It has been a dream to see the snow-covered frozen trees in Lapland, Finland and Iso-Syöte was our first destination after landing at Oulu airport, which is one of the closest airports to the National park and we were speechless to see such a wonderful place. Syöte National Park is located approximately 150 kilometres from the Arctic Circle, north of road 20 (Oulu - Kuusamo main road), about 60 km from Pudasjärvi to the north.
We spent one day in Iso-Syöte and two days snowshoeing in Syöte National Park by staying overnight in a free wilderness hut inside the park. This blog has all the information that you should know before visiting this incredible place.
The best way to get to Iso-Syöte and Syöte National Park is to rent a car and drive. It is less than two hours drive from Oulu airport driving towards Kuusamo. There is also the option to take either public transport or the local Ski bus from Oulu. Please check the website of Syöte National Park for actual information.
Iso-Syöte is Finland's southernmost fell region which happens to be the Finnish region that gets the most snow. During cold weather, all the snow sticks to the trees which is an incredible phenomenon to experience. Before visiting Lapland we were extremely worried due to record low snowfall at the start of the winter season. After going to a lot of internet blogs we decided to visit Iso-Syöte due to its reputation of receiving more snow than other parts of Lapland.
We visited Lapland during the Christmas breaks and the day we arrived it was lower than -30 0C. The drive from the airport to the Iso-Syöte was relatively comfortable on very icy roads. Please be careful, pay attention and avoid speeding. The drive itself is very beautiful and as you reach near Iso-Syöte, the snow-covered frozen trees start to appear on both sides of the road.
There are some parking places for the visitors and guests staying either at the Iso-Syöte Hotel or apartments. There are also walking paths which usually doesn't require any snowshoes as long as you stay on the path and also the possibility to rent snowshoes at the Iso-Syöte Ski station. The daylight in this part of Finland during the month of December is only a few hours so we had a couple of hours to take pictures and walk around. The light during those hours is incredible and we got some stunning pictures.
The iso-syöte ski resort is a great place especially if you are visiting with kids as all the slopes are rated blue and they also offer ski and snowboard lessons for beginners.
We had a reservation at the Iso-Syöte Hotel but unfortunately, only a couple of days ago there was a huge fire and the hotel was completely destroyed. We only came to know about it when we reached there but luckily there were some rooms available at the nearby Piku-Syöte hotel.
Syöte National Park is very close to Iso-Syöte and offers a number of activities including
Syöte national park is a perfect winter destination for countless activities. There are well maintained, marked paths for Husky Sledding, Snowmobiling, Cross-country skiing, Mountain biking (Fatbiking) and Snowshoeing. The visitor's centre at the park is doing a great job to maintain the path and provides up to date information for all kind of activities.
The hike to Ahmatupa Wilderness hut is 8km from the visitor's centre and the path is almost flat passing through the deep forest and frozen lakes. We were visiting during our Christmas holidays and unfortunately, the visitor's centre was closed but we had all the information we needed for this adventure. We left our hotel at Pikku-Syöte at 10 am. The daylight during the last week of December in southern Lapland is only 3-4 hours including blue hours. During the blue hours, light is surreal and a wonderful experience in itself.
We parked the car at the parking lot of the national park near the visitor's centre and started the hike. The visitor's centre was closed and we couldn't get any information about the snow condition on the path so we put on our snowshoes instead of leaving them in the car. The path is marked all long and there was no need to wear the snowshoes as long as we stay on the path. After only a few minutes of walking, we experienced the best Golden hour of our lives when the sky got cleared for a few minutes, the light was incredible, we took some pictures, flown the drone in extremely cold weather. It was a good test to see how long the battery of the drone can last. I was really surprised to see how well the battery of the drone (DJI Mavic 2 Pro) performed in extremely low temperatures (low than -22 degrees Celcius) without any trouble but my hands were frozen and I had to bring the drone down after flying for only 15 minutes.
On the way we passed, a couple of day huts (Annintupa and Ylpiätupa) intended for the visitors to use during the day. There was campfire inside the Annintupa hut where some Finnish people were preparing BBQ. My hands were freezing after flying drone so I went inside to warm my hands.
We were halfway through the day due to only 4 hours of daylight and had walked only 1km so we pushed ourself for the next half but we were taking so many breaks to take pictures that it was impossible to reach the hut before the dark. We had headlamps with us so we were not really worried and didn't rush.
We completed the hike in 4 hours, it was supposed to be less than 2 hours. It was already dark when we arrived at the Hut and met two friendly Finns preparing their dinner. They were staying only to prepare the food and left on their skies after dinner. We expected it to be very cold inside the hut but it was warm due to the heating provided by burning-wood. There was enough wood to keep us warm which was a huge relief. It is one of the best free Wilderness hut in Finland and the biggest in Syöte National Park. The hut has a space of up to 8 people to sleep inside, small kitchen with a gas stove and dining tables.
The wilderness hut is situated on the south slope of Ahmavaara Hill on the bank of the River Ahmaoja, the river was frozen but there was a hole in the ice to get water for cooking or drinking purposes by using a bucket. The water was not really clean and we boiled it before cooking or drinking.
To our surprise, we had 4G signals on our mobiles inside the hut so we could stay connected with our families. It was snowing outside and there was no chance to see the Northern lights so we stayed up for a few more hours by sitting near the fire. Before going to bed, we put in some more wood inside so the hut will stay warm at least for another couple of hours. The fire died after a couple of hours, but I slept really well in my Sleeping bag. My sleeping bag has a comfortable temperature range of -3 to -9-degree Celcius.
Adjacent to the free Wilderness hut is a reservable hut costs 12€ per person which has more facilities including a sauna. All the details about the reservable hut can be found on the website of syöte national park.
After having our breakfast, we headed back to the parking lot, this time, we finished in less than 2 hours. Due to constant snowfall, the parking lot had a lot of fresh snow and we had trouble driving out of it.
I would highly recommend staying at the Iso-Syöte Hotel or the apartments near the hotel. The location is absolutely breathtaking, indeed a magical place surrounded by frozen trees, worth every penny you will spend. Unfortunately, we couldn't stay there due to fire at the hotel. I'm not sure how long it will take to reconstruct the new building but you can rent the apartments which are economically a better option by cooking your own meal using the kitchen inside the apartment.
We stayed at the Pikku-Syöte hotel, the hotel itself is very nice with great breakfast. We had our dinner there as well and really liked the food. If I have a choice, I would prefer staying at the Iso-Syöte hotel only because of its superior location. We also found some Airbnb options which were more affordable.