The great Lake Inari stretches out in front of Inari village. Also known as the ‘Sámi sea’, it is possible to travel on the lake for days without seeing anyone else, making it a true haven for peace and tranquility seekers. The majority of the 3318 islands have no buildings or any other visible traces of mankind. However, with careful observation, you can discover nature’s own works of art and ‘seita’s, sacred places of unique natural beauty, where the Sámi people used to make offerings to the gods and spirits.
The Forestry Commission’s Nature Heritage Services has built open huts for overnight stays and maintains outdoor fireplaces on some islands. You can also find cottages to rent for longer periods. It is easy to get lost in the labyrinth of open water and islands so always be well prepared when moving around the lake. Keep in mind that weather changes quickly.
The lake is number one in Finland for trout fishing, with the catch weighing in at around 45 tons per year in recent times. It is also possible to catch salmon, arctic char, white fish, vendace and grayling, all of which form an important part of the local diet.
Lake Inari is third largest lake in Finland at 1 084m². The official deepest point is 92 meters which is located in the Vasikkaselkä open water area.
In the western parts of Lake Inari lies the ancient Sámi sacrificial site, Ukko Island. The island is one of the most notable and treasured ancient sites in Finland. It was dedicated to Ukko, the God of Thunder. In the olden days people made offerings to Ukko on the island, asking for favourable winds. Even nowadays people might flip a coin into the water wishing for the same. You can admire the island from a short distance during the summer onboard our cruise ship which departs daily or drive a snowmobile across the ice on one of our safaris during the winter.
Inari village is the centre for Finnish Sámi culture. Nestled amongst wild fells and lakes, there are plenty places of interest in its surroundings which are rich in local culture as well as natural beauty. Amongst these, the most well known are Siida, museum of Sámi Culture and Nature Centre, and the architecturally striking Sámi cultural centre and parliament house, Sajos. The Sámi church and artisan shops are also intriguing places to visit. In Inari, Sámi culture is respected and kept alive through education and in the media. It is possible to study all three Sámi languages spoken in Finland and learn traditional handcrafts at the Sámi Education Institute. In the village, the Finnish national broadcasting company (YLE) has a local station which produces news and programs in all three Sámi languages. Productions are broadcast via the radio, television and internet.
Inari village is the second largest within the municipality of Inari, with a population of approximately 500. The village itself is small, which is part of its charm. All services are within walking distance, including two grocery stores, a petrol station and the northernmost ATM in Finland. Nature trails and good fishing spots are just around the corner. The Forestry Commission’s Nature Heritage Services (Metsähallitus Luontopalvelut) sells fishing licenses and offers tourist information within Siida, the Sámi museum. Prescription-free medicines can be bought in the Kuukkeli grocery store and the nearest health care centre is located 40 kilometers south in Ivalo.
Siida offers up to date information as well as a multi-sensory learning experience for its visitors. During summer the indoor exhibitions are complemented by the outdoor museum. Culture, art and nature related exhibitions change with the seasons throughout the year. Siida is also a venue for culture and nature events, for example Camera Borealis,a nature photography event, and Skábmagovat – The Indigenous Peoples’ Film Festival, which takes place in an outdoor cinema carved out of ice and snow.
Situated right by Juutua, the river of all rivers, is Sajos. Sajos is the Sámi cultural centre and is also where the Finnish Sámi parliament is based. It is an interesting meeting point for different cultures and also functions as a congress centre. Events held in Sajos vary from classical music to modern films.
The Wilderness Church of Lake Pielpa is located at the original site of Inari Village. Before Inari Village was founded in its current place at the mouth of River Juutua, it was a ‘siida’, the Sámi word for a winter settlement. The church, initially built along with the ‘siida’ in 1760, is one of the oldest buildings still standing in Northern Lapland. The graves in the churchyard were moved onto an island to prevent large predators from digging them up.
River Juutua flows through Inari Village. The river is a paradise for fly-fishers, with trout spawning from the lake and graylings offering a challenge to even the most experienced of fishermen. Good fishing spots are easy to reach from the marked nature trail following the river. There are a couple of shelters and fireplaces along the river that are stocked with firewood and free for everyone to use. The river can be crossed via a new suspension bridge at Jäniskoski.
From the north side of the river rises Otsamo Fell. At 418m above sea level, it is located roughly eight kilometers from the village. There are marked trails leading to the top, where you can find shelter and take a rest in the day hut, which has it’s own stove and firewood. The fell top offers magnificent views over the surrounding wilderness.
Another great viewpoint is Tuulispää Fell. The fell is located about nine kilometers south from the village and is accessible by car. This fell is known for heavy winds blowing through its hillsides and was believed to be the residence of the god of wind. This mean that is was also an ancient sacrificial place where people came to appeal to the god. There is a 1.5km hiking trail from the car park to Tuuli lake, where there is a wooden shelter with a fireplace, firewood and dry toilets.
Lemmenjoki village is located in the outskirts of Lemmenjoki National Park, 50 kilometers south-west of Inari Village. The National Park is the largest wilderness area in Finland and one of the largest in Europe.
During the summer, boat trips can be taken down the river valley and are the best way to visit Ravadasköngäs, a ten meter waterfall, rare in Finland, as well as take in the beauty of the surroundings. The Lemmenjoki area is also known for its gold rush history. The last rush was in the 1950s but hopeful gold prospectors can still be found sifting through sediment.