Derailing Reindeer In The Ice Hotel

The Ofoten Line is the most Northerly railway line in the world, some 150 miles inside the Arctic Circle. It was built to transfer iron ore from the massive mines at Kiruna to the ice-free port at Narvik. We travelled on the passenger service on this line (the original Polar Express) from Narvik to Kiruna… except we didn’t. Just prior to leaving our Narvik Hotel I was informed that due to a derailment of the iron-ore train just outside Narvik (see photo below) the rail service would now be running from Riksgränsen on the Swedish border to Kiruna, so we sprinted there on our coach and after an anxious wait in -12 degrees our brave little train pulled into view and off we went.

I’m really glad the train arrived because Riksgränsen isn’t so much a station as an unstaffed platform in the middle of nowhere with a snow tunnel attached. I’m sure that it’s a lovely place but it’s tiny, the platform is up a hill with thick virgin snow on the walk-up and no place to be with 40 enquiring faces looking at you in the vague hope that you know what you’re doing. God bless our train!

That evening we had dinner in our new hotel in Sweden, Camp Ripan and celebrated with one of my clients – Happy Birthday Shirley!

In the evening we went outside hunting Northern Lights but despite a promising forecast, no luck. The solution turned out be vodka in the hotel bar. Quelle Surprise!

This morning we visited the indigenous Sami settlement to learn about how they live up here. They are a nomadic people following the reindeer herds from East to West and back, so our Local Sami Guide PeA introduced us to some of the (tame) reindeer. We entered their enclosure with some nibbles (lichen, since you ask) and promptly got mobbed. Reindeer have amazing hooves that can spread wider in soft snow and interesting hair growth on their legs which makes them look as though they are wearing very flared trousers.

There was a demonstration of lassoing reindeer. He made it look easy – I’m not even certain he was looking at what he was doing!

We had lunch in the warm. Any guesses? Yup… We ate Rudolf. Sorry kids.

Next up, a visit to the Ice Hotel. This remarkable structure is rebuilt (re-carved?) every year. It’s expensive to stay there, enjoying a constant temperature of -5 degrees throughout. The beds are warm and cosy and beautiful. I get it – it’s just that all I can think about is walking down the corridor for a midnight pee

The day finished with a complimentary drink in the Ice Bar (Iced Lingonberry Juice and Vodka in an Ice Glass).

From there, of course, things went predictably downhill… 😁

Tomorrow, husky sleds… Our last day.

2 Replies to “Derailing Reindeer In The Ice Hotel”

  1. What an amazing trip. So many thanks to our incredible guide Tim. Made fun friends and saw the northern lights two nights. The husky sledging was the icing on the snow on our last day.

    Liked by 1 person

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