Lake Inari (Inarijärvi)
Lake Inari, in the far north of Finland, is the country's third largest lake, with an area of 1,300sq.km/500sq.mi (80km/50mi long by 41km/25mi wide) - though the area of the lake, with its numerous indentations and ramifications, cannot be exactly determined. The number of islands in the lake is usually given as 3,000. This bizarre world on the 69th parallel is one of the most fascinating regions in Finland.TopographyThe shores of the Inarijärvi are rocky, lined with forests of spruce, pine and birch, all in dwarf arctic forms. On the northwestern shore of the lake, northeast of Partakki (on the Kaamanen-Sevettijärvi road), the line above which the spruce will not grow reaches down to the lake. Until well into spring the climate is of arctic severity, since the Scandinavian mountains block the moderating influence of the Gulf Stream which washes the Norwegian coast. The ice on the lake frequently does not break up until June. Here late winter merges almost imperceptibly into early summer, with at most one or two weeks which can be called spring.PopulationThe country around Lake Inari is thinly populated. The commune of Inari is the largest in Finland, with an area of 17,000sq.km/6,560sq.mi. Of the 7,000 inhabitants a fifth are Sami. In the little town of Inari there are separate schools for Sami and Finns.
Lemmenjoki National Park
A boat trip on the rivers Ivalojoki and Lemmenjoki offers the experience of unspoiled natural scenery. The Lemmenjoki National Park extends to the Norwegian frontier. In the gold area, there are marked trails, open wilderness huts and rental huts, and campfire places. The base for a tour of this area is the Lemmenjoki hotel (46km/29mi southwest of Inari).Lemmenjoki is Finland's largest National Park. It's best known attraction is the Lemmenjoki River Valley.
Inari - Pielppajärvi Church
A walk of 7.5km/4.5mi to the northeast of Inari leads to the old Sami church of Pielppajärvi (originally 17th century; rebuilt 1762). In earlier times the Sami had to bury their dead on islands in the lake, since the bears which were still numerous in the 19th century used to dig up the graves.
Ivalo lies on the Ivalojoki, here spanned by a large bridge, and has the most northerly airport in Finland. There is a monument commemorating the Arctic port of Petsamo, now in Russia, which formerly belonged to Finland. Half way between Ivalo and Inari is the Karhunpesäkivi ("Bear's Den Rock"), with a cafe, picnic area and telephone; good fishing. The hill of Akku (327m/1,073ft) offers a rewarding climb.Tourists come to Ivalo for the many outdoor sports opportunities such as skiing, snowboarding and reindeer sledge riding in winter. Summer activities include hiking, canoeing and mountain biking.
Inari, at the mouth of the Joenjoki offering good fishing, has a folk high school for Sami. Inari has a modern town hall (1983) and a church built in 1952 to replace the earlier church, destroyed by bombing in 1940.A portion of the Lemmenjoki National Park lies within Inari boundaries, and the park is popular with gold-diggers and backpackers.
Lappish Museum (Sámi Museum and Northern Lapland Nature Centre)
Next to the forestry office in Inari is an open-air museum on the culture of the Sami, with a Lapp settlement.The museum displays outbuildings of non-nomadic Lapps, Lappish fishermen and Fell Lapps. There are collections of furnishings, household and hunting equipment.
Jazz in the Polar Night
Inari Reindeer-Driving Competition is held in March.
The great attraction of this region is its unspoiled natural scenery, with large expanses which show no trace of the hand of man. Visitors traveling on Road 4 (E 75) in the direction of Norway will get some impression of the particular world of Lake Inari on the stretch of road between Ivalo and Inari. Those spending at least one night in the region should include a boat trip on the lake - perhaps to the island of Ukkokivi, which in pagan times was regarded by the Sami as the most sacred of the many islands on the lake (one to three departures daily in summer from Inari; the trip takes two hours).
Lake Inari, which extends from southwest to northeast, is served by only three roads. Road 4 (E 75), coming from the south (Sodankylä), runs along the southwestern shore. Beyond Inari E 75 turns north. At Kaamanen Road 4 branches off and runs west to Karigasniemi and the Norwegian frontier, while Road 970 (E 75) continues north to Utsjoki, from which a road descends the Tenojoki valley to Nuorgam. From Kaamanan a country road leads northeast via Partakko and the Skolt (Sami) village of Sevettijärvi to reach the Norwegian frontier in 130km/80mi, 10km/6mi before the Norwegian village of Neiden. From Ivalo another road (No. 9681) runs northeast to Nellimö and the Russian frontier (no crossing). The actual frontier cannot be reached either by car or on foot, for a strip of territory on the Finnish side 1km/0.75mi wide is closed except to permit-holders and patrolled by frontier guards. (Under a frontier agreement between Finland and Russia both counties are required to protect the frontier).
There is good fishing on the shores of Lake Inari and the islands and on the open lake. Information about fishing permits can be obtained in the villages and hotels.
There are no motor roads on the much indented northeastern shores of the lake, and even walkers find it hard going here, since much of the area is boggy and impassable. This is country for fit and experienced walkers only. There are no villages here, only isolated cottages and huts.