Tag Archives: eastern finland

Tour skating in Linnansaari national park

The tour skating track between Oravi and Porosalmi in Linnansaari national park is probably the longest maintained natural route in Finland. The route is about 18 km long so whether you leave from Oravi or Porosalmi and go to the other side of the lake and back you will skate good 36 kilometers.

The route goes through Linnansaari national park, where else can you skate in national park? Just wonderful. An unique place, absolutely.

The starting point in Porosalmi. You can rent skates, kicksparks, shoes and even helmets from the safari house on the shore.

Start at Porosalmi

A day ticket to the route.


At the start the route is quite a road, ice is well kept and smooth.

Wonderful ice way

You can have the first stop by the island of Pieni-Lappi (Little Lapland). There is a fire site and a nice bench by the route.

First stop at 4 km

The kickspark is ready to go on.

Kickspark ready

After 13 km we reached the hotspot of Sammakkoniemi on Linnansaari island, the most visited island of Linnansaari national park in summer also. I did not expect to see so many skaters, it was almost crowded at the fire site and at the cafe.

Sammakkoniemi rest stop

The tiny weekend cafe was full of people waiting for their lettu (thin pancakes) and coffee.

Cafe in Sammakkoniemi

Along the route were nice benches with blankets on them, nice! I guess because of Linnansaari Day tourist skaters were treated this luxury.

Blankets on the benches

After about 18 km and several stops we reached Oravi in the eastern shore of lake Haukivesi.

Turning point in Oravi

A part of the route has been opened just a few weeks ago.


Coming back from Oravi we enjoyed a moderate head wind. On the open lake, after 36 kilometers it felt like a real exercise.

Against the wind

These characters are watching you while you skate by. Made by Nature.

They're watching you

Kayaker’s paradise in summer, skater’s in winter.

Linnansaari national park

A video from the trip.


Kayaking and fauna in Linnansaari national park

Every kayaker knows how easy it is to get close to local animals while kayaking. In areas where you do not visit daily, it is great to observe not so familiar species or even make first encounters with some.

In this summer while kayaking in Linnansaari national park on lake Saimaa in Eastern Finland, I met variety of animals. The king of the water birds, the Black-throated Diver or Arctic Loon (Gavia Arctica), kuikka in Finnish, is a familiar sight on clear waters of Saimaa. At the beginning of August, some of them were already gathering in groups, preparing for migration. For those interested more in arctic loons, check the new, magnificient book with great photos “KUIKKA alkulintu” (in Finnish) by Mauri Leivo.


Another huge bird I observed from quite close while kayaking was an osprey (Pandion haliaetus), sääksi or kalasääski in Finnish. This one had built its nest on the top of a big rock in the middle of the lake and was observing passer-bys from afar while its baby was in the nest.

Osprey’s nest

While trying to avoid disturbing the osprey, 5o meters from osprey’s nest I observed first a beaver swimming by the shore and then its nest.

The highlight of these encounters still was when I saw a Saimaa Ringed Seal (Phoca hispida saimensis), saimaannorppa in Finnish, while kayaking one afternoon. I observed it for a while from my kayak. There are only under 300 individuals left, so it is among the most endagered species.

This individual carried a radiotransmitter on its back. At the local “Fish Day” at the village of Oravi, I met researchers from the University of Eastern Finland, who told that of their research and that 9 seals are “under surveillance” in the area.

This little radiotransmitter is used on baby seals.

Saimaa ringed seal tracker

The seal I met was an older one and was probably quite used to humans because it did not dive away but remained quite close to my kayak. I managed to get some video though I was pretty excited to spot it. Did not want to disturbe it more so I somewhat reluctantly kayaked away.

Shores of lake Haukivesi in July by kayaking

Arrived again in lake Haukivesi area, a part of lake Saimaa near Linnansaari national park. Though it has been quite wet and cold in the area, the first kayaking day of my stay was very nice and sunny.

The water level is exceptionally high this summer. Here are some pictures that show the situation the same time last year compared today.

Last year
Last year

Checked willow grass in the bay nearby to see if pikes were at home. None spotted.

Pike’s hiding places

Underwater video of the willow grass bay.

Koli national park photos

I have visited Koli national park in eastern Finland a few times. These photos are taken over the years. Most of them are taken from the spot that is the maybe one of the most popular in Koli and the view the most photographed landscape of Finland. Koli has inspired a lot of artists and photographers with its beautiful views over lake Pielinen.

Views to the north:

In June midday
In July at 9 pm
In July from the top of Mäkrä hill
In December afternoon
A view to Käränkävaara hill in December
Same view - another December
A few minutes later in December

Views to the east:

Matoset islands
In July at 9 pm
Nearby islands

Views to south-east:

Evening at 9 pm

Paddling in Linnansaari national park

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.

Linnansaari is a great place fo those who want to see protected Finnish lakeland area and explore it by a kayak. To enter the park, Oravi village is good starting point where you can rent a kayak or a canoe. From Oravi there is boat service in summer to Sammakkoniemi camping site in main island of Linnansaari. Linnansaari national park is part of lake Haukivesi which is part of greater Saimaa lake area. It means that you can start paddle south past town Savonlinna to lake Pihlajavesi, pass Puumala village and end up in town Lappeenranta in south-eastern Finland. To north you can reach town Kuopio or kayak to another national park, Kolovesi np. See my other post on Kolovesi.

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.

Best possible weather in Linnansaari national park in July
Oravi Outdoor Center - good place to rent a kayak and start your trip
Typical view when paddling in Linnansaari np
In July 2011 water level was quite low
Beautiful bays of Linnansaari islands
Water of lake Haukivesi is quite clear - helps you to see hiding underwater rocks
One of the sandy beaches that are not shown on maps
In July there's still long daylight - this is taken at 8 pm
Lots of cliffs on the shores..
Some are quit steep..
With a kayak you can get really close..
And see things from different perspective..
Nnature's own art..
Close-up of cliffs on the shore from a kayak - heather and lichen
Some sort of algae, Trentepohlia iolithus?
"I could not stop laughing"..
One of those of tens of islands in Linnansaari national park
Huge nest (of osprey I guess) on top of "Kermit"
This is where pike, perch and pike-perch hide
Perch is quite curious - they swim with you
Chanterelles for lunch
Organic superfood of Finland - blueberries
Some visit the park by rowing a so called "church boat" - takes 15 people
View towards a few kilometres of calm open waters of Peonselkä
There are nice routes between islands - this one Selkä-Anttonen and Väli-Anttonen islands
Leaving little islets behind near Vehkaset islands
Perfect day for kayaking again
Heavy rain, no wind - only one day of 14 it rained
Sunset at 10 pm in 29th of July
Just a moment before midnight
Really unbelievable luck with weather - thunderstorms passed by all the time

Paddling on lake Kuolimo

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.

Lake Kuolimo at night on the Lepänkanto shore
Clear water and sandy bottom of lake Kuolimo
Suomensalo island beach - no other visitors
Suomensalo island lean-to
Trail on Suomensalo island
Heather likes dry pine forests
There's a small pond called Salolampi on Suomensalo island
What's the story of this pine tree?
Suomensalo beach is very shallow and sandy
Another fire site on Suomensalo beach
Remains of ancient shoreline in protected area near Lepänkanto
Trail map of Savitaipale area - good starting point to paddling trips

Kayaking in Kolovesi national park

Probably the most well known and popular national park of Finland among kayakers is Kolovesi national park. About one third of visitors arrive at the park by kayak/canoe or boat, not by cars! If you are an experienced paddler one good place to start is Oravi village by lake Haukivesi (part of Saimaa) from where you can paddle either through Linnansaari national park along lake Haukivesi or shorter way through lake Joutenvesi (lots of protected islands). Either way is beautiful. There used to be a carry-over path from Joutenvesi (through lakes Ruunavesi and Vääräjärvi) to lake Käkövesi but last time I visited the route was blocked by private lot so you might have to use the northern access. From Oravi you can rent a kayak and shop last supplies.

If arriving with a car there are two points, Käkövesi beach (a few kilometers from the park) and Kirkkoranta beach (in the park), see the map.
No motor boats (except few locals) are allowed at the park which offers rare experience of silence in the popular lake area of Finland.

For camping there are several sites but quite few good spots per site so if you move with a bigger group it is not guaranteed that there’s room or even spots for everyone. I guess Syväniemi site is suitable, I have seen one big (loud) group staying there when passing by. Camping in the park is allowed only at these sites.

Be aware when paddling especially early in the mornings and late in the evenings, the park is inhabited by Saimaa ringed seal, see pdf, the most endangerad seal of the world. You might get a glimpse of it in the water or even lying on the rock by the shore.

Kolovesi has very rocky shores, not too many sandy beaches there. The lake area is quite narrow so it’s suitable also for canoeing. Here are some pictures of my trips to Kolovesi from previous years.

Beautiful shores of Kolovesi
Ukonvuori hill must be the most visited place in the park
By the shore of Ukonvuori you can climb the stairs to see rock paintings
Rock paintings at Ukonvuori - not very visible and clear but there they are at the middle
There's a path to the top of Ukonvuori hill
Paddling near Ukonvuori
Paddlers near Ukonvuori shore
Rock formation at Ukonlahti bay
View from Lapinniemi tent site in the evening at 8 pm
Shores near Joutenlahti, on the western side of Vaajasalo island
Lots of cliffs
Western entrance to Vaajasalo tent site
Good signs to campers - this one outdated by now
Vaajasalo tent site
Camper's friend - lizard
Because of uneven terrain there are decks for tents