Snowmobiling is a practical method of travel for locals in Nordic Countries. We wanted to try it, and found out that the options were either (1) rent your own, or (2) go on a guided tour. The price difference wasn’t that big so we chose the latter for safety reasons – I would be nervous to drive a snowmobile over a frozen lake without a guide, as how do you really know it’s safe? Plus if anything happened, it would be good to have a guide with us. As it happened, this is one of the best decisions we have ever made!
The morning dawned bright and sunny. We were breathalysed before we were allowed to hire a snowmobile. We also had a demonstration on how it worked, and a safety talk. We were told that if we rolled the machine over, to keep your legs up, as if you put your legs down, your leg will be crushed by 300kg of machine and it will break your leg.
Then off we went, whizzing along through the snowy landscape under blue skies. It was thrilling! A truly fun, exhilarating way to see the Finnish countryside. We flew over frozen lakes super fast, and meandered through pretty forested areas. After a couple of hours we were thoroughly enjoying our adventure!
The countryside was stunning; straight out of Narnia. Every so often the guide would stop and check we were all OK, and allow us to snap some photos before we continued with our exciting adventure!
Then, suddenly, as we turned a corner the machine started to tip over. I put my leg down to right it, like on a bicycle. Obviously this was the wrong thing to do. I just remember it like in slow motion and then lying in the snow with sharp pain in my leg, yelling in shock “my leg is under it!”. It became apparent that my leg would not come out, and there was no-one around to lift it off me, so I managed to use my other leg to push the top of the machine away from me which levered it up, so I got just enough space to get my leg out. I then crawled away from the machine, as if it was about to explode, and then collapsed into the snow. It was like being in a movie; these things don’t happen in real life.
The other tourists were really kind and helpful, and after a while the instructor came back to see where we had got to. I was able to wiggle my toes so I didn’t think it was broken. I was pulled to my feet and got back on the snowmobile but I was definitely in shock. I cried into my visor as we continued on another half mile to the lunch stop. All though lunch my leg was throbbing with pain and the sweet tour guide kept asking “is it still hurting?” I was like Yes!!
Lunch was lovely; sausages cooked over an open fire, washed down by coffee or hot blackberry juice, and sweet buns to follow. The fire was warming and we were happy that we got to experience one of the huts with a fire inside.
The way back went painfully slowly. While on the way out we were thrilled to be speeding along, on the way back we were both terrified. I was gripping my BF shouting “don’t go too fast!”. The worst bit was when we went over a frozen lake which looked slushy, and we started to tip slightly to the right, then to the left. There was a layer of snow about 3 foot deep on top of the frozen lake and I was so scared, thinking if we go over now, I will probably suffocate in the snow. I was so so so glad to be back at the snowmobile office.
So would I recommend snowmobiling? If you can keep your legs up, you will be fine and enjoy it! It was like 2 different trips; before the accident and after. Before, it was amazing. After; terrifying. I would defo recommend going with a guided trip. Our guide was so lovely and it was peace of mind knowing we had him and his resources (ie. the company’s insurance) behind us if anything went wrong. I felt bad that this happened on his trip. Other tourists told us that they had tipped over on previous trips but they kept their legs up so it was fine. It was my fault for putting my leg down to the ground, but it was natural instinct.
I personally wouldn’t do it again due to my bad experience. But I do think that if snowmobiles tip over fairly easily then either they need to be changed so they have lower centre of gravity or something, so they don’t tip (like cars – you can tip a car over but you have to be driving really fast or in bad driving conditions. It’s not easy to tip a car over) OR, if it’s so crucial that you keep your legs up, there could be some clip to keep legs up. It is human nature to put your legs down, like riding a bicycle – if a bike tips over, you put your leg down to steady yourself.
As for my leg, I saw a doctor there, and luckily it wasn’t broken, just soft tissue damage. I was lucky we fell in soft snow 🙂 I just had to put ice packs on it and rest it, and eventually the pain and bruising went down, though I was still concerned by a hard lump I could feel inside my leg. My BF thought I was overreacting though and said “stop showing off your slight bruise” !!! Thanks for being so supportive, honey.
- There is no doctor that accepts EHIC in Ruka; the only doctor in the village is private. The nearest one is apparently in Kuusamo (30 mins drive away). But we were covered by the insurance of the snowmobile place. If not, maybe our travel insurance would have covered it.
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