Snow Hotel, Reindeer and Dog sledding in Kirkenes Norway

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:

Krikenes Snow Hotel & Resort in Norway #1Yes 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!):

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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:
Krikenes Snow Hotel & Resort in Norway #9 Krikenes Snow Hotel & Resort in Norway #11
The corridor and one of the bedrooms.
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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:
Kirkenes Reindeer Park Resort in Norway #1
The Lavvo and a Reindeer.
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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:
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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!

Update 10.27.2009:
Fida Wild at Unusual Travel Destination have made a review of this post – go and check it up!