We woke from a cosy and surprisingly satisfyingly long sleep, on the ice.
Utterly ravenous and ready for breakfast.
Closely followed by a hot shower, a quick change and we were off again!
Ready for a new Swedish adventure.
Ready to meet some reindeer.
We snuck off into the woods, to meet a few reindeer from a herd of thousands.
While the rest spend the winter out and about in the mountains, the littles and the elders are brought in to be fed and looked after.
So, much to our delight, we helped give everyone their morning feed.
Which consists largely of moss and nuts.
Much like most January “detox plans”.
We fed them, stroked them and let their fuzzy muzzles nuzzle our mittens. (Say that three times fast!)
Even in the process of shedding this year’s antlers, they still all looked incredibly fine and proud.
Though some are naturally shyer than others, just like any party, there’s no better ice breaker than a fist full of food.
Our guide hopped on a sled and gave us a rough idea of how to drive.
“Hold on tight, because there are no breaks!”
And we were off!
Racing through the woods, with nothing but reindeer power.
(Thankfully they don’t fly until Christmas eve. Might have been tougher to hold on for take off.)
Having thanked our trusty steeds, we snuggled up in the tipi for tea.
Sneaking out to watch the mid-day sunset over the frozen river.
Nature in all her glory.
We played in the deep powder and couldn’t help but just stare in amazement at our surroundings.
Being swallowed up by the vast, silent beauty of it all.
And just feeling so lucky to be able to experience it together.
We hiked back to The Ice Hotel just as the sunset reached its final blazing glory.
And then, all of a sudden, it was gone.
Plunging us into darkness for the rest of the afternoon.
Just the excuse we needed for a serious pampering session.
We booked the “Sauna Experience” which turned out to be one of the best parts of our trip. Out on the river, flaming torches are lit, guiding you from the ice and into the warm.
Huskys race by, their sleds heaving with waving passengers.
Inside, you strip off, scrub yourself (or each other – you get the whole place to yourself, you see) in the shower before baking yourself silly in the wood-fired sauna.
Once you’re hot and bothered, you race outside and roll in fresh snow.
Shouting and swearing as you go!
Hopping back in to the comfort of the sauna once more.
There waiting for you is a bucket of water and some birch branches, which you whip each other with. It increases circulation and makes your skin feel incredible!
Then once you’re really hot… the big challenge comes.
You wrap up in a robe and little wellies, and follow the fires back down to the river. Here a hole has been cut in the ice, leaving nothing but a dark, bottomless flowing river beneath…
You just about have time to whip your robe off, kick off your wellies before jumping in!
The ice hits you like a ton of bricks and a million needles all at once, completely taking your breath away.
Totally stunned you swim to the slippery wooden ladder and haul yourself out. Hurridly wrapping your robe around you before sprinting back up the hill and leaping into the wood-fired hot tub!
Still somewhat giggly, delirious and slightly unsure of what you’ve just done!
But with a couple of glasses of wine to sooth your nerves, you soon relax into the spirit of things.
The place is yours to keep for the rest of the evening, so you can go full prune if you like (so of course we did).
In my rather exciting (and flattering) new one piece…
From here, and I’ve popped a few other options below.