Our splendid time in Norway and the Lofoten islands comes to an end as we drive east across the top of Norway and into Kiruna, a town in Sweden. Another free stop by a small lake, access to free firewood, toilets and even another magnificent evening for northern lights made it a perfect stop, even if it was just for the night.
A drive across Sweden
and we were already by the Finnish border on yet another free camping- Kaalamaskoski. The river was the only feature signifying the border between the two Scandinavian countries and was perfect for pike fishing. Staring across at Finland, it was clear autumn was catching up to us as burning colours set the scenery alight.
Half an hour into the flat forest landscape of Finland and we encountered a white reindeer, its’ white coat promising what was to come in the upcoming winter; we later found out they were a rare sight. It was the perfect sight considering Lapland, Rovaniemi, was our next stop. Yes, it was September and not the time to see Santa, but Jed knew no difference and there were still many tourists visiting. My brother ‘met’ father Christmas and claims he was so nervous he forgot to tell him what he would like and instead told him all about our trip so far! Receiving a present all the same(and me a job), he was very happy and we managed to see the place and step through the Arctic circle ‘line’ once more surrounded by sun rather than snow.
Unless you are planning to stay here, I wouldn’t suggest staying overnight in Rovaniemi town as it didn’t look too thrilling, we instead camped on a small island in the middle of a lake on the outskirts. Here we witnessed our last clear viewing (on this trip) of the Northern Lights. The rainbow shape and perfect reflections and silence was the perfect goodbye from the North.
We headed to the west coast where the Gulf of Bothnia lies to stay for a couple of nights (more free stops)in the town of Tauvo. The place was another fishermans village so it was desolate even though the beach, sea and area was beautiful.
The place was more or less free of light pollution so at night the milky way was in full force and even though we were far south now, wisps of auroras invaded the oblivion.
Salamajärvi National Park lies in Central Finland amongst lakes and endless trails and forestry.
The road to Koirasalmen was more of a dirt track and lasted for what seemed hours bumping up and down in the van but once we arrived and found the place empty of tourists- it was all worth it. We chose a spot by the lake, overlooking the islets and wilderness for £5 a night. For the next day we hired a boat and spent the day fishing and exploring the dotted islands.
A wooden shelter provided a huge fire pit for us to light and keep blazing throughout the night.
We also booked a sauna for a couple of hours in the evening experiencing the traditional Finnish sauna (a must do!!). Out of the window trails of auroras could be seen and stepping through the back door led down into the lake to cool down allowing you to bathe in darkness underneath Northern Lights and twinkling galaxies. Perfection.