Paddling in Enontekiö

Even though Enontekiö is high in the Arctic, it doesn’t mean that the lakes are frozen year-round. In fact, many people come North to explore the wild and pristine waters of this rugged landscape between c. mid June and mid September. About 5% of the municipality's area is water since a number of large rivers originate here and there are also 825 small and large lakes. Key rivers include the Muonionjoki, the Ounasjoki, the Ivalojoki and one of the headstreams of the Tenojoki. The best ones for paddling journeys are described below. Even the name 'Enontekiö' is linked to water since 'Eno' is an old Finnish word for 'major river' and 'tekiö' is derived from the verb 'tehdä'.

Late May and June, after the snow-melt, is arguably one of the best times of year for kayaking in Enontekio but paddling is possible through until the end of September, when the banks of your river may already be white, in the early mornings, from the early winter overnight frosts.

Most of the products and journeys offered here can be undertaken by either canoe or kayak, depending on availability. Canoeing (or open boating as it is often called) is a beautiful, elegant way of exploring the water and enjoying the wildlife and scenery and makes many of the journeys more accessible for families since it is easier for the stronger members of the group to support the weaker members in canoes than in kayaks.

The Recreation and Canoeing Division of the Finnish Canoe Federation recommends reading the Safety Guidelines for Paddling before entering the terrain and we can provide more information on the water situation, terrain transportation and accommodation options.

Short Paddling Adventures in Hetta
Paddling Skills Courses
River Transfers (i.e. Facilitated but non-guided journeys)
1 and 2 day guided journeys
Longer or more challenging rivers

Short Paddling Adventures

Suonttajoki River and Lake Ounasjärvi Openwater Paddle

This fun outing starts at our farm, where we kit you out with paddles and bouyancy aids before heading out on foot to the put-in point on the Suonttajoki River. This small lake is the perfect place for beginners to try out paddling techniques and to figure out how to get the boats to go in a straight line. For the more experienced paddler trying out some of our tippier craft, it is also the ideal spot to figure out how to stay upright!

From there, the meandering journey down the tiny reed-enclosed river is a scenic and relaxing starting point for your journey. Once you reach Lake Ounasjärvi itself you will be feeling confident about heading out across its open waters. Your target is a small Finnish Lakeside cabin - Mökki - on its far shore where we break for snacks and to stretch our legs before setting back off on the return journey to the farm.

Guided Price: Adults €60, Children €45, Families (< 5 people) €175
Duration: 3 hours
Includes: Local snacks in a Mökki on the far shore of lake Ounasjärvi

Facilitated Journey Price: Adults €30
Includes: Map and route advice including a recommended place for making fires and grilling sausages at the far shore of Lake Ounasjärvi, the rent of the canoe, paddle and buoyancy aid and a guide who takes you down to the put-in and explains where to put the canoe or kayak upon return.

Midnight Sun Paddle
This is essentially our river to lake paddle offered in the tranquil evening light for those who want to experience being out on the middle of the tranquil waters of Lake Ounasjärvi in the midnight sun.

Guided Price: Adults €85, Children €55, Families (< 5 people) €250
Duration: 3 hours

Lake Muotkajärvi to Lake Ounasjärvi
To start this journey, we travel by car from the farm to the put in place on Lake Muotkajärvi, c. 4km by road from our farm. Once on the water, you will have a chance to get to grips with your craft before heading into the narrow strait / isthmus connecting the two large lakes. At some times of the year, this small river runs fairly fast so we will get out to have a look at the rapid and to talk through how to position your boat as you make the descent. Later on, in the summer, it may become shallow so we will again talk through how to approach any obstacles in the path.

After this short exhillerating ride, you have one more narrow point to negotiate, under a bridge, before the waters open again onto Lake Ounasjärvi. At the far shore, we will stop for lunch in a Finnish holiday cabin and climb up behind the cabin for a great view of the whole lake area. We return to the farm via the small, beautiful Suonttajoki river which meanders along in-between reed-filled banks to a secluded take-out lake c. 700m from our farm.

Guided Journey Price: Adults €95, Children €65, Families (< 5 people) €325
Duration: 4 hours
Includes: Lunch in a Mökki on the far shore of lake Ounasjärvi and transfers to the put-in point.

Facilitated Journey Price: €45 per person
Includes: Map and route advise, the rent of the canoe, paddle and buoyancy aid and boat transfers to the put-in point.

Paddling Courses

2-day 'Discover Canoeing' Course
We offer a 2-day beginner canoe course designed to teach foundation canoe-handling skills as part of a tandem crew along with the principles required to paddle safely as part of a supervised group. Canoeing (or open boating as it is often called) is a beautiful, elegant way of exploring the water using a single-bladed paddle and enjoying the wildlife and scenery. On the second day, you will refine your tandem skills during a journey from Muotkajärvi to Lake Ounasjärvi as well as being introduced to the art of solo paddling canoes.

2-day 'Discover Kayaking' Course
Our introduction to kayaking course includes an introduction to a number of different styles of kayaks and paddles as well as technique instruction in basic skills. Most kayaks are solo craft paddled with a double paddle and many can be rolled if a spray deck is used. However, we also have a number of tippy sprint boats which can't be rolled and which are generally paddled using a wing blade. Inuit paddle blades can also be tried. Techniques which will be covered include ike basic skills like getting into and out of boats, forward and backward paddling, sweep strokes, drawstrokes, high and low braces and an introduction to rolling for those who wish.

Price: Adults €165, Children €120
Duration: Both paddling courses are run across 2-days, for c. 5 hours each day.
Includes: The rent of the primary canoe or kayak, paddle and buoyancy aid for the duration, an introduction to other styles of boats and paddles, expert tuition, boat transfers to the put-in point for the journey on day 2 and a basic paddling certificate showing that you have acquired the basic skills.

River Transfers

For more information about facilitated journeys down our local rivers, please refer to the page on boat transfers which deals with the cost of hiring boats, paddles and buoyancy aids, consulting with us about the journeys and having the equipment transfered to and from the common river starting and ending points.

One and Two Day Wilderness Journeys

Palojoki Wilderness River:
This gentle gd 1 and 2 wilderness river starts at Lake Palojärvi and eventually flows into the Palojoki estuary and River Muoniojoki, c. 65km later, having followed the eastern boundary of the little-visited Tarvantovaara Wilderness Area for part of its length. There are variety of put-in and take-out options along this river. Hence, you can choose to paddle as little as 31km or as much as 60km along the way.

Most people opt for the 33km section from a remote put-in near the bridge at Lake Palojärvi, c. halfway between the villages of Leppäjärvi and Palojärvi to the take-out at Palojoensuu just before the Palojoki joins the main border river. Whilst it is possible to do this distance in one day, it is generally recommended as an overnight journey.

Along the way, grade 1 and 2 rapids allow for intermingled relaxation and fun and there are a rich assortment of fish in the river for those keen to take some fishing breaks. Only the Perjantaikoski Rapids halfway down the river are difficult to paddle down although when the water is shallow, the river is rocky, so this river is best tackled early in the season.

The prices for the guided journey include the rent of the canoe, paddle and buoyancy aid, boat transfers to the river and food. The 2-day option also includes the overnight stay in our own wilderness hut. The facilitated journey prices include map support, canoe and kit hire and transfers to the put-in and take-out.

1-day Guided Journey Price: Adults €195
2-day Guided Journey Price: Adults €275

1-day Facilitated Journey Price: Adults €75
2-day Facilitated Journey Price: Adults €100

Käkkälöjoki River, Pöyrisjärvi Wilderness Area: 38km
This source of this gentle beginner's river is near the Norwegian border but most people paddle a 38km section between Kalmakaltio Spring, which can be reached by car from the village of Nunnanen and Siltakoski. (From Kalmakaltio it is 14.5 km to the main road at Nunnanen (which is, in turn, c.20km from the main Peltovuoma road and the standard take-out at Siltakoski). En route, you pass through the Saaravuoma-Koskisenvuoma marshland protection area on the south-eastern side of the Pöyrisjärvi Wilderness Area.

The River Käkkälöjoki is suitable for beginners as the river’s rapids are not very strong.

The river drops only 25m in altitude along its 38km length and provides easy paddling from early summer to August.

The journey can be completed in one long day by experienced paddlers. However, for most people it is a more enjoyable 2-day (or 3-day with children) trip with an overnight in a wilderness cabin.

The Kalmakaltio open wilderness hut and Nallatupa are on the banks of the River Käkkälöjoki. Both are described in the hut section linked to the Pöyrisjärvi wilderness area.

The River Käkkälöjoki eventually flows into the River Ounasjoki at Haarakoski Rapids c. 40 km from the put-in and about 14.5km from the village of Hetta. Hence, those who want to extend their journey can do so by continuing on for a further 27km from Siltakoski to Ketomella although it is worth noting that this section includes the Haarakoski Rapids at the junction of the Käkkälöjoki and Ounasjoki rivers.

As always, the guided price for the basic 38km journey includes the rent of the canoe, paddle and buoyancy aid, transfer to the put-in transfers, food, guiding and hut accommodation when the trip is being made across two days.

The facilitated journey prices include map support, canoe and kit hire and transfers to the put-in and take-out.

1-day Guided Journey Price: Adults €195
2-day Guided Journey Price: Adults €275

1-day Facilitated Journey Price: Adults €75
2-day Facilitated Journey Price: Adults €100

Other rivers folk might want to consider:

Tarvantojoki River: 30km
This river runs through the centre of the Tarvantojoki wilderness area from its source near the Norwegian border to the point at which it empties into the River Muoniojoki. You can only get to the upper course of the river by flying, but the section between the villages of Kultima and Kuttanen, on its lower course, is great for a short day trip. In many places the river bank is surrounded by vast marshlands which provide perfect excuses for the cloudberry enthusiast to stop and pick berries.

Näkkäläjoki River: 25km
This river provides an easy journey between Näkkälä and Hetta and is best tackled in early summer.

Pöyrisjoki River: 43 km
This is a relatively demanding early summer canoeing route which starts from Lake Pöyrisjärvi and ends in Lake Vuontisjärvi. Lake Pöyrisjärvi can be reached by all-terrain vehicle from Näkkälä or by hydroplane from Hetta and there is an open / reservable hut near Lake Pöyrisjärvi.

There is a 100m change in altitude along the 43km river. There are several rocky rapids in the river so it is best to canoe when the waters are high. The rapids get more difficult as you get further down the river and they range in classification from class I to IV. The class IV Kuirinkurkkio and class II Kirkkokurkkio Rapids are the most challenging - the latter because of the steep, undercut banks on the sides which make the corners dangerous. However, these can be portaged relatively easily.

The river can be seen on the (1:50 000) V423 Enontekiö and V424 Näkkälä topographical maps. It is also on the Enontekiö guide and 1:100 000 recreational map.

The Pöyrisjärvi open/reservable wilderness hut is situated near Lake Pöyrisjärvi and described in the Pöyrisjärvi facilities section of the website.

Canoes can be transported to Lake Pöyrisjärvi by hydroplane from Hetta or by cross-country vehicle from Näkkälä (either by Hetta Huskies or Samuli Näkkälä). More information on transportation services

Longer or More Challenging Journeys

Könkämäeno / Tornionjoki / Muoniojoki Border River
This river, which runs un-dammed for 560km between the Arctic Ocean and the Baltic Sea and forms the natural border between Sweden and Finland, is Europe's longest wild river. It became well known in kayaking circles in the 80s and 90s as the location of the historic Arctic Canoe Race. Flatwater sections are interspersed between exciting rapids and there are many put-in and take-out options along its length. Hence, there are a wide number of journey options. However, since the river drops 473m along its length and contains 124 classified rapid water sections, some sections are fairly demanding. Despite this, it is still suitable for families with a local guide. Detailed route descriptions and rapid water section classifications are available.

The whole length can be completed in one week by experienced paddlers paddling c.80km days. Alternatively, one company offers a more relaxed two-week journey down its length, most summers from Lake Kilpisjärvi to the Gulf of Botnia.

An independent journey down this river was recorded relatively recently, here

Our 21km one-day guided journey on this river puts in at Palojoensuu and takes out at Saivomuotka. There are no major rapids along this section.

1-day Guided Journey Price: Adults €185
2-day Guided Journey Price: Adults €250

1-day Facilitated Journey Price: Adults €65
2-day Facilitated Journey Price: Adults €90

Ounasjoki River
For those interested in a one-day journey which is slightly shorter than the Palojoki and Käkkälöjoki river options, there is an accessible 22km route on the gentle Ounasjoki river from Periläjärvi to Ketomella. (There are also open shelters at either end - a lean-to shelter on the shore of Lake Periläjärvi, and a campfire site and Sioskoski day-trip hut before the village of Ketomella.) The Näkkäläjoki flows into the Ounasjoki at the eastern end of Lake Periläjärvi and a few kilometres after this it widens and becomes the quiet waters of Joentekiäinen pool where it is also joined by the Vanhajoki river.

If there is sufficient water flow, you may choose to put in, rather, at the east end of Lake Ounasjärvi, 5 km from the centre of Hetta. In-between this put-in and our standard put-in at Lake Periläjärvi is a 400m long section of shallow and rocky rapids called the Periläkoski rapids. These are only enjoyable in high water.

Longer journeys (for which we can determine taylored prices) are obviously also possible on this mighty river since it runs undammed all the way to Rovaniemi, c. 300km in the South. It is actually the longest river which is completely within Finland’s borders and is very popular with long distance canoeists. Round rocks which have been shaped by moving ice and water and which are difficult to spot from upstream are characteristic of the river. The rapids along the river vary in classification from I to III. The most difficult rapids along the route are Kurkkio, Köngäs and Molkoköngäs.

If you want to canoe down the entire river from Hetta all the way to Rovaniemi, you should take into account that the trip will take at least 2 weeks. There are 30 sets of rapids along the route and altogether this equals to a drop of 200 metres. There are villages by the river, but also long stretches which are uninhabited. From Ketomella to Rovaniemi a road runs beside the river. The first rapids are the 400 m long Periläkoski which is shallow and rocky. After these rapids you will arrive at Lake Perilänjärvi, at the east end of which the River Näkkäläjoki flows into the River Ounasjoki. A few kilometres after this the river widens and becomes the quiet waters of Joentekiäinen pool. At this point the River Vanhajoki flows into the River Ounasjoki. From Joentekiäinen the River Ounasjoki continues southward.

1-day Guided Journey Price: Adults €185
1-day Facilitated Journey Price: Adults €65
You can also find more information here

Lätäseno River: 115km
Experienced paddlers in search of a true wilderness adventure can opt for a helidrop (by hydroplane or helicopter) to the head of the completely wild Lätäseno river (or arrange to have your kayak taken out there in winter and hike out to it in summer!). Of course, you can also pack in an inflatable and it is worth noting that this river is a dream route for fly-fishing enthusiasts.

The put-in is normally at either Skadjajärvi or Porojärvi Lake and from there, the river drops 253m during its descent to the take-out at Markkina. Detailed route descriptions and rapid water section classifications are available.

Duration: 4 days including 1st helicopter transfer day
Guided Journey Price: Adults €925
Facilitated Journey Price: Adults €575