Northern Lights over aurora bubbles at Hotel Nellim
Photo by: Wilderness Hotel Nellim

Wilderness Hotel Nellim - Sámi Culture and Hidden Wilderness Huts

One could easily imagine it’s a sea instead of a lake. With over 3300 pristine islands, 3200 kilometers of coastline and deep blue water as far as the eye can see, Lake Inari is the world’s biggest lake situated above the Arctic Circle. The lake together with its islands has always attracted nature lovers.  Over the centuries, it has also been an important spot for the Sámi people. One can still visit Ukonkivi, an awkwardly shaped rocky island, which has been one of the most important holy places for the Sámi. The islands special form and caves with old carvings make it a magical site for anyone interested in the Sámi culture. One can even find an island in Lake Inari with caves where ice never melts!

In these magic surroundings sit the Wilderness Hotel Nellim resorts. Four authentic-styled hotels hide in different parts of the Lake Inari and can accommodate up to 600 people. Each hotel provides a restaurant and all the facilities one might need for an unforgettable retreat – or a super smoothly running film production

Vivid Sámi culture and wild reindeer

The owner, Jouko Lappalainen, doesn’t need to do a tenuous sales pitch in order to describe the upsides of his hotels. He knows there is not a single spot in Finland more legendary than Lake Inari.

— If someone looks for wilderness and Arctic exoticism, in Inari you’ll never get disappointed. One of our hotels is less than 10 kilometers from the Russian border. Still, all hotels are easily reachable as the airport of Ivalo is just a half an hour ride from Inari.

Lappalainen and his crew are used to taking care of foreign visitors and dealing with tv- and film productions. Whether one wishes to move around with a four-wheel drive, dog sledge, reindeer sledge, snowmobile, skis or snow shoes, the hotel can arrange it.

— As well as helping with the logistics, we can provide outfits for every weather condition and find the perfect wilderness locations. We know every hidden hut and reindeer hideaway, Lappalainen promises.

Many foreign productions are interested in Sámi culture, and for a good reason. Inari hosts an impressive Sámi cultural house and museum. There are also plenty of cultural events happening around the year.

— In Inari, one in three habitants have Sámi origins, Lappalainen explains.

— Even our hotel manager has Sámi origins. We also have Sámi working as chefs, guides and receptionists. Through our broad network, we can help productions whether they need culture expertise or finding the right people and stories.

When it comes to landscape, Inari is surrounded by thick forest, authentic villages and fells. Reindeer wander around freely.

Four Completely Different Seasons

For most, spring winter is the ideal time of the year in Finnish Lapland. Nature is covered by a thick layer of shimmering white snow, days grow longer and skiing resorts blossom.

Lappalainen reminds, however, that each and every season has its strengths.

— From May to mid-August, nights are bright, which leaves loads of operational time outside and is in itself an unequaled experience. Then, from the end of August on, is the aurora borealis season. We have built special cabins to observe the Northern Lights, which show up roughly 200 nights a year.

In December, darkness falls on Lapland. However, kaamos, as Finns call the period of time when sun doesn’t rise, is by no means all black. Quite on the contrary, Lappalainen claims that kaamos is a colorful season with the sky going from gentle pink to purple, orange and blue.

— It can get a bit chilly this time of the year, sometime even as low as -40 Celsius degrees. But we are prepared for everything. Whatever comes, we can handle it.