A day with the huskies: the ultimate winter adventure
"Hike" (go) and "Whoa" (stop) are the two words which every musher needs to know and, these days, you might just as easily hear them being shouted in the Italian mountains as on the Arctic plains of Alaska.
Man's best friend
Ponte di Legno, is situated close to the Tonale Pass, on the border between Lombardy and Trentino Alto Adige, and is the largest town in the Val Camonica.
It is here that Armen Khatchikian has founded his Italian School of Sleddog Progress.
Khatchikian's passion for the sport began almost two decades ago, in 1983, when, whilst traveling along the Yukon River in the footsteps of the great Jack London, he was struck by the relationship between the Athabaska Indians and their dogs.
Shortly after, Khatchikian participated in the famous Iditarod Trail Race, sled dogging across the icy landscapes of Alaska. Today, his school has a total of 70 trained huskies.
And in the summer? When the snow melts, the huskies accompany trekkers on excursions along the footpaths of the Val Camonica.
Each year, from the 1st of December until Easter, Khatchikian and his expert mushers introduce visitors of all ages to the joys of racing across the snow, on a sleigh powered by dogs.
Courses include "Junior Musher" and "Senior Musher", and last for one week, 3 days (full immersion), or 2 weekends.
Those eager to attempt longer routes and use a greater number of dogs, will want to enroll in the "Musher" course which includes a night outdoors, instruction in arctic survival techniques, and rudimentary sleddog competition skills.
Summer excursions and racing by moonlight
The Athabaska center is located in Trentino, near San Lorenzo in Banale, one of the most beautiful towns in the whole of Italy. San Lorenzo is situated at the mouth of the Val d'Ambiez, close to the Adamello Brenta National Park.
Founded by Maurizo Cattafesta, the center has 35 dogs which are used for dog sledding as well as 4 lamas and 2 alpacas which are used for summer excursions.
Experience the thrill of a nighttime race followed by a romantic candlelit dinner in the refuge!
A day with the dogs
In Piana San Nicolao, close to Moncenisio, in Piedmont, Tiziano Ruffa and Roberta Giunca have opened a center which breeds Siberian Husky, Akita Inu and Alaskan Husky dogs.
Piana San Nicolao is one of the most beautiful towns in Piedmont, surrounded by mountainside dotted with the remains of the fortifications built here between 1800 and 1940.
The center has been designed to introduce visitors of all ages to the pleasure of discovering this natural landscape in the company of the dogs.
As well as the "Sled Day", "Sled Weekend" and "Sled Week" courses, for the more adventurous there is the "Extraplor" course, which includes a night sleeping outdoors, in a winter tent.
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