Canoe trip in Øvre Pasvik National park

After our paddling season ended in Helsinki, we headed north. October is normally a great time to explore Lapland. One of my favorite destinations is the Vätsäri Wilderness area just north of lake Inari. This time we continued a bit further and all the way to Norway. The exact location was Sør-Varanger, the small slice of Norway between Finland and Russia.

Our plan was to start a few kilometres north from the actual Øvre Pasvik National park. There is a chain of small lakes with short portages in between. We first started towards the west and we were supposed to turn south towards Ellenvattnet, the largest lake in the national park. Well everything didn’t go as planned.

Calm weather.

The weather was just stunning all week. Clear and sunny, no rain and no wind at all. Of course the clear skies meant, that it was also quite cold during the nights.

Canoening through the frozen lake

The second night of our trip was really cold, about – 15 degrees Celsius. As we crawled out of our tent, we realized that the lake was completely frozen. The ice was not more than 1-2 centimeters, but it was still impossible to continue by canoe.

Dragging the canoes out of the forest

The next day we pulled the canoes to the closest road. The total distance was about 3 kilometres and luckily the bigger lake close to the parking place of the national park was still open. This still took us the whole day.

Beautiful sunset

After pulling the canoe back to the road, we continued hiking in the national park. During the whole week the weather stayed perfect. We enjoyed the beautiful sunsets and the calm weather.

Ellenkoia open hut

We spent two nights in the open huts and four nights in tents. This hut on the shore of Ellenvattnet lake was just perfect.

Although everything didn’t go according to plans, it was a fantastic week. We enjoyed the beautiful nature and the complete silence. My next post will show some of the Northern Lights we saw during our week.

10 thoughts on “Canoe trip in Øvre Pasvik National park

  1. Thanks for the nice story & photos! You said you started outside the park. Is portaging needed to reach Ellenvatnet from the car park at the park border (Lake Sortbrysttjern or so)? If so, how long is the longest portage? Thanks!


    1. Thanks for your comments! You can get by car to Lake Svartbrysttjörna and from the otherside of the lake to Ellenvattnet. We tried to do a round trip, which included and would have included more portaging. There is a short section of river between the two lakes, so depending on the water level, there might be a short portage. We didn’t paddle there due to the frozen lakes.


      1. I was looking into that, but couldn’t really find a place there. So we brought our own equipment. Maybe you good ask the local tourist office and they might know.


      2. I followed your suggestion. The tourist office said I should ask Øvre Pasvik camping. I contacted them and yes, they have rental canoes, but no kayaks. The camping ground is located at SW Vaggatem Lake; it is marked on Google Maps. They can also transport canoes to the border of the national park. Their www-site is at


  2. Great. Good to know that! Thanks for the link. Driving there by car from Helsinki is always quite a hard drive, so it is good to have the rental option. If you ever go there, let us know what the rental equipment was like!


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