The happiest country in the world

According to visit Finland the country is the happiest country in the world. So, when iProtectU were invited to meet new potential clients in the country, we packed the cold weather kit and decided to meet with them in two of the country’s main regions.

The Fabulous Four as they are more commonly known

There are 4 regions in total which include the Helsinki, Coast and Archipelago, Lakeland and Lapland regions. The latter is the residence of Santa, whom we can confirm is hard at work making dreams come true for children and a lot of adults everywhere.

Happiness - its simply in the nature of the people

We can also confirm that Finland is a happy place indeed, in fact Happiness – is at the heart of most experiences in Finland, its simply in the nature of the people. Our primary reason for being in Finland, namely our safety and compliance software apps, we will cover in the new year. Instead, this story is about our experiences in the country, some of the new relationships we have formed and a shout out for those that provided exemplary customer service.

Everyone that we were fortunate to meet in Finland were simply captivatingly and happy people. Its highly infectious too, so be careful if you want to find out what happiness is truly like then book a flight, hire a car, or contact Stay Lapland for a sleigh and huskie's. Stay Lapland, based in Rovaniemi in the heart of Lapland can also arrange everything else for you including equipment, if your thinking of planning a trip yourself, they come highly recommended. Their desire to please, attention to your comfort and safety, and expert local knowledge was truly commendable.

Our journey started in the Helsinki region, which includes the capital city and its metropolitan area. A big thank you to The Finnish Museum of Natural History along with all of the other museums in Helsinki we visited. Helsinki is also home for most of the organisations that we met. As said earlier, more about this in the new year.

Travelling from Helsinki, our next stop was Rovaniemi, Lapland. The home of Santa, Reindeer and winter wonderland landscapes and of course more happiness.

Choosing the overnight train from Helsinki with a sleeper cabin is by far the best way to get there, its less carbon and like everything else in Finland efficient and full of smiles. At this time of year, it’s also the main mode of transport for Santa pilgrims young and old. 

You arrive into what can best be described as the cover photo of a classic old fashioned Christmas card scene. 

Its also cheaper than a commuter ticket from Portsmouth to London which is less than 120Km. The distance from Helsinki to Rovaniemi by train is about 880 km (547 miles). The travel time usually depends on the type of VR train you choose and varies from around 8 to 12 hours, so sleep and arrive in the morning is a great option.

You can also arrive by horse or husky, it just takes a little longer than the VR train.

Sally Beck

Compliance Director and accomplished horse whisperer

Planning a Group Trip to Rovaniemi City

Rovaniemi is the perfect destination for an educational experience, students, teachers and support staff alike would find this a most enjoyable trip.

The risk assessment would need to cover controls for the travel and any activities. Using a reputable experienced tour company like Stay Lapland will provide most of the controls for the adventure activities and the equipment and clothing required to ensure both safety and comfort of the group.

iProtectU Risk Assessment Software and its outbound tours templates will also get you started.  Combine this with our newly released ISO 31030 Travel Risk Assessment Software and fully integrated government travel advice.

The city of Rovaniemi, in Lapland, is also home to Santa Claus Village, a unique theme park located right on the Arctic Circle, which at this time of year is a must visit if your in the region.

Ice fishing, horse riding in the woods, husky sleigh rides in the forest, reindeer farm visit, are some of the other adventures that are available.

For more information contact:

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Ice Fishing by Snowmobile

Ice Fishing, isn’t really about the fish. Again it is an incredibly peaceful distraction, despite the harsh conditions that can change at any time. 

The thought of sitting on a semi frozen stool, in a 2m circular clearing in the snow lined fringes of a frozen lake, might not be everyone’s idea of peace and tranquillity. 

But then, dangle a lure on the end of a 12 inch purpose built rod and you are now in pursuit of the largest. The largest roach, pike, perch or anything else still able to move in the freezing temperatures and able to be extracted through a 6 inch bore hole.

Thankfully, local expertise on ice fishing ensured everyone enjoyed what was another unforgettable experience. Bore your own hole, clear your own space, take off the gloves for <30 seconds at a time and enjoy the scenes, be happy and let the fishing stories begin. 

When your with the right people, warm and safe in the right clothing and surrounded by idyllic snow covered woodland. That infectious happiness hits you again, our guides beard and eyebrows were frozen, but his face, stories and desire to please told a different story. We shared stories, photos of previous captures and a brief glance in any direction sums up what fishing is really about, nature at its best. In Finland the surroundings in every direction are captivatingly and stunningly beautiful.

I have to say the journey to the lake and the return to base by snowmobile added the trill factor for me.

All activities had a safety briefing before commencing with appropriate numbers of guides to the size of group. In a nutshell we were really looked after and experienced a safe time in some of the worlds harshest conditions.

Waterways in Lapland are usually covered by thick ice, however again the advice is to only do activities such as ice fishing and snowmobiling with a reputable local guide.

Project Team Meeting

Dedication and commitment

Wayne Beck 

Managing Director and Team Transport Lead

Looks like we are going in a different direction to the others, we are however leading the way.

The Northern Lights

The Northern Lights (Aurora Borealis) and the answers to the most asked questions, such as where and when to see the Northern Lights, is best left to the experts.

Wear warm appropriate clothing for night time and remember only go out of the city with experienced guides. To see the lights at their best you need to be as far away from the light pollution from the cities.

Snow, ice, unfamiliar surroundings, unpredictable weather and darkness are considerable risks and should never be underestimated.

Never go alone, and go easy on your guides if the cloud comes in or the weather changes. They can provide amazing viewpoints but they cant control the weather.

Stay Lapland and the team headed by Joni Romppanen (Chief Executive Officer) ensured safety was always top of the agenda. All the guides provided are experienced locals, clothing is provided to ensure consistent standards of comfort, hot food and hot traditional berry drinks warmed over open fire pits in traditional Finnish cabins ensure your experience.

Husky Sleigh

Experience some of nature’s most beautiful places while enjoying the speed of huskie’s. For those that think a snowmobile is fun, you need to try a 5 or 6 engine version of a husky ride. 

This tour offers a unique blend of adventure, nature, and cultural immersion, all wrapped up in the warmth of husky companionship.

Let the huskie’s lead you on an unforgettable journey through the Arctic landscapes of Rovaniemi. 

The experienced team will provide you with all the essential information, ensuring your safety and enjoyment. They are passionate about huskie’s and will make sure the experience will stay with you forever.

You’ll be captivated by the serene beauty of the Arctic wilderness and the exhilarating speed of the huskie’s as they pull you through the landscape. These are really powerful dogs and born to run.

Weather and the unpredictable

During our short stay, temperatures dropped to -15°C and it can get even colder. Weather conditions can change very rapidly, so be prepared for all kinds of weather. You will need to bring appropriate clothing,  suitable for artic weather conditions,  base layers, warm clothing, multiple loose layers keep the cold at bay as the air between the layers provides good insulation. Footwear should be spacious and dry, with thick thermal warm socks. Your tour operator will provide additional clothing and safety equipment appropriate for the activity.

Remember your fingers, toes, cheeks, nose and ears are most susceptible to cold so cover up. This is not a place where you need to be concerned about what you look like, the warmer you are the more comfortable and enjoyable your experience will be.

Food and Drink

Food always tastes better when someone else is cooking it for you. However, there is something about the cold conditions that make everything taste better. Supermarkets stock fresh local produce if you are self catering and restaurants offer simple yet incredibly tasty cuisine.

Everything from fast food, international cuisine to local dishes are all served with a side of Finnish happiness.

The food we experienced was connected to the stunning landscapes that produce it. Berries are an important part of the landscape and used extensively in Lapland.

Arctic forests and bogs grow bilberries, cloudberries and bright red lingonberries. Our favourite evening drink was Glögi made from hot red wine and spices such as cinnamon, with cloves, almonds and raisins.

These berries are highly flavoured and also provide health benefits and a boost to the immune system. Berries are used in a simply superb local desert recipe known as leipäjuusto, which is a fried soft cheese, garnished with locally picked berries.

Freshwater and saltwater fish are popular meals in Lapland. The Kemijoki and Ounasjoki rivers both meet in Rovaniemi and anglers who brave the elements provide fish for themselves and local restaurants.

Salmon is both high quality and inexpensive when compared to the UK. Salmon soup being one of the traditional dishes enjoyed by most people as an iconic Lapland dinner, we now know why – its delicious.

The kaalikäärylet


The purity of northern wilderness and the care that Finns take in preparing any meal guarantees some of the most mouth-watering dishes you’ve ever tried. The cuisine may be simple, but it’s packed full of fresh flavours such as fresh berries, mushrooms and game.

Reindeer have been herded in Lapland for centuries, its also sustainably managed in harmony with the environment. Other food to try includes bread cheese, mushrooms, barley flatbread and simply delicious almond potatoes.

You will dehydrate in cold conditions, so increase fluid intake and take plenty of water on journeys into the wilderness.

Happy Christmas and New Year to everyone.

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