Hei Finland! If there’s one country that took my breath away this year, it would have to be Finland. Suffice it to say that my visit to Finland was one of the best trips I have experienced this year – quite a statement given I have stepped foot on all continents and visited 50 countries! I know what you’re thinking — it must have been good. Indeed it was!
But what was it about Finland that captured my attention – heart and soul, eyes and taste buds, thoughts and feelings…. in other words, what didn’t capture my attention in Finland!?
Unforgettable, to say the very least.
Exploring Oulanka National Park
Coming into my trip to Finland, I really had very little idea of what to expect. Sure, I was expecting to see reindeer, snow and a tree or two… but I certainly wasn’t expecting to come up close and personal with reindeer, see enough snow to make a snowman in October (Autumn), or hike some of the most stunning trails in the country.
That’s where Oulanka National Park comes in.
If you find yourself in this part of Finland (easiest reference: ‘the middle’ of Finland), you simply must visit Oulanka National Park. The Park is home to stunning natural scenery, fast-flowing rapids, foggy forrest, and if you’re lucky enough you may even spot a bear on the trail.
But we weren’t here just to observe nature.
Instead, we wanted to be a part of it. My guide Susi decided the best way to do this would be to not only hike the trails on foot, but also canoe through the river heading toward the Russian border (of course not crossing it!).
Half way along the river we stopped for a well-deserved break to indulge in some hot chocolate and pastries before setting off again further down stream.
It was the perfect introduction to how the Finn’s live during summer – outdoors and at one with nature. Although it was a little chilly during Autumn, it was still an extraordinary day – one that I won’t be forgetting any time soon. If you want to enjoy the wilderness of Finland, I would suggest these activities are better suited for summer. But if you find yourself inside the park during winter, you will be delighted by the snowy winter wonderland that welcomes you and so many hikers each year. Indeed, the very next day I revisited the park for a longer hike and to my surprise the forrest was completely covered in snow – I’ll be sharing those photos tomorrow!