Kirkenes, the capital of Sør-Varanger municipality in the northernmost country; Finnmark, is located as far north-east as possible in Norway (70º north – 30 º east). The municipality has about 10 000 inhabitants spread over a territory of 3.670 km2 and borders both to Russia and Finland. They are in the centre of the Barentsregion, with ice free ports and all year round access to the Barents Sea. Here you’ll experience the indigenous traditional way of living as well as modern industrial society all in one generation. One can find remnants from the Russian Revolution of 1917, the Winter-war between Russia and Finland in 1939, the history of 320 bombing raids and total destruction during World War 2 and of course 30 years of cold political war.
The nature is different from the rest of Norway. There are many eastern plant-species growing in the municipality that are rare or non existent in other parts of Norway. The forest in Pasvik originates from the Siberian taiga; the worlds largest continuous forest area. You will find all the major predators in the municipality. Best known is the brown bear, and the Pasvik Valley is home for around 20 individuals. This is the highest density of bears in the entire Norway and also the home of glutton (wolverine) and lynx. However, your chances are much higher of seeing reindeer and moose, than running into one of the great predators. The fauna has many eastern elements, especially among the bird species. Other animals that have migrated from the east are the muskrat, the mighty Kamchatka crab (king crab) and the Russian Salmon.
This is a short summery from Kirkenes Tourist Inform – click to find more details!
Attending Norwegian Computer Society’s (NCS – DND) annual meeting there last weekend, we had some social adventure I would love to share with you:
The Snow Hotel:
Yes it’s true and here is the proof of the pudding. This winter (they are closed during summer time :lol: ) they opened a real Snow Hotel. From the outside it looks just like a snow bank, but when you get inside, you’ll find the most spectacular architecture with art and decorations made of snow and ice and of course a reception desk combined as a bar, a lobby and 20 rooms. Lets take a closer look (click all pics to bigify and enjoy!):
The reception and the lobby.
I’m just an amateur and only have a compact Nikon S2 camera. The lightening condition and the reflection from the snow and ice is a challenge, but I hope you get the idea – so lets go on and explore:
The corridor and one of the bedrooms.
Wall decorations: Left: Brown Bears – Right: Their footprints.
My regular readers knows my saying: ‘There is no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothes’ and this shows the ultimate truth as it’s perfectly good to stay there and even sleep there if you have the right blankets. At least four rooms where booked that night already, when we were visiting in the afternoon!
The Reindeer Park:
Having a shower in the hotel, might be a bit chilly and also they don’t have a kitchen with ovens in the hotel – of obvious reasons :-) However, at the same resort, they have a Reindeer Park with a Lavvu or Sami tent:
The Lavvo and a Reindeer.
Left: Inside the Lavvo. Right: The Dog houses for dog sledding.
Of course walking around these tamed reindeer and feeding them (they eat reindeer moss) is exotic, even for a Norwegian:
A lot more pics where taken, which you can find on my Flickr account!
I know it might be quite a lot to take in from one post and I can assure you it was a wonderful and almost overwhelming experience too. I do hope you like it as much as I love to share and get another example of why I prefer nature and natural surrounding as a place for recreation. Here is where to click if you would like to book a room the next winter!
Fida Wild at Unusual Travel Destination have made a review of this post – go and check it up!
46 thoughts on “Snow Hotel, Reindeer and Dog sledding in Kirkenes Norway”
Oh that looks like such a fun visit full of great photo ops. And what a different place, so cool that you got to visit it!
why didn’t you stay in the snow hotel? i’m not sure i’ll survive there. but you’re right, your favorite saying applies here. hehe
did you meet rudolph? :)
I always love to read your writings Renny, and this was not an exception. AND you shouldn’t apologize for the photos they’re GREAT!
How fun, but I’ll pass on the snow hotel. I don’t do snow very well. Okay, I don’t like cold weather.
Have a terrific day. Big hug to you and Diane. :)
Very interesting post. The snow hotel is “cool” although I can’t see myself sleeping there. I do have a question. You say that Kirkenes has ice free ports and all year round access to the Barents Sea. How can a place that far north have open ports?
Thank you for another great post.
Thanks to the Gulf Stream, which support us with “hot water” from the south
That’s a real good question Bill, especially when you compare to the same latitude on your continent; it’s far up in Alaska.
Like Mariann says (and she’s a local): The answer is The Gulf Stream which gives Norway a much warmer climate than its position should give – in general and particularly in the northern Norway.
It is all beautiful – but at this time of the year I’m glad I live a bit further south…
Excellent post Renny – love the pictures.
It must be wonderful and interesting to visit a place like that. I wouldn’t want to stay in an ice hotel though, not at all. It just looks far too cold for me – ice on the bed as well as around it! :)
Oooooh!!! A Snow Hotel looks SO cool! I think it would be awesome to stay in one over night, of course with the right clothing and blankets! Thank you for the pics!
Meeting a reindeer and feeding one seems very amazing as well. On ‘Planet Earth’ one of the episodes talked about the Tioga and the animals there, very cool!!!
I really do not have any comments to this fantastic northern adventure which you here have shared with all your trusted readers.
btw. You know my opinion about it
Beautiful… and original!
After going to the Southernmost place in the world, Ushuaia, I should get to the Northernmost. Some day… ;-)
What a fun and interesting post, Renny! I’ve always been fascinated by ice hotels and buildings, and I’d love to feed the reindeer.
Glad you enjoyed your time in Kirkennes.
Happy Friday and weekend! ;-)
Love and hugs,
Wow! That’s so cool! You can do that in Quebec City too. Too chilly for me!
Brrrrrr……….I feel the chill now and I don’t think can I request for a fireplace huh :)
So beautiful there Renny, is it very expensive for one night stay?
200€ per person, but that includes a lot: Transport from/to Kirkenes – Dinner and Breakfast – Instructions in how to sleep comfortably – and activities and accommodations in the Reindeer Park.
What a snow heaven!
I love that snow hotel, That’s really “cool”. Hope I have chance to visit!
what a terrific scene and the beauty of the deer, isn’t it very cold overthere? Very impressive vacation, Neh not me I like more of the SUN holidays. But who knows? Nevr say never…
See my upcoming exibition, (photo on my blog) Happy weekend enjoy the sun! Greetings JoAnn/Holland
I would love to visit the area and look round the snow hotel but I am not sure about staying there – even with the right clothes :-)
Once again you have outdone yourself! Wow! That’s about all I can say!
Early report: Anneliese is showing signs of the start of labor! Yay!!!
Is dog racing or dog sledding an animal rites issue? I heard a little on bth sides of the argument, but I’m still unsure if its cruel to the dogs.
What are your thought , good or bad.
Not at all. These dogs has the most caring owners. Besides: You can’t get the dogs to perform the best if they’re not motivated.
what a marvelous adventure you had at Sami land! So exotic! love all! The snow hotel and the way of life inside! the reindeer and dogs…Your pictures on flickr are super. i imagine one day i will discover this way of life visiting my daughter in Finland if she stays there with her boyfriend. The lumonosity of light and ice must create a magical athmosphere!
that snow hotel is just fascinating! wow, i never would have imagined that. the sami tent looks so similar to the tipis you’d find among the plains indians in the usa. very interesting!
Oooh, love the pics!
Ha ha ha! This is really very funny! You know why?
I promise, I had NO IDEA you had written this post, with the words reindeer’s and bears mentioned – and what do I write about in my latest post??????? Bears and reindeers!!!!
Not exactly normal things we do use to write about, neither me or you :-)
Must have been a very interesting experience, even though a bit cold to sleep there….?
I’ve always wanted to go to our Ice hotel in Sweden, but I’m not sure about sleeping in the cold – and it’s very expensive too. We almost booked a trip for last New Years Eve, but we wanted to go South to the warmth instead :-)
The Swedish Icehotel were the first Icehotel in the whole world, it’s their 19th year this winter. Totally incredible that it can be so popular to stay in the cold!
brrrr that hotel looks cold Renny :)
great pic of you in the reindeer ears :)
oops …I mean antlers..lol :D
Way cool pictures Renny! :-)
In Canada we call the lawo a teepee. Actually, the city I live in, Medicine Hat’s claim to fame is the largest teepee in the world! Do a google search and you’ll see pictures of it.
Facninating post- the hotel looks incredible (not to mention the vodka welcome)… :-)
I have featured the reindeer tent photograph today on http://planetearthdailyphoto.blogspot.com/
All the best,
aw, those reindeers are so sweet :)
brrrr.. i can’t imagine sleeping in those beds, they must be hard too and too cold even with blankets..and those thick walls of ice..yikes .. thanks for posting the pictures though, i have heard about them before but have never seen it..
wow that looks like a fun visit!!!!! Every pic is beautiful, the lobby, corridor, bedroom, footprints etc……..amazing!!!
I can see you all were well dressed, and I do understand why. LOL.
Fascinating with Snow hotels, but, well I prefere something more comfortable (Snow “hotels” were something we slept in while doing Military services).
That snow hotel is amazing! It reminds me of a particular James Bond movie.
I like your fun shot with the reindeer.
I have had reindeer to eat, Renny, and must say I LOVED it! :)
I have to say that the pictures look amazing!
Some very interesting and insightful thoughts. I like this.
i am planning to go to norway this christmas as an individual (no tour operators). Can you please suggest how to transport (public tranport, i do not know driving and busses do not run on winter) and book the snow hotels. Might be is you have some more information to share on dog/deer/moose sledging.
You mail me directly on my email.
There is a link to the snow hotel in the end of the post and you’ll find all the info you need there I hope.
Renny, this is so exciting! It’s been for so long on my travel-wish-list! I stayed in the ice hotel in Quebec and last winter in an igloo in Davos. Back in Canada a friend and I discussed with glowing eyes the wonders of a winter holiday. An other one was listening and looking at us with disgust and said: “What’s wrong with you people!” Haha!
BTW, the photos are beautiful. The light is exceptional!
Great pics of a fun visit. This is indeed a bit like the Ice Hotel, except the Ice Hotel gets bigger every year!