The Wilderness-like Areas

The southern part of Muotkatunturi area is a low-lying backforest. A few fells rise above the old pine forests, the rolling ridges where birches grow, and themires. Going north to the actual fell region, pines give way to birches - only few individual pines grow here and there in the river valleys. In the middle and the northern part, the hiker is surrounded by impressive scenery. The deepand lush valleys of the River Kaamasjoki divide the groups of fells into gentlyrounded fell ridges which are mostly treeless and bare. On the headwaters ofthe River Kaamasjoki, the largest branch, the River Kielajoki, cuts through the northern part of the wilderness area. "Giellá" in the North Sámi and "kiälláá" in the Inari Sámi language means "a loop". The water system of the RiverKielajoki resembles a lasso thrown on the fells of Muotkatunturi area, enclosing a part of the land.

The Siberian Tit. Photo: Markus Varesvuo

Stuorraávži (in the North Sámi) - Stuorrâävži (in the Inari Sámi language), a ravine on the headwaters of the River Kielajoki, in the northwestern part of the wildernessarea, is an impressive sight, even though it is not quite as big as the famous Kevo Canyon. Lake Peltojärvi (Bealdojávri in North Sámi and Piäldujävri inInari Sámi) is the largest lake in the wilderness area.

The Fellsand Hills

About a hundred separate, gently rounded felltops belong to the Muotkatunturit fells.There are not many lakes or mires in the fell region but, in the low-lyingareas, the landscape is dominated by heath-like bare fell fields and mountainbirch forests. There are craggy slopes in many places. The highest felltop in the wilderness area is the knobbly Kuárvikozzâ (590 m). Also a destinationworth seeing and climbing is the 567-metres-high Peltotunturi Fell (Bealdoaiviin North Sámi and Piälduáivi in Inari Sámi), on the northwestern side of Lake Peltojärvi. The top of the Etelä-Riutusvaara Hill, outside of the northwestern corner of the wilderness area, shines snow white because of the former anorthosite mine there. The most impressive feature of the Muotkatunturit fells is not their height but their great number and the vastness of the landscape.

Vegetationof the Wilderness

The set of species typical for forests, mires and fells is represented in the wilderness area. The Black Crowberry (Empetrum nigrum subs. hermaphroditum) and the Lingonberry (Vaccinium vitis-idaea) dominate the forests. The Trailing Azalea (Loiseleuria procumbens), the Alpine Hawkweed (Hieracium alpinum) and the Bearberry (Arctostaphylos alpina), for example, grow on the fells against the driving wind. The leaves of the Bearberry give the ground its characteristic red colour in the autumn. On the mires, a hiker can see the Common Cotton-grass (Eriophorum angustifolium), the Dwarf birch (Betula nana) and the Common Butterwort (Pinguicula vulgaris). The Early Marsh-Orchid (Dactylorhiza incarnata) which grows on the lush mires of the wilderness area, is classifiedas near threatened nationally.

Animals of the Wilderness

There is a strong Golden Eagle (Aquila chrysaetos) population in Muotkatunturi wilderness area, and also other large carnivores live there. The permanent population of the endangered Wolverine (Gulo gulo) in the area is one of the densest in Finland. For example, in winter 2003, when Metsähallitus organised counting of the large carnivores, fresh paw prints of several individual wolverines werefound in the area. Muotkatunturit Fells consist of a mixture of mires, forests and fells, which is ideal for the wolverine. Its favourite places are ravines with scree and plenty of snow, and these are abundant in Muotkatunturi area. Being a carnivore, the wolverine leaves many reindeer carcasses behind, and these are made good use of by other animals, for example the golden eagle.

Wolverine. Photo: Matti Mela

The common birds of the wilderness include the Siberian Tit (Parus cinctus) and the Willow Grouse (Lagopus lagopus). The Siberian Jay (Perisoreus infaustus) often follows hikers flying quietly from one tree to the next. The nimble White-throated Dipper (Cinclus cinclus) can be seen along the rivers and brooks.