped in our tracks, mouths open – and it took us some time to take everything in. In fact, we were still noticing little details 24 hours later when it was time to leave.
You see, these cabins are created almost entirely from natural and sustainable materials – many found in the forest by owner and designer Sven Engholm, and then crafted into beautiful and unique furniture and decorations. With everything created from wood, slate, stone, leather and antler, there's barely a scrap of plastic in sight. And curves and natural shapes predominate too, with few hard lines or sharp corners. Imagine a luxurious version of Beorn's house, from The Hobbit, and you'll get the idea.
The first thing we noticed was a wooden and leather swing chair, suspended from the ceiling. The light fittings were made from feathers and antlers, and the dining table and chairs were crafted from logs – in such a way that the original shape and texture of the tree could still be seen.
Two snug bedrooms – each sleeping three – featured handcrafted beds with leather headboards, and the most comfortable pillows we've ever slept on (made by Høie of Scandinavia – we ordered some as soon as we got home). A sleeping platform – accessed by a log with steps cut into it – offered a spacious area with two more beds, and great views of the husky enclosure.
The whole effect was warm, rich and cosy, yet luxurious – these cabins are anything but basic. Mod cons included hot shower, cooking facilities, fridge – and even air conditioning.
There's a wood burning stove to keep things extra cosy in cold weather – as well as sumptuous throws and blankets for snuggling up in and enjoying the Northern Lights.
“This is one of the best places in Norway to see the Northern Lights,” said Christel Finne, who runs the Husky Lodge with Sven. “In this part of Norway, the sky is often clear – you can simply step out of your cabin and enjoy the show.”
Guests can cook for themselves, or let Christel do the catering. She is passionate about creating delicious meals from locally sourced and sustainable ingredients.
Christel with the puppies
The hen house is made in a similar style to the cabins
A cosy bed, and forest views from every window
Even the shower room is packed with unique, natural features
A swing seat takes centre stage in the living area in Soarvi cabin
Soarvi cabin. All the cabins are surrounded by beautiful forest trees
Almost everything in the cabins is made from natural materials – many found in the forest
Christel grows vegetables and herbs herself, in the on-site kitchen garden – and the chickens roaming freely around the cabins provide visitors with fresh eggs. There is also fish sourced from the nearby Karasjohka River, reindeer meat from neighbours, and cloudberries, blueberries, crowberries and lingonberries foraged from the surrounding forest.
With these wholesome ingredients, Christel produces homemade juices and jams, as well as freshly baked bread and cakes. The meals are served in the wonderful dining room – featuring more of Sven's creations, this sociable space is an atmospheric place to enjoy Christel's home cooking.
Making friends with the huskies
Sven was originally from southern Sweden. He moved to this remote region of Finnmark, in northern Norway, and set up the Husky Lodge in the 1980s. Starting with just two basic cabins with shared facilities, the first visitors came for the winter dog sledding. Now there are eight cabins – all unique and all featuring Sven's unique designs.
Husky sledding is Sven's passion. He has won the Finnmarksløpet – at 1,000km, this is Europe's longest sled dog race – an incredible 11 times. He has also finished in the top 10 in Iditarod, an epic 1,800km race across Alaska.
There are more than 50 huskies to make friends with at the lodge
Care of the dogs is paramount – they are part of the family, and an essential part of the team.
“These are Alaskan huskies,” Christel told us. “They have good paws and fur, and are very sociable animals – perfect for dog sledding, and great with people.”
We discovered just how friendly and sociable the dogs were when we went to meet them the next morning. Bright eyed, tails wagging, they were eager to make friends with us – as we were with them! Each dog has its own personality, and everyone on the team at the Husky Lodge knows all about each dog.
We met Tyron – a black, wolf-like husky who looked fierce but was as soft as butter, rubbing round our legs like a cat. Then there was Farris, named after a Norwegian brand of mineral water, because of his remarkable and mesmerising blue eyes.
And within a few minutes, our youngest daughter had bonded with her favourite: Granite, an affectionate black and tan husky who was enjoying all the attention – especially having his ears rubbed!
You don't have to visit the Husky Lodge in winter to experience exciting activities with the dogs. In summer you can take a pack-dog safari – a multi-day hike into the wilderness, with each participant responsible for their own dog, and the dogs carrying some of the gear.
A day hike with the dogs, including a picnic lunch and campfire, is also possible.
Guests can strike out on their own hiking adventure, into the surrounding mountains or along the Karasjohka River. Or rent a canoe for an easy river paddle, allowing the current to ease your way through gorgeous pristine countryside, with Husky Lodge staff collecting you further downstream.
But many guests come just to immerse themselves in the peaceful, natural surroundings. Although easy to reach, within just a couple of hours from airports at Alta or Ivalo, this region of Finnmark is unspoilt – a wild landscape of forests, mountains and rivers.
Red squirrels can be seen up close at the Husky Lodge
Each of the cabins at the Husky Lodge is surrounded by trees, with forest views from every window. Wildlife is abundant: the trees are full of birdsong, and there are red squirrels everywhere. We were delighted to see these endearing little creatures hopping about and clambering through the trees – being able to get this close to a creature that's so rare back home in Britain was a real privilege.
There are foxes and moose in the woods too – and, although rarely seen, brown bears, wolverine and lynx live in the surrounding forests and mountains.
For us though, it was the huskies that stole our hearts. The Husky Lodge is truly a dog-lover's paradise – and that question “Can we get a husky puppy?” was ringing in our ears long after we had left.
The Bunting family visited the Husky Lodge with Nature Travels. Cabins are available from mid-May to the end of September, and prices start at £117 per cabin per night. This includes meeting the huskies – meals and a range of activities can be booked and paid for locally.
The Aurora Husky Adventure – featuring Northern Lights and dog sledding during the winter months – is also based at the Husky Lodge and can be booked through Nature Travels.
Nature Travels is the only operator in the UK specialising exclusively in responsible outdoor holidays in the Nordic countries. Nature Travels works only with small-scale, local providers to offer environmentally and culturally sensitive experiences, and has a strong commitment to support and protect the environment, biodiversity and wildlife. For more information visit www.naturetravels.co.uk.
Log cabins in Norway
Green Adventures October 2017