Yesterday my Finnish friend, Marika, and I returned to her apartment here in Finland after having spent a week wild camping in Lapland. It took us a good 15 hours to drive back as we had been very far up north in a bid to see as much as possible, but the drive was worth everything, because we had a brilliant week.
To be honest, I’m actually quite sad about being back. I could easily have spent several weeks or months in Lapland. It is so beautiful there. In many ways it reminded me of the Scottish Highlands and yet it was completely different. All I can say is that you definitely must visit. I wouldn’t have wanted to be without this experience.
Was it a learning experience? I can assure you that it was indeed.
So, what did I learn from a week of wild camping in Lapland?
1. I’m tougher than I thought I was
I think some people were a bit sceptical when I told them that I was going wild camping in Lapland. You know, me sleeping in a tent, no toilet around, no shower, no clean clothes. It’s not something I usually associate with me, to be honest.
But you know what? I freaking did it! I survived and I feel awesome about it.
We cooked our meals (noodles and soups) on a little camping gas cooker, our shower consisted of a wet wipe, the toilet was behind a tree, and our clothes were constantly dirty.
Sure, it’s probably not a lifestyle I’m going to embrace full time, but I enjoyed trying it out and testing myself. And I’m happy to say that I would do it all again.
2. Wolves and bears do not like people
All right, I already knew this, but before I went to Lapland I couldn’t stop speculating: what if a bear smells the food we’re cooking and comes to attack us? Do I play dead? Do I run? Thanks Internet, for giving me conflicting information!
What if a wolf pack shows up? Do I growl back at them or throw a shoe at them?
You need to be cautious when you’re wild camping in a place that has this kind of wildlife, but these thoughts were quite irrational. Of course a bear is not gonna come out and charge you and a wolf pack is gonna stay the hell away from you. But hey, when it’s midnight and you’re in the middle of nowhere, you can’t help having these thoughts. But don’t worry, I didn’t see any bears nor wolves. However, I did see about 50 reindeer!
3. It doesn’t matter what you look like
I’m sometimes very conscious about the way I look. I will often have make up on even if I’m not going anywhere, I don’t like wearing dirty clothes and I like brushing my hair and having it washed at least every two or three days.
Well, these things just don’t matter when you’re camping. Who cares what you look like?
On our way home from Lapland, Marika actually suggested that we should have taken a before and after photo. We looked so awful on the way home. But sorry to disappoint you, there’s no before and after photo. I wasn’t quite ready for that.
4. I have a very strong feeling of hate towards mosquitoes
People are quite surprised when I tell them about all of our mosquito bites from Lapland. Lapland isn’t quite the place you would associate with lots of little flying pests.
Well, I’m sure there are none in the winter time when it’s freezing and covered in snow, but oh my God, there’s a fuck tonne in the summer. On our first night of wild camping in Lapland we had barely gotten out of the car before we were attacked by these bloodsuckers.
It was quite a pain in the butt and we did get bitten a lot despite almost bathing in mosquito repellent, but it was a part of the experience, I guess.
5. I need to appreciate things more and I’m grateful for what I have
I appreciate toilets, showers, soap, clean clothes, beds, electricity and running water so much more now, I think.
I guess the saying is right: you don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone!
6. I want to make drastic changes to my life
All right, I can’t share too much of what this is about as it is something that will require a lot of thinking and talking through first. But I want to make some serious changes to my lifestyle. I already love the life I’m living now and I love my freedom so very much, but I have realized that there are more (or another sense of) freedom to be obtained. And I want it.
I want to change the way I travel and work – I will update you more on this later on – hopefully sometime this month.
7. I would do it all over again
Despite one freezing cold night, despite the heavy rain and wind for two days, despite not having proper food, despite sleeping on the rough ground, despite the lack of showers and a normal toilet, I would do it all over again. All of it. The whole thing. If you asked me to go now I wouldn’t hesitate.
I think wild camping in Lapland will be one of the memories I will cherish the most from 2017. And we’re only halfway through the year! But it has been such a great experience in such a beautiful place that I can’t do anything but feel incredibly grateful and lucky for this opportunity. Promise me that you will do yourself a favour and try it out yourself.
Have you ever been wild camping in Lapland? Let me know by leaving a comment.