Winter swimming

These days, on March 20-23, the Winter Swimming World Championship is held in Rovaniemi with 1,244 swimmers from 34 countries. There has been huge preparations on the shore of river Kemijoki in the city center of Rovaniemi for several weeks already. The Finns are keen on winter swimming, so this event suits very well to take part in Finland this year.


In the ice on river Kemijoki there has been made a hole, 25 meters long with 9 lanes. The last few nights have been really cold with temperatures around -22 degrees Celsius (-7,6 F), and to keep the hole from freezing there have been pumps working days and nights. Around the “swimming stadium” pupils from the University of Lapland, the Faculty of Art and Design, have created sculptures fitting into the atmosphere of the Championships.

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This snowman was constantly surrounded by excited visitors of the games, who wanted photos taken together with him for memories to bring home with them. It was hard to get a picture of him without any people. The mascot of Ranua zoo, Jonne the Polar bear, was of course also visiting this event and anyone, who wanted a hug from him, got one.

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To get from the city center to the “swim stadium” you have to either walk the 850 meters along the Lumberjack Candle bridge, or take the snowmobile taxi arranged by Lapland safaris, that was driving non-stop between the city center and the stadium.


Today on the first day of the competitions the Endurance swim 450 meters for men and women took place. Here are the starting lists for those, who are interested. The swimmers were aged 50-69 years. A lot of brave people, if you ask me! To go into the ice-cold water with only your swimsuit on and then swim 450 meters is really an effort and it tests your body’s tolerance to 100 %. Except for the swimsuit swimmers must wear something on their head, either a swimming cap or a woolen or other warm hat.

The competitors undressed by the pool and climbed into the water. Diving was prohibited.


During the first run one of the competitors had a heart attack and divers had to bring him up from the water and they gave him first aid and an ambulance took him to the hospital for a check up. After this dramatic start the competition went on smoothly and swimmers who felt they wanted to end their run because they were not feeling well, were greeted by the audience and thanked with applauds for they braveness. No-one had to feel like a looser if he or she could not finish the run. All competitors are really experienced winter swimmers and all are winners and we all have our better or worse days.


After the race the swimmers could immediately go into the sauna or to the hot tubs near the pool. There were a lot of staff helping the swimmers to get a warm blanket and their shoes on. Many of the competitors really did not matter about the cold outside, even though the audience were trying to keep warm by jumping up and down. This day’s amazing sun-shine did help the audience to keep warm, though.



The area around the stadium has activities, product presentations and shopping possibilities as well as restaurant services and tourist information. The competitions continue tomorrow. The weather forecast are unfortunately not as good as they were today. Anyway, I think the arrangements around the IX Winter Swimming World Championship are really successful so far.



Detailed 5 day forecast

Snowmobile safaris for beginners

As you visit Lapland and Rovaniemi you can see them everywhere. The snowmobiles. Would not that be nice to test? A snowmobile ride is easy to attend even for beginners. You have to have a driver’s licence for cars, though. You just join one of the guided tours sold by the safari companies in Rovaniemi or in other places in Lapland. One of the biggest is Lapland safaris. Others are Safartica and Arctic circle snowmobile park. They all arrange unforgettable snowmobile safaris during the winter, both for beginners but also for more adventurous and experienced customers. You can choose just a snowmobile ride, but it is also nice to visit a reindeer farm or a husky farm or even go on a guided ice-fishing safari to a wilderness lake. IMG_0491

Snowmobiles are manufactured in Rovaniemi, by the BRP Finland Oy company. Two snowmobile brands manufactured in Rovaniemi are Lynx and SkiDoo.



The safaris I have attended have started from the shore of the frozen river Kemijoki in the city center of Rovaniemi. Once I went on a safari by snowmobile to a reindeer farm and once by snowmobile on an ice-fishing trip.

The first thing (after booking and paying, of course) is to get the suitable outfits. You actually do not need any of your own, just come as you are, and the safari company provides you with everything needed to keep you warm and safe on a snowmobile safari. There are dresses, boots, gloves, balaclavas, socks and scarves for every size and on top of everything you get a helmet to protect you from head damages in case something goes wrong.

IMG_5160After that the group (2-15 persons) gathers outside the safari company and you get the first look at the huge snowmobile parking of hundreds of snowmobiles. The tour guide presents himself (or herself) and after that the training begins. The guide sorts out who is the beginner and who has done snowmobiling before. You have either ordered a trip with an own snowmobile or you have chosen to share it with someone. You can sit two persons on one snowmobile. You will get to know the important hand signs that are used during the trip for slowing down, stopping and continuing again. There will be one guide in the lead and one guide follows in the end of the row. They start up the engines of the snowmobiles and the safari can start.

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In the beginning the snowmobiles move slowly out on the ice of the river Kemijoki and out there on the ice, the guide starts speeding up a bit. He follows up how the group joins him and takes care of the beginners. It is really not hard to drive a snowmobile even if it is your first time. After a while the tour guide makes the row of snowmobiles slow down and stop. Just to check everyone is ok and everything works as supposed. There is also the possibility to switch driver if you are two on one snowmobile.

An ice fishing safari goes to a wilderness lake. The safari heads north on a marked snowmobile trail that takes you along the frozen river Ounasjoki and through snowy forests up into the hills, where you can admire the beautiful surrounding countryside of Lapland. You follow the trail through white, snow-covered fields and finally arrive at a small wilderness lake.

IMG_5176On the ice-fishing safari the tour guide has all the equipment needed and he guides you how to make your hole and start fishing. Catch is not guaranteed, but most likely for patient fishermen. Anyway you can enjoy the wilderness and the beautiful nature around you.



A reindeer farm safari goes south from the center of Rovaniemi, following official snowmobile trails, via a couple of small lakes and through the forest to the farm.

After a safe and nice trip you will arrive to the goal. On a reindeer farm you will meet the owner and he or she will tell you about the reindeer and you can go on a short reindeer drive.




The safaris also includes warm beverages by the fireplace and also possibilities to fry your sausages or eat a sandwich. You can even prepare the catch by the open fire. Some customers prefer to bring their caught fish to their hotel and have it prepared in the hotel kitchen for dinner.



The return to Rovaniemi is usually a faster ride, as the customers have learned how to ride the snowmobile and many of course also want to test and speed it up a bit. On the open ice of the river there is safe to speed it up, but through the forest you better follow the tour guide’s advice and he knows how to ride safe there.