Introducing Pasvik River Valley
Even when diabolical mosquito swarms make life hell for warm-blooded creatures, the remote lakes, wet tundra bogs and, to their south, Norway's largest stand of virgin taiga forest lend appeal to little Øvre Pasvik National Park, in the far reaches of the Pasvik River valley.
Some 100km south of Kirkenes and 200 sq km in area, this last corner of Norway seems more like Finland, Siberia or even Alaska. Here, wolves, wolverines and brown bears still roam freely. The park is also home to some of the most northerly elks in Europe, Eurasian lynx and a host of relatively rare birds such as the Siberian jay, pine grosbeak, redpoll and smew.
The Stone Age Komsa hunting culture left its mark here in the form of hunters' pitfall traps around lake Ødevann and elsewhere in the region; some date from as early as 4000 BC. Nearer to our own times in the mid-19th century, farmers from southern Norway established homesteads here with government support, opening up these near-virgin lands and helping to assert this ill-defined frontier territory as Norwegian.