Before entering Kolovesi national park you should drop by in Enonkoski. From Kolovesi nature hut you can get kayaking maps and info for your trip. The old warehouse now serves as a Kolovesi information center and is one of the nicest nature centers in Finland.
There is a nature exhibition inside the house offering info about Saimaa Ringed Seal, only to be spotted in Saimaa lake area and also in Kolovesi national park.
The cafe is run by local 4 H Association and has a very nice terrace by the rapids. Not a bad place to have a break. Be sure to check the old bridge just a few meters away.
From late June there is an international sand art exhibition nearby the info hut. In Enonkoski you can get last supplies from local grocery stores for you kayaking trip.
Lemmenjoki national park in Lapland is the most northern national park of Finland. I made a canoe trip there a couple years ago down the river Lemmenjoki. Lemmenjoki river valley from Njurkulahti to Kultasatama is one of the most memorable places I have paddled. It is real wilderness though hiking trails follow the shores. It is about 22 km one way.
To Kultasatama you go upstream and in some places you have to pull your canoe from the shore. Even local long boats carrying hikers to Kultasatama go upstream though they unburden their load by letting hikers for a walk while passing streams. You better be prepared with good water shoes.
Along the river there are several tent and fire sites and a few wilderness hut, from these you can find best description on retkikartta.fi. Quite many hikers go to Kultasatama by boats from Njurkulahti and then leave for the paths in wilderness. In July the weather was quite nice, with for some reason no mosquitos but even bigger horseflies.
Thanks for all readers/viewers of my blogs in 2011. Here are my the 10 most viewed blog posts published in 2011. It’s interesting that out of 10 posts 7 are about my paddling trips; kayaking or canoeing. Some of the posts are of my trips done before 2011.
In July I spend a couple of weeks in the lake area near Linnansaari national park. I have paddled there before and seen some of its islands. This year I stayed at the cottage on the shore of lake Haukivesi which Linnansaari national park is part of. I made day trips to the national park area with a kayak and a canoe.
Linnansaari is home of the endangered Saimaa Ringed Seal (Phoca hispida saimensis). I’ve once seen one lying on the shore of an island in Linnansaari national park when kayaking a few years ago but this time I did not see any though looked intensively.
To go kayaking in Linnansaari national park your have to be a fair experienced kayaker because the transfer route to the closest islands of the park is at the shortest a kilometer away and to Linnansaari island over 5 kilometers (from Oravi village). The weather and wind conditions can turn quite hard pretty quickly so be prepared with latest weather forecasts. There are long open waters where wind can form quite big waves. On good windless weather it nice for even a less experienced paddler.
If interested in other national parks in Finland for paddling see my other blog post– it is a short introduction of the best parks to paddle.
I made a short trip to lake Kuolimo in July. Lake Kuolimo is in the south-eastern part of Finland, in the lake area and connected to lake Saimaa, Finland’s biggest lake. On the shore of lake Kuolimo is Savitaipale village which is a good place to start paddling and exploring the lake. There a list of destinations and camp sites on the pages of southern Carelia.
One interesting place just a short distance away from Savitaipale is Suomensalo island, which has fine long sandy beach and looked like a great terrain for camping. Known among paddlers Suomensalo in early July was empty, no boats or paddlers at all. I did just a day trip to the island with a canoe but hope someday to go back and go kayaking around lake Kuolimo for a few days.
A friend of mine asked what national park would be good for paddling. Good question, what would be the best and most suitable national park of Finland for paddling. When choosing one you should ask some questions from yourself first.
Are you going to paddle with a kayak or canoe?
How far from your home can you travel?
Are you familiar with streams and whitewater paddling at all?
How long a trip are you planning? How many kilometres a day are planning and are used to paddle?
Do you want to paddle a circle route, starting from and ending to same place?
Do you have your own kayaks/canoes or do you need to rent them?
Do you want to combine paddling and hiking?
Do you want to make day trips or are you going to go camping?
When are you planning to go?
Knowing answers to these I was ready to suggest some places I have visited myself. In fact there are a lot of places I would recommend. These are not listed in any particular order. Just two of them includes streams of some short, others are all on lake areas, big and small.
1. Päijänne national park
Suggested boat: Kayak
Location: In central Finland, 120 km from Jyväskylä, 160 from Helsinki
Experience needed: Moderate/good, have to be able to cope with strong headwind and big waves on open waters
Suggested stay: 3-5 days
Circle route: Can be done, one starting point Padasjoki village
Rental services: In Padasjoki
Paddling and hiking: 8 km long hiking trail on Kelvenne island (16 km back and forth)
Day trips: Can be done but it takes time to reach the park and the area is quite big
Best time to visit: June or August, July is the busiest time though probably the warmest
Location: In Eastern Finland, 190 km from Jyväskylä, 370 km from Helsinki
Experience needed: Moderate/good experience, have to be able to cope with strong headwind and big waves on open waters. I would not recommend it to inexperienced paddlers unless you really know the weather and wind forecasts.
Suggested stay: 4-7 days
Circle route: Can be done from Oravi or Rantasalmi
Rental services: Available at Oravi or Rantasalmi (Porosalmi)
Paddling and hiking: not really, a 7 km nature trail in Linnansaari island
Day trips: If only want to visit Linnansaari island
In southern Finland there is also Repovesi national park of which I have no paddling experience but seems to have nice and interesting waters. In parks Liesjärvi and Leivonmäki you can go for a couple days of paddling trip. In Isojärvi national park you can also paddle on 20 km long lake Isojärvi which has two camping sites on its shore.
If you are an experienced sea kayaker you can of course visit Finland’s national parks by the sea; Archipelago np (see seakayakingetc’s blog post on that), Botnia Bay np, Ekenäs Archipelago np and Gulf of Finland np.
These are the best national parks to paddle. Totally my own ranking. Combination of proven peace, good camping sites and protected nature is something that attracts me to visit these parks again and again.