I went dog-sledding while on a four-day trip to the Alpe d’Huez ski area in France. I was staying in the small village of Auris-en-Oisans, which is linked by ski lifts to the resort of Alpe d’Huez and to the other villages in the area. It was a great trip, and dog-sledding was the highlight for me.
I’m not exactly sure why I loved the experience of dog-sledding so very much, but I found it truly marvellous. I was certainly looking forward to the excursion, as I love trying different things, but I wasn’t prepared for just how excited I felt as soon as the dogs swooshed up to where we were waiting for them.
The sled dogs at Alpe d’Huez resort in France are all huskies and pointers and they were wagging their tails happily as they trotted towards us. Once they stopped they bounced around and barked, seemingly excited to get going again. I swear that they were all smiling.
I was soon perched on a sled with Pippa, who helps with PR for the resort. It was quite a tight fit for the two of us to sit on the sled together, although we’re not big (I’m 5’2” tall), but it was fine.
Our driver, Océane, stood behind us on the back of the sled, holding the reins to control the eight-strong team of dogs that pulled us along. Océane told us that the leading pair of dogs need to learn the words for left and right, but the others just know what to do instinctively. Océane explained that it’s physically harder for the dogs at the back, and mentally harder at the front, and they use huskies at the front and pointers at the back. Our lead dogs were huskies Marie and Yoko.
I found the sensation of being pulled along in the sled to be similar to skiing, but without the fear of falling over. It’s peaceful, effortless, exhilarating, and allows you relax and enjoy the mountain scenery. I felt completely safe. We stopped a couple of times to take photos, and I also managed to take some photos and videos while we were moving along, as it was a very smooth ride.
As the dogs ran along in front of us some snow flew up behind them. I was wearing ski goggles and ski gear, so this didn’t bother me. Each dog works for a maximum of two and a half hours each day, and then they swap with another team. The dogs range from two to 10 years old, and there are 50 sled dogs in total.
There’s no minimum age limit for dog sledding. I saw a couple with a toddler on one sled – the toddler looked delighted and had the biggest smile imaginable. I think that I probably had the same smile.
Dog sledding in Alpe d’Huez is available to book via Alpe d’Huez grand domaine Ski area tourist office from December to April and is priced from £28/ 35€ for adults and £20/25€ for children.
I enjoyed every minute of this experience, and would love to do it again. My only regret was that my family weren’t there to experience it with me. This isn’t a cheap activity, but it’s so memorable that I’d definitely recommend doing it if you ever have the chance.
Find out more
More information from the tourist office: Alpe d’Huez grand domaine Ski area
More winter sports posts
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How to get there
Crystal Ski Holidays offers a week’s self catering at the four-star Les Balcons d’Aurea (where I stayed – here’s a video of my apartment) from £459 per person (based on four sharing) including flights from Gatwick and transfers (price given is for departure on 14 January 2017). Direct flights are available from all major UK airports.
Disclosure: I was a guest of the Alpe d’Huez grand domaine Ski area tourist board and Crystal Ski Holidays on this trip. All opinions, words and images are mine.