At the very heart of ‘True’ Lapland, situated on the River Muonio, lies Karesuando (or ‘Karesuvanto’ depending on which side of the river you are). This small village, loved by visitors to the Arctic, is divided by the river which runs through it: on one side is Finland, and the other side is Sweden. Set in the centre of the reindeer herding region, the village is home to just a few hundred people, many of whom are occupied with reindeer husbandry.
On many of our holidays, some time is spent in Karesuando as this is the perfect place to embark on a snowmobile adventure, a husky sled safari, or a reindeer sleigh ride.
Karesuando is to be found at the very heart of a special area we call 'True Lapland.' Far away from the concrete ski hotels and glaring commercialism of mass-market winter resorts lies a land of tranquillity, stunning natural beauty and warm, welcome communities perched on the edge of a vast wilderness. True Lapland is a land of legends and magic, where you can enjoy the coolest of winter breaks. Here, you will breathe what is said to be the cleanest air in the world. The expanse of wilderness envelops the visitor with peace and silence.
Previously a Sami reindeer camp, Karesuando got its first buildings in 1670 when Mans Martensson Karesuando bought lands from a Sami man called Henrik. The village developed into an important trading post for hunters and trappers keen to sell their furs to wealthy buyers – trade helped by its location on major routes linking Scandinavian countries. In the nineteenth century, Karesuando was home to the pastor Lars Levi Laestadius (see below). The first hotel was opened in 1922 – the Grapes Hotel – now known as the Arctic Star. In the Second World War, during the 1944 Lapland War, most of Finnish Karesuando was burned down by German troops; the only building left standing was a small fishing hut on the riverside. Swedish Karesuando was left unscathed thanks to the country’s neutrality during the war. Rebuilding took place in the following decades and Karesuvanto’s hotel, the Davvi Arctic Lodge, was built in 1974.
Over the years, two famous visitors to Karesuando have left their mark – spiritual or otherwise. Lars Levi Laestadius: Laestadius was a nineteenth-century Swedish Sami pastor and vicar of Karesuando between 1826 and 1849. During his time there, he began a spiritual revivalist movement, which came to be known as ‘Laestatianism.’ Today, there are around 200,000 followers around the world. The Dalai Lama: His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama stayed in the Arctic Star hotel in Karesuando in May 1996 during a tour of Scandinavia. He was visiting Lapland at the invitation of the Sami Parliaments of Finland, Sweden and Norway. He addressed the parliamentarians before leaving Karesuando for New Delhi.
You can stay in Karesuando on any of the tours shown below.
This week-long holiday offers the best chance of seeing the Northern Lights in the Arctic...More >
A three or four-nights holiday in the Arctic wilderness, packed with exciting activities...More >
Combine a stay in the Arctic city of Tromso with a stay in the wilderness of Lapland...More >