Above the Arctic Circle, Sweden’s Lapland region unfolds with snow-capped mountains, deep forest, and vast stretches of untamed wilderness.
But forget about snowmobiles: The hands-on, eco-friendly, and far more rewarding way to tour is by dogsled.
Under the watchful eyes of expert guides, you drive your own team of huskies from one wilderness lodge to the next, unwinding at the end of each day in wood-heated saunas and under a mantle of starry spring skies.
The most exciting time to visit is March and April, when sunny promises of a thaw are broken by the occasional sharp blizzard. The exhilarating journey through the Arctic wild allows you to get thrillingly close to moose, lynx, and other wildlife.
Drink from crystalline lakes in Padjelanta and Sarek national parks and witness the ancient reindeer-herding culture of the Sami people. Happily spent by evening, you and your fellow mushers dig into local fish and game dishes around a roaring fire.
“It’s good medicine for stressed minds,” says Catrine Anderback, who runes Silent Ways Dogsledding Adventures from the hamlet of Umnäs. “When you are out for many days, you get really close to your team of dogs.”
And when the sun sets, don’t forget to look skyward: The world’s most magical light show, the aurora borealis, often makes a special guest appearance in March and April.
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Remember how you wanted to sleep in a tree house, but your parents wouldn’t hear of it? Now’s your chance.
About 40 miles (64 km) south of the Arctic Circle, outside the village of Harads, the brilliant Treehotel is an assembly of unique and zany quarters suspended in conifers high above the forest floor, a carpet of wildflowers in bloom come spring.
Thatch and branches camouflage the Bird’s Nest, the Mirrorcube is virtually invisible, and the UFO is shaped like the perfect 1950s flying saucer. As the winter snows melt, an eight-person Tree Sauna fitted with hot tub and lounge area provides Nordic retreat.
This article originally appeared in the National Geographic book Four Seasons of Travel.