Oulangan Taika: Plan a hiking trip in Finland’s magical national parks
By Molly McPharlin | Photos: Oulangan Taika
Visitors to Finland might assume that the best way to experience the majestic landscape is by skiing. But while hitting the slopes might be enjoyable, it doesn’t afford the deep, personal connection to nature that hiking does. Offering guided and independent hikes, the Finnish hiking-tour operator Oulangan Taika provides safe and simple access to Finland’s beautiful nature.
Oulangan Taika is owned by Tommi Kallberg, who has loved the outdoors since he was a young boy scout, and his wife Arja. The pair, experienced hikers who have trekked around the world in countries including Canada, Norway and Greenland, opened Oulangan Taika in their home country of Finland in 2022, to make hiking accessible for all.
The company focuses on renowned nature destinations in the North Ostrobothnia region, including Kallberg’s favourite route – the popular Karhunkierros, or ‘Bear’s Trail’: an 80-kilometre journey through Oulanka National Park. “Karhunkerrios shows walkers a variety of natural wonders – rivers, rapids, hills and canyons. It is known as a once-in-a-lifetime experience for hikers,” says Kallberg.
A hiking-friendly country
Kallberg thinks Finland is an ideal destination for hiking, for all levels of experience. Finnish national park routes are marked and easy to follow. Good infrastructure, such as fireplaces, firewood, wilderness huts and toilets, is in place at most rest-points. Cities and local communities also oversee well-maintained routes, and there are many accessible paths relatively close to city centres. “The network of hiking trails in Finland is vastly varied, so any visitor can find their dream location to explore,” assures Kallberg.
One of the goals of Oulangan Taika is to make hiking open to all. “Even those without previous experience or their own gear can enjoy hiking in Finland,” says Kallberg. As long as visitors have suitable footwear and proper clothing, Oulangan Taika can provide for most hiking needs.
The company organises one-day and multi-day trips in all seasons. For those who want more independence, supported self-guided hikes are available. For these, Oulangan Taika provides hiking gear, a comprehensive preparation package, a one-hour online orientation meeting, and support before and during the hike via email or WhatsApp to answer any additional questions.
In summer 2023, the company plans to offer canoeing, kayaking and fishing experiences, as well as hikes. In the winter, it aims to expand its range of hiking destinations to include northern Finland. By cooperating with local providers, Kallberg says they are designing a trip that shows visitors the hidden gems of the region that tourists otherwise rarely see.
Committed to sustainability
Oulangan Taika’s guiding principle is sustainability and preserving nature. The company follows the seven principles of Leave No Trace, an organisation that educates people on the most effective and least resource-intensive solutions to land protection. These include guidelines on proper waste disposal, leaving what you find and respecting nature.
The company is also a participant in the Parks & Wildlife Finland programme, which advises visitors on outdoor etiquette, such as camping only where it’s permitted, and following marked pathways. “Sustainability is one reason why we only explore nature by hiking, biking, snowshoeing or canoeing. We know we need to preserve nature for future generations,” says Kallberg.
A magical experience
Oulangan Taika attracts clients from all over Europe. “Visitors are always enchanted with the peace and quiet they find in our region,” says Kallberg. “They love breathing the pure air and drinking clean water straight from the source. In the national parks where we hike – in Oulanka, Salla or Riistitunturi – these experiences are a given.”
Hiking, whether on a long or short trek, is both relaxing and energising. This sense of wellbeing in Finland’s harmonious and serene nature led to the company’s name. “Oulanka National Park has been voted one of the most magical national parks in Europe. The word ‘taika’ means magic in Finnish. That is the story behind our name. We hope everyone can come and experience the magic of this region and its environment,” Kallberg concludes.
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