• Whether you want to drive the team yourself, ride the sled as a passenger, or a mix of the two, make sure the tour is set up to allow for what you want from the start.
• Warm clothing is essential, make sure you get a kit list from your tour operator. Also find out what's supplied, some operators provide some extreme clothing (like snow boots and snowsuits) as part of the package.
• Trips are likely to run from January to April/May (depending how far North you go) but choose the time you go with care - sledding in January can be a vastly different (colder!) experience from doing it April!
Sled team make up:
Lead dog – speaks for itself really, but the 'lead' is the dog that runs at the front and sets the pace.
Swing/point dogs – run directly behind the lead dog, they're either right or left swing depending on which side of the tow line they're on. Swing dogs help 'swing' the team round in turns.
Wheel dogs/wheelers – are those nearest the sled, their job is to pull the sled out of ruts and around tight corners or trees.
NORWAY: Dog sledding experience A real wilderness sledding adventure at 78° North on the remote Norwegian island of Spitsbergen. Think of sledding with your dog team across frozen lakes, cooking on open log fires, and watching the stunning Northern Lights! The overall trip is for five days which includes a three day guided sledding trip with your own team. Accommodation includes two nights in a hotel and two nights aboard a ship frozen into the ice!
SPECIALIST SLED DOG TRIPS
SCOTLAND: Cairngorm Sleddog Centre Unique experiences riding with a sleddog team in Aviemore, Scotland, with or without snow and available throughout the year. From the comfort of a unique sleddog buggy guests can enjoy spectacular Cairngorm Mountain views on sledding safaris, with overnight stays in a basic mountain cabin. 2-day courses are also available.
Watching and even participating in the "Last Great Race"...
The March Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race, from Willow to Nome in Alaska, is one of the most challenging races in the world. The 1,150 mile route crosses mountain passes, frozen rivers and harsh wild tundra, in tough winter conditions that include whiteouts, blizzards and sub-zero temperatures with lots of wind chill. Mushers, each with a team of 12-16 dogs, take around nine to fifteen days to complete this grueling course.
Several travel companies make it possible to follow and watch the race in various ways. Both Alaska Iditarod Tours and All Alaska Tours offer a variety of guided and unguided tours during the Iditarod. Litzen Guide Service has an all-inclusive guided Iditarod 'flightseeing' adventure package by light aircraft.
For the very keen there is an opportunity to take part (in a limited way) by bidding in the IditaRider Auction – here you can bid to ride in a musher's sled for the first 11 miles of the race. The money raised helps offset race expenses.
And if the race really catches your imagination then Dream A Dream Dog Farm Mushing Adventures can train you up to actually participate – although that's rather more than a 'holiday' course! Dream A Dream also offers short dog team driving experiences and B&B accommodation if you just want a sled dogging taster in similar terrain to the Iditarod race!
Amazingly an unusual team made up of Standard Poodles competed in the race for several years in the 1980's – but only Northern breeds, like Malamutes, Siberian or Alaskan Huskies, and Greenland dogs are permitted to run these days!
Dog sledding and skijöring tours in the Canadian Rockies. Using trails in Kananaskis Country, just outside the Banff National Park. These adventures go from just a few hours to multi-day tours on request.
DEFINITIONS FOR TOUR OPERATORS WISHING TO BE LISTED:
Travel-Quest's Dog sledding holidays & husky safaris section lists holidays, vacations, weekends and short breaks where the primary activity is sledding with dog teams or husky safaris. They may offer experiences for passengers riding the sled with an experienced musher/guide or provide a dog team, sled and instruction to allow guests to drive their own sled. These trips will sometimes be winter multi-activity holidays, perhaps combining sledding tours with skiing, skidoo trips or snowshoeing; in such cases the sledding element of the trip must make up a significant proportion of the tour. Sledding holiday accommodation can range from snow camping or simple winter huts, to luxury hotels and guest houses.