Travel is all about planes, trains, and automobiles. But there's a lot to be said for tours that give you the opportunity to do something a little different. If you're visiting one of the world's wintery landscapes, you may want to explore it by snowmobile. Snowmobiling tours take you through remote areas and frozen countrysides, where you might be treated to unique activities like dog sledding, stargazing, or taking a swim in a natural hot spring.
Tours are organized along established snowmobiling routes and you'll have a guide you along the way on your adventure to keep you safe and give you information about the local land, wildlife, and culture. It's a great way to discover the mountainous regions of Canada or the snowy depths of Scandinavia, where you might catch a glimpse of the northern lights. Accommodations vary from camping to cozy resort stays and can be tailored to your preference for an adjusted price.
Where to Go
Winter in Finland is an unparalleled adventure. Snowmobiling tours are offered for riders of different levels of experience, so you can tailor your trip around the Finnish Lapland. You'll spend your free nights in resort towns like Abisko while exploring the wintry wilderness in search of the northern lights. These kinds of tours also give you the opportunity to take advantage of other exciting winter activities like dog sledding. If you're feeling extra adventurous, you might want a tour that allows you to spend the night in an ice hotel. Tours are offered during the winter season from December to March.
Chile is fantastic for getting to know the South Pacific winter, and nothing puts you right in the middle of the action quite like a snowmobiling tour around the Andes Mountains. With the guidance and support of a team of expert snowmobilers, you'll get to indulge in powdery fun in an all but desolate part of the Chilean countryside. Tours include the option to stay in a resort or at base camp, so you can adjust your trip to your preferred level of comfort. In the Southern Hemisphere, availability for these kinds of tours will be from June to October.
Known for its wonderful cities like Montreal and Vancouver, Canada is sometimes not given enough credit for being the vast winter wonderland that it is. Snowmobiling expeditions around the Purcell and Rocky Mountains can show you parts of the country few have ever seen. As you zigzag around mountain ridges and vast meadows, you'll have the opportunity to see wildlife on backcountry safaris. Tours are offered in the winter season from January through March.
Iceland's Golden Circle provides a wide variety of fascinating natural wonders to discover and one of the coolest ways to explore is to take off on a snowmobiling tour. You'll trek from volcanoes to glaciers, stopping to relax in the natural hot springs or to appreciate the awesome power of waterfalls and geysers that gush every couple of minutes. Though you can find snowmobiling day trips all year round, multi-day tours are generally offered between September and April.
Planning Your Trip
What to Look for in a Snowmobiling Tour
Snowmobiling tours are limited in location and scope due to the fact that winter can be unpredictable and most companies want to take you to locations that will be safe to visit. You should take into account the specific itinerary and how comfortable you want to be -- do you prefer to camp or stay in a resort hotel?
A snowmobiling tour may require some specific planning and equipment, including getting to remote airports and bringing along things like polarized sunglasses. Your tour company should provide specific information about what is and isn't included and anything they recommend bringing from home.
Average Snowmobiling Tour Cost & Length
Snowmobiling tours are generally short, anywhere from 3-6 days, unless they're part of a larger country tour that includes a couple of days in remote areas. Depending on the location and activities included, you can expect to pay anywhere from $1,200-$2,500. This includes the use of the snowmobile, which may or may not be shared by two people, and accommodation. Whether you're on the high or low end of that range depends on the accommodation you choose.
Packing Tips & Gear Rental
When packing for a winter adventure like a snowmobiling tour, you must be ready for all kinds of weather. Warm snow boots and weatherproof jackets and pants are a must. Because snowmobiling around can send ice cold air flying into your face, you should invest in accessories like ski masks and hand warmers. You should check with your tour company to see if helmets include eye protection or if you'll need to bring your own ski goggles.
Unlike a traditional vacation, taking a snowmobiling tour will put you in remote areas for longer periods of time. This means that before you head out, you should pack everything that won't be easily accessible or affordable in a very small town on a snowy mountain. Your tour company can provide you more information about essential things to pack and how much spending money you should bring in cash. It's likely you'll spend time in areas where you won't have cell phone service, so get ready to disconnect!
Qualification & Training
Though you don't need snowmobiling experience to take a tour, in order to drive snowmobiling routes in many countries, you are expected to have a valid driver's license. Since specific requirements vary, you should double check the country and tour company requirements to ensure that you have the adequate license to allow you to drive a snowmobile on your own. For instance, some countries may not accept a license unless it's an international driver's license.
If it's your first time on a snowmobile, your tour company can provide training in order to safely operate it through the routes you'll be taking during your tour. Though you'll likely be traveling along safe routes, you should pay close attention to how to maneuver the snowmobile, including making tight turns and stopping.
As with the operation of any motorized vehicle, snowmobiling has inherent risks, especially since you'll be traveling out in slippery slopes surrounded by trees and other potential hazards. It's essential to follow the lead of your tour guide, being very cautious not to speed or wander into an area that may be dangerous. On shared snowmobiles, both people should be seated securely and wear all safety equipment like helmets.
Taking a snowmobiling tour will be an exciting ride, and even though you don't want to expect the worst, you should prepare for it. This is why you should purchase travel insurance before you head overseas. This can cover you in the event of accidents or injury as well as other costly travel problems like lost luggage or canceled flights. Since you'll be traveling in winter when weather-related travel disruptions are more common, insurance is an excellent investment.