After a very nice first day exploring the area near Rovaniemi, in our second day we drove to the Southeast part of Lapland, to Oulanka National Park, close to the border with Russia.
This part of the country was traditionally Sami, until it became part of Finland around the 17th century. The National Park is a unique landscape, with boreal pine forest covering the park and rivers crossing it, forming beautiful gorges, sandy banks and rapids on its way. It’s also a wildlife haven, in warmer months it’s possible to see brown bears, lynxes and wolverines, as well as many rare bird species (we didn’t see any, of course, as in March the bears are still hibernating and the other animals are endangered and shy… specially in such a quiet place!!).
One of the main reasons why we decided to make this little detour on our trip from Rovaniemi to Inari was the rivers in this park. They have a lot of rapids, and this is one of the reasons why they don’t freeze during winter. That’s a very strange thing in a part of the world where all lakes and rivers freeze for months. The view is so different that it made the trip totally worth it!
Following the recommendations of our host that day, we divided the day in two hikes. The first one was close to the main visitor office in Oulanka National Park. We did a small hike to see the Kiutaköngäs falls. This route was considerably short, but between photos and the snow, it took us some time. We walked across the beautiful pine forest and along some small frozen lakes until we reached the little red canyon where the Kiutaköngäs falls are located. Again, we were almost alone in the forest. There was no sight of life, except for a few footprints of foxes and reindeer on the fresh snow. And the same deep silence accompanied us during the whole hike. It was so deep that we could hear the water flowing from afar before we could actually see the river and the waterfall. When we finally reached it, we enjoyed exploring the surroundings of the river. Seeing the water moving and the noise was quite a contrast with the quietness and silence we experienced the day before.
From Oulanka National Park, we drove to Juuma, where we were going to spend the night at a house at the shore of Juumajärvi, a frozen lake. There we did part of the Pieni Karhunkierros, literally the small Bear trail (there’s a longer Karhunkierros trail, 80km long, but we though it was way too long for us and probably a better option for the warmer months in Lapland). I loved this trail. The path follows the river, which runs in a small gorge and forms a lot of rapids and small beaches. Of course, we couldn’t see the beaches, but I loved the deep blue river contrasting with the snow, and the sound of the rapids and small waterfalls. We crossed hanging bridges and saw cute little cabins in our way… And when we where ending the trail, a sound surprised us. Kuukkeli!! Siberian jays! Some of these rare and beautiful birds appeared above us and started singing… Such a beautiful moment after all that silence during two days!! And after two very cloudy days, the sky started to clear a bit and we could enjoy a bit of color in the sky at sunset before it started to snow again…
Here are some photos I took that day. I hope you like them!