Day 1: Kuopio – Metsäkartano (130 km). Arrival at Kuopio airport where you will collect your hire car. If you arrive on an early flight you can visit the city of Kuopio which is full of life especially in summer. The city, in the center of the Savo region, is famous for its marketplace, harbor and cheerful people. At the market you can taste the local specialty, "kalakukko”, a Finnish fish pie. About 20 cruises depart daily from the harbour of Kuopio to lake Kallavesi. The symbol of the city is Puijo tower from where you can admire beautiful views over lake Kallavesi. For the first night you will drive to Metsäkartano mansion situated in a tranquil spot in the heart of nature. Dinner and possibility of a sauna.
Day 2: National Park. Today you can choose between two national parks that are both within easy reach of Metsäkartano. Tiilikkajärvi National Park offers quite easy routes, beautiful lakeside scenery and beaches. By contrast, the scenery at Hiidenportti National Park is quite rugged; trails include more hills and are a bit more demanding. The heart of Hiidenportti National Park is the majestic Hiidenportti Gorge with its vertical rock walls. Both national parks have some good hiking trails for a few hours’ day tour. Remember to carry the picnic lunch with you because there are no opportunities to purchase food in the parks. Dinner and accommodation at Metsäkartano Mansion.
Day 3: Metsäkartano – Kuhmo (105 km). It’s time to say goodbye to Metsäkartano and head via Nurmes in Karelia to the village of Kalevala, Kuhmo. In Nurmes you can visit the Karelian Bomba House and the Karelian village around it. Bomba House might be a good place to enjoy lunch as well. Midway, in the middle of the wild taiga, is a company organizing wildlife watching tours. During these tours you can observe some interesting native Finnish animals, such as wolverines and flying squirrels. You can participate in a safari, at an extra cost, but this must be booked before departure.
By the end of the day you’ll arrive at Kuhmo which is a small village where you can see the Finnish national epic Kalevala reflected in the architecture, events, research, museums and the food. You can learn more about Kalevala and Karelian culture at the Kalevala Information Center Juminkeko and at Kalevala Spirit Experience Park, close to your accommodation. If you visit Kuhmo during the last two weeks of July – you won’t be alone! At that time of year Kuhmo is full of guests enjoying the annual Chamber Music Festival which is famous and appreciated throughout the world.
Day 4: Kuhmo – Juntusranta (170 km). In the morning you will have the opportunity to visit Petola Visitor Centre which is an information center on Finland’s large carnivores – bear, wolf, lynx and wolverine. From Kuhmo the route goes toward north through some very sparsely populated areas following the Russian border. You’ll pass through the beautiful village of Lentiira and cross the road leading to Kostamus and to the international frontier crossing point of Vartius.
Some 25 km south of Suomussalmi is the historical area of Raate which was the stage of some heavy battles during the Second World War. In Raate it is possible to visit the Winter War exhibition and the Raate Frontier Guard Museum. Your accommodation for the next night will be in the tiny village of Juntusranta just beside the Russian border. Arola, Helena and Eero’s former dairy farm, is well-known for its delicious local food. The farm is surrounded by remote woodland inhabited by European brown bears. In the evening you can take part in a bear safari (extra charge) and observe these majestic animals from the purpose-built log cabins.
Day 5: Juntusranta - Kuusamo (135 km). Heading north again you will first arrive at Hossa which is a national hiking area known for its crystal-clear lakes and handsome pine heathland. The area offers great opportunities for hiking, canoeing and fishing. One good destination for a day hiking trip might be Värikalliot, the oldest rock paintings in northern Finland dating back some 4000 years. Hossa Visitor Center offers information on trails and there is also an exhibition on the area's history and present day.
In Hossa you can also visit a reindeer park and get to know the semi-wild animals inhabiting the northern area of Finland better. You can try your skills at lassoing reindeer or just pet and feed them. Your final destination today is Kuusamo, which is one of the most important tourist destinations in Finland thanks to its magnificent nature and the vast range of activities available throughout the year. Before settling down for the night at the cosy Ollila Holiday Cottages you could, for example, pop into the Tourist and Nature Center Karhuntassu and visit a nature photography center there.
Day 6: Kuusamo – Nature’s Own Amusement Park. This morning you don´t need to pack your luggage because you will stay another night at the same place. Today you can head to Oulanka National Park or to Ruka which is maybe the most popular skiing resort in Finland. The landscape of Oulanka National Park is made up of pine forests; river valleys with sandy banks and rapids; and, in the north, vast marshes. The area is rich in animal and plant species. Hikers can get a general picture of the park’s nature even on day trips. There are several routes available but one very nice (though very demanding) one is the Small Bear’s Trail starting from the village of Juuma. Departing from Oulanka Visitor center you can visit the Kiutaköngäs rapids which are some of the biggest rapids in Finland. Many safari companies organize river rafting in Oulanka National Park varying from easy family tours to speedy tours that will make your heart race!
At Ruka you can climb up to some of the hills and admire the beautiful views over forests and lakes. An easier way to get to the top is the Ruka Lookout Lift that takes you up to the hill. If you are brave enough, you can descend on a speedy summer sled! The safari companies of the area also offer many other activities, such as canoe trips, quad safaris, mountain biking and Nordic walking tours.
Day 7: Kuusamo - Rovaniemi (210 km). This will be your last and longest day of traveling, ending at Rovaniemi on the Arctic Circle. If you are still willing to do some hiking you can easily visit either Riisitunturi National Park or Korouoma Nature Reserve which both offer the opportunity of some nice day trips, though there are no circular routes available. Both destinations have their characteristics and especially the 30-km-long fracture valley in Korouoma is very special.
If you take the longer, southern route from Posio to Rovaniemi you will have a chance to visit a Wildlife Park situated in Ranua. There are about 50 species of arctic and northern wild animals at Ranua Zoo, including bears, the only polar bears in Finland, lynxes, wolves, wolverines, moose and many more. The city of Santa Claus, Rovaniemi, offers plenty to do. Santa Claus’ Village on the Arctic Circle takes you to the atmosphere of Christmas, even if it is summer. You can visit Santa Claus in his office, send a postcard from Santa Claus’ Post Office and visit a Christmas Exhibition presenting Christmas traditions around the world.
The Arktikum, a science center and museum, is also worth a visit. The exhibitions of the Arktikum lead you through the Arctic areas’ and Finnish Lapland’s history and modern day providing a unique insight into the way of life, culture and history of the North. For the last night of the tour you will stay at Ounasvaaran Pirtit, in a well-appointed cabin with a genuine Finnish sauna where you can refresh yourself after a week full of activities. Exceptionally the dinner is not included in the price today but there are several good restaurants to choose from in Rovaniemi.
Day 8: Departure. Rovaniemi airport approx. 7 km. Breakfast and drive to the airport of Rovaniemi where you will leave your hire car.
Price includes: accommodation, breakfast and dinner daily (except dinner on day 7), maps and route notes
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