Travel through Lapland with the Huskies

-40 degrees

67° 51´ 17´´ N

20° 13´ 22´´ E

Birgit Homburg is actually used to warmer weather. She was born and grew up in the middle of North Rhine-Westphalia, in Germany. At the age of 12, she was faced for the first time with the daunting question of what she wanted to be. Later, she began training as an industrial clerk - a nice and ordinary career. However, it didn’t exactly work out, per se. She broke off her training and set off northwards, first as an au-pair, and then because of love. High up in the North, she found what she had been searching for in Germany, in vain. Tranquillity. Loneliness. Vastness. There is no-one else there. Except perhaps an elk. The directions to Birgit Homburg and her huskies consist largely of “keep going straight on”. Then right, left for 20 kilometres, and into a village inhabited by five people. And 55 huskies. The next morning, three male and two female dogs are straining at the lead which she tethers to the sleigh. They stand up on their hind legs, bark, yelp, howl. Let’s go already! A slight lurch, paws sinking into the snow, and off we go on a journey which Birgit Homburg has been successfully marketing for years.

It takes a little while to catch sight of the lonely trees rising out of the landscape, the yellow sun, which peeps out over the horizon for just a few hours a day, reflecting in our eyes. Two reindeer gallop over the compacted snow.

Back home again - the wood stove glows orange, coffee steams, reindeer burgers warm our hands and our bellies, and Birgit Homburg begins to talk. How wonderfully lonely it is here. Nobody to disturb you. Nobody there asking anything of you. You can live here, simply. With the emphasis on simply. A 700-kilo elk she shot herself lies in her cold store, and frozen salmon and pike lie in the deep-freeze waiting to be thawed out and prepared. It was the right decision, she says. To drop everything and leave it all behind. There’s no going back now, not a thought of it any more. Just an annual visit to her mother. But then back to Lapland, back to the wilderness, the 55 dogs who want to be fed in the early mornings and late evening, to be taken care of. Tour operators have had Birgit Homburg listed and on account for a long time now; if you want to go dog-sledding in its original form, do it here. For four hours, sled through the barren dreamlike landscape on the so-called coffee tour, and if you’d prefer something longer and colder, you can book the multi-day tour, sleep in camps, split wood yourself, boil water from snow, immerse yourself into a life that seems on the verge of extinction, it is so far, so distant from tourism. How long you do something like that for? Live here? With dog, husband, daughter? There, where the thermometer sometimes shows -50 degrees, and nothing works, nothing will run? For a lifetime. A wonderful lifetime.