Running out of fuel in the loneliest place on earth

Around 3.30pm we left the Sami capital Karasjok, in Northern Norway, for the 265 kilometre drive to Kirkenes across the Finnmárkkoduottar (Finnmark plateau) with an ETA of around 7 pm – arriving just in time for dinner.

The trip from Karasjok to Kirkanes takes you through some wild country

We were anticipating a pleasant drive through a reasonably uninhabited and maybe a little lonely piece of road but nothing prepared us for the isolation we encountered.

The long road through isolated wilderness

I suppose we should have realised that as Karasjok had a population of only 3,000 inhabitants (but 60,000 reindeer) and was regarded as “the big smoke”, there was very little likelihood of hitting a settlement of any reasonable size before arriving in Kirkenes. However, it was quite a shock to see no signs of habitation whatsoever across the wide vistas of uninterrupted and rugged landscape. It felt like it was the loneliest, wildest place on earth.

The Sami parliament in Karasjok
The settlement of Karasjok
The countryside was desolate

We had been travelling for about an hour when we realised that we were getting low on fuel. Surely there would be a petrol station soon? We hadn’t seen one since we left Karaskov and the needle was nearly on empty.

There were some lovely views early on in the trip

As we drove the landscape became increasingly severe and forbidding. There was nothing but haunting rocky hills as far as the eye could see. We travelled on feeling very nervous as now the onboard computer told us we had only a few kilometres to go before we were completely out of fuel. What fools we felt!

Soon the landscape became quite forbidding and we even had fog (no photos I was too stressed!)

Just to add to the drama it became foggy so the visibility was really poor. There was no phone connection. We had seen no other vehicles for what seemed like hours and then it rained! It was all very stressful as we had visions of getting marooned at the side of the road in these awful conditions with no prospect of getting rescued.

The hills were wild and rugged

All of a sudden we came down a long and winding hill and spotted a hotel near a river. “Great” we thought, at least we could stay the night there even if we couldn’t get fuel. However, the hotel was closed and no amount of knocking aroused anyone to open the front door.

There was a lovely river, a popular salmon fishing spot, near the hotel we found

At least we now had phone connection and we were able to use a phone app to find out where the nearest service station was. Unfortunately there wasn’t one before Kirkenes and we definitely would run out fuel before then. Then we saw that there was a closer service station in the neighbouring country of Finland and we ended up diverting from our original route in our quest for fuel.

The road was absolutely deserted – no signs of life at all

Again the road was extremely deserted and feeling very anxious we drove the last 20 or so kilometres with the tank supposedly empty.

At the border between Norway and Finland

We were never so glad to see such a godforsaken place. The lonely and deserted service station was like something out of the movies. There wasn’t a soul there, the sign was swinging in the wind and the the trees were swaying creepily.

It was a great relief to see this godforsaken place!

On one of the bowsers there was machine which accepted credit cards to prepay for diesel. To our absolute horror it wouldn’t accept any of our credit or debit cards. Thank goodness it accepted cash and thank goodness we managed to scrape together 40 Euros in cash!

Back in Norway again!

We drove back to Norway to sleep for the night before heading the following day into Kirkanes – the final destination of our Norwegian adventure.

Safely arriving in Kirkanes the following day

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Salty tales from Bali Hai

In 2015, after a break from cruising of almost 30 years, my husband and I sailed off into the sunset - this time to the wonderful Islands of Indonesia and beyond. Three years passed and we swapped sails for wheels driving through Scandinavia and Europe in a motor home. Now we are on the brink of another adventure - buying a Lagoon 420 Catamaran in Athens. This is our story.

One thought on “Running out of fuel in the loneliest place on earth”

  1. Poor you – running out of petrol is every driver’s nightmare but in such an isolated place must have been quite frightening! Thank goodness it all ended happily!


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