Estonia – it will surprise you

By Paul Pinkerton
Publish Date:
 

Estonia – it will surprise you

Paul Pinkerton
 
 
SHARE:


We are all used to four main seasons each year Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter but in Estonia’s Soomaa national park they get a fifth.

The Soomaa National Park in Estonia the unique bog area that has five seasons in a year it is claimed by the locals. Picture By: www.thetraveltrunk.net
Picture By: www.thetraveltrunk.net

This unique bog land park is subjected to a massive influx of water most years from the Sakala Upland as the melting water and snow run off fills this lowest point and where several rivers flow in the same location. Water level can rise as much as a metre a day for sometimes several days in a row and where at times large stacks of firewood or small buildings have floated off.

Situated in the south west of the country around 25 kilometres from the seaside town of Parnu, the Soomaa National Park is the largest intact raised peat bog system in Europe.  Soomaa means ‘swampland’. Frozen pretty well solid in winter but its then ideal for snowshoe and sledge tours or with larger snowfalls, cross-country skiing too.

The Soomaa National Park in Estonia the unique bog area that has five seasons in a year it is claimed by the locals. Picture By: www.thetraveltrunk.net
The Soomaa National Park in Estonia the unique bog area.  Picture By: www.thetraveltrunk.net

When that snow and ice melts, this is then the fifth or ‘high water season’. The time then for the canoe trips take over and offer a wonderful way of exploring this natural wonderland of rivers, streams and its deep clear water ponds that form in the ever growing raised peat bogs within the park.

With much of the park under water slowly gliding through the forests a great time to spot animals and birds that would otherwise hide from humans when they are walking around rather than paddling.  The canoeing season generally lasts from April to October.

In spring and summer as the water recedes hiking trails on the wooden walkways provide a sustainable access for visitors.  Allowing them to get close up with the unique plants that grow, if rather slowly, in this often nutrient starved ground. Slow growing pines provide the tallest plants with many ground hugging and stunted botanical species covering the fragile surface of the bog.

Slow growing pines. The Soomaa National Park in Estonia the unique bog area that has five seasons in a year it is claimed by the locals. Picture By: www.thetraveltrunk.net
Slow growing pines. The Soomaa National Park in Estonia. Picture By: www.thetraveltrunk.net

The larger mammal life in the park includes many that are hardly seen that much across Europe, such as Beaver, Lynx, Wolf, and Brown Bear.  Roe Deer, Elk and Wild Boar are more common in the park. Its perfect too for birdlife with Golden Eagles, Merlin’s, Tundra or Whistling Swans Ptarmigan, Golden Plovers and Wimble’s all in good numbers there.

Taking the ‘Ingatsi Hiking’ trial over the Kuresoo bog takes around 3 hours the 4.5 kilometres route can be explored on your own but with local guides like Aivar Ruukel you will learn much more as he will point out important things that could be easily missed in this very different environment for the first time.

Canoe trip in the Soomaa National Park in Estonia the unique bog area that has five seasons in a year it is claimed by the locals. Picture By: Aivar Ruukel
Canoe trip in the Soomaa National Park in Estonia. Picture By: Aivar Ruukel

The look out tower on the route gives a great vantage point to view the bog area you will be hiking over in the next few hours. If he is not guiding visitors around the park then you could even take part in learning how to make a dugout canoe yet another of his skills.

Dugout canoe making. The Soomaa National Park in Estonia the unique bog area that has five seasons in a year it is claimed by the locals. Picture By: Aivar Ruukel
Picture By: Aivar Ruukel

This tradition of building dugouts has been passed down to him and to many others based in and around the park.  Also with experienced guides you may get the chance to be introduced to local foods produced in the area and a visit to nearby farm where sampling culinary specialities and relaxing after your walk is a must in the cosy wooden farmsteads.

Dugout canoe making in the Soomaa National Park in Estonia the unique bog area that has five seasons in a year it is claimed by the locals. Picture By: Aivar Ruukel
Dugout canoe making in the Soomaa National Park in Estonia. Picture By: Aivar Ruukel

To get to the Soomaa National Park from the capital Tallinn take the train to Tori and guides will collect you from the station but this has to be arranged in advance. Guided trips are possible every day of the year and start from €150 for two persons with collection in the village of Riisa or another nearby location of your choice.

Canoe trips in the Soomaa National Park in Estonia the unique bog area that has five seasons in a year it is claimed by the locals. Picture By: Aivar Ruukel
Canoe trips in the Soomaa National Park in Estonia .Picture By: Aivar Ruukel

There are around 12 hiking and study routes around the park varying from 800 metres in length up to a two-day 32-kilometre route including cultural visits as well.

A woman in typical costume in the Soomaa National Park near Parnu, Estonia. This bog and wetland area is a unique habitat. Picture By: www.thetraveltrunk.net
A woman in typical costume in the Soomaa National Park near Parnu, Estonia. This bog and wetland area is a unique habitat. Picture By: www.thetraveltrunk.net

www.soomaa.com and  www.visitestonia.com

Travel photographer, writer and blogger Geoff Moore has been a member of the British Guild of Travel Writers for 10 years and has travelled the world for over 30 years. You can follow his current whereabouts at www.thetraveltrunk.net

The park was created in 1993 in all it covers and area of 390 square kilometres. There are four main bogs all separated from each other by the six rivers that all flow into this one area and who all contribute to this amazing fifth season.

 

 

 

 

 
© Copyright 2015–2021 - Outdoor Revival