The Ivalon Matti Canoe Route

Location of Ivalon Matti in FinlandNorthern Lapland
Inari (
Forestry area, Hammastunturi Wilderness Area,
private land

River Ivalojoki offers a wide variety of experiences for canoeists. The river is divided into five different parts, as to their natural features, history, ownership, and accessibility.

The river headwaters deep in the Lemmenjoki National Park are suitable for canoeing in early summer when the water level is high. In practice, this option is difficult to implement, as there is a 12-km walking distance from the road to Lake Korsajärvi, where the river begins.

The section Ivalon Matti ‒ Kuttura, which is presented here, is located in between two roads and is thus accessible. This river section is wildernesslike. It is suitable for people who wish to canoe on their own, without seeing many other people. Special canoeing skills are not required.

The name Ivalon Matti comes from a Finnish settler Matti Eira. He established his farm on the Ivalovaara peninsula in the mid-19th century. A horse-riding route, which was cleared later from Kittilä (via the village of Pokankylä) to the centre of Inari, ran via the farm. The field cleared by Matti Eira is no more visible to the river, even though it is located very close to the river. The long stone fence around the field is exceptional in Inari. Agriculture in these rugged natural conditions (a water shed region) was not fruitful and the Eira family had to give it up.

 The field cleared by Matti Eira and a stone fence. Photo: Tapio Tynys

After the houses in the village of Ivalon Matti, there are no more residential sites along the route. The route is 42 km long and requires, at least, one overnight stay in the wilderness. It is noteworthy that the distance between the starting and ending points by road is 197 km. Consequently, allow enough time for setting off for the route and returning from the route.

The other sections are also suitable for canoeing. The section of River Ivalojoki from Kuttura to Lappispola is the most famous. This is because of the mighty canyon landscape, the gold prospecting history of the area, and the current gold prospecting activities. The film Lapin kullan kimallus by Åke Lindman was shot in this area. Because of its harsh rapids, this section is also demanding for experienced canoeists. A rubber raft is a safer alternative than a canoe.  

The fourth section of River Ivalojoki, Lappispola‒Ivalo, is completely different from the other sections. After the three rapids, the wide river flows tranquilly through forests and settlements. For canoeists, this river section may be too calm and peaceful. Please also note that almost all of the land and water areas are privately owned.

The fifth section of River Ivalojoki, Ivalo ‒ Lake Inarijärvi, is also slow. Compared with the upstream area, this section is lush and low-lying with fields, meadows, and shoreside birch forests. And, of course, settlements. Here you will find incredibly gorgeous, wide sandy beaches. The section is privately owned.

The area is managed by Metsähallitus, Parks & Wildlife Finland, address: Kelotie 1, Siula-talo, 99830 Saariselkä.