Published: July 31st 2012July 18th 2012
We wake up late due to our midnight arrival the previous day and already at breakfast have a nice reindeer sighting as two reindeer with impressive antlers are ambling through the complex. We go outside and try to snap some photos with them crossing the Arctic Circle - or at least the point marked as the Arctic Circle inside the complex. We also take a tour of the complex seeing the boat harbor and discover that our cabin has also a 2nd floor with additional sleeping space.
After all the excitement we drive just a few kilometres to a nearby hiking trail (Tervetuloa Sompasen). We do not have time to do it entirely but we have a nice hike first through the forest while avoiding getting sucked in the marshy areas created by the rains and then through a stony area where we get nice views of the forest and the lakes surrounding the small village that we stayed in.
And then it's off to Sweden - if our GPS didn't tell us we crossed the border we almost wouldn't know it. Only visible change to us is that we suddenly can understand at least half of the street
signs compared to the guessing game that we were playing in Finland. Also our money is not useful anymore - while having quite a few euros we cannot use them this side of the border as Sweden is not part of the euro zone - luckily we will be staying only a few hours so we do not anticipate any need to buy anything.
Shortly after passing Pajala the only town of note that we were going through in Sweden we arrive at our destination, a Struve Geodetic Arc survey point which is a Unesco World Heritage Site. Actually we arrive at about 1/2 km distance from it and then it's a hike uphill through clouds of mosquitoes. This time however we were prepared with different chemicals and surprisingly at least one of them works and they stay away for now. Getting on top of the hill we find both the memorial and beautiful views of the surrounding area. The benches are welcome too - we take a breather before returning back to the car.
Returning towards Pajala we take a detour to another natural historic site the Vasikkavuoma naturreservat. Again the site is hauntingly beautiful with houses
sprinkled across a large meadow used historically (and again recently) to produce hay to feed domestic animals. There is also a bird tower nearby that we climbed, unfortunately it is not crane season so there is not much to see birdwise.
Next we return towards Finland and the Pallas Yllastunturi National Park. As soon as we get close to the park we see reindeer everywhere including a (rare?) white one. We have no time for a longer hike but we stop for a short 0.3 km one way trip to a fallen WW2 airplane. Again the mosquito protection holds ok but it is a bit unnerving to see clouds of mosquitoes wherever you turn. The remains of the plane are all collected in one place and after examining them we return to the car and start south toward our cabin.
On the way back our only stop is near some wild rapids of the Ounasjoki river that we are driving parallel to and then we return to our cabin to rest before starting our way south. This is our only day completely north of the Polar Circle and we enjoyed it a lot given the lack of rain
and the 24h daylight and we finish it in style with a test of our sauna - it worked great and we felt almost at home until we remembered that we were here to escape the heat.
For our late dinner we finally managed to prepare the mushrooms that we carried with us from Turku - delicious. Coupled with the poro (reindeer) salami we feel that we are eating a real Finnish dinner far away from any civilization.
There are more photos below