Wild Taiga: Where untouched wilderness and authentic culture meet
By Ndéla Faye
Wild Taiga is an association of around 60 businesses located on Finland’s eastern border, in the Kainuu region. The Wild Taiga region is ideal for holiday-makers looking to embark on an adventure, and explore what the real Finnish wilderness has to offer.
In the heart of eastern Kainuu’s untouched forests, visitors get to experience Finland’s nature at its most authentic. “The area hasn’t been touched by mass-tourism, and our unspoiled nature is a breathtaking sight to see. We offer a range of activities; from some of the best hiking trails in the country, to various cultural events and seeing animals – bears, wolves, birds of prey and moose – in their natural habitat,” says Wild Taiga marketing representative, Kerttu Komulainen.
Wild Taiga operates in eastern Kainuu, in the areas of Suomussalmi and Kuhmo. The businesses operating under the Wild Taiga banner are mainly family-run, and showcase the local traditions, culture, knowledge and products.
The main attraction in the eastern Kainuu area is the unspoiled nature and the richness of the fauna. In addition, the region is steeped in history; from the Winter War to the spirit of the Kalevala, which is still tangible in the local celebrations and culture.
When it comes to the selection of accommodation in the region, visitors are spoilt for choice: there are luxurious spa hotels, cosy family-run B&Bs and hotels in the middle of the wilderness. Activities range from cross-country skiing hikes in the winter, to fishing, bear-spotting and rafting in the summer.
“Wild Taiga collates all the information about the region; its sights, products and services. The younger generations are taught to carry on the traditions and vibrant culture of the region. We are proud of the fact that there are no big-chain hotels to be found here. Our businesses want to offer visitors an authentic experience,” Komulainen says.
“Sustainable tourism is a matter of the heart for us”
In the heart of eastern Kainuu’s untouched forests, visitors can experience Finland’s nature at its most authentic. The region is well-known among wildlife photographers, and there are plenty of opportunities to catch a glimpse of Finland’s best-known big predators, such as wolves, wolverines, lynx and bears.
The fresh air and clear lakes can be admired in all their glory at the Hossa National Park, which is popular among campers and hikers. The National Park has 100 kilometres of marked trails, as well as 60 kilometres of canoeing trails. The park’s main attractions are Julma-Ölkky – Finland’s largest canyon lake – and the unique Hossa Värikallio rock paintings which are amongst the largest prehistoric rock paintings in Finland.
For the Wild Taiga region, sustainability and responsibility are paramount when it comes to tourism. From husky safaris to horse-riding tours, reindeer rides and camping, there are plenty of ecological travel experiences to choose from in the region. “In the Wild Taiga region, most of the tourism experiences are based on a combination of nature and culture. We feel it’s our duty to protect our rich fauna, and ensuring we provide tourism services in a responsible and sustainable way is a matter of the heart for us,” says Komulainen.
Being sustainable also means supporting local businesses and sourcing produce and products locally whenever possible. “Wild Taiga companies work in close cooperation with local and nearby operators. The restaurants and cafés in the area offer plenty of locally-produced cuisine, made from fresh, clean ingredients,” Komulainen says.
There are a number of unique restaurants and cafés; from lunch at a reindeer farm to dinner in a historic log cabin. “The restaurants serve fantastic food, sourced from the nearby forests and lakes. Berries, mushrooms, game and fish feature often on the menus,” she adds.
Dive into the region’s rich culture
For an experience that combines both music and culture, the Kuhmo Chamber Music Festival is a must-see in the summer. The festival has been organised annually in Kainuu since 1970, and it includes performances from professional musicians, as well as from promising young talent. The internationally-known festival draws in crowds from across the globe, and it has grown into one of the largest music festivals in Finland.
In addition, the region is culturally significant, home to the Songlands of the Kalevala – the Finnish national epic. Compiled of folk songs and stories from the Karelia region, visitors to the region can witness first-hand the places where the Karelian artists of the Kalevala found their inspiration. “Kuhmo brings the Kalevala to life, with history and modernity living side by side. Kuhmo is a UNESCO City of Literature because of the Kalevala,” Komulainen explains.
“Wild Taiga is for people who want to have an adventure, and enjoy an authentic experience of some of the best things Finland has to offer. We are very proud of the fact that the region is largely untouched by mass-tourism, and visitors get to enjoy the real history and stunning wilderness,” Komulainen concludes.
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