It is sometimes hard to find clear information (particularly in any language other than Finnish) about the places that are worth visiting in this area and the times at which they are open. Hence, we have tried to collate a wide variety of information here to facilitate your stay.
Hetta Huskies Farm
Of course the Hetta Huskies farm is by far the most interesting attraction in Hetta. Not that we are biased of course!
The Fell Lapland Sami Culture & Nature CentreSkierri
The Fell-Lapland Nature Centre, (otherwise known as the Skierri) is an important tourist destination (attracting approx. 25,000 visitors per year). It is located near the base of the ski centre, on the opposite side of the road from Hotel Hetta, and most of the area's nature walks and XC ski trails also start from here. (They can also be accessed from tracks leading out from the back of the school in the centre of town).
The Nature Centre has a cafe (Cafe Pulmunen) which is open to both customers and those using the nearby trails during office opening hours. The café serves homemade products and there is also a computer the customers can use.
You can book a guided tour in the exhibitions, maximum group size is 30 people and the price 45€ / hour / group. The auditorium shows many short movies about the culture and the nature in Enontekiö without cost, ask at the reception. Hetta's 'cinema' is also situated in Fell Lapland Nature Centre. Movies are shown once a week, on Friday evening.
The permanent exhibition is Vuovjjuš – Wanderers. Vuovjjuš describes the Nomadic Sámi, the tenacious and self sufficient people who dwell in the fells. In addition, there are several changing exhibitions on science and arts as well as a permanent exhibition about wanderers in the north, (about the expeditions, clergy and artists who have influenced Enontekiö), the 8 seasons, the Yrjö Kokko library and a children's play area are all fun things to explore.
From the Visitor Centre, you can get advice for your hiking and skiing trips, buy maps and fishing and hunting permits. You can also rent the wilderness huts at the National park and wilderness areas from here.
The nature centre has two main opening times in the year depending on when it is high and low season. High season is between mid July and end-September and again in March and April. At these times, the Skierri is open from 9am to 5pm daily. Low season months are from May to mid July and again, from September until the end of February. At these times, the Skierri is open Monday to Friday, 9am – 4pm.
Jyppyrä hilltop is only c.100m above the nature centre (at a height of 400 metres above sea level) and climbing to its lookout point is well worth the effort since it provides an amazing panorama of the surrounding area and of the Pallas-Ounastunturi fell chain. Getting to Jyppyrä is easy: a marked trail leads from the Fell Lapland Nature Center to the top and just below the summit there is a laavu where you can relax and enjoy the view whilst cooking sausages on open fire using the plentifully supplied firewood, grilling sticks etc.
You can explore the cultural history of Jyppyrä along the way since signboards explain that Jyppyrä was historically a place of spiritual worship and that there was an important religious Seita stone, en route. Seita stones usually appear as landmarks in the arctic tundra but they can also be found in places, like Jyppyrä, which have had important meaning for Sami. Seita tended to be massive naturally formed boulders with cracks caverns and sometimes sketches of people or animals. Different natural products were sacrificed at the seitas such as fish meat, blood, reindeer or antlers or wild deer meat in return for help or success from the gods. The nature of the gifts or objects worshipped depended upon the situation and the aim. Reindeer herders, hunters etc usually worshipped their forefathers, nature gods, water spirits and game animal spirits whilst some Sami people believed that the world had three levels; the present the upper and the lower (the dead) and that only shamen had contact with all three. The story goes that the massive Seita rock that was located near the top of the Jyppyrä hill was rolled down the hill and into the lake when Christianity started to battle with the area's pagan beliefs - and that fishing in the lake has never been the same since. Nowadays there is a small rock and plaque marking the spot where the Seita used to stand and you have to journey to the start of the Näkkäkä - Hetta trail to see one still in existance and to leave an offering.
Hetta's Information Centre
The information centre is normally located in the Skierri – The Fell Lapland Nature Centre, which is open 09:00 to 17.00 Mon - Fri and sometimes, depending on the season, on weekends. In summer, however, it is often located in the ground floor of the municipality house in the centre of town, which is open during normal finnish working hours, (which are incredibly short!) from Monday - Friday.
Central Hetta's beautiful church spire can be seen from miles around the centre of Hetta village. It is actually the 6th church built in Enontekiö during the 400 years of Christian religion in the region. The last one was burnt to the ground during the German occupation but this one was built and consecrated in 1952 when Enontekiö received a sizable donation from the American Lutheran Church. (More information can be found from www.enontekio.fi). It was designed by architect Veikko Larkas and the mural on the wall behind the altar was designed by the artist Uuno Eskola using fresco and mosaic techniques. Some say that this is what makes it one of the most beautiful churches in the whole of Finland. The organ was a gift from West Germany, and the red pine baptismal font, a gift from the 3rd Company of the Lapland Border Guard. It is a nationally significant built heritage site and one of the three death masks of Martin Luther which exist in Finland is hung on the wall of the sacristy.
It is one of the municipality's six churches and holds services weekly as well as arranging carol singing in English during the winter season. It is open from Wednesday to Sunday from 10 to 16 between June 1 and September 30, since it is one of Finland's so-called 'road' churches (a network of churches open to the many Finns who travel through the land in the summer with visiting churches as a primary tourism goal). The parish office is open Tuesday and Thursday from 9 to 12. tel. 040 770 2073, fax 016 521 080, [email protected], 040 757 0047 +358407570047, 040 757 0047
Hetta's Snow Castle
Another popular attraction during the winter months, is Hetta's unique Snow Castle, which is built yearly in December, until it gradually melts in the May spring sun. The castle attracts c. 5,000 visitors each year. More information can be found from http://www.icecastle.fi/ or http://www.en.hettasafaris.com/ or http://www.nakkala.fi
The Enontekiö Local History Museum
The Enontekiö Local History Museum was founded in 1987 and opened to the public in 1991. The museum is situated in a historic area which, 5000-7000 years ago, was inhabited by Mesolithic Stone Age people. The buildings which were transferred to the location (since only one building was left in the whole area after the retreat of the Germans during world war 2) illustrate local life in the early 20th century. Most of the artefacts are on display in Vieno Kyrö’s Cottage. Other buildings are used for organizing a variety of events.
The museum is open in July 2014 every Tuesday, Thursday and Friday 12 a.m. – 6 p.m and entry is free. There are two big events surrounding the museum most summers - an open day and a traditional music evening. In 2014 these were scheduled on 10th of July, 12 a.m. – 6 p.m and the 'musical moment of the evening', on 24th of July, at 6 p.m.
Bird watching towers
Sotkajärvi and Yrjö Kokko bird watching towers are good places to observe the life of the typical birds of Lapland during the short but intense arctic summer.
The Yrjö Kokko bird tower is located 9,5 kilometres from the Fell Lapland Nature Centre intersection in the direction of Vuontisjärvi on road 956. It is surrounded by amazing fell and river scenery. There is a place for making a campfire just below the tower. If you have a picnic there, note that it is not unusual for Siberian jays to come to share your food and eat from your hands.
Another bird-watching tower can be found on the shores of the lush lake of Sotkajärvi. This is a valuable wetland whose typical inhabitants include smew, swan, white-tailored eagle, duck and goose. On summer nights, you can hear the vibrant song of the bluethroat, also called the nightingale of Lapland, from both bird watching towers.
The Sotkajärvi lake tower lies 18 kilometres away from Hetta in the direction of Palojoensuu on Highway 93. The tower is on the north side of the road and is accessible by wheelchair.
There is also a bird watching tower in Markkinajänkkä, 6-8 kilometres north of Karesuvanto.
Juhls Silver Gallery in Kautokeino
This fascinating gallery where artisans from all over the world gather to make ethnic jewellery, is well worth a visit. Located effectively in the middle of no-where, in the small village of Kautokeino, in the heart of Northern Norway, (which happens to also be the seat of Saami culture and politics), the gallery itself is a very unique and bizarre collection of architecturally interesting buildings. However, the story behind the gallery is what is truly fascinating as two individual travellers who came together in that small place back in the 60s and divided their lives between there and Pakistan. Hence, inside, you come across a room that could have been transported from inside the Taj Majal, complete with tapestries and intricate marble ceilings. It showcases a collision of cultures that somehow works, and it all makes sense if you take the time to ask for a guided tour or some background information.
Unesco World Heritage Rock Art in Alta
If you are visiting Alta, the Unesco World Heritage Rock Art Site is definitely worth a visit. The art itself is free to view by following a trail amongst the sea-side boulders but the exhibition centre with the more detailed explanatory exhibitions is quite expensive.
The Järämä Fortifications
Järämä is a restored section of the Sturmbock–Stellung fortifications built by the Germans between 1942 and 1944. Its purpose was to protect the harbors on the Arctic Ocean.
This Lapland war fortification carved into the bedrock is an interesting point of visit. Järämä is an ideal stop driving along the road to or from Kilpisjärvi. Stop for a refreshing coffee, and get familiar with the local history.
The area has many restored bunkers, trenches, a museum and a café. The museum introduces you to the events of the Lapland War in region, to artifacts of the time and to the civilian experience. Järämä is located along Highway 21/E8 about 20 kilometres from the village of Karesuvanto, on the way to Kilpisjärvi. Open every day between midsummer’s and mid-September from 11am to 6pm. Tickets and guiding: 5,5 €/adult, 2,5 €/6-16 years old children 0-6 years free, family ticket 13 € including two adults and 6-16 year-old children 3,60 €/person/group (at leat 10 persons in a group), Phone: +358 16 524 605, +35816524605, +358 16 524 605
Palsas are rare perennially frozen peat and mineral wetlands. They are found in the arctic permafrost region.
The permafrost is often dozens of meters thick. Palsas are formed in the thickest parts of the permafrost, where the ice begins to push a mound upwards into the peat layer. The peat insulates the preventing it from melting in the summer. Palsas can be 2,000 years old, seven meters tall, and 20 meters wide. Over time,the palsa grow breaking the layer of peat. Heat is then able to reach the center causing the palsa to collapse. A pond forms on the remains. You can see palsas in Iitto along Highway 21, 56 km north of Karesuvanto. Wooden broadwalks lead you right to them.
Iitto is located on the Käsivarrentie road, about 40 kilometres from Kilpisjärvi. There is a rest area on the river’s side of the road, where you can park your car. Walk along the board walk for about 100 metres, there are signs.
Kilpisjärvi Nature Centre
KilpisjärviNature Centre provides information on the natural features of the Käsivarsi region, in northwestern Finland.
The Three Countries Border Stone
The borders of Finland, Sweden and Norway meet at the Three Nation’s Border Point that stands on a man-made island in lake Koltapahtajärvi in the Malla Strict Nature Reserve.
The original rock cairn was erected in 1897. Legend tells that workmen carried rocks for a week to complete the structure. However, the cairn did not survive the vast masses of shifting ice in spring. The current concrete marker was built in 1926. In summer, you can get there by taking the Malla boat, which travels from the Kilpisjärvi village to Koltalahti. The walk from Koltalahti to the cairn is just under three kilometers. You can also reach the cairn by walking 11 kilometers through Malla Strict Nature Reserve. You are free to circle the cairn – unless of course you have goods to declare at customs. Citizens of the Nordic countries do not even need to have their passports with them.
Malla Strict Nature Reserve
Malla Strict Nature Reserve rises directly from the shores of lake Kilpisjärvi and remains almost as unspoiled as it was in 1916 when it was established. It has a unique but fairly fragile ecosystem where rare fell plants unique to the area thrive due to limestone soils and butterflies also abound. Hence, summer travel within the area is restricted to the marked hiking trails in the summer. In wintertime, you can ski freely in the park. The 11-km long trail goes through the reserve to the Three Nations’ Border Point, where the borders of Finland, Norway and Sweden meet which is also worth a visit.
Malla Strict Natural Reserve is located just north from Kilpisjärvi village. Head towards the Norwegian border, and leave your car at the rest area. If you are not up for the 11 km hike all the way to the Three Nations’ Border Stone, just a climb up the fist hill will open up some stunning views.
You can also take the Malla boat to the Three Nations’ Border Point and hike back to Kilpisjärvi through the Reserve.
Try to identify some of the rare plants you find at the Reserve, use this link for help. Remember, that you can only collect plants from the Reserve by taking photos! http://www.luontoportti.com/suomi/en/kasvit/
On the main route between Kilpisjärvi and Skibotten, en route to Tromso, there is a wonderful but hidden waterfall just to the left of the main road. If you can find it, it is quite a jewel and there is a nice scramble down to either a good look-out point or - a little more challenging - all the way to the bottom where you can swim in front of the waterfall pool if you dare.
With the 17 meter drop, the Pihtsusköngäs waterfall on the Pihtsusjoki River is one of Finland's largest waterfalls. The falls are on the upper part of lake Vuomakasjärvi and start as a series of small rapids. Mist sprinkles on your face when the Pihtsusköngäs waterfall drop straight down from the rugged cliffs. The waterfalls are along the Nordcalotvägen, Kalottireitti, an 800 kilometre long hiking route that runs through Finnish, Swedish and Norwegian territory.