This is part 2 of a 4-part series from my trip to Lapland in February 2017. I had too many photos to share in one post, so I ended up having to split them into themed posts.
Lapland itself isn't a country. It's a region of northern Europe stretching across northern Norway, Sweden, Finland, and into Russia. It's mostly within the Arctic Circle, and it has been home to the indigenous Sami people for thousands of years. If rumours are to be believed, it's also home to the Moomins and Santa. It's a brilliant destination to visit, with a thriving culture and spectacular natural features. It's also easy to pitch your holiday wherever you like on the spectrum of touristy vs independent.
The extent of the forestry in Finland is extraordinary. Coming from the UK, we just don't do forests or wilderness on this sort of scale. When you are able to get up above the treeline, it's incredible to look out to a horizon where almost the entire landscape is covered in trees. As the land undulates beneath it, the trees carpet almost the whole surface of the land, aside from the lakes, which are entirely frozen and snow-covered during winter.
We were staying in Pyhä, which is a couple of hours south of Saariselkä. But since we had a rental car, we figured we might as well drive up and see a different location. It was well worth it. Saariselkä is a little larger than Pyhä, and more of a ski resort, and like Pyhä, is surrounded by miles of stunning national park and conservation area.
These photos were taken from the summit of Kaunispää Hill, in Saariselkä, Finland. Above is a panorama, consisting of several photos stitched together to create a wide-aspect image.
The image above should have had the moon on the horizon. That was a shot I'd planned meticulously, and timed to perfection. Unfortunately, a thin layer of cloud masked the full moon, which would have really added something spectacular to some of these photos. Such is life.
You can easily hike up Kaunispää Hill, or you can take the car up. The most fun way to get down is the free toboggan run (the longest in lapland at 1200 metres). And, like many of my favourite places, there's a cafe at the top. I have to recommend the local Finnish doughnuts to be found at this cafe (as well as elsewhere in Finnish Lapland). They're sugared ring doughnuts, flavoured with cardamom, and they're called 'Munkki'. I also had a good salmon soup there, but before this turns into a TripAdvisor review, I'll get back to the photos...
Not sure if the pic above worked, but I like the idea. The near side hill was in sun, and the far side of the valley in shade. Hmm, the jury's still out on that one.
Here's another valley view, where the lighter birch trees have been able to take root, surrounded by the more common fir trees, which dominate the Finnish Taiga.
The shot below is a close-up view of some fir and birch trees, creating an almost abstract scene.
Pyhä-Luosto National Park Trails
The neatly coloured trails in this leaflet show the area where I took the following forest photos, in the South East corner of the national park.
The trails are accessible and well-marked, so it's easy to nip into the forest for as long or short amount of time as you like.
This was the warmest day of our trip at just -3°C, but it felt the coldest. It felt damp, it was snowing quite heavily, and I was relying on hand-warmers in my gloves to keep my fingers defrosted.
Braving the dampness and cold of the blizzard was well worth it though. I'd visited these woods a couple of times already, but they looks much better in this bleak weather.
In the next post from this series I'll be changing colour scheme to share some sunrise and sunset photos.
Click to see the whole #Lapland2017 blog series.