village in Inari, Finland

Sevettijärvi and Näätämö (Skolt Sami: Čeʹvetjäuʹrr and Njauddâm, respectively) are villages north of Lake Inari in Finnish Lapland, with mostly Skolt Saami population.

Understand edit

Lake in the night, near Näätämö

Finland ceded large areas to the Soviet Union after World War II, including Petsamo (Skolt Saami: Peäccam) which now forms the Pechengsky District in Murmansk Oblast. Like for other ceded areas most of the people were resettled in the rest of Finland. Most of the Skolt Saami population, those from Suonikylä village, ended up to the Sevettijärvi-Näätämö area. The rest were resettled to Nellim and Keväjärvi on the south-east shores of Inarijärvi. The government of Finland built new houses for the refugees and in the end the population of Sevettijärvi rose from 4 families to 55 families. The village got its first grocery store, school, and a health care station at the same time. However, only in 1979 this corner of the country was connected to the electricity grid.

The village Näätämö by the Norwegian border has traditionally been Skolt Saami land, just like Neiden (12 km into Norway) which in some contexts is regarded part of the same village.

The road from Kaamanen to Sevettijärvi was built in 1969, continued to Neiden in the 1970s, and finally paved in 1989. Earlier there was a trade route from Kaamanen to Neiden on footpaths and by waterways. The area is still very remote and outside the Finnish national road 92 there is virtually nothing but wilderness. To the north there is the vast Kaldoaivi Wilderness Area, to the south are the lake Inari and the remote Vätsäri Wilderness Area, the latter notorious for its difficult terrains. The northern limit for pine forests is just a few kilometres north from the villages. The forest line roughly follows the river Näätämöjoki.

Most people here live from reindeer husbandry, fishing, and tourism. Of the 350 inhabitants of Sevettijärvi, some 90 % are Skolt Saami. In Näätämö there are just 40 inhabitants, most of whom have moved from southern Finland to work here; actually the population trend in these villages is slightly increasing. In the Sevettijärvi elementary school the 16 pupils (in 2016) study in both Finnish and Skolt Sami.

Both villages belong to the Inari municipality.

Get in edit

There is a coach from Ivalo, via Inari and Kaamanen, in weekdays. National road 4 (E75) comes up from Helsinki via Rovaniemi, Ivalo, Inari, Kaamanen and Utsjoki to Tana bru, Vadsø and Vardø in Norway. Kaamanen is 25 km north from Inari and Sevettijärvi 90 km east from Kaamanen.

1 Neiden border crossing is the nearest by road from Kirkenes. The road 92 from Karasjok via Kaamanen, Sevettijärvi and Näätämö to Neiden on E6 is more or less the only road around (the road has the same number in Finland and Norway). The Neiden Customs Office[dead link] is on the Norwegian side of the border. The border station is open only in daytime, which might not matter unless you have goods to declare. Note the time zone change. Move the time forward even if you are going westwards.

From Murmansk Oblast you can come via Kirkenes or via Raja-Jooseppi and Ivalo.

There are airports in Ivalo, Lakselv (continue via Tana bru) and Kirkenes.

Get around edit

Car, taxi, snowmobile, boat, ski or foot. The distance between the Sevettijärvi and Näätämö villages is 30 km (19 mi).

See edit

Skolt Sámi Heritage House
  • 1 Sevettijärvi Orthodox Church (Pyhittäjä Trifon Petsamolaisen kirkko), Sevettijärventie 9065, +358 40 024 4922. Unlike most Samis, the Skolt Sami are orthodox. Designed by Ole Albert Gottleben and finished in 1951, this simple wooden church is an example of functionalist architecture. It was first a orthodox prayer room (chasovnya) and after a renovation in 1992 it was designated a church.  
  • 2 Skolt Sámi Heritage House (Nuõrttsaaʹmi äʹrbbvuõttpõrtt), Sevettijärventie 9041, +358 400-373-015, . Small museum and community centre in a standard-type house built for resettled Skolt Saami, with outhouses. The adjacent outdoor museum features a reconstructed Skolt Saami village, modeled after the Suonijoki (Suõ'nnjel) village. Museum shop with literature and Skolt Saami handicraft.  
  • 3 Ä´vv Skolt Sámi museum (Ä´vv Saa´mi Mu´zei), Neiden, N-9930, +47 95-26-21-63, . mid-June to mid-August daily 10:00-17:00; otherwise M-F 10:00-15:00. Large museum about the Skolt Sami opened in 2017. Main exhibition tells about Saaʹmijânnam, the Skolt Sami Land. Changing art exhibitions. A few kilometres south there is also an open air museum consisting of Eastern Orthodox St. George's Chapel from 1565, and a traditional Skolt summer village. adults 80 NOK, students and children under 16 yo free.
  • 4 Joulutunturi fell. Small fell just some 4 km south from Näätämö village at the Norwegian border. Guided hiking trips from Näätämö. The original Inari Sami name Juovlâlâhtuodâr means a fell with rugged grounds but as word for Christmas, juovlah, is so similar, the name has been mistranslated into Finnish as Joulutunturi, the Christmas Fell.
  • 5 Routasenkuru gorge. An almost 10 km long rift valley in the Vätsäri Wilderness Area. No road connection. Hiking from the road to the nearest end of the gorge takes about a day. There is no official trail to the gorge but it is still a relatively popular destination. Lomarengas rents the old Pakanajoki wilderness estate, which is located 6 km (by trail) from the gorge. Vätsäri can be recommended only for experienced hikers.

Do edit

Kapperijoki in Vätsäri

Boating, fishing, hiking. There are several businesses providing guiding, equipment rental and other services, arrangements should however probably be made in advance.

  • 1 Näätämöjoki. The Näätämöjoki river flows through wilderness for 40 km before ending in the Arctic Sea in Norway. The river has a naturally breeding Arctic Sea salmon population and is subject to fishing trips from the Näätämö village. The river cannot be reached by car anywhere in Finland. There is a lean-to shelter by the river some 8 km from Näätämö. For fishing salmon you need to buy a permit online or otherwise.

Camping with a tent is allowed according to the right to access. Campfires can be made with due care in the two wilderness areas, using branches and sticks from the ground, as long as no wildfire warning is in effect. As the area is remote, to go independently you should know what you are doing, even if using the trails. There are a few open wilderness huts in Vätsäri (one of which is closed in winter) and along the Pulmanki trail in the Kaldoaivi area.

  • 2 The Saami Trail (Saamenpolku). The Sami Trail is an 87-km circular trail from Sevettijärvi to Näätämö and back. The trail follows old paths used by locals. First it takes the hiker deep into the labyrinth of lakes and forest south from the road, and later up to the treeless heaths in Kaldoaivi Wilderness Area. The trail follows the route Sevettijärvi–Kirakkajärvi–Näätämö–Rousajärvi–Opukasjärvi–Sevettijärvi, and takes about one week to accomplish. The trail is ranked demanding and requires some orienteering skills. There are three open wilderness huts and several campfire sites on the trail.
  • 3 Kaldoaivi Wilderness Area. Kaldoaivi is the largest of the Finnish wilderness areas, and the wilderness continues on the Norwegian side of the border. The area is mostly highland with gentle fells and treeless fell heath alternating with sparse mountain birch forest, with the odd deep and steep river valley. In the south-west there is a large protected mire area: Sammuttijänkä-Vaijoenjänkä. There is a 77-km marked hiking trail through the area from the Sevettijärvi village to the lake Pulmankijärvi near Nuorgam and another following the old Anárašmáđe/Inarinpolku trade route from Sevettijärvi to Karlebotn by the Barents Sea.    
  • 4 Vätsäri Wilderness Area. The Finnish Forest Administration tells: "In Vätsäri you can experience the astonishing silence of a wilderness in its natural state. The remote location of Vätsäri, [...], in roadless backwoods, means that mass tourism would never disturb the peace of the area." The extremely rugged mosaic of pine forests, mires, lakes and creeks is difficult to navigate, so experience is truly needed to go independently. The area is considered the most difficult to hike in the whole of Finland. There are no marked trails through the Vätsäri area but the 35-km Piilola Trail going through the southern part, ending up in Norway, and the Saami Trail, which climbs up to the fell called Semekurtta about 6 km after leaving Sevettijärvi. From Semekurtta one can have a view to this notorious landscape.    

Buy edit

Most people visiting the villages are Norwegians, as food and alcohol are much cheaper in Finland than in Norway. The grocery stores in Näätämö are remarkable in size considering their location. Trade over the border is a major income, and on the main street you'll hear much more Norwegian than Finnish.

  • 1 Sevetin Baari, Sevettijärventie 9040 C (in Sevettijärvi), +358 40-844-8884. Su–Tu closed, W–Th 12:00–19:00, F 12:00–02:00, Sa 12:00–21:00. Legendary pub-grocery store re-opened in 2017.
  • 2 Nord1 Market Näätämö, Sevettijärventie 12206 (in Näätämö), +358 16 672-521, . M–F 10:00–19:00, Sa–Su 10:00–18:00. From groceries to household items. Café. Alko pick-up point.
  • 3 K-Market Näätämö, Sevettijärventie 12200 (in Näätämö), +358 20-735-4466. M–F 09:00–19:00, Sa–Su 09:00–18:00. Grocery store. Mail service. Fuel 24h.

Eat edit

Drink edit

Sleep edit

If you'd rather pitch your tent somewhere, just do it by an open wilderness hut or official campfire site in the wilderness areas, or anywhere at a distance from the villages and any other places where it could be disturbing – or ask a business, the services of which you are paying for.

Connect edit

Go next edit

Routes through Sevettijärvi
KarasjokKarigasniemi   SW   NE  Neiden Kirkenes

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