The Ivalon Matti Canoe Route is best suited for canoeing. The route is not technically particularly demanding, which makes it suitable for beginners as well. However, please note that the river conditions (the water level) may vary a great deal during summer (www.ymparisto.fi).
There are no lakes in River Ivalojoki levelling the fluctuation of the water level and therefore, rain or a lack of rain continuously changes the water level. In early summer, the water level is high enough, but during the dry spells of late summer, the stretches of strongly flowing waters may have so little water that it may be difficult to find the route in between the stones. At that time, the canoe may come into contact with the riverbed. It is part of the trip. However, the stones in River Ivalojoki are roundish, without any sharp edges, and they are covered by algae, even though the water is clear and clean. Consequently, a plastic canoe will not get stuck on stones.
There is plenty of water in the pools of quiet waters that are located between the strongly flowing stretches of water. This canoe route is excellent, as it trains the canoeist for the coming, more demanding sections. The initial stretch consists of easy waters. Thereafter, there will be short stretches of flowing waters, and they are getting more difficult. When arriving at Hirvipäät (in the mid-part of the route), you will face the most demanding rapids of the route. They are Saarikoski and Mukkakoski. At this stage, you will have gained some experience in handling the canoe, particularly if communication is efficient between the canoeists sitting on the bow and stern seats. They have had time to practice.
In the Middle of the Wilderness
The Ivalon Matti Canoe Route is a wilderness route. There are no services along the route. If you forget to bring something, you will not be able to buy them. Consequently, carry out the preparations carefully. Read more on the Hiking in Finland webpages.
Bring enough clothes. The variations in weather conditions may be great and rapid. It is absolutely necessary to have waterproof footwear, as you may have to wade through strongly flowing waters where the water level is low. You must bring all food and cooking utensils with you, as well as some extra.
A tent is ideal for accommodation. It keeps you warm, dry, and it keeps the mosquitoes away, unlike a lean-to shelter. Because of the melting of the ice of the river in spring, and the resultant floods, the shallow shores are treeless. The treeless zone is usually followed by a birch forest, behind which grows a pine forest on a sloping terrain. Consequently, there are no resinous roots of pine (which can be used as kindling when making a campfire) on the riverbank, so you may have to walk a little bit in order to find some.
There are no roads close to the route. If you, for some reason, must find a road on foot, go to the river's northern side. Before River Repojoki, it is advisable to return to the Inari‒Kittilä road. In the area between the mouth of River Repojoki and the Saarikoski Rapids, walk either to the end of Nauramajänkä Road or onto the road ascending to Litmurvaara Hill, and further onto the main road. The distance from the riverside is about 4 km.
If you end up walking in the area after the Saarikoski Rapids, go to Kuttura. A clearly visible path runs from Litmurvaara Hill to Kuttura on the northern side of the river, parallel to the river, at a distance of 1‒2 km from the river.
Canoeing the route does not require a high level of fitness. A healthy person in normal condition will do fine.