Elk safari with horse trekking
Against the backdrop of the peaks of Kebnekaise, the snow lies deep, soft and white. The Iceland horses move slowly towards a group of Elks, who look up, initially on their guard. This is a unique and very close encounter. Horses, Elks, and guides know each other well, and the meeting is relaxed and characterized by mutual respect.
When the cold, snowy Arctic winter takes its stranglehold on the Lapland landscape, the elk’s food supply is drastically reduced. The animal is forced closer to more populated areas. One of these sites is Ofelas Farm, immediately east of Kiruna, where up to 30-40 Elks gather every winter. By staying close to the farm, the Elks know they have access to the horses’ hay at night, before returning to the surrounding forest at daybreak.
This elk safari on horseback is based on an intimate interaction where all parties know each other well. Elks and horses are used to each other. The Sami guides, Kerstin and Matti, have long experience of the winter Elks and know how to interpret various signs as they approach the herd. This is a unique meeting characterized by mutual respect, intimacy and sensitive communication between wild Elks, tame horses, and experienced guides.
Elks are almost always encountered on the treks, and there are very often fine photo opportunities. However, it must be remembered that meetings with wildlife are always unpredictable, so no guarantees can be provided. Nevertheless, Ofelas’ Sami guides can always talk about the various individuals in the herd, previous elk encounters, reindeer herding in the winter, and the everyday work on the farm.
After a trek of one or two hours on well-tramped paths, where the crunching of the hooves on the snow is the only sound in the otherwise silent, snowy forest, the tour returns to Ofelas Farm. On return, the first job is feed to the horses, then settle down to lunch indoors, comprising local delicacies based on reindeer or elk meat. The meal is rounded off with a sweet dessert based on summer berries, together with coffee.
The tour ends with a transfer back to Kiruna, where the adventure started just over four hours earlier.