Kaldoaivi Wilderness Area

Kaldoaivi Wilderness Area

On July 24th at 8.50 am, it was time to get onboard the Finnair flight AY557, which departed from Helsinki for a 1 hours and 20 minutes flight north to Ivalo in Finnish Lapland.

One week of hiking and packrafting in the Kaldoaivi Wilderness Area, together with Caj and Katja, was waiting for me, including a visit to the Siida museum that displays Saami art and culture.

Kaldoaivi
Kaldoaivi Wilderness Area

At the starting point of our packrafting trip, we inflated our packrafts, and there were already many mosquitoes and cloudberries with a lot of vitamin C. So when we reached the Ailijärvi lake, we prepared our gear, started paddling and got rid of mosquitoes.

We had to get out of our packrafts when we crossed to Ailijärvi lake to walk a few hundred meters crossing a reindeer fence until we reached the Katriinajärvi lake. Then, we came across a couple of signs which marked the snowmobile path.

After some paddling, it was time to hike again next to a swamp for another 1 km until we reached the 3 km long Sundeejärvi lake, where we enjoyed the sunset while paddling in our packrafts.

When we reached the end of the lake, we stepped out again and hiked another 500 meters until we found a good place to pitch our tents between the Sundeejärvi and the Opukasjärvi lakes.

Kaldoaivi
Kaldoaivi Wilderness Area

Then we pitched our tents we collected firewood and prepared our dinner. We had Pasta with hazelnut tofu, tea, and Brazilian nuts.

Suddenly, we heard some voices and saw a group of 4 people approaching us. They were probably hiking to a summer cottage. It was midnight when we finally fell asleep. It started to rain during the night, but we stayed dry in our tents.

The next morning I woke up at 9 am. We prepared porridge, tea, and rye chips before we packed our gear and refilled our water bottles on the stream. I used a water filter even so it would be probably possible to drink the water straight out of the stream and refilled my plastic bottle.

Kaldoaivi
Kaldoaivi Wilderness Area

We put our drysuits on and hiked 1 km to the Opukasjärvi lake. The sun was shining, and the water was warm. First, we paddled to a rapid and then to the Opukassokka Fjell on the opposite side of the lake, which we climbed up. We found many blueberries there and also a few Koskenkorva bottles. However, the view from the top of the Fjell was stunning, and an eagle was circling on top of us.

Kaldoaivi
Kaldoaivi Wilderness Area

I went for a swim with my PFD to float a bit around when we returned to the lake. I had plenty of time as Katja had to return to the top of the Fjell as she noticed that she forgot her hat.

Kaldoaivi
Kaldoaivi Wilderness Area

Then it was time to paddled to a sandy beach on the Opukasjärvi where we had a swim and our lunch – Tacos with beans and hazelnut tofu.

After lunch, we jumped into our packrafts and approached the Näätämöjoki, which is one of the most popular wilderness fishing rivers in Finland. A fishing permit is needed if you want to fish here. And indeed, there were many fishermen along the river. At some point, we had to walk in the river since it became very shallow.

We pitched our tent at 10 pm, prepared a fire and then it started to rain again. We spotted some fishermen and a dog which was chasing birds on the other side of the Näätämöjoki. After it stopped raining, I tried to dry some of my gear, and my sleeping pad was completely wet. After a cup of tea, it was time to go sleeping.

The next day it was still raining in the morning. I woke up at 9 am and waited in the tent until it stopped raining. When Caj and Katja climbed out of their tent, we prepared fire and breakfast and packed our gear. Finally, it was time to paddle again.

There were many fishermen, a few huts and smaller rapids along the river. At some point, we had to leave the Näätämöjoki, deflated the packrafts and hiked on a trail for about 3 km through an area with rocks and old pine trees until we reached the Syrjäjärvi lake.

Kaldoaivi Wilderness Area
Kaldoaivi Wilderness Area

The trail went up and down, and once we took the wrong trail, we walked off the beaten path to get back to our trail. Someone left the root of a pine tree on a stone. They contain tar and are quite useful to prepare a fire when it’s wet.

We paddled again for 1 km until we reached a spot to change to the Rekkiluobâl lake. Unfortunately, the two lakes were separated by a reindeer fence and a small piece of land. Fortunately, we found a door in the fence and could carry our packrafts from the Syrjäjärvi to the Rekkiluobâl lake.

Two rapids were running against us until we reached the Räkkijärvi. At the first rapid, we were able to paddle up the stream. However, on the second rapid – the Täyttämakoski – we had to step out and walk around it.

Caj tried to pull his packraft with a rope up to the Täyttämakoski rapid, but it did not work. The packraft flipped, and Katja fell into the rapid while she was trying to help Caj. Caj was a bit disappointed after this event and wanted to set up the camp, but we continued paddling and searching for a better camp spot.

Kaldoaivi Wilderness Area
Kaldoaivi Wilderness Area

We reached the Räkkijärvi lake, and there were 2 cottages on the shore. One person was sitting in front of a cottage, and a lot of smoke came out of its chimney. There was also a propeller plane that can land on lakes. We enjoyed the silence on the lake and were lucky with the wind blowing in our direction.

Kaldoaivi Wilderness Area
Kaldoaivi Wilderness Area

Then we paddled to the next section of the Jänisjärvi lake on a stream running against us and then for another hour on the lake while enjoying the scenery. There was a higher Fjell at the end of the lake with an antenna on it. At the end of the lake, we set up our camp, and it started to rain again.

Kaldoaivi Wilderness Area
Kaldoaivi Wilderness Area

We started to collect firewood and prepared our dinner. Fortunately, we found the root of a pine tree with the tar, which helped us prepare the fire in the rain.

For dinner, we had mashed potatoes, vegetarian chorizo with onions and paprika in tomato sauce. At midnight straight after dinner, we went sleeping. I skipped my evening tea as I was just too tired. It started to rain again.

I woke up at 8 am while Caj and Katja were still sleeping. Again there was a lot of wind, but it was not raining. So I walked around and explore the area a bit.

After breakfast, we crossed the nearby road to the last big lake – Sevettijärvi – a 10 km lake which we had to paddle. Again, we were quite lucky with the wind as it was blowing in the right direction.

Just now and then, a car passed by on the road next to the lake. The lake’s deepest point was 43 m, but we paddled nearby the shore, where we could see to the ground of the lake as it was not that deep here. There were plenty of rocks on the lake’s ground, which is probably also why the lake’s water felt warmer than the air (15 C).

At 4.30 pm, Caj left us to get the car, and we transported his packraft to the next sand beach, where we agreed to meet him. As the wind came sidewards towards us, it was a bit harder to paddle. Caj arrived at the sand beach before we were able to reach it. We carried our packrafts to the shore, deflated them and packed them into the car.

While I was wearing only sandals for the last 4 days, it was somehow nice to wear proper shoes again.

This night we stayed in a cabin as most of our gear was wet, and we had plans to drive to Norway to see the Arctic Sea, which was just a one-two-hour drive away from Sevettijärvi. So when we arrived at the Peuralammen Camping in Sevettijärvi, we ate a pancake and visited the sauna.

The cabin, including pancakes, coffee, tea, and the sauna, was 74 EUR which is reasonably priced. At 10.30, we fell asleep with a few mosquitoes flying around in our cabin.

The next morning we woke up at 9 am, had some pancakes, and packed our bags. We passed by an old Russian cemetery on the way back to the main road. Most of the names on the gravestones had similar last names.

There was also some sort of art hanging from the tree – a lot of postcards arranged in the shape of Finland, with postcards from different places in Finland. And then it was time to drive to Norway to visit the Arctic Sea – a one-hour drive to Kirkenes.