Snowshoeing in Pallas-Yllästunturi National Park (Finland)

At the beginning of this year, we went for a winter hike in Pallas-Yllästunturi National Park in Finnish Lapland. We went there by car from the Rovaniemi area. Although we started a bit late in the day we still caught some nice hours, seeing the sun go down and even some northern lights!

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With the car on the way!

Surprisingly, we didn’t see any reindeer next to the road (except for one in captivity in Levi). It’s good that none went on the road, but I would have liked to see them from afar since everyone is talking about how they are everywhere in Lapland!

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At the visitor centre, we hired one pair of snowshoes (we had already brought another one) for 15 Euros (for the whole day). It was a nice place, you can also buy tea or souvenirs there and find out more about the national park.

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At first, we walked on the ‘regular’ snow, which was much harder than walking on the path, like we did later. Uphill was especially tough sometimes!

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There was a place with many huts that we came to at some point. It seemed very nice, also to stay in them in summer! I don’t think people stay there in winter, it’s way too cold!

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Then we came to Orava Ave (‘Squirrel Ave’) where those funny sculptures are placed. Unfortunately, it was too cold to get my fingers out to handle the camera properly, so I was just hoping for the best!

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Back to the (then closed) hotel and the visitor centre!

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On our way back we went to a viewpoint to take some photos of the aurora. We had read about how to take those pictures with long exposure settings and it really looked beautiful! But my toes were almost freezing off! (I’m glad they didn’t)

It was a great day and I think this National Park is a very beautiful and enjoyable place to visit any time of the year! I’m happy that I got to see it in a wonderful winter!

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Rovaniemi, Finland

Two days after visiting Oulu (see my last post) we went from the cottage (Mökki!) near Rovaniemi to see the city centre. There weren’t that many people because it was the first day of the year.

Before we went to the centre we went up Ounasvaara, where you can ski and do all kinds of sports. We went up to the hotel rooftop and saw some remains of the New Year’s Eve party that must have taken place there the night before!

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Then we went to the centre and took pictures. Not many shops were open and there were some groups of tourists. It was nice and not too cold to walk around. We also had some coffee in a coffee shop.

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It was -8 degrees to be exact!

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The german translation seems a bit funny, but we get what they mean!

 

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“Reindeer man’s road” hihi

 

Then we had some time left and went to see the Santa Claus Village. It was very touristic, but I it’s also nice for people who love Christmas and kids! It’s supposed to be open the whole year, so you can always have Christmas there. People go and take photos with Santa or buy gifts and souvenirs.

 

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We saw some animals, too, that was nice. Although I did feel a bit sorry for them!

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During my whole time in Lapland, I didn’t even see one reindeer in nature. And people say they are everywhere!

 

 

 

Oulu, Finland

This winter we went from Helsinki to (Finnish) Lapland via Oulu. This was the cheapest option: we took a plane from Helsinki to Oulu, then a bus to Rovaniemi. Both times, on the way there and back, we had some hours to see Oulu. The first time it was rainy (30th of Dec 2016) and the second time (4th of Jan) it was snowy and very cold!

I liked the town, even though the second time it was windy and freezing (in my home country temperatures hardly go below -10!). I found the statue of Toripolliisi funny and cute and took many pictures of it (or him).

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I think the sign says that postcards sent from the market hall next to Toripolliisi will have a stamp with him on it.

Here are some pictures of the market hall:

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We had some salmon soup in the market hall (twice, actually, because it was so good!) which included (delicious) bread and butter. The price was € 7,90. The only thing I didn’t like was that you had to pay a euro for going to the bathroom, even if you were a customer.

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Some more images from the area around Toripolliisi, there even was a skating rink on the market square. Some dangerously living person was biking on it.

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Statue in the centre

I would definitely go back to Oulu to see more of it and have more salmon soup!

 

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Once more Toripolliisi!

 

 

The Helsinki Island Series 3 – Pihlajasaari

This post is going to be about another island in the Helsinki area: Pihlajasaari. You can take a waterbus there and it has beautiful beaches. When we went there it was already too cold to go swimming, but it was very nice to have a picnic at the beach.

Unfortunately, the waterbus only operates in summer (timetable), now I guess you can only go there with your own boat (we don’t have one ;)). I am sorry that I am posting this too late in the year to still visit. But maybe someone wants to see it next summer or will just enjoy the beautiful views on the pictures here.

We went from the Ruoholahti stop. The waterbus ride is very short and costs € 7,50 for adults (with a return ticket), children and young adults under the age of 17 pay € 3,5.

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At the beach where we had our picnic

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Even if it looks warm, it wasn’t! We were wearing sweaters and didn’t sit too much in the open.

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The Restaurant

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A seemingly abandoned house

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Houses that looked private

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On the second island

The second island (also belongs to Pihlajasaari) has this small bay, a campsite, a nudist beach, and (according to a sign) a sauna. The sauna was a real surprise, the island being in Finland and all. 😉

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Part of the campsite

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The view next to the campsite

It is indeed a very nice island to go to! I recommend taking the waterbus in summer and packing some food and (if you’re lucky with the weather) your bathing clothes. Well, you wouldn’t need them on the nudist beach. 😉

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A tiny red house! Something you wouldn’t see in my home country!

Helsinki City Museum

This post is going to be (as the title suggests) about our visit to the re-opened Helsinki City Museum. It’s located in Aleksanterinkatu 16, very close to the main harbour and Helsinki Cathedral. This is their Official Website and the entrance is completely free, which is nice.

We went there in the middle of August. If you want to see the “Museum of Broken Relationships” that I will be talking about now, you should be quick because it is only open until the 11th of September.

The Museum of Broken Relationships is located on the top floor, and we started our tour there. People have brought objects (clothes, toys, cooking equipment,…) to the museum and shared a story with each piece. How the relationship started, what the displayed object meant to the couple and finally how the relationship ended. It was very interesting to see, but also gave you a feeling of melancholy. Some were funny, some were fierce. The descriptions are written in English, you could get a booklet with Finnish and Swedish descriptions.

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Next, we went to Helsinki Bites, where it was very cool to see the past of the city. There are also plenty of things to play with: you could sit in an old-fashioned living room or dress up as people from the last century. They made it interesting and also fun. If going with kids, they will also enjoy it. There are also plenty of maps, showing Helsinki now and then. Most of the descriptions are also offered in English, just the recordings you could listen to in the phone box were in Finnish.

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The next area (on the first and second floor, if I remember correctly) was the Children’s Town, made with a lot of love. Children were very much enjoying the old school classes, the toys to play with and a puppet theater. I suggest taking your children, nephews and nieces, small brothers and sisters there. We went without children, but still liked looking at the old school place and toys from past times. We were wondering what museums would put there hundreds of years from now. Maybe tablets and hoverboards!

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On the ground floor, at last, there was a photography exhibition, with a big photograph from Helsinki harbour in the beginning of the 20th century. There is also a small museum shop and a café (that is a wine bar in the evening!). Right at the entrance is the Time Machine, a place where you can use Oculus Glasses (Virtual Reality; in 3D) to see both the old and new Helsinki and have a direct comparison between them. It’s a new feeling with those glasses because it’s almost like you were really there!

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I really enjoyed my time there, the museum is made with love and you can see it. Also that it’s free of charge is a big plus and it teaches you a lot about the history of Helsinki.

 

 

The Helsinki Island Series 2 – Lauttasaari

My next island is Lauttasaari, an island with a name that wasn’t easy for me to spell in the beginning. It has gotten easier with learning Finnish a bit!

Lauttasaari (“Drumsö” in Swedish) is part of Helsinki and located about 5 km from the city centre. There was supposed to be a new metro station opening in August 2016, but it’s not finished yet. You can take buses from Kamppi (since 15th of August): 20X, 21BX and all the T-marked Espoo buses go through the island. They stopped some lines, though, because of the metro line that didn’t open in the end. From the beginning of next year – 2017- (the latest) you should be able to take the metro.

Lauttasaari has very nice beaches, walking and running routes. There is two beaches that we went to, one located at Merikylpylän puisto (Sjöbadsparken) or Kasinonranta, the other one is at Lauttasaaren Ulkoilupuisto (with a lot of small cottages).

My pictures are from Kasinonranta beach. There is a café (Facebook), toilets, a pirate ship for kids to play on and a lot of space to sit. There is also a volleyball and a basketball court. At places, it’s not nice to sit on the grass since the geese are everywhere. Last time I went to the beach there were also lots of Pokémon Go players! The café looks very inviting, we had brought ice cream from the supermarket, so we didn’t go.

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Walk to Lauttasaaren Ulkoipuisto

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Another tip in Lauttasaari for people that love thrift shops is the second-hand store in Gyldénintie (should be this one: Emmaus), it’s a bit hidden (behind the building) but it’s totally worth going to. I found very nice, inexpensive pieces. The staff is also friendly.

There is also a nice café in Heikkiläntie 10 (Makers Kahvila Facebook) that sells good coffee. They also sell bags (there is even a flea market once a month on the upper floor we’ve been told) and books.

On Lauttasaarentie 32 there is an interesting (and funny!) pub called Pikku Katti (Facebook). It’s small and there is a computer with a printer. You can sit outside (not that nice when we went there, because of construction – it will be next to the new metro station/mall). We tried to find out the origin of the name (“little cat”) but failed. Maybe someday we will know.

I’ve seen a woman carrying a Lauttasaari Fan bag in Kamppi, which I found funny and cute. It said “We love Lauttasaari” and is by Plume Story. Unfortunately, their web page (plumestory.fi) was offline when I tried to access it. (I will keep you updated on that matter)

Lauttasaari is definitely worth a visit (or two!)!

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Rainbow at Kasinonranta Beach

 

 

The Helsinki Island Series 1 – Suomenlinna & Vallisaari

I’m going to post about different islands around the Helsinki area. It’s one of the things I love about the city: that there so many islands to visit! Other things include the ocean in general, the flea markets, the amount of liquorice you can buy (not limited to Helsinki) and that there are weird things like a Pub tram (which I haven’t been in yet).

I’m going to start with the most obvious (and when we went there also the most touristic) one, Suomenlinna. Some of my photos are older, from when I visited the first time in 2015. The reason is that the second time (mid-July 2016) there were tons of tourists and it was nearly impossible to get a picture without any!

There is a  new ferry ticket that brings you to three islands for 7 Euros (3,5 for kids)offered by JT-Line. You can always go with the HSL ferry (using your HSL bus/metro card), which is the cheapest option. But to see Suomenlinna, Vallisaari & Kuninkaansaari and Lonna you need the JT-Line ticket. The first time I went to see Suomenlinna we took the regular HSL ferry, the second time we went with JT-Line. Both start from Helsinki city market. We had to wait in line for a bit to get on the ferry, but there we got nice seats then and when it’s leaving (and later when coming back again) you get a nice view of Helsinki.

The ferry took us to Vallisaari first (that’s the order if you want to do the Island hopping: Vallisaari – Suomenlinna – Lonna), it takes about 25 minutes and there we got off the boat to walk around a little. We decided not to go to Lonna because we wanted to go to a public sauna afterwards. I think Lonna would be nice to have lunch/dinner at, though.

All of the islands are former military islands and there are signs where you can read about history. We went to a small lake in the middle of the island, where  bats should roam often (we didn’t see any, but it was in the middle of the day, so no surprise!). We read that you can’t swim in the lake because you could get hurt by wood and other things. Maybe they will clear it up some time.

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I really like the Nationalparks.fi page (maybe because I love those parks and get excited about them)  and there you can find useful information on Vallisaari. I know there is much more to see and maybe a day trip there would be a good idea some time to see it all!

From Vallisaari we went to Suomenlinna, we wanted to spend most of our time there and there was a long line to wait for the ferry, so we lined up to have more time in Suomenlinna. It was very quick to get there.

On Suomenlinna we walked around the main parts and took photos. I remember the masses of tourists,  but it’s one of the main tourist attractions so it wasn’t a surprise. (I prefer being in remote places, but beautiful places attract tons of people so I guess I have to live with it ;))

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Suomenlinna sign, obviously from 2015 (no tourists!)

I remember finding it funny that “Suomenlinna” means “Finnish castle” but the Swedish version is “Sveaborg” which means “Swedish castle” or “castle of mother Svea”. I guess everyone wants the island for themselves.

A couple got married in the church when we walked by and lots of people were having picnics. Many tourists went to see the shops. In the end, we took the HSL ferry back.

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Trash bin is flabbergasted

Some more pictures from 2015 (the weather also seemed to be much better):

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I have to say the island is very beautiful and enjoyed it both times (even with lots of tourists the second time). But I’d still suggest picking a day when there are fewer people. You can see its beauty without being distracted.

There is a café, some shops, museums and a lot of things to do. Taking a picnic is always a good idea (It’s true I think about food a lot).

P.S.: I just read that G.R.R. Martin wrote a story about Suomenlinna, which was published in 2007. (Link) It’s an inspiring island, I can see that.

Have a nice week!

Herajärvi Trail – Koli, Finland

Time of the trip: July 2016

Days: 2.5

Length: ca. 40 km (Northern Herajärvi Trail)

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Hello and welcome to my blog! This is going to be my first entry and it’s about my hike at the Northern Herajärvi Trail with my boyfriend in July 2016. I saw that there wasn’t many blog posts and reviews of the trail in English (although I did find a few good ones), so I decided to make my own one. If you have any questions, please ask me in the comments. I speak English, French and German and am happy to answer your questions!

The text has gotten a bit long,  I tried to mark the important parts, so you can skim it for information on the places you’d like to know more about. At the end, I’ve included useful links.

Map


What I liked about the hike

  • it’s challenging
  • it has very nice hiking areas
  • …and views!
  • the campsites with good facilities
  • the weather!
  • it’s definitely not boring
  • it’s very easy to find your way with the blue marks on trees etc.

 

What I didn’t like

  • That there aren’t many water spots (wells) and you have to plan your water consumption

BEFORE THE TRIP

We both had never been on a hiking/camping trip before. We’ve been on hiking trips and on camping trips, but never the two of them combined. I have been on something that combined both things in a way, but the difference was that we had our tents and other equipment in a van and only did day-trips when hiking.

On this trip, we would be carrying our equipment on our backs. We read a bit online about what to pack and went to two hiking stores in the centre of Helsinki before the trip. We decided to do the 40 km hike in three days. We packed more food than we needed in case we’d be much slower and it would end up being 4-5 instead of 3 days. We read that it could be very exhausting at times and, even with being relatively sporty, we didn’t exercise much the weeks before doing the trail. So we decided to be careful with choosing how much food we would bring. I’ve included our packing list at the end of this blog entry.


 

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ARRIVAL DAY

We arrived on Tuesday night by car at UKKO-KOLI, where the visitor centre was already closed (it was already almost 10 pm), so we decided to camp at the closest campsite and go there in the morning, we needed a map and information about the trail. The visitor centre is called Koli Nature Centre Ukko and located right at where we wanted to start our hike. There is also a coffee shop, a hotel and a small shop. After deciding to spend the night, we went up to see the view from the Ukko-Koli and take some nice pictures in the evening light.

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We had found a smaller map on the Internet of the area and saw the campsite named ‘TURULA’ close by. We went back to the car (it was parked right where the elevator takes you up to the visitor centre) to get the stuff for the overnight stay at Turula. The elevator had stopped working after we went up the first time (its timetable said it would work until 10 pm), so we got a first impression how it would be to carry our backpacks on the trail by walking up the stairs next to the elevator. The backpacks were just a bit lighter then than they would be on the actual trail since we didn’t bring all of our food and just enough water to last overnight and for morning coffee.

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If I remember correctly Turula was 1.7 km from the visitor’s centre and it took us 20 minutes to walk there, mostly downhill. We missed one sign because of the approaching night and at times felt like we were nowhere. But nights are still pretty bright in Finland (in comparison) and it had only gotten a bit darker by the time we arrived at the campsite. The campsite was very nice, it had dry toilets, a fireplace and a well (water spot) located close by at some farm houses. We sat with some other campers and talked about our upcoming trips. We were the only ones that would do the Northern Herajärven Kierros (Northern Herajärvi Trail), another group was going to a cottage on the trail and two girls were going by canoe down the Pielinen Lake.

Later I was walking alone to go the well to brush my teeth and I couldn’t find it a first, then stumbled upon a fence in front of a meadow with cows! But I guess that was only because I was very tired and not looking properly. The well is not at the house that’s right by the campsite (as I had assumed) but a bit further away, after walking a few hundred meters on a path.


DAY 1

We both hadn’t slept well the first night because of a guy that was snoring very loudly. On a campsite, you tend to hear everything that’s going on outside your tent. So we decided to take the first morning slow and start hiking when we’d feel like it.

We had breakfast: bread with ham and cheese – which weren’t easy to bring on the trail – and coffee. We just had instant coffee on the trail and it tasted like sugar. Instant coffee is a great thing for trips like these, but can’t they make a version of it that tastes less like sugar?

We packed up our tent and our belongings, marched back to the visitor centre (uphill this time!), where we arrived with red faces and covered in sweat. We joked later that the employee of the visitor centre might have thought: “These two will never make it through the trail!”

At the visitor centre, we bought a map in a plastic folder. The employee told us that the water point close to Ryläys was out of order, which meant a longer stretch without water was ahead of us once we would reach that area.

Then we got the rest of the food from the parking space (we arranged everything on an old blanket and talked about what to take and what to leave) and took the elevator up again. I was very excited about leaving civilisation soon!

First, we sat down in the coffee shop next to the visitor centre, had coffee and planned our route. I have to say we didn’t put a lot of time into planning the trip before we came to Koli. We had checked out the length of the hike (35-40 km seemed fine) and the things we would need (tent, mattresses, food, cups, medicine, band-aids, etc., see above). Where exactly we would hike was planned in the coffee shop and often also on the route.

We decided to try to get to Kiviniemi campsite by nighttime. Kiviniemi was far (about 18.5 km if we would only stay on the trail), but it had running water at the nearby Kiviniemi Adventure Centre, a sauna and a fireplace at the lake! If we couldn’t make it we could always camp on the way, since this part of the trail didn’t go through the National Park. You aren’t allowed to put up a tent in areas that are not assigned to be campsites inside the National Park area.

Since we had seen the view from Ukko-Koli the night before, we chose to walk the other way around AKKA-KOLI and PAHA-KOLI to see something new. We walked up Paha-Koli without our backpacks and got a nice view. My boyfriend told me that the name meant “Evil Koli” or “Bad Koli” and I was sure it was because it was hard to get up there!

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The backpacks, filled with food, clothes and ponderous camping equipment were already really heavy, but both of us (me not being a very strong girl) were able to lift and carry them.

It was about 1.6 km to get to the first stop on the map (Mäkranaho) and our first real stop was in IKOLANAHO 1.3 km further, where we had a small break with muesli bars and refilled our water bottles at the well. Ikolanaho was a nice looking meadow with a red Scandinavian looking renting hut and a fireplace. There was also a dry toilet, a bit further away.

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Ikolanaho

A couple that we met there told us that it is very nice to swim in the water of the stream that we were about to cross next. It was the stream going from JERO LAKE to HERAJÄRVI LAKE. We walked there, not a very challenging part of the hike, but the path led us through nice forests. When we arrived at the stream we cooked our lunch (premade pasta Bolognese). It was a very beautiful spot and had a fireplace. We didn’t swim in the water, but we rested our feet in the cold stream. It was already past 1 pm and since we wanted to get to Kiviniemi by night, which was still about 14 km, we didn’t rest very long.

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Stream on the way

The path to Ryläys led us through forests and sometimes there were planks to walk on for a while.

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We arrived at RYLÄYS, looked around a bit: there is a hut for staying overnight, a fireplace and dry toilets. Then we walked to the boulder that was marked as a sight nearby. It wasn’t that special, 30 meters wide, a wall of stones. If one is interested in stones it’s a nice thing to walk to, if not it’s not so great.

We talked a bit about staying in Ryläys (there is a nice hut nevertheless) but the lack of water drove us to at least get to the next well (it was probably like 6 km from Ryläys). Otherwise, we would have had to save a lot of water and have no coffee or soup (no coffee!!).

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After Ryläys we walked further in the direction of Kiviniemi and got up a wooden tower that was also marked as a sight. We thought that the tower was once higher than the trees and that you then were able to see more of the lake. You could see far on the side not facing the lake, though. It is said that you can see Joensuu on good days (we couldn’t).

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Viewpoint close to Ryläys, blocked by trees

The way from Ryläys to Sammakkovaara (the next well) is nice and sometimes scenic. It goes up and down which we liked. It’s harder with the backpacks but not boring at least.

When we finally (it has been awaited for some time) arrived at the sign for the well of SAMMAKKOVAARA we were happy. It felt like a forever walk to the well (you had to pump water up, it wasn’t one with a bucket). There we sat down, drank and refilled our bottles. We did have some water left from before, but it’s always good to fill them up whenever you can. We talked about camping close to the well, but it was a too dark forest and we hadn’t met anyone after Ryläys, so it wasn’t the cosiest place on earth. The employee of the visitor centre had told us that we could camp everywhere, but we noticed that there wasn’t a lot of space where you actually could put a tent up on the way. Next to the well it would have been possible.

After Sammakkovaara we kept on talking about being ‘in the sauna by 10 pm’, which meant walking with a steady pace to Kiviniemi. The way there was challenging at times (through a swampy area, uphill) but also rewarding with the views on the last peak before Kiviniemi named KOLINVAARA. We didn’t make it to Kiviniemi by 10 pm, but we arrived at half past 10 at the campsite, after walking a (seemingly) long road and almost missing the sign. I have no idea if the paths really were as long as I remember them. We were very tired and the backpacks were heavy, you have to remember that! 😉

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A lonely shoe on Kolinvaara

KIVINIEMI campsite was amazing. The view of the lake so beautiful that I remember thinking that this was one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been to! There was a sauna, a few places to put up your tent, a fireplace and a woodshed. People were already cooking and heating up the sauna. They told us that there was a dry toilet close by a hut (to be used for free, both toilet and hut). We didn’t go to the Kiviniemi Adventure Centre that night, we decided to go there in the morning. We cooked our meals (I’ve never eaten better Pasta Carbonara!) and sat at the fireplace for a while.

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Kiviniemi Campsite with a delicious meal

Sauna wasn’t at 10 pm, but we went later and swam in the (cold) lake. It was great! The sauna is free to use.

We were very tired and a lot of body parts hurt, but we were happy to have arrived in Kiviniemi. It was about 20 km (we didn’t always stay on the path, went for sights and wells) and that was an achievement for us! We slept very well that night.


DAY 2

The next day we took it slow again (being tired from the long hike the day before), had coffee and oatmeal with cinnamon and sugar at the campsite, then went to the adventure centre, had more coffee there (there is a shop/café) and filled our water bottles. I tried to wash my clothes in the sink with some soap, but they didn’t really stop smelling! Then we had lunch at the other lakeside and continued our way to Lakkala, which would be our next stop.

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Made some friends at Kiviniemi Adventure Centre

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There was a ferry close to Kiviniemi on the way and you had to stand on it and pull yourself over the water with a rope (boyfriend luckily did most of the work). We laughed about reading on the internet that ‘the ferry was always on the wrong side’, it was true for us, too.

Then the way continued, very flat and sometimes a bit swampy. Next to a private area, after a small bridge, we sat and had protein bars. They didn’t taste good but gave us energy.

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On our way to Lakkala

LAKKALA, the next stop, was a very nice (and busy) campsite. We sat there (ate more) and took care of our aching feet. Cold water and gel plasters did miracles!

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View from Lakkala Campsite

Our next stop was SEPPÄLÄ, another well, to refill our water bottles once again. Seppälä is a bit off the path and next to a rental hut. We left our backpacks by the path. In Kiviniemi we had to repack because one of the backpacks was broken. So one person always carried a way heavier backpack than the other. It wasn’t the best thing to have (the broken backpack) but it worked in the end. The backpack held our food (in a big plastic bag) and sleeping mats, the other one held the rest.

We had decided to stay overnight in YLÄ-MURHI, because after that there wouldn’t be campsites for a longer time and we were back in the National Park area. It wasn’t far to get there: we rested on a nice flower meadow, walked over planks and enjoyed the hike. Ylä-Murhi was a big campsite including a (free) hut, a rental hut, a woodshed, a fireplace, a dry toilet and plenty of space to put up tents. There was only one other tent, though. We put up our tent close to the rental hut and decided to see Pirunkirkko.

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Way to Ylä-Murhi

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Ylä-Murhi

PIRUNKIRKKO means ‘devil’s church’ and is a cave. From Ylä-Murhi it’s about 1 km, mostly on a road. The sign at the entrance to the area told us it’s a cave shaped in the form of a Z and is over 30 meters long. We walked down the stairs to get there and looked at the entrance but didn’t go in. The entrance seemed very small and we were the only people there pretty late in the night, so we had no more information. Later we checked online that you can actually walk around in the cave and stand up straight after passing the small point. We would have gone in if we had known that. There is supposed to be a poem carved into the wall at some point and the name of the cave comes from the people’s belief that it’s the devil’s temple. After walking back we cooked and ate, just before it started to rain.

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The welcoming entrance of Pirunkirkko


DAY 3

After breakfast (the usual: oatmeal and coffee) we walked past PITKÄLAMPI, a small lake with brown water. We took some water for cleaning our dishes. It is said that you can drink the water from the lakes if you cook it. Since we still had some water left we decided not to drink the brown water. Pitkälampi is supposed to have a fireplace, but we didn’t go there. It stopped raining after some time.

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Pitkälampi

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Sad planks on the way to Jauholanvaara

Our next stop was JAUHOLANVAARA, which offered a very nice view over Herajärvi Lake. I picked some blueberries on the way, it had said on the signs and flyers that you can pick and eat them.

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Before HAVUKANAHO (another fireplace) the trail went up and down but only slightly. It was still exhausting for us, after two days of hiking and with saving water. The next well was either back in Ikolanaho (we would pass it on the way back again) or at the visitor centre at the end of our hike. At Havukanaho we had lunch, chatted with fellow hikers and then carried on. I was talking about the cake at the coffee shop in the visitor centre (I had smelled it when we had coffee at the start of the hike, but then I was too full to take some) but all in all, I enjoyed the hike a lot. The absence of internet, making (and carrying) your food and equipment, I loved it all.

The last part of the hike (after Havukanaho) was challenging for us, mostly because it was the third day already and we didn’t drink as much water as we wanted to drink. After the rain, there also were plenty of mosquitos and we – smelling of sweat – were a great target for them. There were nice views from MÄKRÄ and we took some breaks to take pictures.

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We decided to hike all the way back to Ukko-Koli and not walk to Ikolanaho, even though we would have enjoyed the water from the well. It was under 1 km there, but we said we would make it fast to Ukko-Koli. It certainly didn’t feel fast at all in the end! There were many day-hikers and awesome views.

We often stopped to take pictures (and to rest!). It went down and then up again and it felt as if Ukko-Koli was unreachable. But in the end, we reached the place, didn’t take many pictures since we already were there on the first night, and went to the Café to get cake and tea. The cake tasted great! It was a perfect ending to the trip.

I highly recommend doing this trail, we enjoyed it very much! It was hard at times, but so rewarding with its views. The only thing is that I would have wanted an extra hydration bladder, so we wouldn’t have had to save water on the way from Ylä-Murhi to Ukko-Koli (the berries only helped so much!).


WHAT WE HAD (AND CARRIED!)

Camping equipment

1 Tent

2 Backpacks, sleeping mats, sleeping bags

1 Rain cover for one of the backpacks

2 Fast-drying microfiber towels

 

Toiletries

1 Tube of sunscreen

2 Head nets against mosquitos

Muscle gel against pain

Vaseline for feet

1 Mosquito spray

1 Mosquito deodorant

1 Pack of bandages

1 Pack of gel plasters against blisters (very helpful!)

1 Pack of Band-Aids

1 Roll of tape

1 Bottle of antiseptic solution

1 Pack of disinfection wipes

1 Stick against itchiness of mosquito bites

1 Pack of painkillers

1 Pack of pills against bites of poisonous snakes

2 Deodorants (for each person one)

2 Small shampoos and 2 small conditioners (freebies!)

1 Toothpaste

2 Toothbrushes

1 Soap

2 Toilet paper rolls

 

Clothes

Me: One pair of hiking boots, a raincoat, one fleece hoodie, one pair of flip-flops, three pants and three shirts, socks etc.

Boyfriend: One pair of running shoes, a raincoat, one pair of rain pants, one hoodie, three pants and three shirts, socks etc.

 

Cooking equipment

1 Portable stove with 3 pans

2 Cups

2 Sporfs (spoon and fork hybrids)

1 Knife

2 Plastic plates

 

Food

6 Protein bars (we ate 4 of them, each day in the afternoon one, and one extra)

10 Muesli bars

4 Soups (in small packages, to just add water)

9 Packages of premade pasta (also add water)

About 50 pieces of crisp bread (knäckebröd)

4 Small salami sausages

1 Big salami sausage

Small packs of salt, pepper, sugar and cinnamon

About 8 one-portion bags of instant coffee

1 Pack of regular sausage and 1 pack of cheese (to be eaten on the first day, otherwise it would have gone bad)

500g of Oatmeal

Water bottles that held 5.5 litres altogether

 

Other Stuff

Compass

Map of the trail

Paper and small pencils

2 Books: “1984” and “The Word for World is Forest”

2 Cameras

2 Phones (most of the time switched off to save battery)

1 Sponge (very helpful for cleaning the pans)

1 Small pair of scissors

 

Things we wished we had on the trip but didn’t

  1. A bottle of hand sanitizer (would have been nicer than the wipes we had)
  2. Lighter equipment (we decided to not spend money on that)
  3. A tripod would have been nice, but also heavy to carry (the better camera alone was about 800g)
  4. A water bag or hydration bladder (I have always felt like I had to save water on the trip and I’ve seen a girl having one so I got really excited about them)

 

The website of Koli National Park is very helpful and I also recommend going to the visitor centre for up to date information on the trail. Booking rental huts can make it easier but the campsites are also very nice.

 

USEFUL LINKS

Trail description

General information on the trails

Important instructions and tips