Encyclopaedia Fennica

Nattanen fells and Vuotso village

Vuotso village, Sodankylä, Lapland, and Sompio Strict Nature Reserve east of it

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Nattanen fells (Nattaset, Nattastunturit, Sami Náttašduottar) in Sodankylä in Lapland, at the edge of a vast wilderness stretching from here to the Russian border, named Koilliskaira. Pictures from the top of Pyhä-Nattanen, 508 m above sea level.

The highest point of the fells is Terävä-Nattanen, the Sharp Nattanen, 544 m. The massif belongs to the large Sompio Strict Nature Reserve (Sompion luonnonpuisto), and moving here is permitted only along two marked trails.

And at the top of Pyhä-Nattanen, the Sacred Nattanen, there is an old fire lookout hut and unusual rocks, resembling "stone tents" formations, common in the Middle Urals in Russia where I grew up.

The place named Sompio used to be the heart of the East Lapland Sami lands. But the traditional lifestyle of the local Sami, the native people of Lapland, was destroyed in 1967 by the construction of Lokka and Porttipahta reservoirs. Lokka nowadays begins almost at the foot of Nattanen.

The waters of the reservoir covered the huge mire of Posoaapa, several Sami villages and vast reindeer husbandry areas. Lokka is the largest reservoir of the entire EU, 214-418 sq. km depending on how full it is. Of course the reservoirs were built not out of spite, but to regulate the hydro power cascase of Kemijoki, the largest river of Lapland. That cascade generates over a third of all Finland hydroelectricity. The reservoirs are connected by this Vuotso canal (Vuotson kanava), a rather large but very obscure one. Reservoirs construction is commemorated by a monument by the bridge.

The village of Vuotso, or in Sami Vuohčču by the canal is the very first Sami village in Finland, coming from the south to the north. The dirt road to Nattanen fells also begins here. The distance to Helsinki is about 1060 km. Population about 350.

Unsuprisingly there are a lot of signs in Sami and facilities for tourists from the south: souvenir shops, handmade craft shops, copies of Sami traditional buildings, camping sites and so on. And of course there are many reindeers. But those are very common in Lapland and reindeer area begins already some 300 km south from here :)

Driving address: Vuotso, Sodankylä; Pyhä-Nattanen trail begins at Sompiojärventie 920, Sodankylä

Public transport access: Vuotso has buses from Rovaniemi to Ivalo, Inari, Norwegian Karasjok, Vadsø, Nordkapp stopping daily. Pyhä-Nattanen trail begins 9 km from Taivallammentien th P/E stop down Sompiojärventie road

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