Life in the true wilderness – Pure arctic nature 450 kilometers above the arctic circle
My name is Satu, and I am living in Utsjoki, which is the Northernmost municipality in Finland, 450 kilometers above the arctic circle. I am an adventure seeker, hiker, photographer, and animal lover that never gets bored of exploring new sceneries and locations in the nature. I love to push myself into the limits and always go a little bit further, climb a little bit higher, and see things a little bit cooler. I am originally from the Southern Finland, but four years ago I decided to move to Lapland and start a new life here. First, I lived in Levi for a few years and then moved to Saariselkä, but that was not enough for me and I wanted to experience the true Lapland, so therefore I finally decided to move to Utsjoki. That was one of the best decisions of my life!
Wonderland on the top of Finland
Finland is a long country, and when I first moved to Lapland, I was amazed how different the nature was compared to the South. The distance between Helsinki and Utsjoki is approximately 1260 kilometers! In Utsjoki we do not even have those thick pines and spruces we have almost everywhere else in Finland, we mainly have dwarf birches here, so my idea of a forest changed a lot. However, I love the rugged, bare nature and quite quickly got used to the polar night too, and the culture in Lapland. My home is located by the river Teno, and by the road that is said to be the most beautiful road in Finland. My life here consists of my work during the week and adventures during the weekend. The weekends are special time for me and my dog Lucy, and we always use that time outdoors, by hiking and exploring the world around us. My dog loves hiking just as much as I do and is always excited to go!
Utsjoki – A place of the extremes
Utsjoki is a place of the extremes. It is never-ending wilderness, countless fells and dwarf birches, mighty rivers, amazing midnight sun, and breathtaking polar night colors. Polar night starts here on the 25th of November and continues until the 16th of January, so it lasts in total for 52 days! During this period, the sun does not rise at all, but that does not mean we have pitch black darkness all day long. Instead, we have a few hours of light during the day, and amazing baby pink and blue colors in the sky. This soft light and the colors are a dream for a photographer, and during polar night I love to hike as high as possible to take amazing photos of the sceneries. During the Winter, the weather can be anything between 0 Celsius degrees and -40 Celsius degrees, and Utsjoki is one of the best locations in Finland to spot Northern Lights. As a balance to the dark period, we have two months of midnight sun during the Summer, which means that the sun does not set at all during this period. The Summers are a little bit cooler in this part of Finland, but usually we still get plenty of sunny and warm days.
Active lifestyle in Utsjoki
So, what do me and other people in Utsjoki do around here in addition to work? Even though we live next to the wilderness, we do have a nice little village with services too. We have a few holiday villages and hotels, restaurants, grocery store, healthcare, post, gym, garage, and other necessary services. There are around 1200 inhabitants in Utsjoki, and approximately half of them are Sámi, the only indigenous people in the European Union. Both Finnish and North Sámi language are spoken in Utsjoki, and I am also dreaming about starting to study North Sámi. The Sámi culture is still strong in Utsjoki, and reindeer herding, fishing, and hunting are an important way of life in the area. The beautiful river Teno is flowing in the border of Finland and Norway, and it is the largest salmon river in the whole Europe. You would be amazed to see the huge Salmon in the river, but they are clever and not easy to catch!
During the Winter I love to go hiking, skiing, and snowshoeing to our endless wilderness and fell areas, and all I need to do is to just step outside from my home and see the breathtaking nature everywhere around me. Snowmobiling is also one of my favorite things to do during the Winter. And, if you live in Finland or come here as a guest, you cannot leave without trying hot sauna and after that a refreshing dip into the ice-cold water! During the Summer I do plenty of hiking too, and there are several amazing locations for hiking, for example the Kevo Strict Nature Reserve. Canoeing, kayaking and sup boarding in the amazing River Teno are an experience worth having, and riding a fatbike up in the fells is a perfect way to spend a beautiful day outdoors. And, the Autumn foliage is absolutely breathtaking in Utsjoki!
The story has just begun
After travelling and living around Lapland for years, Utsjoki is my favorite part of it. Why? Because when I go for a walk outside, the only thing I see around me is the endless row of fells, the only thing I hear is the wind and the sound of the birds, and the only thing I smell is the gentle scent of the trees and the ground. I have beautiful, untouched nature all around me, and I can find places where human has not left their footprints. Here I have the freedom and the peace of mind I was always looking for, and I have many amazing adventures ahead of me. Welcome to visit my special place!
Text and images by Satu Laiho