A unique history, vast forests and a wide array of activities make little-known Finnskogen a destination of choice for nature lovers, says our travel editor Marie Peyre.
Driving north from Kongsvinger, then venturing further east towards the Swedish border, it is easy to see why the Finns who emigrated to this part of Norway in the 1600s felt right at home here. Forests. Lakes. More forests. The area that makes up Finnskogen, a 40km-wide belt along Hedmark and Värmland, would have reminded them of their native Finland - a natural place to settle down after fleeing from famine and hardship in their own country.
And here they lived, in relative isolation, until well into the 19th century - preserving a culture that has left its mark on the whole region to this day. Svedjebruk (slash and burn agriculture) and a little livestock helped sustain them, but it was their skills as hunters and fishermen that made their reputation. They were so good at it that local villagers were convinced they had supernatural abilities.