Travelling to Pyhä
I decided to take the train to Kemijärvi to have some vacation in Pyhä during the second January week. The train journey from Helsinki took about 13 hours. I had a sleeping cabin that was a bit narrow, but still quite comfortable. When I arrived in Kemijärvi, I took the bus to Pyhä and paid 11.80 EUR for the bus ticket. The bus was pretty empty. Just me, the driver and 3 other travelers. Fortunately the bus was already there because the temperature was now -17 ° C and fell even lower to -23 ° C when I arrived in Pyhä. Later on I have learned that I visited Pyhä in the week with the least tourists. I found out later that I visited Pyhä exactly at the time when there are least tourists.
I booked a ski inn chalet called PyhäLinna II that wasn’t ready when I got to Pyhä around 10.30 a.m. Check-in time is usually 6:00 p.m., but my apartment was ready to move into at 3:00 p.m. The apartment was quite cozy. It had a nice bathroom with a sauna, fireplace, kitchen and television. There was also cleaning fluid for the dishwasher and soap.
I did not walk up the Kultakero fell on the day of my arrival as there was a snow storm at the top and it didn’t make much sense to take photos during a snow storm. However, I walked up the mountain a little and got good results there too.
Later I visited the Naava Nature Center, where I also had a lunch buffet for EUR 15.50. The nature center is not that big, but it still has some useful information (most of it is in Finnish). However, the friendly staff gave me some tips on where to go snowshoeing. There is also a K-market in Pyhä, where I bought my groceries. Moreover, there are also opportunities to rent skis and fat bikes.
Later that evening I got an aurora alert on my smartphone. I went on my way and could watch the northern lights right above the large radio and television antenna on Kultakero fell. Unfortunately there were also a lot of clouds in the sky and so I decided to postpone my aurora borealis hunt for the next few days.
The next day I decided to get up early and hike with snowshoes to the top of Kultakero Fjäll to take some pictures of the landscape during the blue and golden hour.
Kultakero fell 500 m high, but I only had to climb 265 m from my apartment. The trail was about 3 km long and not difficult. The trail was well groomed and snowshoes weren’t necessary. However, it was convenient to go down the fells with snowshoes.
I got some pretty good pictures up on Kultakero fell. The winter time is perfect for photographing the sunrise and sunset in Lapland, as the days are very short (in my case about 3 1/2 hours) and you can combine both events in one short trip. I also like the colors of light here in Lapland. It’s kind of more intense than in the south.
I decided to order a baked potatoe for 13 EUR at the Tsokka restaurant, which is also on the top of the fell. The restaurant also offered various soups and waffles and played traditional Sami music (joik = throat singing).
The next day I started my hike around 8:30 a.m. My first destination was the Isokuru Gorge, which is the deepest gorge in Finland at 220 meters. It lies between the Kultakero and Ukonhattu fells. The path through the gorge is actually a summer hiking trail on wooden slats. There was a sign that the path through the gorge is not a winter path. A hike through the gorge is not recommended as there is a risk of avalanches. I decided to walk the gorge a little while I felt it was safe, and returned after a few photos.
From Isokuru I hiked to Oravalampi before reaching Noitatunturi which is the highest mountain around Pyhä at 540 m. I hiked up the fells and stopped about 50m before reaching the summit to take a few pictures. And indeed, I had a great view from there and I could watch how slowly the fog penetrated the area below me and how the sun was slowly going down.
After descending the fell, I walked along the Tunturiaapa Nature Trail to Tunturiaapa, where I found a bird watching tower. There was also a sign that this would be the best place to see the Northern Lights. Tunturiaapa is located in a swamp and from there you can see the Kultakero, Ukonhattu and Noitatunturi fells. From there it was a 2.7 km walk to the Naava Nature Center, where I had my late lunch around 3 p.m.
The following day it was cloudy and foggy and I decided to take it easy. I went again to Cafe Loimu in the Naava Visitor Center for lunch and did some grovery shopping in the K-Market. Later on I decided to take a walk with my camera and to photograph trees.
Soutaja is another fell within walking distance of Pyhä. It was about 4 miles on foot from my apartment and the snowshoes were very useful at the top of the fell as I couldn’t find a path there that was likely to be covered in fresh snow. It was very windy again at the top of the fell, but the views of the landscape were excellent. There was also a hut with a fire pit inside just before reaching the top of the fell. The hut is called Soutaja Kota. There is also a side fell on the way up called Santa-Soutaja. However, it doesn’t offer any views since it is covered with trees.
Backed Potatoe, Waffles and Nachos
On the last day I visited two more restaurants. First, I walked up again the Kultakero fell on snowshoes to try the waffles in the Tsokka restaurant and also ordered the backed potatoe again. In the late afternoon I went to the Colorado Restaurant to try the Colorado Nachos. It tasted good every time and the presentation of the dishes was good too! Then it was time to take the bus back to Kemijärvi and then the Night Train to Helsinki.