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Domestic travel, high on the agenda this year

August 14, 2013

Oh finally! Here I am and it is good to be back, the summer was far too good on my waist line. While I love being on holidays I am also looking forward to getting back to the more active routine that I keep when I am at work.

So – holidays! I promised to tell you about visiting Koli. We were there for a few hours on a fantastic, sunny day. I didn’t get to do nearly as much hiking as I would have liked (difficult with a little person who often begins to express dissatisfaction after the first kilometre or so of walking), but the day was nice and we saw a few things. The trip to eastern Finland was definitely worth it – and now that I know it is a relatively short drive from where the Mr.’s parents live (less than two hours), I have a feeling we’ll be going to check Koli a la winter some time in the future.

Koli National Park is one of the best known landscapes in all of Finland, its scenery is iconic and culturally important. It covers about 30 km sq. and was established in 1991. Koli has been the subject of many forms of art: poetry, visual art, photography and modern media and has been a place of pilgrimage for many Finnish authors and artists over the years. The landscape around Koli has been shaped by slash-and-burn agriculture for hundreds of years. The practice was ended in the 1930s, but revived again in the 1990s in order to maintain old traditions.

The region around Koli has dozens of kilometres of hiking trails that are suited for people of all skill levels. Ukko-Koli (the main hill) is also accessible for disabled patrons and parents pushing carriages and strollers (be sure to look for the signs). When arriving at Koli, you are not permitted to park your car within the vicinity of the main buildings. You must park and then walk up the stairs or take the fancy little Swiss-made mountain lift. The nature centre Ukko is excellent and gives a thorough overview of the geology, geography and ecology of the region.

We made a visit to the “Devil’s Church,” a 30m long Z-shaped crack in the rock a few kilometres drive from Koli proper. This is a place where (apparently) sacrifices were made to appease the gods of old. When we were on our way down the stairs (equipped with headlamps, just in case), a middle-aged woman wondered out loud if this was an appropriate place to take the Little Miss. (She obviously hadn’t seen the Little Miss monkeying on the ropes courses of Tykkimäki two days prior to that…). The Mr. kept a good eye on the Little Miss, she was fine and the headlamps were a smart choice, for the sake of seeing where you are putting your feet.

We also dropped in on Koli Harbour to take a peak. Koli Harbour is where the ferry to Lieksa leaves on a daily basis during the summer months. (We didn’t take it this time around.) Lake Pielinen is rather long, so it’s perfect for sailing, canoeing and a variety of other water craft.

If you like nature and the outdoors, Koli is the place to go. Area maps are widely available and well-done, be sure to get one if you’re ever in the area.

Warning: The highest points of Koli have no railings and no fences, so if you have small kids, I highly suggest that you keep an eye on them. When we were there a small kid in one family decided to jump from a higher place to one a little lower, not knowing that off the other side of that lower rock was a long drop (roll) down a steep slope. Her mother sternly dealt with her. I nearly had a heart attack… So – walking (and climbing and jumping) around Koli is at your own risk.

On the side: Koli was the main reason to head to eastern Finland this summer, but we also went to Tykkimäki (in Kouvola), checked out the Saimaa Canal and Salpa Asema, drove through Punkaharju (and missed out at a chance to visit Lusto, the Finnish Forest Museum), went and shot some rapids at Ruunaankoski in a wooden boat, drove around Lake Pielinen through Nurmes (nice town!), stopped at the Kivikeskus in Juuka and when we left Koli we drove via Outokumpu and dropped in to visit the Old Mine Museum (see the previous post on the funny sauna rocks). Our accommodation at Koli was a full-service cabin for a few nights, with access to a row boat and a place to swim. It was really great and we really enjoyed ourselves.

Not sure where we’re headed next when it comes time to book a summer holiday Finland, but I am scouting it out already!

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One Comment leave one →
  1. April 23, 2014 9:03 am

    I can’t believe I didn’t comment on this last year … domestic travel is always high on our agenda in summer 🙂

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