Lapland, Western Lapland
Muonio (www.muonio.fi, in Finnish)
The Äkässaivo protected forest, 68 ha
The area is managed by Metsähallitus.
The ancient Sámi holy places of Äkässaivo, a steep-walled ravine lake, and the massive seida rock on its shores are located in the immediate vicinity of the Pallas-Yllästunturi National Park in Muonio. You can visit them by hiking along the Saivonkierros Nature Trail that descibes the nature and history of the area.
Äkässaivo, a rocky canyon worn by glacial rivers, and the seida rock beside it are located by the Äkäsjoki River roughly ten kilometres north of Äkäslompolo. The massive bulk of the Seitapahta seida rock, also known as Kirkkopahta, takes visitors by surprise: the rock is ten metres wide and 30 metres high at its highest point. The Äkässaivo saivo lake and the seida rock form an ancient Sámi place of worship and sacrifice. The folklorist Samuli Paulaharju considered Äkässaivo an even more imposing saivo lake than Pakasaivo, stating that "not everyone dares to go behold it; at least not those who are faint of heart, for the ravine lake is overlooked by towering rocky walls. To one side there is the soaring Kirkkopahta, to the other the terrible Hammaspahta, and between the proud rocky walls runs a narrow pathway from the saivo to Äkäsjoki River." (Lapin muisteluksia ["Memoirs from Lapland"], 1922)
Äkässaivo Is a Saivo Lake
Deep and clear fell lakes and ponds like Äkässaivo are typical of Western Lapland. The water in these saivo lakes is often supplied by springs, and there are no streams running to or from the lakes. The peculiar saivos have been the stuff of beliefs and legends, including stories of elfin creatures and the upside-down world of the saivo people. Saivo lakes were thought to have two bottoms, with the fish sometimes disappearing into the lower waters.
"The water of the saivo [Äkässaivo] is so clear that one can see the fish so far in the depths that it would be impossible to catch them even with the longest tool. No one knows how deep the saivo is, nor would a soul dare try to measure it. The now deceased Heikki from Äkäslompolo once tried to measure it and counted many a fathom of rope but did not reach the bottom. An elf then came to say to Heikki, "If you come again to measure the lake, you will go down with your rope." (Samuli Paulaharju in Lapin muisteluksia, 1922)
Cultural Environment of National Significance
The Äkässaivo relic area is amongst the nationally significant cultural environments in Finland. The area is a protected forest established by Metsähallitus. Visitors should follow marked routes in the area. The relics are protected under the Antiquities Act (www.finlex.fi, in finnish), and damaging them is forbidden. There are other well-known Sámi holy places in the nearby areas as well - for example, Pakasaivo and the Kirkkopahta seida rock.
Read more about saivo lakes and seida rocks.
Äkässaivo and the seida rock can be visited freely year-round. In summer, the area has a nature trail, Saivonkierros. In winter, you can stop by the destination from the Äkäslompolo-Peurakaltio skiing trail. There are no personnel in the area.
More information is available at the Yllästunturi Visitor Centre Kellokas.
The distance to the parking area of the Saivonkierros Nature Trail leading to the destination is roughly 13 km from Äkäslompolo, 40 km from Kittilä and 45 km from Muonio. From Kolari, the distance to the parking area is some 50 km. There are signposts leading from the main road to the Saivonkierros starting point.
- Driving from Kittilä, take the road to Ylläsjärvi (no. 939) immediately north of the village centre. After about 8 km, turn right onto road no. 9403 and drive roughly 30 km then, soon after crossing the Äkäsjoki River, turn left into the Saivonkierros parking area.
- Driving along the Muonio-Kittilä road (no. 79), take the Äkäslompolontie road (no. 940) at Muotkavaara. Drive roughly 22 km, and soon after Tiurajärvi village, turn onto the road to Kittilä (no. 9403). Continue for another 2.5 km then turn right before the Äkäsjoki River into the Saivonkierros parking area.
- Driving from Kolari along road no. 21 (E8), take the Äkäslompolontie road (no. 940) roughly 10 km north of the village centre then drive roughly 10 km past Äkäslompolo village and turn onto the road to Kittilä (no. 9403). Continue for another 2.5 km then turn right before the Äkäsjoki River into the Saivonkierros parking area.
By Public Transportation
- There are no public transport connections to the destination. The nearest bus stop is in Äkäslompolo roughly 15 km from the destination, and coaches travel there from Kolari, Kittilä and Levi. The timetables are available on Matkahuolto's website (www.matkahuolto.fi). During the season, there is a train connection to Kolari. Timetables (www.vr.fi).
- Topographic map number U424, 1:50,000. Karttakeskus 2007. You can purchase the map from, for example, Karttakeskus.
- Forest Map 17/19, 1:200,000. Metsähallitus 2006. You can purchase the map from the Kellokas Visitor Centre.
- GT Road Map 14, 1:250,000. Karttakeskus 2007. You can purchase the map from Karttakeskus and the National Land Survey of Finland.
Map Sales Points
Hiking Routes and Campfire Site
- The easiest way to visit Äkässaivo and the seida rock is to take the nature trail, Saivonkierros. It starts from the parking area by the road. The nature trail's signposts describe the nature in the forest and waters of the area, in addition to the historical destinations along the trail. The signposts are written in Finnish, Swedish, English, French and German. Saivonkierros is roughly 3 km long, and the hiking distance to Äkässaivo is just over 1.5 km. The wettest stretches of the trail have duckboards.
- There is a Lapp 'kota' hut and campfire site next to Äkässaivo. The area also has a dry toilet.
- The Saivonkierros Nature Trail has a connecting trail to the Ylläs-Olos and Ylläs-Pallas Trails. The Äkäslompolo-Peurakaltio Skiing Trail runs nearby in winter. More information about the trails is available on the Pallas-Yllästunturi National Park website.
Cafés, Restaurants and Accommodation
- In addition to hiking information, the Yllästunturi Visitor Centre Kellokas has a café/restaurant and offers tourist information services. The visitor centre has a permanent exhibition entitled "Meän elämää" ("Our life") and also hosts varying art exhibitions, etc.
- The Ylläs tourism area offers an abundance of cafés, restaurants and accommodation services. For more information on the area's services, please visit the Ylläs website (www.yllas.fi).
Services for the Disabled
- There are no services for the disabled at the destination.
- The Äkäsjoki River that runs near the destination belongs to the Äkäsjoki and Kesänkijärvi common fishing permit area. The required recreational fishing permit (no. 2510) can be bought from Metsähallitus netstore (www.eräluvat.fi, in Finnish) and also by mobile phone. In addition, fishermen are required to have paid the national fishery fee (www.mmm.fi).
- You can go angling and ice fishing in the area under everyman's rights (www.ymparisto.fi), with the exception of streams.
- Fishing permits can be bought from Metsähallitus netstore (www.eräluvat.fi, in Finnish) and at the Yllästunturi Visitor Centre Kellokas.
Other Nearby Destinations
- The whitewater rapids of Äkäslinkka and the old Äkäsmylly mill are a fascinating attraction located some 10 km north of the Saivonkierros parking area on the road to Muonio.
- The remains of the Linkupalo Volcano as well as several other destinations are located in the Pallas-Yllästunturi National Park area.
This is the webpage www.nationalparks.fi/akasaivoandseitapahta