We are back from over three weeks holiday in Lapland and East Finland. We circled around with our camper van and had great family time. We started our journey few days before mid summer weekend and drove north through the east border.
We had decided before the trip that we would travel without any timetable and go to see everything that looked interesting. One place we had always just looked on the map but never visited, because of the remote location, was Elimyssalo nature reserve. It’s located in the municipality of Kuhmo next to the Russian border. It is part of the Friendship park which co-operates with the park on the Russian side of the border. The main purpose of these Friendship parks is the protection of the wild forest reindeer and its habitats. It was hunted to extinction from Finland in early 1900 and Élimyssalo was the first place it returned in the 1950s from the population at Russian side. Now the wild forest reindeer is doing very well in the park and small population of it has also been planted back in few other of its original habitats in Finland. It’s hard to separate wild forest reindeer by looks from a normal reindeer but the forest reindeer is a bit bigger and got longer legs than the normal one.
The day we drove to Elimyssalo was sunny and warm. We only had planned to walk a little while but ended up making a 15 kilometers hike, as usual… And as usual we only took some light snacks with us since we were not planning to be there for long.. So typical for us and not the only time we did that in our holiday either!
Elimyssalo is a mix of wetlands and forest. It’s a good size area but not really big enough for wilderness area; nevertheless it still it has this very strong “wilderness like ” feel to it.
As I have written before our dog is really afraid of horse flies so having a break on a sunny place wasn’t an option and in the shadows the mosquitos attack. While walking the bugs didn’t bother at all but stopping was a different thing. So we had to walk about to the half way of our trip to the shore of a little lake where there was enough wind to keep most of the bugs away. It was also a really pretty site with a fireplace. When we left from that site we noticed that the path from this side was much more worn out that the one we walked, so apparently the southern side of the nature park is more popular than the northern side where we came from. And when we read more about the area we realized why. On the southern side there are also more paths but also two wilderness farms on one of which they keep sheep in the summer time. So maybe on our next visit we check that out too.
But we were really pleased with our choice of route; we didn’t meet any people, only the singing of the birds kept us company on our way. We didn’t see any wild forest reindeer this time but lots of signs that they lived there. Hair and footprints and faeces. We had seen this beautiful animal in the nature before on another place closer to our home where they have planted the forest reindeer in the 70s.
Elimyssalo also had a lot of other species that like living in the peace of the remote area, like the flying squirrel which is an endangered species. We also saw two beavers nests and they had made a lot of timber work in the area. On one wetland they had raised the water level so the duckboards where just above the surface of the wet swamp. We had to convince our dog that it was safe to walk on the floating and wiggling duckboard, but when I went before her she thought that if mom does it I can. It wasn’t easy to change our walking order on a narrow duckboard, since I had to pass our doggy and my husband. But I managed to do it without a swimming trip to the swamp.
I also saw for the first time an osprey fishing on the lake. We stopped for a long time to watch it working, even our dog calmed down to follow the flying of the osprey. Also different kinds of woodpeckers love that place, we saw lots of them flying in the old forests. They had made a lot of they funny art on the trees by hiding the pinecones for food supply.
I think this is a place I will visit again, I really liked it. It really didn’t have any main attraction in that side of the park but the peaceful and wilderness like atmosphere really got to me. We also had the perfect start to our holiday there!