Finland: A kayaker’s (and photographer’s) paradise
Finland, the land of almost 200,000 lakes and rivers, is the perfect location for any paddling adventure, be it kayaking, canoeing or rowing. In my opinion, there is nothing better than ending a long day of paddling with a hearty meal at the camp, relaxing under the midnight sun and taking a refreshing dip in the lake.
Even though I am Finnish myself, the beautifully wild landscapes of this country keep surprising me year after year. While we don’t have any epic mountain scenery, our tranquil lakes, untouched forests, and ancient glacial landforms will leave their mark on anyone that appreciates nature. In addition to hiking, my favourite way of exploring is by kayak. It allows you to see places that are not accessible by hiking and gives you more privacy – not that you would come across many people on the hiking trails either.
When going on a short adventure I usually head to Eastern Finland. It’s still rather quick to get to from where I live in the south compared to Lapland, but the scenery is more varied and wild than the rest of the country. Kolovesi National Park is my favourite – there are hardly any hiking trails there so most parts can only be explored via its waterways. There’s a small chance of seeing the endangered, and geographically isolated Saimaa ringed seal napping on a rock. On our last trip, while preparing a campfire dinner one evening we got to listen to a beaver family going about their life somewhere nearby.
In addition to being a kayaker’s paradise, Finland is also an ideal travel destination for budget adventurers. For a kayaking trip, your only expenses would be boat and equipment rental. National parks have special spots allocated as campgrounds that come with very basic facilities such as a drop toilet, a supply of firewood and a simple fire pit. For me, part of the fun is foraging food from the forest and making a simple but nice meal out of it. Kayaking makes it possible to take some heavier food stuffs with you that you wouldn’t carry in your backpack on a long hike. Therefore, I see these trips as a nearly luxurious way of venturing into nature.
I also enjoy going just for a leisurely paddle on any lake that might not even be in a national park. Spotting the cutest hideouts and secluded summer cabins on their private little islands is a great source of inspiration for me.
There are many companies that rent outdoor equipment such as kayaks and canoes in Finland, so it’s almost certain that you could explore the area you’re interested in. For this kind of trip, some kayak training is essential. You should be familiar with rescuing techniques, both self-rescue and helping others, when need be. The weather conditions are always unpredictable so a beginner should always be accompanied by a more experienced paddler, preferably a guide. All you need to pack is your regular hiking and camping gear, plus some extra warm clothes, as the nights can get chilly even in the summer. Don’t forget your sunglasses as the sun is up all night at the height of the summer!
Anna-Elina Lahti is a landscape, outdoor lifestyle and travel photographer based in Finland. Her greatest passion is to discover the raw beauty of our wild surroundings and share it with others. You can view her work at here and check her out in Instagram.