People

Published: October 22, 2021 | Updated: October 22, 2021

One cool place as former Royal Marine Theo sets up tour business in the heart of Lapland

The spectacular Northern Lights seen on one of the most popular tours operated by Wild About Lapland.
By Andrew Diprose, editor

It has to be one of the coolest places on the planet – in every sense of the word.

Rovaniemi, the capital of Finnish Lapland.

Just 7km south of the Arctic Circle and the official hometown of Santa Claus.

Where temperatures during the coldest month of the year, January, are an average of minus 14 degrees Celsius.

For Theo Turner, who was born and brought up in Twyford near Shaftesbury, it’s not just his home but also the location for his arctic tour company, Wild About Lapland.

The former Royal Marine, pictured ice fishing, established the business in 2016 after falling in love with the area.

At its height, 120 people a day can be taking part in its activities and tours.

Depending on the time of year, they range from wilderness hikes, reindeer safaris and husky sleigh driving to midnight sun canoe trips, nature tours, ice fishing, bear watching and ice climbing.

Inevitably one of the most popular tours centres around the Aurora Borealis or Northern Lights.

The season runs from September through to April.

Even after witnessing the natural phenomenon many times over the years, the intense experience never ceases to amaze and enthral Theo.

He said: “Every single time when I see the Northern Lights, it is something unique.

“You can see them a thousand times, but the impression remains the same.

“The world around you stops, and the only things you feel are hard-to-describe happiness and peace of mind.

“Most likely, you have the opportunity to share these beautiful moments with strangers in the dark places of Lapland.

“Just fleeting smiles, a few words, and you can feel the happiness of each other.

“These encounters always make me even more excited.

“Nature connects people.”

Theo, 33, lives with his partner, Lia, who’s Finnish, and four-year-old daughter, Elva, and son, Noa, aged one.

Adjusting to a very different way of life took time.

Theo said: “Winter is not easy.

“The colour changes from green to grey, the days shorten and the temperatures plunge.

“Without doubt it’s the hardest job I’ve ever done.

“You need real perseverance for the winter season, working up to 16 hours a day for four months.

“But I love it.

“It’s a very different type of society.

“The people are kind and generous and you never see a fight here.

“You feel safe with a good quality of life.

“It’s a good place to raise a family.”

2019 was Wild About Lapland’s busiest year while 2020 was its worst.

Theo said: “We lost 98 per cent of our turnover because of the pandemic.

“But by next winter we expect to be busier than 2019 and plan to increase capacity in the summer.

“Covid did bring one silver lining.

“Like a lot of people, it brought home to me the importance of family and seeing your children grow up.

“I resolved that there would be no more long days for me.

“My family comes first.”

Wild About Lapland employs seven full and part-time staff.

Clients come from all over the world, including the UK, but especially Finland and Russia.

The business specialises in small groups of no more than eight people.

Its tagline is: ‘the smaller the group, the bigger the experience”.

Apart from winter and summer tours it can arrange holiday packages and tailor-made tours.

Theo, who’s been back in Dorset this month to visit family, said Rovaniemi – and Wild About Lapland – could offer some of the most spectacular and memorable experiences available anywhere.

He said: “There are heaps of options.

“Whether you want to stay in an ice igloo or a friendly smaller hotel there is so much to see and do.

“We can promise the warmest of welcomes and an amazing time.”