Up the River Reisa
An experienced local boatman pilots a long, slim riverboat up the river. Banks of birch, alder and aspen slowly give way to dense pine forest. The occasional tent is pitched beside a boat pulled up onto the bank, as this is salmon season and the fishermen need a siesta at midday. The landscape gradually becomes wilder, and the steep cliffs crowd closer to the river, turning the valley into a narrow canyon. Shining ribbons of water stream over the bare rock and cascade down rugged scree.
The riverboat picks its way
One minute the boat is in centre-stream, the next it has swerved to the bank, causing its passengers to duck below low birch branches. Sometimes the river splits into several channels, at other times it is half-blocked by banks of pebbles and, in places, large boulders lurk just below the surface. The water abruptly turns choppy over some rapids, then just as quickly runs calm again. Sometimes you think the boat has run aground, but the boatman knows this river like the back of his hand, and he always picks the safest route.
To the waterfall
Even from the river, you can see the waterfall plunging down the cliff. You jump ashore and walk through the forest towards the loud rumble, catching glimpses of its white waters between the birch leaves. Then it's revealed in all its majesty, across a meadow filled with wild flowers. The sight is overwhelming — words can't describe it. Which is just as well, as you can barely hear a word over the roaring water.
Up close, you look down into the pool beneath the falls, where a rainbow rises out of the misty spray. The water plunging into the pool creates a wind that sweeps up the knoll on the opposite side, laden with spray that sparkles in the sunlight. Naturally, you have to take photos, but your gaze keeps returning to the mass of water pouring over the ravine at the top. Afterwards, you have coffee round the camp fire, awed by what you have seen.
Mollisfossen has a fall of 269 metres (883 feet), of which 140 metres (459 feet) is free falling. The waterfall is on the Mollešjohka river, just before this runs into the River Reisa. It is the highest waterfall in Northern Norway, and one of the most beautiful in the country. It is so remote that few people visit it, but there are regular riverboat trips there in the summer, taking about an hour each way, plus a break at the falls while the boatman brews coffee on a camp fire beside the riverbank.
Into the wilderness
Mollisfossen marks the start of the Reisa National Park, a huge untouched wilderness that covers the whole inner part of Nordreisa, and parts of Kautokeino municipality in Finnmark. Mountain-lovers disappear for days on end on trips that culminate in Kautokeino or Kilpisjärvi in Finland; this area offers fantastic hiking trips for only the fit, experienced and well-equipped. However, shorter trips to places like the Nedrefoss cabin or Imofossen waterfalls are within the average person's reach, although you have to arrange to be picked up by Elvebåtsenteret. It is also possible to haul a canoe upriver and paddle back down. The River Reisa is one of Norway's best salmon rivers, and you can catch sea trout here too. As you would expect, anglers also make use of the riverboats.
Into the wilderness with ease
A boat trip to Mollisfossen waterfall is not strenuous. It is only a few minutes' walk to the waterfall, so children, older people and many disabled people can manage it — it is a unique opportunity to experience untouched wilderness. It takes less than an hour to drive up from the municipal centre of Storslett past the villages of the Reisa valley to Saraelv, where the road ends and the wilderness takes over. All the trips must be pre-booked.