Off road adventures
The sun breaks through the clouds in the morning when Peter “Pekka” Johansson greets us at Lapland Guesthouse. Pekka runs Landrover Park, an off road-track situated close to the guesthouse, which is our next challenge. We are shown a Polaris Ranger, a robust utility vehicle.
– Whatever you do, hold the steering wheel with an open hand; never grip it with your thumbs, says Pekka. You’ll break them if the wheel turns quickly!
Somewhat cautiously, we enter the vehicle, Johan behind the wheel and me as first photographer. Pekka takes the lead in his Landrover and shows the way into the forest where the track starts. We do a warm-up by driving across uneven ground. Very uneven ground. The ranger balances on two diagonal wheels and works its way with ease through the first hurdle. The track continues down steep hills and up again. Both the car and the ranger manage everything perfectly and we become more and more secure behind the wheel. The 5 km long track through the park squiggles by a glittering lake and atop heights with fantastic views. A tipping bridge and some boulders later, we are pumping with adrenaline and drive back to Lapland Guesthouse for departure.
We head downstream Torne River and make a short stop at the world’s biggest Lovikka mitten in the village Lovikka. The classic knitted mitten of wool comes from this modest little village and was created in 1892 by Erika Aittamaa. The mittens got very popular during the first half of the 1900s and to meet the demands, Erika taught other women how to make them, which resulted in an important income source for many women in the Torne Valley. The world’s largest Lovikka mitten is 3,5 meter tall and was added to Guinness Book of World Records in 2002. It can be admired year-round in a glass case by the road that goes through Lovikka.
A little fishing luck
The next stop is Kengis Bruk, south of Pajala. The rushing rapid can be heard clearly when we open our car doors and the fishing guide Eva-Lena welcomes us. We head over to the other side of the rapid since a bunch of fishermen already are fishing by the old mill. Eva-Lena explains that the fishing is strictly regulated, 8 places are allocated per 2 km on the mill-side and fishing permit is needed on the other side of the river. We are hungry and cook over an open fire next to the rapid river. Souvas is on the menu again and we top it off with coffee out of a wooden cup. After that it is time to fish. Johan is an experienced fisherman, while I’m more a picnic kind of gal. I can at least handle a casting rod and we try our luck from the rocky riverbank. Eva-Lena has brought a fly fishing rod and shows us the technique – 10 and 2, back and forth. Johan looks like he’s got the hang of it while I manage to ravel myself in the line and resort to the casting rod. The fishing luck appears and a little grayling hooks onto Johan’s rod, but is released into the water.
Relaxation by the lake
A mere hour of driving from Kengis Bruk and we reach the village Rantajärvi, which is home to about 70 people. In the 1950s, the village had almost 400 inhabitants and had both a store and a school. Nowadays, the school is refurbished for conferences and meetings and is surrounded by cabins that are rented to hunters and nature loving activity seekers. Anders Wuotila, one of the driving spirits keeping the village alive, shows us to a cabin that has a homey feeling where we check in before he brings us out in the woods. After about 10 minutes, we reach Naarajärvi Wilderness camp, situated with a beautiful lake, embraced by mountains. There are a few simple sleeping cabins, a sauna and a main cabin with kitchenette. Anders leaves us to enjoy the sunshine and sauna and promise to be back an hour later with the dinner. We feel quite tired after a long day with lots of impressions and experiences and take a quick sauna to freshen up. The sun is warm and we sit down on the deck outside the sauna and marvel at the surroundings. The water ripples on the bridge below – this is a place to relax. The dinner is delivered in a timely manner and we enjoy the food, the view and the feeling of sitting in the water thanks to the huge windows.