A Snowmobile Tour in Swedish Lapland with Kiruna Guidetur

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The bitter cold wind eats thru my balaclava.  I can’t feel my ears, but I can’t feel it as the Arctic Tundra passes by me.  I am driving a 600-lb snowmobile thru the wilds of Swedish Lapland near Kiruna, Sweden.  The powerful machine easily cuts thru the snow as we explore the lakes and forests.  I got a chance to take the Aurora Expedition snowmobile tour and Arctic Adventure tour with Kiruna Guidetur.

Driving a snowmobile is an exciting adventure when in Swedish Lapland.  Starting in mid-November, the snow becomes thick enough for snowmobiling, and the rivers and lakes have developed sufficient ice.  The locals begin grooming the trails.  These trails aren’t just for the tourists.  They are also the highways for people living in this remote region.

** All my photos are from my day snowmobile tour.

The Meeting Spot

The meeting spot for the tours is the Kiruna Guidetur office.  The office at Vänortsgatan 8, 981 32 Kiruna, Sweden.  It located in the corner of the main shopping square near the Kiruna in Swedish Lapland visitor center.  It was an 8-minute walk from where I was staying at the SPiS Hotel.

Kiruna Guidetur offers pick-up from the area hotels including the ICEHOTEL.  This cost 75 SEK (USD 9.01 as of December 2017) per person.  If you are within walking distance of the office, I would just walk.

What to Wear

Kiruna Guidetur will provide all necessary gear.  They have a dressing room full of snowsuits, snow boots, and gloves, read more on it.  They also offer thick socks and balaclavas.

I would wear a warm under layers such as thermal long johns and socks and then put Guidetur’s winter gear over top of your under layer.  They have a variety of sizes available and are sure to have something to fit you.

I highly recommend using the provided gear.  I found that even with the cold temperatures and the winds, I never got cold while on the tour.

Experience Required

No experience is required to drive a snowmobile.  You do need a valid driver’s license. As long as it is valid, it can be from any country.  They didn’t check my license, but they did make me sign a form saying I had a valid one and if I damaged the snowmobile they could charge me up to 6000 SEK.

Aurora Expedition Tour

This tour might have Aurora in its name, but it should be treated as night snowmobile tour with the possibility of seeing the northern lights.  No one can guarantee that the lights of the north will be seen. It depends on the weather.  I was unlucky and didn’t see the lights.  It was cloudy with light snow.  Do not expect to this to be a northern lights snowmobile tour.  It is possible and if you have clear skies then it is likely.

Check-in starts at 5:30 pm.  The tour leaves at 6:00 pm but the extra time is needed to get into the winter gear. My tour had three other people on it.  We got dressed in our snowsuits and snow boots.

Once we were dressed, it was a 20-minute drive over to meet our snowmobiles.  The trip was in a nice warm van with plenty of space for about 10-12 people.  Once we were out of the van, there was a chance to go the bathroom before we headed down to the Torne River.  The bathroom is warm.

It was a short downhill walk to the snowmobiles.  The sun had set about two hours before the tour, so it is dark, but the guide carries a light. Our group was going to use four snowmobiles.  The guide would have one, I had one, the other single female had one, and the couple was going to share one.

While waiting for the guide to get a few things together, we got to check out the igloos.  Kiruna Guidetur has an option to build your own igloo and spend the night in it.

We had a short safety briefing on how to use a snowmobile and safety concerns.  The key is to follow the tracks of the snowmobile in front of you.  This helps prevent a ski from getting stuck in the snow or hitting a rock and damaging a snowmobile.  The snowmobiles have hand warmers on the handlebars for both the driver and passenger.  The gas is on the left-hand side and can be rotated to either use your thumb or fingers to control the gas.  I preferred the fingers method.

Just like a car, one needs to leave enough following distance. I found that I preferred between 3-5 snowmobile lengths.  This gave me enough time to slow down when the guide stopped or changed speeds.  When turning, you need to lean slightly into the turn and keep your feet on the foot holders.  The snowmobile is designed to keep your legs safe and not get caught on anything like short trees.

Once we were settled on our snowmobiles, we headed off along the frozen Torne River to have a fun evening ride along the river and in the woods. The trip lasted about 2.5 hours.  I got up to about 40 km.  Because our group was small and we had fresh powder, we got to play in the fresh snow and do some serpentines.

When our tour ended, we hiked back up the hill to a small cabin.  Our guide started a fire, and we had some warm lingonberry juice along with cheese bread.  Our guide also gave us moose sausage, reindeer sausage, reindeer hearts, and a soy-based sausage for the vegetarian in the group.

I was excited about the moose since I have never had it.  In the USA, it is impossible to try moose unless you or someone you know hunts the moose.  I am not an organ person, but I took a leap of faith and tried it (it couldn’t be worse than fermented shark in Iceland).  The soy sausage was terrific, and I think my favorite of the snacks.

The Cost

Kiruna Guidetur offers both day and evening tours.  Their tours are comparable prices to others in the area. All tour costs are listed per person.

I went on the Aurora Expedition which costs 895 SEK (USD 107.54 as of December 2017) for an adult.  The Aurora Expedition with dinner costs 1275 SEK (USD 153.19 as of December 2017).

They also offer several day tours ranging from 3.5 – 8 hours with costs of 895 SEK (USD 107.54 as of December 2017) to 1395 SEK (USD 167.61 as of December 2017).  The day tours can explore the Torne River, go ice-fishing or visit the ICEHOTEL.

They have a couple of overnight tours as well that range from 2450 SEK (USD 294.37 as of December 2017) to 5675 SEK (USD 681.86 as of December 2017)

Have you ever been on a snowmobile tour?  Do you want too?

Disclaimer: Kiruna Guidetur provided a discount on Aurora expedition for this review, and I had so much fun that I paid for the Arctic Adventure tour on my own.   All opinions are my own.

33 thoughts on “A Snowmobile Tour in Swedish Lapland with Kiruna Guidetur”

  1. I’m relieved that there is a vegetarian choice for the meal! I’ve never ridden a snowmobile before and this sounds like a great introduction. I’m sure you got to go to otherwise untraveled paths! And it would be quite thrilling, whether you see the northern lights or not.

  2. Snowmobiling is always so much fun and it would be incredible to go for a ride in Swedish Lapland! That’s really nice they have all the snow gear there for you—makes it super convenient—and it’s nice that no previous experience is required! That’s too bad you did see the northern lights, but at least it still sounds like a fun tour regardless!

  3. The snowmobile tour in Lapland has the stuff of dreams. Would love to ride a snowmobile at night and chase the aurora. Reading your explanation about how to drive the snowmobile, I felt that it was somewhat similar to that of driving an ATV, only the terrain was different. Hope to do this someday.

  4. This looks like such a fun experience! I’ve never snowmobiled, but I would definitely give it a try. The only thing that would worry me is staying warm, so it’s good to know they provide you with the proper gear.

  5. Wow, I can’t believe their highways are snowed up. I would LOVE to go snowmobiling. I get so cold too, but it’s worth it, isn’t it.It’s amazing that you didn’t get cold at all. The gear provided by Kiruna must be really good! Hope to visit there someday. I want to see auroras.

  6. What a great way to enjoy the winter! It looks really fun! and night tours – cool and that seems like a good deal with Kiruna for the tour. I’m a big fan of Moose, its surprisingly good isn’t it!

  7. I have never used a snowmobile but I sure would love to. It seems perfect for exploring this winter wonderland. Glad you gave us those tips on wearing layers and keeping warm. Bet with that cold wind on your face, there could be nothing more comforting than the warmth of your layers. Cheers

  8. Yes, I have been to snowmobile tours and they are so much fun!!
    Once in Poland and then in Finland Lapland ! I have even written about it, how I felt.
    Isn’t it sheer joy to see all white around you ? And to click pictures from camera is the real challenge! I took all from my mobile. 🙂

    Your photos made me nostalgic ! Probably my next tour of snowmobile would be in Sweden? 🙂

  9. The Aurora Expedition snowmobile tour and Arctic Adventure tour with Kiruna Guidetur sounds incredible! I’ve never driven a snowmobile before, but Lapland would be THE place to do it! Awesome that they provide you with the necessary gear – I have winter clothes though I’ve never really lived in that much snow, so would want to know that my gear was good with the weather. Awesome that no experience is required!

    So awesome that the northern lights are a possibility on the Aurora tour – as you said though they’re so unpredictable, but what an incredible moment it would be to have them dance across the sky while you’re out zipping around the snow! I would definitely do an evening tour just in case :D!

  10. This is one experience I want to have soon. All the whiteness around would be a big change for me, since we don’t usually travel in peak winters. And if the Aurora is an add-on, who would mind?

  11. I haven’t tried a snowmobile tour but it seems like a cool experience to have! However, I don’t know how to drive or have any license.. Do they have an option on their tour where you can just ride as a passenger instead as a driver?

  12. That’s really awesome! These snowy landscapes are so gorgeous, and it’s pretty cool to get such experience of driving a snowmobile. So interesting they make u try local stuff like moose or reindeer sausage, I would be curious to taste them!

  13. Ah, this is the first time I am hearing about snowmobile. Is it like driving a car or driving a bike. It must be so much fun to go out and explore all the lovely snow white sceneries all around you. Lovely photos. Can you share some more of the machine itself – I am just curious.

  14. Wow, this adventure sounds totally awesome! With USD 152.19, including dinner, it’s also cheaper than I thought. It’s a shame you didn’t see the Aurora though 🙁 It’s almost a bit wrong advertising, but I understand that nature is difficult to predict. I’d love to try all the sausages, especially the moose one 🙂 I really need to get me a drivers license now 😀 Thank you for this great post!

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