I love dogs. Especially big ones. This canine affection was the main reason I was excited to go on a dog sledding trip in North Iceland. Little did I know that this trip would have so much more to offer than huskies.
Huskies aren’t typical Icelandic dogs, nor is dog sledding a common phenomenon here. There are only three companies that offer dog sledding around the island. Geo Travel is one of them, situated close to Lake Mývatn.
After a few phone calls and some detours we arrive at the secluded farm of Heiði, where a family of a couple, three kids and 21 huskies live. Sæmi invites us into his home to change into thermal overalls, so we won’t get cold on the sled. Even though we’re lucky with the weather, I’m glad I took my mom’s advice of wearing extra pants. Once we’re wrapped up and warm, we head down to the kennel where Sæmi’s wife, Bergþóra, welcomes us.
The dogs start barking with excitement when they see us coming. Nine of them are being harnessed to the sled. I stand on the brakes as Bergþóra explains to us the basics of how to ride the sled, and then we’re off—the huskies’ excitement overflows, and they race eagerly over the snowy expanse. It doesn’t take long before all we can see around us is snow, mountains, and the sun peeking between the clouds.
During the one-hour sled around the area we get the chance to pet the huskies during some stops along the way. They’re very excited to be cuddled. You can tell how well they’re treated in how they respond to people. We feel their need for affection even more when the trip is done, so we spend some time with the dogs at the kennel. “We think it’s very important that people get to know the dogs a little bit better,” says Bergþóra. “They’re a little bit crazy before we start, but they’re super nice when we get home.”
Afterwards, we warm up in the house with some hot drinks. The couple tells us how they started running the tours about a year ago, with just a few dogs that Sæmi’s mother had owned for years. He grew up around huskies, and his wife around horses, so their combined expertise in breeding and raising animals is considerable. They keep the kennel unchained, which is a rarity compared to other sledding companies. When asked if they’d like to expand and become a kennel with 200 dogs like bigger companies, Bergþóra laughs: “No! Think of all the dog shit we’d have to pick up.”