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Dog sledding

Dog sledding travel guide

Gliding across the frozen lakes of Sweden, Alaska, Russia and beyond behind a pack of barking huskies is the best way to experience the planet's chilled extremes

There is no better way to zip across the frozen tundra than on a husky sled. With no engine to interrupt the silence, the only sounds are the swoosh of the sleigh and bursts of yelping canine exuberance.

You can try dog sledding in many parts of the word – traditionally, the colder and more remote the region, the more likely people are to harness doggie-power. Areas above the Arctic Circle – Alaska, Canada, Iceland, Finland, Greenland, Norway, Sweden and Russia – are popular dog-sledding destinations.

Husky sledging isn’t just about whooshing through a crystalline wilderness behind a team of speeding sled dogs, though – it can turn into a winter safari, too. Dog sledding is a great way to glimpse wintertime’s Big Four wildlife (moose, caribou, wolf, brown bear) as well as nature’s own light show, the aurora borealis (northern lights).

Dog sledding is also easily combined with other winter holiday experiences such as a stay at an Ice Hotel, snowmobiling, ice fishing, snow-shoeing, cross-country skiing or pleasingly-hot post-sledding saunas.

Dog sledding consists of teams of dogs harnessed to wooden or metal sledges, whilst the driver or ‘musher’ stands behind the dogs on runners. Dog speed and direction are controlled by voice commands, not reins.

Dog sled teams are comprised of leader dogs, swing dogs and wheel dogs. Lead dogs run in front and are chosen for their courage and bravery; behind them swing dogs help with turning; wheel dogs are the brute strength needed to break the sled out from the snow.

Siberian huskies and Alaskan malamutes are most often harnessed for dog sledging; however, one infamous team of poodles once completed the Iditarod race – a gruelling 1,840km scamper across Alaska's mountain ranges, frozen rivers, dense forests, desolate tundra and windswept coastline.

But don't worry – you don't have to tackle such a long-distance trail – though go husky sledding for an afternoon and you might well be hooked.

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