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The Travel Journal of Jacqui and Lars


Norway - 10 June, 2004



Location Latitude Longitude Elevation

Travel Distance

Start Vestre Jakobselv, Finnmark (camp site) N70º07.184' E029º19.809' 14 meters .
Mortensnes . . . .
Tana Bru . . . .
Karasjok . . . .
Finish Skoganvarre, Finnmark (Skoganvarre Camping) N69º50.284' E025º04.571' 76 meters 287 km

Total (BMW 330CiC)

6,039 km

Total (other):

4,120 km


10,159 km


Weather: Partly cloudy, occasional sun, occasional light shower and cool/warm (about 10-12°C).  In the evening clear, sunny and cool/cold.



After our breakfast in our nice, well-equipped hut, we are ready to head off at 10 AM.  We have just a short drive to our next destination - the protected Mortensnes area near Nesseby.  This area is filled with relics and ruins (including graves, hut foundations, and Sámi sacrificial sites) from ancient times, some dating back as much as 9,000 BC. There is just one problem - it is not well marked and the visitor center has either been shut down and fallen into disrepair, or they have not yet prepared and opened for the season.  And it is a bit of a shame as we pretty much cannot find anything.


We first head off in the wrong direction - a combination of some bad map reading, with some poor signs.  But it is a very pleasant walk along the top of a cliff that drops down to the sea below.  These is clearly a well traveled path and we soon see the reason why - we come upon a path that winds down the side of the cliff, often with the aid of chains, at the bottom of which is a rock shelf just above the water's edge that has quite a few fishermen trying their luck.


At this point we decide to turn around and try the other way.  Well, this turns out to be the way and we come upon a few trails with red markers with number and letters, obviously pointing towards various sites with relics.  But without some background information, we really do not know what we are looking for.  We come away pretty much empty handed in terms of seeing the ancient relics, but we did have a very nice walk.


And as we walked we came upon a few reindeer grazing on the high summer grass.  But they are a bit skittish and, as we approach on the trail, they bolt.  We head back to our car and head on our way.  When we come to Tana Bru we are now on virgin road.  We make a brief stop to check out a silver shop.  Then we are on our way to Karasjok.


We drive along the river Tana, with Finland on the other side of the border.  It is a beautiful drive on a very good road.  We had the option to drive on the Finnish side, but we decide not to waste time with border formalities.  We asked if it was worth it, and we were told only for shopping (i.e., alcohol).  The river has at places carved a gorge into the surrounding countryside, which is covered by stunted birch trees, with leaves that are just beginning to sprout.  We notice that the Finnish side seems to be much more developed (or maybe settled is a better word).  On the Norwegian side we see virtually no homes or even huts.  But the Finnish side has quite a few, and a number more under construction.


As we are driving, we have a very brief rain storm, but it quickly leaves us behind.  We arrive in Karasjok just after 2 PM and pull into Sápmi Theme Park.  The first thing we do is have some lunch - a quick picnic in their grounds.  After finishing our lunch, we decide that we should first go and try and visit the Sámi Parliament - it closes at 4 PM.  So, we take the short drive over to have a look at this unique building.


For many years, the Sámi people have been discouraged from maintaining their separate identity as the government tried to integrate them into Norwegian society.  But in the last few decades, it has been recognised that the Sámi are in a different position from other ethnic groups in that they were living in these territories well before the national borders were established.  As such, their language and customs have been granted protection and as indigenous to Norway.


As part of the effort to protect the culture and language, the Sámi Parliament (or Sámediggi) was established to give these people a voice.  And the actual building was built and opened on 9 October, 1989.  And it is a very impressive building, consisting of a library, offices, meeting rooms and the assembly hall.  The plenary assembly hall stands like a tipi-shaped amphitheater, reflecting the design of the typical tent of the Sámi.  The entire building has a facade of concrete and unfinished wood that is meant to get a weathered look.


We enter the library and ask if we can have a look around.  We are told that the guided tours are only at 1 PM and if we would come back tomorrow.  We mention that we are leaving this evening and they are then kind enough to call the women who gives the guided tour and see if she will take us around.  And she is willing to do so - very nice of them.


It is a very nice and informative tour.  We take a look around the library and the many facilities.  This is followed by a walk by the offices and meeting rooms.  But the highlight of the whole tour is the actual assembly hall.


What a beautiful room.  Modern, but very reflective in the materials and design of the culture of the Sámi.  It has been very well done.  We are impressed.  The roof sharply slopes up to the point, the assembly members sit around in a round U shape on multiple tiers facing the podium with its huge colorful painting behind.  There is a visitors gallery one level up, circling the whole assembly.  We wander around and try to take it all in.


From the parliament building, we head back to the Sápmi theme park.  We have decided to see what they have to offer.  In the end, it is a bit of a waste of time and money.  The film is interesting, but does not really give us much insight into the culture of the Sámi.  We then walk around the grounds and take in the buildings and tents that have been erected in the typical fashion.  More information would have been useful.


The cafe in the Storgammen is actually very well done - modern functionality with a traditional design.  It consisted of four semi-buried huts surrounding a common area.  In each of the huts, the guests sit along the wall, with a large open fireplace in the middle.  There is a nice birch wood firing burning away.  We decide to enjoy the atmosphere of this place and order a couple of cups of tea.


It is then time for us to head on.  We want to see if we can find a camp site north of here, on our way to the North Cape.  We drive for almost an hour through some wonderful scenery.  It is an amazing place.  We pass by lakes with tall, snow covered mountains jutting up on the horizon.


It is a very enjoyable drive.  We then come upon the first available camp site at 6:30 PM.  We decide to stop here for the evening and we they have some small huts available, so we grab one.  The price is even pretty good.  Well, guess that is because it is not as well equipped as our last hut.  But the owner is kind enough to lend us a few pots for us to cook our dinner in.


We spend the evening cooking and eating dinner, having our showers (10 Kroner per five minutes) and working on our journals.  It is a nice spot on a lake and we also go for a quick wander around to take in the view across the lake to the hills beyond.


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