Getting far off the beaten track and back to nature may be just what the doctor ordered after what 2020 continues to throw at us, and you’ll be hard pushed to find a location more socially distanced than the Sámi Ecolodge in Swedish Lapland – one of the best-kept secrets in the Arctic.
The Vinka family have opened their homestead, a 30-minute boat ride across the mountain lake Tjulträsk from the small village of Ammarnäs, for visitors to experience first-hand Sámi life and culture while surrounded by Arctic nature.
“This is a place that people settled on thousands of years ago, and if you look around you understand why. You have game in the woods, fish in the lakes, a fresh spring Creek,” says Mikael Vinka. “Our family are preserving our heritage to share with guests. It’s a home. You join us, catch your own fish for dinner and become part of daily routines. That’s our philosophy.”
Made up of traditional Sámi goathie – a wooden tepee structure – and log cabins, guests are welcomed to the Swedish ecolodge as members of the family, a philosophy that remains throughout the stay. Mikael adds, “This is a very special place. A place where you feel welcome, a place to reconnect with the old people who called this home, years ago.”
As a guest of the Vinka’s, you will join in and learn about the traditional Sámi way of life firsthand, helping with conservation within and around the settlement, and gaining an understanding of daily life in such a remote and beautiful location.
In the winter this includes using Nordic wooden skiing and snowshoeing to track wild grouse; ice fishing using traditional techniques passed down through generations. In the summer tracking and nature conservation, fishing and maintaining the traditional buildings for the winter to come.
If conditions are right, you will be able to experience the Northern Lights as well as clear night skies, and understand the significance of them to the remote settlers.
Whatever the time of year, the experience is designed to enrich guests and pass on Sámi knowledge and culture that has been handed down the generations for thousands of years.
For the surrounding nature and wildlife to remain as untouched as possible, Mikael and his family only welcome twelve groups of guests a year.
As a guest you will become a part of a helping hand for nature and cultural conservation: “Every stay is different, but every visitor means that we can maintain and rescue historical buildings, pass on skills, teach about nature, and share our culture.”
Those seeking rugged isolation can contact the Vinka family through the Geunja Sámi Ecolodge website.