A kayak slides across a calm lake. The black-throated diver swimming in the open lake concludes that the approaching figure is harmless and makes no further move. The low sun is shining, glimmering on the surface of the water. Today, it will not set at all…
The canoeist is part of nature and sees things that remain unseen by others. A light kayak or canoe allows access to areas that are impossible to reach by any other means.
Canoeing also has a very meditative effect. This is probably due to the water element, which is very close, and the steady rhythm of paddling. Another important factor is the silence, which is only broken on the calm lake when the paddle slips below the water’s surface.
On the other hand, canoeing has a fierce and challenging side. Whitewater kayaking can get the measure of anyone. And when a wind picks up, a large lake can behave just like the sea.
Canoeing is a great form of exercise for anyone of almost any age. With a guide, even absolute beginners are quick to learn tricks. With the correct technique, paddling is performed with the movement of your whole body, not just your arms.
Helsinki, to the east of Vuosaari
Beautiful uninhabited islands, the feeling of the wilderness, the open sea looming in blue…
When canoeing in the Eastern Helsinki archipelago, it is difficult to believe that the centre of Helsinki is just ten kilometres away. There are very few capital cities in the world with such a natural paradise opening up right at the city gates.
Even for beginner canoeists, the archipelago is quite safe, but for the more demanding paddler, there is always the open sea.
Another great spot for canoeing, surprisingly similar to the wilderness, can be found close to Helsinki Airport. The Vantaa River offers beautiful scenery and excellent opportunities for safe and peaceful canoeing.
Savonlinna surroundings, Saimaa
A chubby, moustached figure lies on a rock. The large friendly eyes follow the kayak sliding by. A couple of water droplets fall from the ringed seal's whiskers...
Saimaa is the largest lake area in Europe, and it could almost have been created especially for canoeing. The stunningly beautiful water system offers large open lakes, and narrow straits and rambling labyrinths created by islands.
If the destination is Linnansaari or Kolovesi National Park, the paddler may encounter the endangered Saimaa ringed seal, which can only be spotted in Saimaa. Kolovesi also boasts one of the densest osprey populations in Finland.
Several flights per week from Helsinki Airport to Savonlinna - only 55 minutes.
The magnificent Kiutaköngäs, rapids that stretch for 100 metres, finally end in calm waters. The Oulankajoki flows on its way past golden sandy river beaches and green meadows…
The most famous trails in Finland, Karhunkierros and Pieni Karhunkierros, follow the shores of the Oulankajoki in Kuusamo. But you can also discover the beautiful wilderness from the water by kayak or canoe.
In Northern Lapland, one wonderful canoeing destination is the Ivalojoki, for example. There you can also delve into the history of gold digging; there are old machines used to dig for gold still left on the riverbanks in the wilderness.
Several flights from Helsinki Airport to Kuusamo (1 h 40 min) and to other airports in Lapland every week.
Equipment and guidance:
Eastern Helsinki archipelago: Vuosaari Paddling Centre, http://www.naturaviva.fi/en/paddling-center/
The Vantaa River: www.melontaranta.fi
Oulankajoki: www.ruka.fi (search word: canoeing)
Text: Matti Välimäki
Photo: Visit Finland