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Can you tell me about Ruka, Finland?

 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
Hello peeps, after spending weeks researching and planning to go to Poland in February I've gone and booked a week in Ruka! All very exciting, never been to that part of the world, so, a tad giddy, searching the forum tells me a good few of you have been though and that pleases me greatly - you're just so much more reliable than the rest of the internets... & I can't remember who it was but a big thank you to whoever linked to the virtual Ruka map thing, excellent stuff, I keep gazing at it prettiness.

So, first things first, will I freeze to death on my first outing? I have bought a balaklava/mask thing and am certain I need new gloves (reckon I'll tag a thread in equipment for advice there) being as I can't do two hours in the Chillfactore without either crying or needing to go for a warming break I have a bit of fear... Any advice gratefully received Little Angel

Staying at Rukahovi something or other, seems to have at least 3 names, hotel. Looks fine & fair enough - any recommendations for lunchtime spots? Evening outings?

Looks a really small place but would I be being ridiculous to expect to arrive Sunday & be able to take our skis somewhere for waxing ready for Monday? I'm bone idle and would like to avoid hassles of getting this done before going - by 'hassles' I'm thinking carrying skis downstairs!

Planning on getting a couple of lessons early on to get a measure of the hill & getting around.

What would you recommend as your absolute must do, can't be missed additional activity? Seen a few on the website but won't have time, funds or energy for everything. Reindeer sleighs, husky sledges, skidoos, how does the organised northern lights tour thing pan out? Anyone done it? I read something about a tracker to check, any further info?

Finally, for now, we are going with crystal never been with them before, stressing already about packing to their exacting requirements, please tell me it's manageable. snowHead
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
I went to Ruka with the family in feb 1/2 term 2017 so I can answer most questions. rob@rar has taken a group there and did a TR so a search should bring some stuff up. We stayed in Ruka suites.

It’s quite a small area, which was great with little children because they also felt like they could ski most of the area and find their favourite runs.

Favourite alternative activities were Husky ride, then skidoo ride. Both were excellent. Organised things through the travel agency under Ruka Suites (by the supermarket and booze shop) rather than Crystal, but we also went with Crystal as flights are hopeless otherwise from MAN.
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 Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?


@kittya, we stayed in the Rukahovi when we visited in 2016. You can see some photos of our trip here. It's a small resort, so you'll easily get to grips with it. They've added a new chairlift and a gondola since our trip, reducing the number of uplifts you'll need on drags and t-bars. If you are booking ski lessons the ski school office is right next door to your hotel, in the same building as ski rental (I think they do ski servicing there) and a nice bar / restaurant. If you are booking a private lesson see if you can get Ökö Heikkala, he's the head of the ski school so might be unavailable, but a nice guy if you can book him.

We had unusually warm weather when we were there, about the same as a typical week in the Alps, but it is usually much colder so take all the layers you have including a facemask or balaclava.

For lapland activities we used Ruka Adventures, which is the same agency as what...snow used. They were well organised and offered a range of activities. We did the snowmobile, husky dog teams and the guided snowshoe walk in to the local national park. All excellent fun, especially the snowmobiles and husky dogs. Travelling at 80kph on a snowmobile across a frozen lake with 15cm of soft, sticky snow on top was fun but a little nerve-wracking! We would have liked to have done the ice kart racing but it was a bit too warm as the spiked tyres would have chewed up the ice too much. Our week was fairly overcast and we didn't have any Northern Lights alerts, so did get that opportunity. Next time...

It's an interesting and enjoyable trip. Very different from a week in the Alps, and you need to see it as a broader holiday than just skiing - the lapland activities definitely make up for the limited amount of skiing. Locals are extremely friendly, and it is embarrassing how good their English is.
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@what...snow, & @rob@rar, thank you, haven't booked anything apart from ski carriage with crystal, nice of them to specifically state you can put clothes in the bag Cool will be bursting with fleeces & thermals

what...snow did you book any lessons or just do your own thing? Hadn't thought to be specific about such things was looking at straightforward booking through the ski school website, see what's on offer.

Rob@rar thanks for the pictures link, they'd disappeared from your trip report, looks amazing... When you say 'limited amount of skiing' what amount do you mean? Not everyday? Or activities before/after skiing? Or limited as in runs available? Not too bothered by amounts of miles available, I'm fine doing the same run all day until I'm happy then go find another, small places suit me, (well, as long as it's more than 180mtrs).

Would you reckon we'd be better off booking activities once we're there then rather than online? Snowshoe excursion looks very tempting Very Happy I'm not sure I'm the person for driving snowmobiles or huskies, I'm utterly gormless and prone to the odd accident, much better a passenger.

This northern lights malarkey is a gamble isn't it? Don't fancy paying a fortune to go and have a brew in a teepee on the off chance, have seen them before, decades ago, from Scotland & most spectacularly, about 5 years ago, from a plane coming from Turkey, the pilot got all excited and made everyone wake up to see, amazing. checking out one of those tracker things and did not understand a thing, it was all co-ordinates & gobbledygook to me...anyway, got two months to figure that out.

Again, thanks muchly
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 Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
It is small and cold.

Friendly locals.
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Been to ruka 3 times and back for the Xmas week. (Sparse on snow at moment but cannons working away! ) I know a lot of development is going on so will do a tr when I get back. Nothing very steep or long but our big loved it and could choose the slopes he wanted to do. They have a decent park too. We did a bit of xc skiing too which I loved and rest humoured me! Rukahovi right in centre of village but everywhere is accessible. We tended to end up in the Colorado for a beer after skiing. Our son loves the fact he can still.get subway! I love ruka. Yes it can be cold but by Feb it should be bearable and days getting longer.
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 Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
kittya wrote:
When you say 'limited amount of skiing' what amount do you mean? Not everyday? Or activities before/after skiing? Or limited as in runs available? Not too bothered by amounts of miles available, I'm fine doing the same run all day until I'm happy then go find another, small places suit me, (well, as long as it's more than 180mtrs).
Limited runs / mileage. But there is a reasonable range of terrain, with lots of gentle, cruisy skiing and a couple of steeper pistes. If you like small places I'm sure you will love it. It's a good place to learn Nordic (cross-country) skiing.

For the other activities I think it will be fine to wait until you are there. I was running a group of 26 people so I arranged stuff in advance, but if you're just doing it for a family I'd guess you can decide when you get there. The company that I linked to were very good at responding to emails and answering all the questions I had, in perfect English like everywhere else.

Another recommendation for the Colorado, which is near the Rukahovi, plus the pizza place which is nearby. There's a sushi / Japanese restaurant which sadly I didn't get to try, and the Riipinen Wild Game restaurant which serves bear and reindeer and other meats (plus great donuts, freshly cooked at 11am, and conveniently located at the bottom of a red piste which is a great teaching slope Happy ). A few other places available as well. For a small village it has plenty of choices.

One thing which is a real bonus is that it's about a 20 minute drive from the airport. For the adventurous, at the end of your holiday you can drive a snowmobile from the village to the airport (while your luggage is transported for you by the snowmobile company).
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 After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
@Whitegold,


I just wrote a thing and it disappeared. Puzzled


Just tried again & only whitegold's name is appearing - spooky, maybe I've used my word allocation for the day? Letting me edit this one though, But facilities not behaving well at all.


Last edited by After all it is free Go on u know u want to! on Mon 26-11-18 22:21; edited 3 times in total
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 You'll get to see more forums and be part of the best ski club on the net.
You'll get to see more forums and be part of the best ski club on the net.
+1 for airport proximity
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 Ski the Net with snowHeads
Ski the Net with snowHeads
You should definitely do huskies, one of the highlights of that winter for me.

Nice day for a ride


Reindeer sledding is a lot slower. We did this in the middle of the snowmobile trip. There’s a cafe in the woods nearish by that is busy with cross country skiers and does short reindeer and husky trips. Very glad we went on a decent length all morning trip and visit to the Husky farm.


A Reindeer bottom


Snowmobiling is fast but the wife coped fine with it and it was cracking fun.


Lunch stop


Ruka in the late afternoon. All the floodlights go on up the hill. This face is about the steepest in the area. Those are the reds off the chairlift (which I think has been upgraded to a detachable). There was a chairlift just out of shot on the left which has been upgraded to a gondola. The building on the right is the big red gift shop/cafe. The red light to the left is (I think) ski hire/lift passes. Rukahovi would be the next building left IIRC. My kids are sledging across the road (that’s how busy it is, they are aiming for a ski rack just out of shot).


Ruka

This is what the slopes look like on one of the busiest weeks. TBF this is a quiet run as it’s served by a button tow.


Ski slope

We got cheap ski hire/passes/lessons for the children through Crystal as it was v cheap. The adults hired skis too as it was simpler or cheaper (can’t remember). Lessons are over the hill but it looks like the new gondola takes you straight there. It’s a very easy blue down if you get off at the top of the hill. Lessons are 90 mins. Our children’s were in the afternoon which sounds rubbish but worked out fine, quite a few tours are in the morning so we could do them, get a quick lunch in the apartment and whizz them over for ski school then get in a quick bit of skiing.

Ski school meeting is outside ‘Bistro’ and was the usual carnage. Trying to eat there after lessons was crazy busy so we went elsewhere. There’s a pub under a block of flats on the other side of the beginner slopes that was much more civilized.


Last edited by Ski the Net with snowHeads on Tue 27-11-18 15:08; edited 1 time in total
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 snowHeads are a friendly bunch.
snowHeads are a friendly bunch.
@lpsmc1, it's snowing today snowHead - about an inch but still, it's snow. I'll look forward to reading your report, and you have reminded me, I wanted to ask about the light thing, have been parading around in various goggles for low light and think I've found the 'ones' but, what's the deal with floodlight skiing? Is it a glare, blinding? Not something I've any experience of.

Also, love the idea of cross country, do they do a taster session type outing? I think that'd suit me better than snowmobiling to the airport or eating bears - really Rob, bear meat? Are they not protected or holy or something? Might have a look at the place though, just out of curiosity, y'know.

Distance to airport was a strong pull for this trip, along with all the loveliness, what a luxury and no getting up at daft o'clock for return!
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 And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
kittya wrote:
Also, love the idea of cross country, do they do a taster session type outing? I think that'd suit me better than snowmobiling to the airport or eating bears - really Rob, bear meat? Are they not protected or holy or something? Might have a look at the place though, just out of curiosity, y'know.
Yes that's right: bear, elk, reindeer, grouse, hare, and for a special treat Sprout Creme Brûlée, (although I think something was lost in translation on that dish).

I think they do introductory Nordic skiing sessions. It's a huge thing in that part of the world.

The floodlit skiing is not blinding or glaring, low light lenses or better still clear lenses are best.
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 So if you're just off somewhere snowy come back and post a snow report of your own and we'll all love you very much
So if you're just off somewhere snowy come back and post a snow report of your own and we'll all love you very much
Yes I you low light goggles fine during daylight but preferred the clear lenses for under the floodlights. But going in Dec as we are flood!lights are on by 2pm. Feb will be .such better for light.

Yes they do xc tasters. It's really very straightforward. I love the peace and quiet I get out on the tracks.

I did notice it was snowing yesterday and temperatures look consistently low so snow.among can. Continue. I watched the Nordic weekend from ruka Sat and Sun. Never seen it so bare but athletes were happy with the snow that was down.

Ps one of the things we love are the huts at bottom of slope with fires where you can warm up and toast marshmallows etc.

Are you going with your operator? We are going diy ( Lufthansa flights from Manchester via frankfurt) for first time. Been with Crystal before.
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 You know it makes sense.
You know it makes sense.
Thank you, thank you, thank you. Very Happy


Lots to pick through & decide. Excellent pictures - very happy kitty
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 Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
It's a very different experience, a beautiful laid back place and hopefully you'll be able to get lots of things out of it. When are you going? Early Feb?

The runs aren't long, only 1 is at all steep, and it's pretty difficult to get lost despite it being divided up into little areas. It's not exactly a large ski area! The lifts usually open around 10am and shut at 7pm - no rush!

Temperature wise it could be -20 and blowing a gale (which is when you'll really feel the cold) or +2 and raining, or anything in between. Ski clothing isn't so much of an issue (but go for layers and more layers on body and legs, buffs, balaclavas, hats and inner silk gloves - and be prepared for cold toes no matter how good your boots are! And take only clear to very lightly tinted goggles), but keeping warm if you fancy going on N Lights hunting trips yourself will be. (If you go on organised trips they'll probably supply clothing.) There's a frozen lake, I think very near your hotel, which is an excellent place to go for that - but take seriously warm double socks and insulated boots, many layers of inner gloves to mittens, duvet jackets, hats, buffs, scarves, etc etc. Might be worth taking a thermos.

There are some small shops that sell ski and outdoor clothing, don't remember much in the way of equipment shops. Hestra gloves or mittens are a good buy for the cold, and were as cheap there as online.

It's a very small place, nightlife is subdued and limited to about 1 bar I recall. There's a little supermarket in the Ruka Suites area of the main little 'square' which sells enough to do a good self catering effort or fill the gaps otherwise. A few eating places in the main square, but none on the hill as I recall, bar maybe a cafe at the bottom of the main 6 man chair slope - so you either pop back to the main square or your accommodation for food or eat a packed lunch. The pizza place in the square isn't too bad, and there's a Subway I recall, else the prices otherwise are, well, Lapland prices. Booze is very very expensive: take spirits from duty free at the airport or buy beer from the supermarket (Karhu is the local brew, and very nice it is too).

No need to book anything up front: wait and see what the weather's like. Lessons are usually easy to book whenever you need, or Crystal will sort them out for you. Activities ditto.

I'd get your skis waxed in the UK if you can; not sure of who does them in Ruka, though sure the rental place must.
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 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
What are the conditions like in March? Anyone been this late?
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
@poppyb, I am told very good - loads of soft snow, lighter days - but more 'local' people on the slopes (Finns, Laps, Russians...).
Not sure any UK tour operators go out past early Feb ( may get a bit later to some other Finland/Lapland resorts); you can get flights from UK to Helsinki and drive, or do a change at Helsinki and fly to one of the smaller airports, including Kuusamo.
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 Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
Worth looking as Lufthansa are flying to Kuusamo (10mins to Ruka) from Manchester via Frankfurt. Decent flight times. Always found Finn air via Helsinki involved an overnight in Helsinki. I guess more choices from London airports as Lufthansa is part of star alliance.

Had to ring Lufthansa to book in ski bag for our upcoming flight. Was pleasantly surprised at how easily I got through to speak to an actual person!

Ruka will be great in March.
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@lpsmc1, thanks, that's useful as I'm much more easily able to get to Manchester than London.
I think there are Norwegian and other airlines that go out of Scottish airports or Manchester too to Helsinki, but as you say, it's often an overnight or long day stop over, at least 1 way.

If you are organising your own trip, there are many resorts in Finnish Lapland, some larger than others, some within the Arctic Circle & some below it. From memory, Kittilla (?sp) is the other 'major' airport, serving several of the better known resorts. Yylas (sp?) and Levi are the other 'big' resorts/villages, but there are smaller quiet ones too which have their own charm and can be good for other activities and for those who don't need miles of pistes.
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 Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
We're doing Pyhä in January, I think it's even smaller then Ruka but we're going for a cheap week and the 'backcountry' there seems like it could provide a small challenge.

At least they've finally had some snow this week and by the looks of it, plenty more to come in the next 10 days or so.

Quite looking forward to a quiet resort with no massive crowds for a change.
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@Phuzzy,Last time that I went, Pyha has 1 gift shop, 1 teeny supermarket (they usually stop at the one near the airport on the drive up, so have a shopping list ready), 1 hotel with restaurant/bar and 1 pizza cafe/bar. It's definitely small and quiet.
2 ski/board hire places and a decent equipment and gear/clothing shop tho'.
Have a nice time.
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