The nicest thing to enjoy in a laavu, is "to make fire, relish the smell of smoke and simply stare at the plays of the flames", says Kari Lukkarinen.
Laavu, a Sami word meaning ‘lean-to’, is a popular setting for the Finns to spend time outdoors, especially after the long winter of the North. A laavu is a temporary shelter for hikers, open on one side, and in the old times it consisted of a frame made of slender trees and a roof stacked of spruce twigs. Nowadays these bivouac shelters are usually built with wood using modern building methods.
There are plenty of laavus in the Rovaniemi area
There are almost 100 laavus in the Rovaniemi area, 55 of them are owned by the city. The laavus usually have a fire place and some free wood available to light a campfire.
Traditionally a laavu was used as a temporary shelter or even as a residence, especially by hunters. However, nowadays laavus are used more for leisure and recreation activities by the locals for a barbecue or camping after skiing or a refreshing walk in the forest.
You can simply show up at a laavu alone or with family or friends, bringing with you some drinks and sausages for barbecuing while enjoying the sunny nature outside, as laavus do not need any reservation.
Spring is one of the best seasons
Laavus are most popular in Rovaniemi during autumn, but are equally frequented in spring and summer, says Kari Lukkarinen, a forestry engineer at the City of Rovaniemi. The nicest thing to enjoy in a laavu, in his words, is “to make fire, relish the smell of smoke and simply stare at the plays of the flames”.
Liisa Hokkanen, a pensioner who lives in Rovaniemi, said, laavus have a great traditional value for her. When she happens to relax in a laavu with her family, she gets a chance to teach her grandchildren the intrinsic value of spending time in the nature. For Hokkanen it also “brings back childhood memories” of spending time in laavus with her parents.
In order to encourage their use, the laavus around Rovaniemi are all made easy to access. They are located mostly along the ski tracks and snowmobile trails and in hiking areas, and are, therefore, used as resting places after leisure activities in the wild.
While the city of Rovaniemi offers laavus as outdoor recreational facilities, it equally emphasizes responsible use of the shelters in an environment-friendly way.
To choose which laavu to visit, have a look at the map on the webpage of the city of Rovaniemi. Also, guide Etiäinen is also worth checking.
City of Rovaniemi- Daily Finland Report