Even though it’s the middle of the day, it’s completely dark outside – except for a small blue stripe in the horizon. The dogs are eager to get out in the snow – howling and barking in the anticipation of some running.
You grab the leader dog, Vodka, and put on his harness by carefully lifting his front legs and then strap him to the front of the line. Then you add 11 more dogs to the long leash, using all your strength to avoid being dragged along the ground by these very strong huskies.
Finally, you sit down on the sled covered with reindeer skin in your 6 layers of thermo-gear to avoid freezing in the -20 degrees.
And off you go into the dark Arctic day! The dogs slowly quiet down, the snow squeaks under the sled and the darkness and silence surrounds you.
Okay, need I say: this is one of the best experiences you’ll ever have!
Svalbard is an island 1300 km from the North Pole inside the Arctic circle. In winter, the sun doesn’t rise, and in summer it doesn’t set. You might think, that it sounds depressing with 24 hours Polar night, but you kind of get use to it. Our Canadian dog sled guide said: “the dark is peace and quiet”. And it is! You can only pay attention to your immediate surroundings and not try to see everything at once. The dark keeps you focused.
But I was glad to see the sun, when we came home…
You can book a dog sled tour with a few different companies on Svalbard, but I can highly recommend Green Dog, owned by a Danish couple. We payed around 150 Euro for 3 hour trip, where we probably used 1 hour getting ready, 1,5 hours driving and 0,5 hour thanking the dogs and drinking hot tea.