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Join a dogsled expedition, learn to throw a lasso, and experience the Sami culture first hand in Karasjok and Kautokeino.
The Sami are the northernmost indigenous people of Europe, and the attractions on the Norwegian tundra all reflect Sami history, heritage, and life today. No wonder, as nine out of ten people here are Sami. Go dog sledding or skiing on the rugged Finnmark plain, camp in a traditional lavvu (Sami tent), or get a glimpse of reindeer husbandry. At winter nights, wonder at the northern lights that dance above your head.
The town of Karasjok, with its recognised Sami institutions and living Sami culture, is the Sami capital with almost 3,000 inhabitants… and some 60,000 reindeer. At The Sápmi Culture Park you can experience the Sami way of life. Here, you can try Sami cuisine by the open fire, hear the traditional songs (the “joik”, one of Europe’s oldest surviving music traditions), and meet Sami people in colourful local costumes. The town also hosts the Sami parliament, shaped as a lavvu.
Even though Karasjok is Sami Norway’s indisputable capital, the neighbouring municipality Kautokeino has more Sami residents.
Most people here have Sami as their first language, and the area is officially bilingual. Nomadic reindeer herders have lived here for hundreds of years, and the traditional lifestyle is still very much alive. Although located far north, Karasjok and Kautokeino are fairly easy to reach by plane or by road.
Go in spring to see the Sami Easter festival, or in summer to see the wildlife and thousands of fishing ponds and lakes – and off course the midnight sun. A little way into the countryside with a prime view of the town you will find Juhls Silvergallery – an eye-catching building where you can buy traditional Sami silver and more modern designs.
It shouldn’t come as a surprise that mushing is popular both as a sport and as a means to get around in the Land of the Sami. If you come in winter, you should definitely try to experience a dogsled race or join an expedition. The beautiful wild nature surroundings come as part of the bargain.
Find more inspiration on Northern Norway’s official website.
There are only a few buses between places on the Finnmark plain, and all bus transportation must be planned carefully. Check out Snelandia’s website for timetables and prices.
The few roads between places on the Finnmark plain are of a good standard and pose few problems. Travel time from Karasjok to Kautokeino is around two hours.
There are daily departures from Oslo to Alta Airport, which is the nearest major airport, although it’s also possible to fly to Lakselv Airport. Alta Airport is a two hours drive from Kautokeino, and two and a half hours from Karasjok.
In Kautokeino and Karasjok, the climate is cold and temperate.
During summer (June–August), daytime temperatures typically range between 10 °C and 25 °C.
During hard winter (December–February), temperatures can drop as far as -45 °C and beyond.
The yearly average temperature over the last 30 years is -2.7 °C.
During five weeks of summer, the sun doesn’t set, and during six weeks of winter, the sun doesn’t rise.
Average precipitation is 360 millimetres per year.
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