Tucked away 50km from the Norwegian border lies the majestic Swedish valley of Edsasdalen, venue for the inaugural Yamaha Winter Campaign 2010 Snowmobile Safari.
In January, 18 winners from all over Europe were selected to take part in the Snowmobile Safari, each having successfully entered the Yamaha Winter Campaign.
Now the chosen few find themselves in the middle of Edsasdalen’s virgin white landscape, readying themselves for their maiden trip on Yamaha Venture Lite snowmobiles.
The previous day the winners arrived at Stockholm’s Arlanda airport where they were greeted by Yamaha Motor Europe staff. They expressed their excitement and anticipation in mixed fragments of English, French, German, Italian and other European languages.
A late dinner, a few beers and a deep and restful sleep uninterrupted by any outside sounds in this remote environment, and we're standing in front of our snowmobiles. Snug in our warm overalls, we listen intently as Jan, the chief guide, takes us through the controls. Turn the key. Thumb-controlled throttle on the right, brake on the left but a deft touch is needed to avoid locking the back end. Heated grips are controlled here... you might be grateful for these. Off we go...
Progressing through Edsastalen’s snowy highlands you wonder if anybody lives out here. The landscape is unspoiled by signs of civilisation. A thick layer of snow covers the hills and mountains. Snowmobile tracks meander through deserted forests and speed over frozen lakes.
Our snaking caravan of 23 Venture Lites picks its way through the striking landscape. The temperature is tolerable, but we have to lean into a strong wind in open country to keep our snowmobiles on course.
Frozen lakes present their own challenges. Top speeds of up to 100 km/h are easily reached, but at these velocities you need your wits about you. The meter thick ice is topped with small ramps formed by the wind and snow. It’s really exiting to experience these high speeds over the lake, while driving in this breathtaking landscape.
We are reminded just how thick the ice on the lakes is when we stop and drill through it to fish for our dinner. We wait patiently but in vain for the fish to bite. Fortunately the hotel has predicted this eventuality and prepared a meal for us.
Late afternoon and back at the hotel, many of the winning group enjoy the sauna while others prepare for dinner with a few local beers. Night falls fast in Sweden at this time of year, and our exhausted riders head for bed early.
The next day the Snowmobile Safari winners are split into two groups. While one enjoys more snowmobile riding at higher speeds on more challenging terrain, the other group engages in the more sedate but equally engaging charms of sledging with huskies.
The eager dogs, 10 to a sledge, swoosh across the majestic landscape. It’s an easy day’s work for the huskies who are trained to compete in five-day, 1000km endurance races. In competition the dogs pull sleds made from carbon fibre and titanium, for our trip they’re harnessed to the more traditional wooden type. A team of huskies might be slower than a Yamaha Venture but that does nothing to diminish the experience. Our trip ends with moose fondue and a lot of 'Scholl' in the 'Hutte'.
All of the Snowmobile Safari winners leave exhausted but elated after the adventure of a lifetime.
Watch out for the next Yamaha Winter Campaign. Next year it could be your turn to share a Yamaha adventure!