I’m ashamed to admit that as a Finn, I had never been to Lapland before. Usually my adventures take me all over the world, but this summer was going to be special. Finland as a nation is turning one hundred years old in December 2017. I knew it was time to explore my dear home country more by climbing the Saana fell in Lapland.
About Saana fell
Finland is known as a land of thousands lakes, but not for mountains and other high places. Saana fell is an exception. This fell is 1029 meters high and important landmark for Sami people in Finland. Saana might be only the 12th highest place in Finland but the scenery is incredible. It is situated in Kilpisjärvi, Lapland, right next to the Norway and Sweden border. Sami people named their sacred fell as Saana which means mushroom. Didn’t see any mushrooms on my climb so I guess the name refers to the shape of the fell. On your way to the top of the fell, you can see lots of unique plants and even butterflies.
My journey to Saana fell from Kolari
I started my journey to Lapland by taking a train to a town named Kolari. The drive from Helsinki is exhausting 13 hours long and the weather was awful because of storm, so it was good idea to take my car on train! Despite of the lightning and heavy rain, it was quite cozy to hang out and sleep in my small cabin on the train. The next day I woke up well rested and had arrived to my destination. After a small car problem, I was on the road enjoying the unique scenery of Lapland. There is more information about the car train on VR official site.
For a city girl like me, it was exotic to see lots of reindeers beside the road when I was driving from Kolari to Saana fell. Sometimes it’s hard to recognize brown reindeers in Lapland so drive carefully. I was so lucky to spot a tiny white reindeer! Apparently they are rare. Everything sure looks different when you cross the Arctic Circle.
It took about 3.5 hours and 270 km before I arrived to my hotel right next to the beautiful fell. I highly recommend Kilpisjärvi hiking center hotel and their restaurant. The best thing about this hotel is that the hiking path starts right behind this hotel.
Let’s climb Saana fell
Let’s do this! It was perfect sunny afternoon so I just took all my stuff to my room and started to climb the Saana fell. It’s an 8 km nature trail to the top which takes about 2-3 hours. Make sure to plan some photography time to your hiking because the views are truly spectacular! I even thought to myself that I really can’t believe that Finland can look like this.
First you walk on duckboards and see unusual small birch trees that grow in Lapland. Apparently the cold climate affects their growth significantly, because I had used to see tall birch trees. After the duckboards, it’s a very steep walk up. There used to be nice wooden stairs, but they were in so bad shape that this year the stairs were totally removed. Make sure to wear some proper hiking shoes because this terrain isn’t easy.
The way to the top seemed so long because of the hilly and steep path. I thought once or twice am I there yet, but it’s totally worth it. In the end the most important is the journey not the destination. You will see some nice white fluffy flowers, clear ponds, interesting shaped rocks and snowcapped mountains on your way to the top. Enjoy the silence and fresh air on top of Saana and when you have enough of the beautiful views make sure to notice stone art on the ground. There’s an interesting circles of stones in a shape of a maze (Troy Towns or in Finnish “Jatulintarha”). I’m not sure why someone made them there, maybe just for fun or for some spiritual meaning? Before I started to descent down the fell I wrote some of my feelings in a guestbook like many other before me.
It was fast to descent back down the same route but my knees sure felt the pressure. You don’t have to be in a good shape for this trip just relentless. I was there on a clear and sunny day but in my experience it’s windy on the top so bring some warm clothes. I wouldn’t recommend hiking on top of Saana fell on a bad weather because visibility will be poor. You can also add extra 4 km if you want to continue your hike to Kilpisjärvi day hut. It’s a free hut by the lake for all hikers. I didn’t have the strength this time to go there, but maybe next time when I’m around this rugged area. Kilpisjärvi has also other nice hiking areas near like Kitsiputous waterfall if you have more time to explore.
I hope you enjoyed this post!
Can’t get enough of Finland? Read my other posts here.