Ailo reflected in a pond in Posio, Lapland
Photo by: MRP Matila Röhr Productions, Courtesy of Ailo's Journey

Follow in Ailo's Footsteps

Ailo’s Journey takes the small reindeer through the dense green forests of Posio, the wondrous snow-crowned forest on Riisitunturi and across the grand bald fells of Utsjoki.

The journey Ailo takes includes bogs and creeks, rivers and ponds, crowded forests and isolated fells. Filmed in Finnish Lapland, Ailo’s Journey showcases the excitement and beauty that can only be found in Europe’s last wilderness. Ailo’s Journey filmed scenes in Posio in southern Lapland, and in Utsjoki, in the far north. If you’re looking to trace the young reindeer’s steps and experience a journey of your own, read on.

Posio – birthplace of adventure

Ailo was not born on the side of a grand fell, but in a small thicket of snowy trees, with only a curious squirrel as witness. These trees, and much of the wooded adventures that our reindeer friend goes on throughout the film were captured in Posio, just south of the Arctic Circle.

Posio is well-known for its sandy beaches and blue waters that thread through national parks and dense forests, chosen for their mystical qualities. You can experience the magic yourself with a hike under the Midnight Sun. Take an afternoon or after-midnight and explore the 4 km or 11 km trails. Those who want to spend more time in the wild can tackle the 30 km trail. This trail will take you across the felltops of Noukavaara, Riistunturi and Karitunturi for breathtaking vistas and through the dark forests and mystical mires.

But Riisitunturi becomes something altogether different as the days grow short and cold. The unique combination of high humidity and frigid weather creates lumbering snow-crowned trees. These magical shapes grow up under the sparkling stars of midwinter and glisten like marshmallow trolls during the long spring days. A snowshoe hike up the side of Riisitunturi Fell is the perfect way to get up close and personal with these strange wonders.

While you’re in Posio, you might visit a reindeer farm, to meet with Ailo’s friends and relatives. Who knows, you might even get the chance to meet the little prince himself!

Ailo runs through the forest in Posio, Lapland
Photo by: MRP Matila Röhr Productions, Courtesy of Ailo's Journey
Ailo resting in the forest in Posio, Lapland
Photo by: MRP Matila Röhr Productions, Courtesy of Ailo's Journey
Ailo stands atop a fell in Posio, Lapland
Photo by: MRP Matila Röhr Productions, Courtesy of Ailo's Journey

Utsjoki – the grandeur of Finnish Lapland

The dense trees and intimate nature of the forests is why you should visit Posio in the south. To the north, as far north as Finland goes, there is another kind of landscape. Here begins the tundra, where trees stay close to the ground and the felltops are bare and smooth, the snow-capped peaks of Arctic mountains in the hazy distance.

This is Utsjoki.

Over millions of years, glaciers crawled from the North Pole, carving the mountains of Utsjoki into round, smooth fells. Due to the climate here—marked by 6 months of winter and a short, fast summer—vegetation grows slower and shorter, tougher. These bald fells, and the sparse, hardy wilderness that surround them, are among Finland’s most epic landscapes. Hiking here can be measured in days and weeks, bike rides measured in hundreds of kilometers.

In the valleys, the cool pure waters of the Tenojoki and other rivers and lakes thread the largest wildernesses in Lapland. These waters are perfect for canoeing, kayaking and rowing. Don’t forget your fishing rod and appetite, as the rivers and lakes of Utsjoki are home of salmon as big as baby Ailo, Arctic char, brown trout and grayling.

Winter comes early to Utsjoki, the first snowflakes drifting down often in September, first dusting and then smothering the north with heavy snowfall. An snowmobile excursion into the largest wilderness area in the country, Kaldoaivi, puts the distances and isolation in true perspective, as you might travel hours between signs of habitation.

Footsteps in the snow in Nuorgam, Lapland at sunset
Photo by: Explore Inari
Reindeer in Utsjoki, Lapland
Photo by: Explore Inari
Teno River in Utsjoki, Lapland
Photo by: Explore Inari