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Abisko Dog Sledding: All You Need To Know (Review+Tips)

There may be no better way to get close to nature than with an Abisko Dog Sledding tour.

You get to enjoy the wintry landscape with no other sounds than the footsteps of your rambunctious dogs and the sliding of the sled.

These dogs love to run and their contagious enthusiasm is sure to brighten up your day.

Huskies also love the cold, they will roll in the snow to cool down whenever you take a break.

We may not enjoy being out in the cold as much as these huskies, but feeling the cool breeze when you’re sliding through this winter wonderland will surely put a smile on your face.

And maybe you will even make some new four-legged furry friends.

Read on and learn how you can be a musher for a few hours, it doesn’t require any hard skills. Or enjoy this great activity from the comfort of a warm sled.

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We travelled as a guest of Manawa, an online travel agent specialized in the very best outdoor experiences.

In a hurry? Here is the most important information about dog sledding in Abisko.

  • You can go dogsledding as a passenger or you can drive your own dog sled. Driving yourself does not require any experience, is not all that complex, and is possible for everybody who has a minimum level of fitness.
  • As a group, you can choose to split. Some can go as a passenger and others as a driver. As long as you choose the same timeslot you will be on the same tour.
  • Drivers need to be at least 16 years and weigh between 50 and 100 kilos. Passengers should be at least 5 years old.
  • A dog sledding tour is incredibly fun and highly recommended. You can read our full description of the tour below.

Check prices and availability on Manawa:

Dog sledding – Driver

Dog sledding – Passenger

Why Manawa? Are they legit

Chances are you’ve never heard of Manawa before. They’re a niche tour operator specializing in outdoor adventures. This dog sledding tour proved to be a really fun adventure so it is a match made in heaven for Manawa.

Manawa started in 2016 as Adrenaline Hunter. When they rebranded to Manawa in 2020 they were already working with 2200 activity providers in more than 30 countries around the world. They have served well over 140 000 clients and get a 4.8 rating at eKomi based on over 6000 reviews.

The booking process is straightforward and clear and the cancellation policies are also clearly outlined.

Fans of outdoor adventure will feel like a child in a candy store if they see the activities that Manawa has to offer. Whether you want to go Jet Skiing, Paragliding, or Bungee Jumping, you can book the tour with Manawa.

You can also organize your Northern Lights trip or a morning hike in Abisko National Park with Manawa. For a complete overview about seeing the Northern Lights in Abisko, click here.

Best time to go dog sledding in Abisko

Dog sledding in Abisko is possible from December to April.

There is not much difference between these months in terms of weather. Temperatures fluctuate around -10 degrees celsius with only April being slightly warmer.

There’s always a chance of snow showers but it’s uncommon to snow for days in a row. A common month has 7 to 8 snowy days.

We recommend planning your trip in January or February and avoiding the start and end of the season.

At the season’s edge, there is always a chance that the weather will be better than usual and that it will be too hot for the huskies to run.

This dog sledding tour in Abisko was one of the highlights of our trip.

Which dog sledding tours exist in Abisko

There are two types of tours in Abisko. You can drive yourself and you can join the tour as a passenger.µ

As a passenger

When you join the tour as a passenger you will take place in a sled, snuggled up in blankets and warm clothes.

As your driver steers your sled through the pristine snow-covered landscape all you have to do is enjoy the ride and take pictures.

Read reviews and book:
Dog sledding passenger

As a driver

If you want to make your trip even more memorable you can take things in hand yourself and be a musher for a few hours.

Your guide will explain the basics of dog sledding. You will learn how to brake and how to take turns.

You don’t have to worry about steering as your pack will follow the one in front.

This means dog sledding is really not that hard and driving yourself adds that little extra touch of sensation.

Read reviews and book:
Drive your own dog sled

Regardless of the tour you choose, there will be time to cuddle with your dogs at the end. You can help unharness them and you will certainly want to thank them for the fantastic experience.

If only one of you wants to drive yourself you can both join the driving tour as it is also possible to go as a passenger in that tour.

Taking a break during our dog sledding tour in Abisko
Taking a break during our tour

Review of our dog sledding tour in Abisko

This was one of the tours we were most looking forward to.

We had booked a morning tour so after our breakfast we immediately went to the lobby to ensure we were on time.

We were waiting eagerly when we saw a minibus pull into the parking lot.

The tour offers pick-ups from STF Abisko Turiststation (The tour description still mentions STF Abisko Mountain Station because the hotel used to be known as such).

The pick-up time is approx. 20 minutes prior to your tour.

If you’re staying in any of the other hotels in Abisko it is just a short walk to the meeting point.

Together with two other aspiring dog mushers, we hopped into the bus for the short ride to Abisko’s center.

Once at the Abisko.net hostel we were outfitted with winter boots, warm snowsuits, ski goggles, and mittens for our winter adventure.

This is something that is quite common with tours in Swedish Lapland.

The clothes here were of good quality, we had other tours where the snowsuit and boots were in desperate need of repair or replacement.

Always dress warmly. The clothing you receive is to wear on top of your own warm clothes and does not serve as a substitute.

If you have any items that you are not going to take with you on the dogsledding tour, you can leave them at the hostel.

However, it is unguarded so it is better to just leave it in your hotel.

As soon as we had put on our warm clothes it was a short walk to the dog kennel.

Explaining the basics of the dog sled
Our guide explains how to use the brakes of the dog sled

The first encounter with the dogs

Preparations were already underway when we arrived at the kennel. The sleds were waiting and they were busy harnessing the dogs. There was an exuberant bustle.

The dogs that would join us on our tour were barking enthusiastically.

Those that were still in their cages were desperately trying to get the attention of the team.

First of all, we got a short but clear introduction to the sled, where to stand, how to brake and what to do in the corners. All in all, quite simple.

You need to brake if you approach sharp corners or if you get too close to the sled in front.

After all, the dogs are made to run, that’s what they like to do, and if you don’t brake, they just continue going. They will overtake the other sleds and your sled may tip over if you don’t temper their enthusiasm in the corners. (this happened twice during our tour)

To slow your dogs down you have two brakes, one to decelerate and another to come to a complete stop.

In uphill sections, you can help the dogs a little by pushing the sled forward with 1 leg.

Lastly, to reduce the risk of tipping over in the corners, you need to put a little more weight on your left foot when going to the left and vice versa.

As you can see it is not that difficult and we were able to enjoy our ride without having to worry about crashing the sled in the bushes.

After the introduction, we could pick a sled of our choice. They’re all exactly the same of course.

Our group consisted of 8 participants, 7 aspiring dog mushers, and 1 woman who went in the sled.

It took a little more time to get all the sleds in order and the dogs are not very good at waiting patiently. They were jumping wildly from left to right and were continuously messing up the tug lines.

After they were untangled at least 3 times our group was good to go and the first sleds pulled out of the kennel.

Sylvia, who was driving the sled in front of me left, but I didn’t move.

My lead dog apparently didn’t feel like running that day. Nothing could move him.

This was a good example of the dynamics in the dog team. The three other dogs that were so excited to go before didn’t move either.

It was only after the lead dog was replaced that I rushed out of the kennel and could start chasing the rest of the group.

Cute dogs in Abisko
Such cute animals

The ride

You don’t have to worry about where to go because the dogs clearly know their way around. Even without someone riding in front of me, the dogs knew exactly where to go.

By the way, this is not only the case here. We once attended a presentation by someone who had competed in the Iditarod race and she also said that they often relied on the dogs’ intuition.
We remember that presentation vividly and the Iditarod race looks like an unreal experience, luckily this trip isn’t nearly that extreme.

With the replaced lead dog, my huskies suddenly were running as if their life depended on it. It didn’t take long for me to catch up with the others.

The ride takes you zigzagging through the pristine white snow landscape. Far from civilization, all you hear is your dogs’ kicking footsteps and the sliding of your sled.

The dogs’ enthusiasm is contagious. Where you may feel a bit insecure in the beginning, not knowing what’s coming, it doesn’t take long before you enjoy the trip to the fullest.

The scenery of the tour is beautiful, even with not-so-great weather, we really enjoyed the landscape passing by. There were many sections where we had beautiful views of Lapporten, the mountain that acts as a landmark in the region.

A guide is driving in front and a second person accompanies the tour with a snowmobile.

Stops are made at regular intervals to ensure that everyone is still ok. They give you the opportunity to look around in all directions and to appreciate the remoteness even more.

However, the dogs don’t want to stop and look around at all, they just want to run. Every time you brake they look back at you indignantly and when you stop they want to move onwards as quickly as possible.

If you don’t apply the brakes enough while standing still, the huskies will move on. It’s stunning to see how powerful these 4 cute dogs are.

The speeds you can achieve with 8 dogs, as is done in most races, must be pretty cool.

Most stops are just short, merely to regroup, with the exception of the stop somewhere in the middle, where the dogs get time to cool down and we got to rest while watching the huskies roll in the snow.

After the break, we continued our snow escapade.

Despite apparently being in the middle of nowhere we occasionally crossed a snowmobile route.

These appeared out of nowhere and the roads seemed to lead to nowhere as well.

The snow landscape seemed to go on indefinitely, making the whole experience a little bit surreal.

Riding a dog sled is a great thing to do in Kiruna in the winter
These beautiful huskies gave us the tour of our lives

Back in the kennel

But then all of a sudden we arrived back at the kennel way too early for our liking. We were out and about for one and a half hours but it could have taken much longer for us.

Back in the kennel, there’s time to say goodbye to your dog. You can help unharness them, cuddle them extensively, and thank them for the great ride.

We really made some new four-legged friends during this tour. These huskies are so cute that we wanted to take them with us if we could.

After you’ve said goodbye you walk back to the hostel where you take off your snowsuit and switch back into your own boots.

By the time you have done that the shuttle is waiting to take you back to the hotel.

Why we loved our dog sledding tour in Abisko

It’s hard and I would even say impossible to name one thing that made this tour unforgettable so here are all the things we loved about the tour.

If you’re an animal lover you probably know how much fun it can be to do something together with your furry friend. We also experienced this here. It was nice to see how the dogs, just as much like us, enjoyed this beautiful ride.

It’s possible also the most fun and also the most authentic way to explore Swedish Lapland. Before they had snowmobiles, these huskies formed the standard mode of transportation for the Sami. This makes your tour not only a nature escape but also a bit of a step back in time.

And then there’s the unique experience of traversing the pristine snow-white landscape without any sounds other than those coming from your very own husky sled.

Back in the kennel

FAQ – Questions you might have about dog sledding in Abisko

Is there a minimum age to go dog sledding?

You must be 16 years or older to drive your own dog sled. To go as a passenger you only need to be 5 years old.

Are there any other activity requirements?

As a driver, you need to weigh at least 50 kilos and not more than 100 kilos.

The ride can be a little bumpy at some points and it may not be very suitable for people with back problems.

Except for that, there are no other requirements.

Do you need to have experience?

Absolutely not! Dog sledding turned out to be very easy, at least on the tour we did here. I suppose participating in one of the dog sledding races is something completely different :-).

And if you don’t want to drive yourself, you can just ride in one of the sleds.

Which tour do you need to book?

On most days there are always two tours.

One in the morning and one in the afternoon.

The passenger and driver tours are always combined in one single group.

This means that if someone in your party wants to drive while the others just want to join as passengers they can book the respective tours at the same time and day to end up in the same group.

Regular tours are always there while at some times there are no tours where you can drive yourself. When making a reservation, check the driver tours first.

How much time does the tour take?

The tour is advertised as 2 hours. The actual ride is about 1.5 hours while the other half hour is used to explain the dogsledding basics and to put on and take off the snow gear.

We did the morning tour and were back in our hotel at a quarter past 11.

What should you wear?

Regardless of whether you go as a driver or passenger, you should dress warmly.

Driving the sled is a physical activity but not in the sense that you will break a sweat in a ski suit. Compared with downhill skiing it is far less intense.

If you plan on taking pictures with your phone it’s a good idea to wear light touchscreen gloves underneath the mittens that you get.

You can also join the tour as a passenger

How to take home memories of the tour?

It is not possible to take pictures while driving the sled. What you can do is film, ideally with a GoPro strapped to your chest.

You don’t get a helmet, making it difficult to put the camera on your head.

You could bring your own helmet but because there are some low-hanging branches, it’s kinda tricky to wear the camera on your head.

What should you bring?

Other than your good mood and something to take pictures, nothing is really required for this tour.

For taking photos or videos, a compact camera such as a GoPro or smartphone is best.

If you bring a larger camera I would not hang it around your neck but carry it in a backpack.

Since there’s always the risk of falling and damaging your photo gear I would only do that if it’s absolutely necessary.

Do you need to book your tour in advance?

We absolutely recommend this as these tours are in high demand and if you ask us, it’s an experience not to be missed.

Keep in mind the cancellation policy, this is slightly stricter than usual. Only book your tour when your plans are fixed.

You don’t have to worry too much about the weather, this tour will be fun whatever the weather.

An open sky will do full justice to the impressive landscape, but you can’t control the weather. We enjoyed it to the fullest with grey skies and light snow.

What to do when the tours are fully booked?

When tours are fully booked on your preferred day, you could look at a dog sled tour in Kiruna, as an alternative. However, there are no driving tours in Kiruna. So if you want to drive yourself, it is best to book your tour well in advance.

Check prices and availability:
Dog Sled Tour Kiruna

Here is a list of more great winter activities in Kiruna. 

Conclusion

We liked our dogsled ride so much that we plan to do it again in the future.

The fun that you have with the dogs combined with the peacefulness of the landscape you traverse makes it a must-do activity in Abisko.

Book your activity in time so you don’t miss this unique opportunity. Here is a list of more fun things to do in Abisko in winter.

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