Trips to Utsjoki

Utsjoki is the most northerly municipality in Finland and pretty much as far north as you can go in the European Union. As you might expect, such a far-flung corner isn't exactly over-populated and with only 0.25 inhabitants per square kilometre, there is a lot of natural space to be explored. Our accommodation is situated about one kilometre outside the small town of Utsjoki and overlooks the Teno River. Cross the Teno River when it is frozen and you are in Norway.

The pace of life here is slow and very little has changed over the years so the main sources of employment and income remain reindeer husbandry, salmon fishing and fishing tourism - the Teno being famed for its salmon fishing.

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The indigenous Sámi population remains strong in Utsjoki and their culture is highly evident throughout the municipality. Naturally, the majority of Sámi have embraced bricks and mortar and central heating as opposed to reindeer hide teepees and open fires. There is a very strong sense of history and tradition in the Utsjoki municipality and many old ways are carefully guarded and preserved.

Outside Utsjoki town, there are very few settlements of any size and in winter the landscape presents snow-covered fells with very little shelter from the harsh winters. You really have to see the landscape in all its true rugged majesty to appreciate just how hardy the Sámi people have always been to survive in what can be a very inhospitable environment.

Sámi culture is so entwined with this landscape, that three of the fells surrounding Utsjoki are considered to be "AIligas" which in Sámi means "Sacred Place." When you stand in that huge snow-swept wilderness surrounded by the undulating fells, listening to nothing but the sounds of Mother Nature and the Aurora Borealis blazing overhead, it is not hard to understand why the Sámi people attach such spiritual significance to the Utsjoki municipality.

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