Passing Ristikallio rock during the Karhunkierros trail
Photo: Jari Hindström/Vastavalo, Parks & Wildlife Finland
Endless expanses – that's what you think of when you think of Lapland. The region in the north of Finland is known for its breathtaking natural landscape and wild solitude. Here you can travel for days and only meet a few people: There is no mass tourism. I sought – and found – absolute deceleration.
Responsible treatment of nature
The national parks in Finland naturally serve to protect nature, preserve biodiversity, but also to give visitors the opportunity to discover and enjoy nature. Those who, like me, set off for the Finnish National Parks should find out in advance what is permitted and what is forbidden there. After all, we want to enjoy the privilege of retreating into the woods, roaming the moors, swimming in the lake or taking in the view from a fell.
Luosto Nature Trail
Photo: Anna Pakkanen, Parks & Wildlife Finland
On the trail of fresh air in Pallas-Yllästunturi National Park
For my trip through Lapland I have chosen three national parks, each of which impressed me in its own way.
My first stop was the Pallas-Yllästunturi National Park in the northwest of Lapland. Here you breathe – scientifically proven – the cleanest air in Europe. I took a deep breath and immediately forgot the long journey. We are usually unaware of how polluted the air is that we breathe every day, especially in big cities. Until we get to a place like this and enjoy the clear, fresh air.
Hiking trails in Pallastunturi area
Photo: Maarit Kyöstilä, Metsähallitus - Parks & Wildlife Finland
A visit to the Yllästunturi Visitor Centre Kellokas is a holiday must for every visitor to Ylläs. ...
from Pallas-Yllästunturin kansallispuisto,
Metsähallitus - Parks & Wildlife Finland
I was also particularly impressed by the starry night sky – millions of small lights shone down on me and suddenly I felt very small. During the day I wandered through the untouched natural landscape, I climbed the treeless fells and looked over the forests and lakes of Lapland – mostly without seeing people or even a car. In Pallas-Yllästunturi there is an almost 100 kilometer long fell range. The evergreen forests grow on the slopes up to 500 meters above sea level, above which only a few stubborn plants can grow.
Between ancient mountain ranges and trees in Pyhä-Luosto National Park
We continued through Lapland to the Pyhä-Luosto National Park. This is one of the oldest mountain ranges in the world, towering over the flat hinterland. I started the ascents to Noitatunturi and Ukko-Luosto, the two highest peaks in the national park. Fell peaks and deep gorges create the breathtaking silhouette of the fell chain connecting Pyhä and Luosto. I also didn't miss the deepest gorge in Pyhä-Luosto, Isokuru, one of the most important sights of the region.
On my hikes I particularly liked to roam through the ancient forests of the national park. In absolute silence I moved between the trunks and even thought I heard the trees talking. The leaves rustling in the wind, the old branches creaking and I felt just really comfortable. The tree line here is quite low, the peaks are rocky and have little vegetation. Further down it goes through the Aapa-Moore, where many different plants grow, which are fed by the springs of the region.
Photo: Anna Pakkanen, Parks & Wildlife Finland
Always by the water in Oulanka National Park
I ended my journey at the Russian border in Oulanka National Park. Already during the holiday planning I was looking forward to the end, because Oulanka is the national park of the flowing water. I imagined the rapids to be impressive and so it was: I stood astonished on the banks of the Oulankajoki and the Kitkajoki and watched how the water splashed over the rocks and made its way past roots and rocks. And of course, I also did a canoe trip on the Oulankajoki – but the easier route, I hadn't dared to do the difficult one. Maybe next time. Nevertheless it was an impressive experience.
Photo: Laura Johansson, Parks & Wildlife Finland
As a real hiker, I naturally didn't let myself miss the opportunity to hike the Karhunkierros Trail, the Bear Trail. Unfortunately, I didn't have the time for the whole route and so I chose a section for a day trip. The nature along the way is so impressive that I could have stopped every few meters – to take a picture, to enjoy. Soon I would like to return to walk the whole trail. Maybe even including a bear encounter.
Lapland is of course much too big to be explored on a single trip. It would take several weeks. But to travel there and get to know a part of this exceptional region has brought out an incredible contentment and inner peace in me.