Get active this winter
New 2009/2010 Winter Activities Brochure out now.
If you thought a winter holiday began and ended with downhill skiing then think again!
'Working on the BBC programme High Altitude has given me more than my share of winter adventure, and opened my eyes to the vast range of activities available once you decide to leave the confines of a standard ski resort. Anything from Dogsleding the Arctic circle to cross-country skiing in the Pyrenees, Exodus offers you a chance to do something totally different this winter. How challenging you decide to make it is up to you.' Graham Bell, presenter of BBC TV's 'Ski Sunday' and 'High Altitude'.
Exodus experts Andy Buswell and Tom Wilkinson talk about their recent trips...
Lapland Adventure & the Icehotel (CSI) by Andy Buswell
At this very moment in time the Swedish sun is midway through a 100-day period without setting, melting all the snow and ice of the winter season and transforming the countryside into a vibrant green.
But as the days get shorter the light fades to black providing the perfect arena for the spectacular 'Northern Lights' show. In the meantime the temperature is dropping fast allowing the artists to begin sculpting the magical Icehotel.
The surrounding area is a vast wilderness of deep forests and frozen lakes. I was woken up by the sound of friendly huskies (who had been awake for hours by this stage) barking in anticipation of the safari they were about to embark on. The dogsledding could wait for another day so I bid my farewell to the lively team of dogs and roared towards the pretty riverside village of Jukkasjarvi - home to the Icehotel. The idea was born thirteen years ago out of an igloo housing artworks and since then the crystal-clear ice of the nearby River Torne has provided a uniquely impressive design every year.
Stepping off my skidoo donning a pair of thick gloves and a thick arctic suit I embarked on a tour of ice blocks admiring the work that had gone into each room with themes varying from dragons to chess sets. You can even get married here and celebrate with a glass of 'Absolut' in the Ice Bar.
But it is the surrounding area that excites me the most and being able to explore on 16 paws on a husky safari, two feet whilst skiing or the powerful engine of a snowmobile. Either way you won't see a soul for miles and your best friend is the beautiful nature all around you.
Cross-country skiing Mosstrond (CXN) & Norwegian Winter Activity Week (CNM) by Tom Wilkinson
This incredible relationship with nature is very much a part of life in Scandinavia and in early March I found myself feeling the same sense of awe for my surroundings. I travelled to Mosstrond, on the edge of the Hardangervidda National Park in the heart of the Telemark region of southern Norway, to visit a former boarding school recently converted to welcome guests instead of pupils.
Mosstrond is a predominantly farming community stretched along the shores of lake Mosvatn, about 3 ½ hours from Oslo. The recently renamed Mosstrond Turisthytte was once the local school, but this is Norway so it's a little different. For one thing it's on an island in the middle of the lake, so just getting there is an adventure.
Our hosts, Philip and Maiken Yatman, are well used to life on the island and Philip arrives to pick us up on his snow scooter. By the time we arrive on the island of Hovden we're buzzing with excitement of the fantastic scenery stretching out in every direction. The island still has the school buildings, a church and a farm and most of all, that rarest of commodities to a Londoner, peace and tranquillity.
The school house and accommodation have been refurbished without ignoring their traditional charm, and as we sit drinking tea around the large wooden kitchen table I stare out across the beautiful winter landscape and think how much I'd like to spend a week here, exploring this beautiful wilderness on skis, snowshoes or by sled. It's like having your own private snow covered playground, with Philip to show you all the best games.
You simply don't find environments like these anywhere else.