Humans have moved through the landscape in the upper Reisa Valley for several thousand years, both on foot and along the river. This traffic and utilisation of the landscape has left visible and invisible traces in the landscape, including place names, relics of culture and fascinating history. These traces portray human adaptation to the landscape and surroundings, cultural diversity and migration of days gone by.
The trip in brief
- A total of around 60 km
- Three days’ hiking
- Two overnight stays in cabins
- Excellent food based on local ingredients, from lunch day 1 to lunch day 3
- Partial support of polar dogs with packsaddles
- Our route follows marked and unmarked trails, Sami quad bike tracks and overgrown tracks
- A real mountain hike that requires good hiking boots, backpack and suitable outdoor clothing
- All participants carry their own gear, including sleeping bag. Polar dogs carry packsaddles with communal equipment and some food
Day one is relatively short (8 km), while days two and three are much longer with just over 25 km per day. The first day also includes a two-hour drive to Bidjovagge, where we start the hike. We will be picked up at Saraelv on the third day. All the distances are rough estimates to calculate the time used, which does not include lunch breaks.
We spend the first night in a cabin on the shores of Lake Reisavannet and the second night at the Nedrefosshytta cabin in the Reisa Valley. Participants carry their own sleeping bag and ground pad.
The cabins offer basic accommodation in rooms with 2-6 bunks.
Internet, phone coverage and electricity
It’s worth noting that much of the area on this route has no telephone coverage, but there is electricity at the first cabin enabling you to charge your gadgets.
The package price includes all transport, accommodation as described, all meals from lunch on day 1 to lunch on day 3, wilderness guide, support by polar dogs, safety equipment such as satellite telephone and GPS and mountain equipment such as tents and cooking gear. A sauna at GLØD Headquarters after the tour is also included.
For further information and bookings, please don’t hesitate to contact us!
As we start at 8.30 on day one, it’s natural for participants from afar to arrive the day before. If you require accommodation in Alta, we can provide good alternatives.
A planning meeting will be held at GLØD Headquarters at 3pm on the day prior to departure to look at maps and the route, go through the plan and the weather forecast, etc. We will check the gear and any supplements and hand out any equipment you hired.
Day 1 (first hiking day)
We pack up our equipment and are transported around 200 km to our starting point at Bidjovagge. We stop in Kautokeino to visit Juhls’ Silver Gallery, a fantastic place that houses a silversmith and museum. We then enjoy lunch and the view from Kautokeino Hotel, which is beautifully situated on the hill overlooking Kautokeino. After lunch we drive the remaining 40 km to Bidjovagge. We set off and hike westwards on the northern shore of Lake Reisavannet. If the weather is fine, we will along the way and light a fire to brew coffee and scare away any (half-dead) mosquitoes. Naturally, this will be close to a mountain stream and hopefully a cloudberry marsh. We continue westwards through mountain birch forest, tree-less areas and cross some marshes. We hike about 8 km before reaching the cabin in the afternoon.
We enjoy delicious dinner and a comfortable bed!
After breakfast, we continue hiking in a north-westerly direction. The polar dogs carry packsaddles with communal equipment such as tents, cooking gear and fuel, and maybe some of the food we will eat when we reach the next cabin, Nedrefosshytta, down in the Reisa Valley. The trail we follow is largely marked but little used. We are now in the wilderness in the heart of Reisa National Park, far removed from civilisation and miles from the nearest manmade installation.
The Reisa Valley changes character from starting up on Finnmarksvidda mountain plateau with little vegetation then hiking down through the mountain birch forest and then through the pine forest further down the lush valley.
During the day, we pass several waterfalls, the most famous of which is Imofossen.
Hiking distance: approx. 25 km (8 hours)
After a wonderful night in the cabin, we continue our journey down the Reisa Valley. After starting our hike on the eastern side of the river up at Lake Reisavannet, we cross the river at Nedrefosshytta and continue along the western side.
We follow a good path down the valley towards Saraelv. We stop to admire the impressive 269 m high Mollisfossen waterfall on the eastern side of the river, which is formed by a tributary flowing into the Reisa river below.
We will arrive at Saraelv after a day hike of around 24 km (approx. 6 hours), where we will be greeted by our driver.
We plan to be back at GLØD headquarters in Alta around 19.00 (7 p.m.), where you can have a well-earned shower and sauna.
For those who are not in a hurry, we will meet for dinner in Alta (not included) to round off the tour in a proper manner. We can assist with arranging accommodation in Alta for those who require it.
Human activity dating back thousands of years
Humans have moved through the landscape in the upper Reisa Valley for several thousand years, both on foot and along the river. This traffic and utilisation of the landscape has left both visible and invisible traces in the landscape, including place names, relics of culture and fascinating history. These traces portray human adaptation to the landscape and surroundings, cultural diversity and migration of days gone by.
This landscape has been an important resource for the permanent Kven, Sami and Norwegian population, as well as the Sami reindeer herders. The upper part of the Reisa Valley has also been a popular area for tourists and salmon anglers from near and far for more than a century. These diverse groups form the basis of the stories along this historical hiking route.
The earliest traces
The oldest traces along the route date back to the New Stone Age / Early Metal Age (4500 B.C. – 1 B.C.) and include ancient pitfall trapping systems and rock art. Experiencing human presence several thousand years back in time adds an extra dimension along the hiking route. You can experience the cultural monuments in their original context and gaze out over the same landscape as others have thousands of years before you.
The Sami reindeer herding culture has characterized these areas since time immemorial and continues to do so to this day. Thousands of reindeer migrate through the mountain areas on both sides of the Reisa Valley every year on their annual journey between their summer pastures on the coasts of Nordreisa, Kvænangen, Kåfjord and Lyngen and their winter grazing areas near Kautokeino. The hiking trail route passes spring and autumn pastures for large reindeer herds and you can see relics of culture including remains of Sami camp sites and árran(fireplaces).
The Reisa Valley was mainly cleared for settlement in the 18th century and early 19th century. The area was settled by people from the coasts of Troms and Finnmark, as well as relatively large numbers from the Røros area and Gudbrandsdalen during the same period. The 18th century also marked the start of a major Kven migration from Northern Finland and Tornedalen to the Reisa Valley, which became a core area for Kven settlement. Kven was the main language spoken at many of the farms in the valley, which is reflected by many Kven place names in the landscape.
The agriculture in the Reisa Valley was based on broad exploitation of available resources. The area this historic hiking route passes through was an important resource for the residents, including for outfield grazing, forestry, hunting, trapping and fishing even those the actual farms were quite far away.
The first depictions of what can be characterized as tourism in the Reisa Valley date back to the late 19th century. The main attraction has been salmon fishing, but early sources were impressed by the mighty Mollisfossen waterfall and the nature in general. Punting boats and traditional river boats were used as means of transportation, which led to the locals and their good knowledge of the valley and the river becoming key elements in the exploration of the valley.
One of the cabins along the historic hiking trail is Nedrefosshytta, which has a fascinating history. There has been a cabin on this site at least since the 1890s when an Englishman lived here. Apparently, one day while he was out fishing, a fire apparently broke out in the cabin, burning down the original cabin and the surrounding forest. The Englishman must have left the valley without saying a word about this to anyone. In 1925, another Englishman came to Nedrefoss. The Duke of Westminster, who at the time was the richest man in the United Kingdom, rented the Reisa river for one week. He paid NOK 25,000 kroner, which was a considerable sum in those days. Prior to his visit, the Duke had a four-bedroom cabin complete with dining room and kitchen built for himself and his entourage.
The duke arrived in the early summer. The river level was still extremely high, the salmon did not bite and the duke’s stay at Nedrefoss lasted just for two days before he and his entourage left. Apparently, his famous last words as he boarded his ship in Sørkjosen were: “No fish but plenty of mosquitoes.” The duke left the cabin to the Trondheim hiking association, which later sold it to a merchant in Nordreisa.
Like many cabins and buildings in the Reisa Valley, the cabin was burned down during the German retreat near the end of World War II. After the war, a copy of the duke’s cabin was built on the site at Nedrefoss and it is now run by the Troms hiking association.
(The Norwegian version of this text was obtained fromhttps://lokalhistoriewiki.no/wiki/Historisk_vandrerute_Reisadalen)