Enduro safari in Lapland

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Enduro safari in Lapland

Enduro safari in Lapland
Entirely from Finns

What works with snowmobiles in winter should also work on enduros in summer, thought two Finnish off-road fans: Enduro riding over the Arctic Circle in Lapland.

Matthias Schroter


Just in Frankfurt, 26 degrees plus, and five hours later the thermometer shows minus three. Not a dream, but Kittela Airport, Lapland, above the Arctic Circle. Stefan, photographer and Africa fan, is already shivering in the well-tempered dispatch hall. “You have to come and visit us again,” Timo raved at last year’s Enduro Six Days in Finland. And then something about endless space, tranquility and the Lappish version of the Indian summer, the Ruska. And there is Timo now, grinning like Hakkinen in the Mercedes commercial, with the difference that he speaks enviable German. With a hamburger touch. He lived and worked there for a few years before moving back to Finland, putting the shivering Germans in his VW bus and driving to a place with the unpronounceable name akaslompolo, the base camp for the tour. “What a coincidence,” he says, pointing to the police car turning into the street. “We only have four police officers here for an area larger than Schleswig-Holstein.” The crime rate in Lapland is unimaginably low. No one would think of locking their house or even removing the ignition key in the car. “Take a look out,” says Timo as he is heating up the fireplace in the small log cabin. Light sculptures in green, purple and pink perform a unique spectacle in the sky: the northern lights. Timo claims it should bring good luck. The next morning the others arrive: Seppo, the Finnish KTM importer, Matti, the Finnair rider, and Hannu, the organizer of the Enduro tour. Fat buddies who four ?? and all of them crazy about motorcycles. Without long preambles: get enduros out of the van, fill up, short technical check, drive off. Around 250 kilometers lie ahead of the group, and the days will be very short in September. Then a short speech from Timo: “We’re going on an enduro safari here. No running. «Enjoy nature ?? and protect, i.e. stay strictly on the countless gravel roads marked on the maps, that is what Hannu and Timo, the tour initiators, have taken on. When a herd of reindeer crosses the paths of the tour, then it is immediately: stop, engine off. “Otherwise you will chase the animals to death,” explains Timo. A rule that every enduro rider in Lapland should know, but even without difficult off-road passages, the route, which does not necessarily require a large four-stroke enduro, will at least get into the bones of an inexperienced amateur enduro rider. Hours of driving over bumpy gravel roads, sometimes narrow and angled passages, so always stay focused, even if your backside has been hurting for a long time. You are happy when suddenly Hannu is standing by the roadside with the transporter. Break, get some food. “In the middle of nowhere,” wonders Stefan. When the single cylinders are silent, there is nothing but calm. No hum of the annoying mosquitoes in summer, not even a bird chirping. Almost oppressive, the silence. If it weren’t for the Finns with their cell phones, which often ring. Not a fashion stunt in Lapland, but beneficial because it is the only connection to the outside world. Just in case, or simply if you run out of fuel in the small enduro tanks contrary to expectations. Another Finnish passion: making a fire. Where the four Finns rest for more than half an hour, a campfire flickers within minutes. Hannu then makes the coffee, extra strong, made from freshly ground beans. In the evening in the log cabin, two Germans look forward to the sauna, an absolute must for the four Finns anyway. And Hannus’s cooking skills: reindeer casserole, fresh salmon and light but delicious beer from Lapland. More than just calorie storage for the next day, which starts with scratching the frozen enduro benches. The night was clear with stars. Frost already in September. However, that doesn’t detract from the good mood of the Finnish hosts, although Seppo and Matti spent the night at the “Crazy Reindeer” on their ears. A kind of discotheque that has to be so good that some visitors accept 350 kilometers to get there. Pull the choke, start up, the KTMs start up amazingly well. And then back on the slopes. This time it starts almost endlessly straight on gravel and clay roads. Around noon the sun suddenly bathes the deciduous forest in a unique light: red ?? in every imaginable nuance. So that’s it, the famous Indian Summer, or in Finnish: Ruska. Indescribable. Sit down and enjoy. Nobody thinks it’s bad that a KTM runs out of fuel and Timo forgot to turn on his cell phone. A forest worker happens to pass by with his off-road vehicle. The friendly man drives to the next petrol station, it’s an honor for the Lappen, “just get a super one,” says Seppo. In Lapland, “just a little” means there and back 150 kilometers on gravel roads in an old Toyota off-road vehicle. Lapps have a different understanding of time. This is exactly what Timo likes so much about the north. “There is a saying here that goes: Why worry, why hurry in this ready world.” The two Germans think about it when the hustle and bustle of the normal world catches up with them at Helsinki Airport. All of a sudden, one of the ribs damaged by a fall, Stefan, the photographer, thinks about the heat at home. Five days in Lapland? Too short.


Yes. There are many mosquitos in Lapland. And alcohol costs huge sums of money. But against the former, various means help, and you can get intoxicated by the breathtakingly beautiful landscape and the hospitality for free.

Getting there: By ferry from Germany to Finland, for example from Travemunde to Helsinki (prices for a return trip including motorcycle from 450 marks). If you want to save time and protect your tires, book the motorail train from Helsinki to Rovaniemi or Kolari in good time (from 370 Marks including sleeping car and motorcycle). The prices vary greatly due to special tariffs. Therefore, you should book with a travel agency that is also a representative of the Scandinavian state railways. For example: Scandinavia Reisen, phone 0761/22700, north travel agency, phone 040/3600150, Nordic Reisen, phone 069 / 242977-0. Travel time: Winter in Lapland usually doesn’t end until the end of May, after the snowmelt, enduro riders have to come along more often expect muddy slopes. And with the mosquitoes, which sometimes become a nuisance. Protective products should not be missing in the luggage, as well as ointments against the itching. From the middle / end of August the small bloodsuckers will disappear again. Probably also because the nights can get bitterly cold. Then perhaps the most beautiful travel time begins: the Indian Summer, or in Finnish Ruska. The low sun bathes the withering leaves of the forests in a fiery red light. However, this natural phenomenon cannot be admired every year: If there are no more warm late summer days after a few cold nights, the Ruska is canceled without replacement. Overnight: Hotels in Lapland are very expensive, but correspond to good Central European standards. It is more rustic and cheaper to rent one of the many holiday homes, which are usually always equipped with an open fireplace and an obligatory sauna. Inexpensive alternative: camping. More information about prices and reservations is available from travel agencies specializing in Scandinavia. Interesting: the brochure »Cheap Accommodation«, available free of charge from the Finnish National Tourist Board, phone: 069/7191980. Literature: Recommended maps: »Suomi« by Marco Polo (Shell Eurocard, scale 1: 750,000), »Lappland« (Kummerli + Frey, scale 1: 400,000) for detailed route planning on site, as well as »Nordkalotten« (Cappelens kart 1 : 700000). A very detailed and well-written travel guide “Richtig Reisen – Lappland” is available from Dumont-Verlag, Cologne (39.80 marks, ISBN 3-7701-2857-5), the same applies to the “Lappland Handbuch” (36 80 marks). It is published by Reise Know-How-Verlag.

The distance

The tour profile: Six day trips of around 250 kilometers with a German-speaking tour guide on four-stroke enduros including gasoline, full board, overnight stays, support vehicle and the flight from Germany (either from Frankfurt or Hamburg). Cost: 3400 marks per person. Dates: from 14.6. until 09/20/1998. Information: Norvista Reisen GmbH, Karlstrabe 12, 60329 Frankfurt / Main, phone: 069/2429770, Mr. Felix Hasskerl, fax: 069/24297790 or directly from Timo Kanto (picture left), phone: 00358 / 400-410557.

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