kayaking in kolovesi national park, finland
Once a year, me and a dear friend of mine grab our gear and head to some part of Finland to kayak. A couple of years ago the location we chose was Kolovesi national park in the lake district of Finland, a small but extremely beautiful park. We were very lucky with the timing – we went there in May, just a week before the kayaking season started; we were also lucky with the weather, so we got to kayak in sunshine for a week, without seeing any other people.
What we did see and hear were birds, lots of them! We also got to meet the endangered Saimaa ringed seal (Pusa hispida saimensis) when one suddenly showed up in front of us. It wasn’t shy at all, and swam next to our kayaks for a while. It was a great and unique moment! The seals are one of 3 species of fresh water seals, and they got trapped in the lake as the land rose after the last ice age. There are only about 260 individuals left.
Although we try to go to different parts of the country every year, Kolovesi is certainly one we’ll go back to. But before then, let me share some pictures from that first trip there – I hope I’ll manage to share the tranquillity and relaxation we experienced!
The evening of the first day of kayaking was absolutely stunning. We got a tiny bit of rain during the day, which didn’t bother us, and it was certainly worth the evening show of a double rainbow, golden veils of rain and a colourful sunset.
We had the trip’s first dinner with this as our view. I have to say, it was one of the best dinners ever.
The park has specific places where people can put up their tents and make a fire. Often, there are also piers that are perfect for kayakers – and since we probably were some of the first people in the park that year, everything was very undisturbed, calm and clean. Here, you can see my kayak resting on the pier – our tent was in the forest to the right of it. Every night, we had beautiful sunsets and every morning we woke up as the sun touched our faces. We swam at least twice a day.
We’re not the kind of kayakers who aim to get as far as possible on our trips – we much prefer to focus on an area and enjoy it as much as possible. We looked for insects, listened to birds, swam and mostly just kayaked silently through the landscape. I know a friend is of the best kind when we can both enjoy the silence together.
This boat house was standing with its toes in the water when we kayaked past it… The colours of the young birch leaves and the faded reds and grays of the boat house, in combination with the beautiful reflection in the still water summarised the feeling of the trip for me: silent and fragrant evenings and brilliant summer days.
One of the last evenings we spent in a ready-made camp with a sauna. It was after a very windy day so we really needed the relaxing heat of the sauna in combination with the cold lake water. Afterwards, we sat around a fire, writing poems, making food and we also did the occasional fishing. We had no luck, but that wasn’t the point – watching the sun set and colour the trees with its last rays while listening to birds singing was the point. And it was perfect.