Spanning approx. 105 square miles, Oulanka National Park is one of the most popular in Finland so I took the chance to explore further afield from Basecamp Oulanka and have a night even closer to the wilderness.
Driving to a spot further into the Oulanka National Park and leaving the car there for the night, we hiked towards the River Kitkajoki to find a viewpoint high up the side of the valley through which the rafts travel on their way to Russia along the ‘Pretty Route’ (see previous blog post as that’s not the correct name, just a shorter one for me to type!). The view we were aiming for would allow us to see the River meandering for some distance. It is also from there that some great photos have been taken of the morning mist engulfing the river and the trees below (hence the plan for camping overnight). I started to refer to it as ‘Middle Earth’ as it felt very Lord of the Rings…I do a poor impression of Treebeard but if you know the film you’ll know what i was trying to come out with 🙂
The route isn’t marked although there are ‘paths’ through, nothing that deliberate however or you can just head in your own direction across the springy undergrowth following the sound of the water. We did a mixture of both and soon found the view we were aiming for..
One of the things you can do in the National Parks are pick the berries and mushrooms. The mushroom season was in August so those we saw had ‘gone over’ but there were plenty of blueberries to eat as we walked along.
We also ventured down to the river…for some mad reason because that meant getting back up to the top after!
Unfortunately it ended up being a cloudy night so no sighting of the Northern Lights and no morning mist below but still great views and a worthwhile trip.
The next day Oulanka Canyon was on the agenda so off we went – it’s about half an hour drive from Basecamp Oulanka. This time there is a proper trail, again marked with green blobs on trees, which is a circular 6km long. Part of the trail is also the route of the Great Bear Trail.
The river at the bottom this time is the Oulankajoki which the joins with somewhere toward the Russian border.
Now maybe it’s me but ‘Canyon’ created some expectation of a deep and rocky expanse and I couldn’t help but think ‘that’s more of a gorge’ although it was also less rocky than I would even think of a gorge as being. I’ll leave you to decide…
In May when the rivers in the area are at their peak then it may be more impressive, and noisy, a sight but it was still a scenic and good healthy walk though as the trail passes through forest and alongside lakes as well as the canyon itself 🙂