KoiHu Adventures: Discover the top paddling destinations in Finland’s Lakeland
By Ndéla Faye
Whether you are looking for a chilled-out canoeing holiday or an adrenaline-fuelled trip down white-water rapids, Finland’s North Karelia has got your back. Here are four service providers offering the best of the region’s stunning scenery, culture, nature and famous hospitality.
Located in eastern Finland, North Karelia is well-known for its national parks and beautiful untouched forests and wilderness. North Karelia is home to some of Europe’s oldest bedrock, and the impressive Koli hills are a must-see when visiting the region. This area, part of what is known as the Finnish Lakeland, is home to over 2200 lakes.
The Karelia region has a longstanding tradition of storytelling and singing, and some of the stories featured in Finland’s national epic, the Kalevala, were collected from the province. North Karelia also has its own distinct cuisine. The region is within easy reach from the capital Helsinki, and the area is known for its unique culture and warm hospitality.
Enjoy tranquillity and beautiful nature
Located in Ilomantsi, KoiHu Adventures offers guided and self-guided adventures on canoes and kayaks. Guests can choose one-day paddling adventures or longer overnight trips. “The stunning and peaceful Koitajoki river area, along with its many bog-lands, and the lake Koitere, surrounded by hundreds of uninhabited islands and untouched wilderness, are fantastic places to get a sense of the region’s beauty. The river is very calm and relaxing, which means that the waters are suitable even for beginners,” says KoiHu Adventures’ owner, Päivi Lehtinen.
In addition, visitors also have the option to paddle from Petkeljärvi National Park to Patvinsuo National Park. The rivers and lakes are right next to hiking routes, giving visitors the option to combine paddling and hiking. “We provide visitors with continuous support throughout their hiking trip, as well as all the equipment they need. For self-guided tours, we give visitors a map and detailed instructions, and arrange transportation to and from their destination,” Lehtinen says.
Facebook: KoiHu Adventures
Canoeing and kayaking in crystal-clear waters
Located in Kitee, North Karelia, Lakeland Karelia organises guided paddling adventures for visitors on two lakes: Pyhäjärvi and Puruvesi. The tours are suitable for all experience levels and visitors keen to experience something slightly less con ventional can try rowing a huge traditional church boat, among other activities.
“Puruvesi is one of the clearest lakes in Finland. In the middle of the deep lake lies a miracle: a fine, sandy shelf that is exposed above the water’s surface when the water is low. It’s a very special place to visit, and standing in the middle of a lake is a one-of-a-kind experience,” says Taina Arvekari, owner of Lakeland Karelia.
There are several atmospheric island destinations on lake Puruvesi, where paddling visitors can stay overnight, and Lakeland Karelia has lakeside cabin ac commodation available.
Facebook: Lakeland Karelia
Koli National Park and packraft island-hopping
Clear waters, quiet sandy beaches, un touched forests and numerous campfire spots: these are some of the things that the 22-kilometre stretch of islands in Koli National Park has to offer.
Situated near the national park, Seikkailuyhtiö Vaara provides paddling ad ventures with views over the impressive forested hills of Koli and the beautiful scenery of lake Pielinen. From the top of Koli, visitors can take in the beautiful panorama, which thousands of people come to photograph each year.
Seikkailuyhtiö Vaara’s tours enable guests to paddle in that landscape, and island hop between the numerous islands on Pielinen. A true Koli expert, guide Jari takes visitors to his favourite islands in the region using packrafts, which are easy to use and suitable for less experienced paddlers. “Island-hopping and stopping to explore the various islands is a unique experience and a wonderful way to make the most out of North Karelia’s Lakeland and scenery,” says Seikkailuyhtiö Vaara’s owner, Katariina Rantalaiho.
Facebook: Seikkailuyhtiö Vaara
Adrenaline-fuelled canoe and kayak adventures
Erästely brings visitors on unforgettable adventures along the river Jongunjoki, which boasts some of the best paddling routes in Finland. Amidst stunning scenery and the beautiful wilderness of Eastern Finland, the river flows through the region of Kuhmo and Lieksa in North Karelia.
Paddling here is ideal for the more ad venturous traveller. A large part of the route is white water paddling and, with 40 rapids, three of which are challenging, especially during the spring floods, there are plenty of adrenaline-fuelled challenges to take on.
“Overnight camping is an option and there are numerous lean-to shelters and huts in the region available to visitors who want to have a longer adventure. There are sev eral starting and ending points for a pad dling trip on the Jongunjoki, and we are happy to help plan a suitable trip, what ever our guests’ wishes might be,” says Erästely owner, Tappi Kiiskinen.
Facebook: Erästely Canoe & Outdoors
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