Ice-floating in Lapland

I closed my eyes. Tiny snowflakes drifted onto my face. I tried to register a sound but there were none. Just silence. My body felt weightless, like I was hovering in mid-air, yet I knew I wasn’t. It was a strangely soothing feeling as I felt my muscles quite literally unwind, from my fingers right down to my toes. The sensation of total relaxation surprised me, considering where I was at that very moment: strapped into a thick rubber survival suit and floating in a hole carved out of a frozen lake, 150km north of the Arctic Circle in Finnish Lapland!

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Floating in an icy pool in a frozen lake!

Ice-floating is one of many winter activities in Finnish Lapland. In Ylläs (pronounced as ‘Ool-las’), the premier winter sports destination in Finland, you can book an ice-floating session at Ylläs Adventures. They have an office at Lake Ylläsjärvi, just outside Ylläs, from which all sorts of activities are organised, including husky-sledding, reindeer and snowmobile safaris.

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The smoke sauna

It’s a short stroll to the lake from their office. We passed the smoke sauna (a traditional Lappish experience) before being led into a cute house where I was hoisted, fully-clothed, into a thick survival suit. These suits were designed for Arctic expeditions but here in Ylläs, they have a more relaxing purpose: to keep you warm and afloat in the icy water of the frozen Lake Ylläsjärvi. I had a look at myself in the mirror and burst out laughing – I looked like a Teletubby in that bulky suit!

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I know, I look ridiculous in this Teletubby suit! :-)

Once we were tightly strapped in, we received the green light to venture outside. We trudged through the snow to the lake which was completely frozen except for a ‘pool’ that had been carved out of the ice. After a few instructions, I slowly lowered myself onto the ladder and into the water. The air in the suit rushed from the legs to my upper body, creating a vacuum effect around my legs and the opposite effect around my upper body (which started to look like the ‘Michelin Man’!). Once my feet touched the lake bed, I allowed myself to lean backwards and drift away.

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Descending into the water with my bloated upper body

The first thought that crossed my mind was the sensation of floating in mid-air. “Is this what it feels like in zero-gravity?”, I pondered. The water was calm and the suit kept me warm and snug. My mind and body relaxed in an instant. I lifted my head up every so often to remind myself of where I was. It was surreal to see the frozen lake, the snow-covered trees and the icy water I was in. The only part of my body that started to get cold were my hands.

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Drifting away.....

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...into a blissfull state!

I floated in the pool for about 20-odd minutes in a blissful state before paddling back to the ladder. It was an unworldly experience, one that I would highly recommend to anyone looking for a surreal (and very relaxing) winter experience in Lapland.

Getting there: the closest airport to Ylläs is in Kittilä, about a 40-minute bus-ride away. There are scheduled flights from Helsinki as well as a variety of chartered services from various points in Europe to Kittilä.

Note: a big thank you goes to Visit Finland and Ylläs for hosting me in Lapland. As always, all opinions expressed above are mine.

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22 Responses to “Ice-floating in Lapland”

  1. Keith Jenkins 17/01/2013 3:19 pm
    #

    Rapid-floating?! Wow, that sounds like a big adrenaline-infused floating experience! Haha! :-)

  2. Gordon Lethbridge 17/01/2013 12:11 pm
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    I was in one of those suits when I went rapid floating in Finland. Rapid floating is a bit misleading as it conjures up images of relaxing, as in your piece above. It is much more like rafting the rapids but without a raft – you are the raft. It is exhilarating and fun. You can read about my experiences on my website

  3. velvet 31/07/2012 7:49 am
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    I was there in late-February. Not sure what it’s like in late-Dec. but I suspect it’s dark for a long part of the day but then you get to see the ‘silver light’. :-)

  4. Gusto 30/07/2012 11:46 am
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    hi, in what period of the year did you go? I am considering end Dec/beginning of Jan. Would you recommend it or you think it’d be too dark?

  5. awesome! I would love to do this too and if u say you look ridiculous on the suit, how much more I? If id be wearing those, for my short size, I wonder they got one haha.

    Tranquility at its best in Lapland!

    Cheers!

  6. Hjortur Smarason 28/03/2012 8:01 am
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    Tranquility! Looks nice :) These Teletubby suites are a brilliant thing – and have saved many sailors and fishermen from drowning in the cold sea.

  7. Clare Appleyard 14/03/2012 10:11 am
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    This is on my bucket list! Thanks for making it almost-real ;-)

  8. Anji 13/03/2012 5:09 pm
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    This is so cool- It’s like floating in the ocean but taken to a whole other level! Must have been curiously fun.

  9. Alison 07/03/2012 8:33 pm
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    That ‘teletubby’ suit is hysterical! I’ve never heard of ice floating before, looks like you were having fun though :-)

  10. Luxury Accommodations Blog 07/03/2012 3:47 pm
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    Suddenly, I feel so cold!!!

  11. velvet 07/03/2012 12:01 am
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    When you’re in that suit & floating, time just flies by. I nearly dozed off several times. :-) Thanks for your comment.

    Cheers,
    Keith

  12. velvet 06/03/2012 11:59 pm
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    Haha, thanks for your comment Claudi. Outer space is a great description. It sure felt like it. :-)

    Cheers,
    Keith

  13. Wow, this looks like such a fun adventure! I would definitely give it a try. Not sure I’d last 20 minutes though ;)

  14. ClaudiRTW 06/03/2012 10:26 pm
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    AWESOME! This looks so outer space! Comes to my bucket list! :D Thanx for the inspiration :)

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