Travel

Traveling where the sun never sleeps

Our adventurous travel blogger from Switzerland shares her beautiful journey to North Cape.

When I once told my boyfriend "I'd love to see the midnight sun at the North Cape" I would never have imagined ending up on a road trip with a camper and two mountain bikes.

But here there we were. However, let's start in order.

 

First, we had to book a camper. We decided to do so about a month before traveling. Very early for our standards. Not that early for anyone else’s standards, as we managed to get the last available camper in Rovaniemi! Thus, a little hint, going up to the North seems more popular than assumed - if you want to go, book early.

 

Our first night in Rovaniemi - when sky and water become one

 

I'm not a tent person, but I wanted to be as flexible as possible to go wherever we'd like without having to follow a schedule or a route. The camper proved to be the best choice, as we were able to move around comfortably and go wherever and whenever we wanted to.

We started in Rovaniemi, Finland, North enough to make sure we have plenty of time to discover the surroundings and travel to the North Cape.

The first challenge was to get our bikes in the travel boxes at the airport. When we arrived in Rovaniemi, we found out, that it was an even bigger challenge to get our boxes to the site where we had to collect the camper. They had to come with an extra minivan as both boxes did not fit in one.

Our first stop was in Pyhä - Luosto, very interesting, mainly from a geological point of view. The tops of the rocks are made of quartzite, which is over 2 billion years old. That's long before the Homo sapiens started to walk around about 200'000 years ago. We're just a little spot in the timeline of our planet, let's face it. Yet, we're impacting nature like no other species, but that's another topic.

Sometimes you could see rocks along the path showing wavy patterns. These were created when they were still part of the sediments below the sea. They emerged after the last ice age, thus pretty old stuff too.

 

 


 

As it was my first walk in the woods - I wondered if all tracks would be that easy......it wasn’t. ;-)

 

To head up north, we decided to take the road towards Levi, a known ski location in northern Finland. On the way, we picked up a Spanish hitchhiker who was heading up north to help a couple building a house. He told us about when he slept in the woods and showed us a picture of his face the day after. The mosquitos had no pity at all... Not even after a fight with Mike Tyson, he would have looked that bad! Poor boy!

 Well, we found Levi to be too touristic for us, which means people were walking around. ;-)

In fact, there was even a golf place. Too much civilization for our taste. Thus, we decided to go towards Inari.

 


Levi - too touristic for our taste

 

 We took the road 955. The higher the number, the less maintained is the road in Finland. Indeed, it took us ages! If we reached 40 km/h, it was already a lot. We were the only ones on this road, no big surprise. It became the best piece of road of our trip! We managed to see several elks, rabbits, and reindeers and enjoy the endless views over the woods. Just amazing.

What's interesting is the fact that most animals completely change their fur in winter. They turn to become completely white to be less easily spotted by the predators. In summer, instead, they get darker to mimetize within the woods. Fascinating, right? This happens to birds too, by the way!

 
 

 

 
 
 
 
Before stopping at Inari, we made a big detour to the Kevo reserve. We reached the Kevo reserve in the middle of the night, and the sun was shining high and bright. We thus decided to take a quick power-nap and start our walk at three e' lock in the morning. The hike was magical, from woods to lakes to grassland. We did not encounter one soul and felt entirely part of the nature around us. After three hours of walk, we reached the canyon. It was incredible, nothing but nature.

 



 

 
 

 

  
Woods, lakes, grassland and a beautiful canyon at 3AM in the morning

 

 In Inari, we then visited the museum of Sami. Very interesting, in particular, the outdoor part of the museum, with the houses and the gold-washing infrastructure. Most Sami live in simple houses made of wood or simply mud. When they're with the cattle, they build tents for them and separately for the food reserves. They then sleep on wood branches, and there is a strict sitting order: women, children or old people have to sit near the entrance, while the man gets the best place near the fire. Seems fair...

 


The open air museum in Inari

 Going North, we finally crossed the border to Norway. A rather unspectacular experience as one crosses merely a bridge. No fancy waiving deer or anything like this. ;-)

 However, we noticed that the civilization is much denser: everywhere you can spot villages. In Finland, this was a seldom view, as usual, we found only scattered houses along the way.

 


A rather unspectacular cross towards Norway

 As it was a beautiful day, we decided to go for a hike in the Stabbursdalen national park. For once we renounced taking the bikes with us from the beginning, as on one side in national parks it is forbidden to go around with a mountain bike and on the other side… often hikes were not easy at all to do by bike. Eventually, our bikes have seen mainly the backside of our camper during this trip. But at least I learned to pack them up and reassemble them. -.-

 

The park was beautiful, with different sceneries including fairy-tail-like woods, amazing lakes, and rivers with masses of water. We even managed to spot a few reindeer running around!

 

 


 



Nature showing off

Probably because of the reindeer, there were fences everywhere. Sometimes, there was a door along the hike to pass through. Other times there were more elaborate constructions to get to the other side, like little stairs! Something I hadn't seen so far.

At some point, we saw a beautiful waterfall and decided to go down the hill towards it. We met some fishers at the river who told us that it was a great place to fish. They couldn’t understand why we did not go fishing, as it seems everyone in the Nordics does. They already had caught a salmon of over 19kg, which they were storing in a plastic bag below the snow.

Yes, there was snow. We even had to cross a field of snow along the hike. A clear sign, we were getting more and more north.

 


 

 

Crossing fences and if you do not go fishing in the Nordics, you're kind of a weirdo

 

It had been a week on the road, and as we packed only a few clothes, we urgently needed to do some laundry.

We knew there was just one camping on the way towards the island of the North Cape and we were lucky! Unluckily the machines were very old, and it took us almost half a day for only two wash cycles. But it was cheap (2.50 EUR) and we finally had fresh clothes again. Let's not mention the fact, that this was the only opportunity to do laundry on our trip… Afterward, the washing became more… let’s say, rudimental.

After all these hours spent washing, it had become late, too late to drive up to the North Cape. We thus looked for a quiet spot to sleep and ended up in Trollholmsund.

Trollholmsund is a little fishers' village at the coast, near to the trolls. We went to visit the trolls, a short hike of about 2 km one way and were amazed by the view we found. Long sandy beaches and the trolls made of over 700 Mio years old dolomite rocks. According to an old Sami legend, a family of trolls had stolen silver and gold and were carrying it in a big bag. It was right before sunrise when they arrived at the Porsanger fjord. They desperately tried to find a cave to hide from the sun but had no luck. Thus, they went to the coast to cross the fjord, but once the sun rose, they turned into limestone pillars. It’s said that the bag full of silver and gold is still somewhere along the coast. I only found some leftovers of crabs.

We had an astonishing night in this mystical place. There were a lot of sheep, thus from time and time we were woken up by their bleating. Nevertheless, the view was worth all the bleating of the world. ;-)

We loved the atmosphere so much that we took advantage of the sun of the next day to relax and just enjoy this place.

 


 


 


 

 
 Sheep, trolls, and reindeer on the beach - what else?


However, our mission was to get to the most northern point of Europe, thus we went back on the road in the afternoon. To reach the island one must take a tunnel which goes under the sea. This fact alone was not amusing me too much, the idea of having tons of water over my head was frightening. But the best part was, that the road got steeper and steeper! Like a roller coaster!

The island itself is plenty of beautiful spots but also very industrial. We arrived at a parking lot where the hike to the "real" most northern point of Europe starts - most tourists go to the North Cape which has a huge parking lot and infrastructure with restaurants and cinema and... you name it!

The hike was nice but not spectacular as nature is rather barren. It took us about 3 hours to reach the most northern point, and while getting there, I almost remembered that we were in Summer as I could walk around wearing my T-shirt! Once we were on the coast, the wind was so strong and cold that we had to put on all clothes we had with us... Bye bye summer again.

But the feeling that we made it, we were there on the most northern point of Europe, in the middle of nowhere was just mesmerizing!


 


All the way to the most northern point of Europe - with temperature ranging from 19°C to 5°C within 3 hours of walks

Once back we decided to go and look at the midnight sun from the North Cape. Funny fact: if you walk there or go there by bicycle, the entry is free. If you go there per car or camper, you'll have to pay 27 EUR per person in the vehicle. That's nuts, right? If the fee would be per car, I'd understand, but like this... not really.

Thus, we decided to park our camper a bit further away and walk there. We then spent the money we saved in food and enjoyed the midnight sun from a restaurant located on the right from the main entry. For some reason it was almost empty, most people were outside or crowded on the windows on the left side of the infrastructure. Well, if you do not want to become an ice cube or stay in the crowd, get some drinks and food and enjoy the fantastic view from that cozy place.

This whole trip was definitively worthy, as the whole way up to the North was just incredible. Nature is still wild and the fact that one can go out for a walk at any time is just a feeling of absolute freedom! You never have to hurry up to be able to do things before darkness, even if you're a sleepyhead. ;-)

Then, seeing the sun just kissing the horizon before going up again to give us another bright day is extraordinary. You get sunset and sunrise all in one.

 


 

The North Cape and finally the main reason for this trip - the midnight sun

 

 

 


 


 

 





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ABOUT THE AUTHOR Stefanie

Hi! Im Stefanie! I’m from nature curious, full of energy and always looking forward to discovering and trying out new things. My background is very diverse: as a former biologist I have the love for the detail and as former marketing director I love to tell stories. Stories from my travels and my daily life. My uncommon artist name “Strange Ste” is a wordplay that shall remember the word strangest, a synonym of unusual, different. Especially nowadays the tolerance and acceptance of differences are important. My goal is to increase the acceptance of each other, create a strong bond with my followers and mainly be able to make them smile. As smiling, it’s said, does lengthen our lives.

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