67° 6’ 34.48” N – 25° 46’ 6.24” E
Meltausjoki Canoe Trail
Meltausjoki takes the canoeist from the road right into the finest wilderness area around. From here, the river flows freely for 43 kilometres before it joints the significantly larger Ounasjoki at the Meltaus village north of Rovaniemi.
You canoe through sandy-soil land dominated by pine with occasional flat rock forest and mixed forest with birch and spruce closest to the river. You will also find colourful flowers, such as Veronica longifolia and melancholy thistle. Along the river, there are Lapp cots, shelters and so-called open wilderness huts for accommodation. The huts are equipped with bunks, cooking vessels and stove – some even have a cooker. They cannot be booked in advance, but all are free to use.
The tour is suitable for a relatively inexperienced canoeist since the river's rapids are at a relatively easy class (1-2), except for Unarinköngäs (2+/3-), which you reach pretty quickly (3.5 km). To manoeuvre through Unarinköngäs, you must have plenty of experience since Unarinköngäs is lined with rocks. If you choose to take the canoe out of the water, it is easiest to follow the western beach towards the final series of broad and shallow stretches of rapids. This area is followed by areas alternating between calm water and slight currents up to Pahtakoski Rapids (20 km), which are class 2, and Pitkä-Perttaus (25 km), which offer three kilometres of canoeing before reaching the landing in Meltaus village at the large Ounasjoki River. From here, you can choose to continue the tour all the way to Rovaniemi, about 50 km to the south.
Early summer and autumn are the best times for canoeing. In July and August, the water level in the rapids is too low. Take along your fishing gear to Meltausjoki. It is mostly grayling and salmon trout that take the bait, but you could even catch whitefish, perch and pike. The fishing is free.
Follow trunk road 79 north from Rovaniemi to Meltaus (60 km). Continue east on regional road 952 to Unari (33 km). Head south towards Niesi to the bridge over Meltausjoki (3 km). Park and put your canoe in the water. Rovaniemi is the modern address of Santa Claus. The town's two Santalands are open in the summer, as is the four-star Hotel Santa Claus. The Santa Claus Marathon is held in June.
No 36 CANOEING / MELTAUSJOKI
GOOD TO KNOW
- Activity: Canoeing
- Location: Meltausjoki canoe trail, Finland
- Season: Early summer and autumn are the best times for canoeing.
- Degree of difficulty: Different rapids have different degrees of difficulty. Several are even suitable for a relatively inexperienced canoeist. You can even choose to lift the canoe out of the water and travel by land past the rapids you think are too difficult.
- Other facts: Unarinköngäs, the waterfall on the Meltausjokis River, is one of the best sights in the area. Meltausjokis flows between the cliffs at Unarinköngäs, where the water drops in a magnificent waterfall and continues downstream. Experience is required to be able to navigate this rapid. If you decide to travel by land, you can admire the rapid from the suspension bridge spanning the river.
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