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Adorable Chick

NORWAY & DENMARK Diary : Day 5 - 04th April 2019

A stunning mountain island, connected by bridges & tunnels to the surrounding islands, is the Island of KVALOYA (meaning Whale Island). It lies in the northern Norway, to the west of Tromso, above the Arctic Circle. It boasts of captivating mountain ranges and fjords, throughout the year. With a population of less than 15000, most of its area seems unscathed.

A day to remember, a day of double entertainment, the first one being - THE HUSKIES TOUR IN KVALOYA. We had booked a half day tour, well in advance, online on the Villmarkssenter website. We were instructed to reach the Radisson Blu Hotel in Tromso by 8:30 am. The tour was scheduled to begin at 8:45am. We stepped out of "Enter City Tromso" and walked past the Tromso Church. (read TROMSO TOWN). The town lay cleansed from the previous night's snow cum rainfall. Fortunately the day turned out to be a bright and sunny. We reached our venue in less than 15 mins, including all our photo stops. A Mini Van waited readily, fit enough to accommodate 12-16 passengers. We were greeted by a professional team of Villmarrkssenter staff, who introduced us to our experienced driver of the day. Once all the participants arrived the tour began. The comfortable drive, lasting less than 45 minutes, was from TROMSO to KVALOYA, where the company had established their own ' HUSKIES FARM'. We sat warm, while the moving vehicle zoomed past cold, snowy landscapes & exquisite ARCTIC scenery. The Tunnel systems in Tromso is a must experience. There are plenty of hills and mountains in this terrain, due to which, inevitably, the roads are laid right through the hills and are connected to the surrounding islands pretty well. It was just amazing to see another world inside these tunnels. The crossroads inside were fascinating. The sign boards, the signals, it was like any other road system outside. We went on for miles and miles before spotting land again. The quality of these roads can beat the ones on any major national highways, so smooth and well maintained. There is adequate lighting and high roofing here. Loved it !

We reached the Villmarkssenter office and were spellbound by the views around the farm. It felt terrific to be in the middle of a snow land. As a part of preparations for the upcoming sled ride, we were offered THERMAL WEAR to protect ourselves from the cold winds, during the ride. Most of us opted for it. We moved to the changing room. Fitting ourselves into huge sized thermals was the fun part ! It kept us warm though. We also left all our belongings at the reception desk for safe keeping. This enabled us to walk around freely and enjoy our moments to the fullest. We got introduced to a kind, beautiful & knowledgable hostess. She had been in the farm for years rearing these dogs. Her life experiences shared with us, were mind boggling.

Tidy Desk

Before leading us to the kennel farm, she explained in detail everything about the lovely HUSKY breed and how they were reared there. The kennel area was huge. Each dog was given a name & provided with a kennel of its own. The farm reared & trained more than 300 dogs. The kennels were made of wood, with some hidden in the snow. We could hear mild "Ooo"ing and barking throughout. Before we boarded our sledges, we were introduced to our personal Mushers (the person who accompanies & directs the dogs during the sled ride). Our Musher was Youstus. He was a good looking, kind little big boy. He led us to the sled. A short walk up a snowy mound and we came to a halt at a vast piece of land.

There were 6 sledges standing on the snow, waiting for us to board. The dozen dogs were already tied to each sledge. Our group split, moving to their allocated sledge. The wooden sledge looked all robust, floored with animal skin ( looked like cow skin). There were also a few, warm, colourful, woollen shawls provided, to wrap around ourselves during the ride. Each Sled would be pulled by 12 Husky dogs. The dogs were magnificent. Youstus introduced us to his set of Huskies. Our main dog was TINTIN.

The fun ride began. Youstus signalled the dogs to begin, at the same time as the other mushers did theirs. He stood holding the reins, right behind where we sat. We were all tugged away by these dozen, gentle arctic heroes, into the wilderness of Kvaloya Island. The ride was too good for words. The dogs were trained to strictly follow instructions of the musher, without which they would not be spared. Youstus offered to take our pictures till the very end of the journey, at every stop he planned to make. It was great to see loads of snow everywhere, so smooth, shiny and untouched by man. Our sled seemed to be slower than the others. One of the male dogs in our lot , kept turning back and wouldn't run.

Youstus explained to us that the dog was attracted to a female dog behind him in line. When our sled fell far behind the others, he had to stop the ride for a while. He let the naughty dog out & tied him back in line, exchanging his position with the female's. The fella could then concentrate on running ahead looking at his lady love , whilst automatically maintaining the track. From then on the sled rode smoothly & we soon caught up with the others. It was a beautiful journey worth the money and the experience. It lasted for 40 mins during which we were pulled up and down the snowy mounds, with the sun glistening above us, creating a perfect picture. It also provided the turquoise blue effect to the water body spotted around the island. The ride was followed by a few group photographs. We were given the opportunity to get up close and personal with a few dogs that were reared inside a sizeable cage. A warning to tuck in anything hanging from our body was given, as the caged ones were playful. Somehow, despite the effort to keep my shawl inside my Jacket, I overlooked a bit of it hanging out. The ride was followed by a few group photographs. We were given the opportunity to get up close and personal with a few dogs that were reared inside a sizeable cage.