After months of planning, organizing, dreaming about the Finnish wilderness and watching hundreds of pictures from different canoeing trips, the equipment was finally completed at it was time to leave to Finland. Into the wild :)I wish I had more time and more extensive budget for this trip but it was just about enough to have a great adventure in Finland. Middle of June is a perfect time to visit Saimaa Lake. The whether is relatively good and there are not many tourists around. In 6 days we have encountered only 2 groups of paddlers.
After flying with airberlin to Helsinki we took a bus to Mikkeli ( ca. 230km from Helsinki ) where we were picked up by Jari from wildcanoe (Canoe rental: www.wildcanoe.com). From Mikkeli we drove 25km to Anttola where the wildcanoe base camp is located. After a short visit in s Supermarket where we bought food for 7 days trip and short introduction at the wildcanoe base camp we were ready to start our trip. It was a moment we were awaiting so much ! We were finally paddling away from the shore !
Wildcanoe base camp in Anttola. Moments before starting the trip.
Paddling into the Finnish wilderness
Saimaa welcomed us with a beautiful sunset. Unfortunately we had this kind of weather for the first 2 days only. After that it was cold and rainy.
We started to paddle late in the evening (I think it was around 8pm) so we reached our first campsite in Korvensaari at about 11pm. It was middle of June so when we arrived it was still bright with full moon shining over the lake. After setting up the tent and having some warm food made over the fireplace in the shelter we went to the pier and enjoyed the view. Korvensaari was the best place we have stayed during our trip. It has a nice shelter with fireplace and a separate small wooden house with sauna. If you are lucky and there are no other visitors you will feel like being on a private island.
Korvensaari indicated on retkikartta.fi
View from the pier at Korvensaari at midnight
Next day the weather was still good and we headed towards the Hiidenlahti bay. This place was indicated on the map as a campsite with fireplace and we were planning to stay overnight here. From here you can climb to the s the Neitvuori mountain with an attitude 110m above the lake level.
From the top of the mountain one experiences a breathtaking view over the Luonteri archipelago. Unfortunately we didn’t climb to the mountain ( I regret now … ) and after a short break we left the campsite and headed south-east to the Rokkalahti bay where we set up our tent.
Rokkalahti indicated on retkikartta.fi
This unplanned wild stop turned out to be the most beautiful place we slept during our trip. It is totally wild with lots of trees growing on the rocky shore. Our tent had to be secured by tying to trees and big stones. There was not chance to put a tent peg into the ground. It was all rock … This was was also a place where I caught my first pike. It was beautiful sunset, shortly before midnight when I got him on the hook. It was not big but very, very tasty… There was thousands of Miskito here and I had to wear a moskito head net.
Setting-up a tent at Rokkalahti bay
I caught my first pike from this shore
Breakfast next day was tasty … Never had a pike for breakfast before …
Sunset at Rokkalahti bay. It was my personal highlight during the trip. It felt like time has stopped…
DAY 3 and 4
Next day we left Rokkalahti bay and headed south. After few hours of paddling and getting lost on our way we ended up again at Korvensaari.
It was not a bad choice because the weather was getting really bad and we needed a shelter and fireplace. Knowing that a heavy rain is coming we decided to put a tarp over the tent. It was the first time we were doing it and we didn’t have enough rope to do it properly .. but I think we did a good job anyway…
Next day it was raining almost the whole day and it was really cold. The temperature during the night was about 4 degrees Celsius. We spend the whole day in the shelter at the fire with some breaks for fishing in between. As always I went fishing after 11pm and I caught my second pike from the pier.
On day 5 the weather finally improved and we continued our trip heading south-east to Rupakko. On our map Rupakko was indicated as public campsite with fireplace an sauna. We were informed by the owners that this is not the case anymore … It is a private ground now where a cottage can be rent for 20 Eur per night which we did. For additional 10 EUR we could use the sauna. We enjoyed the sauna so much ! The lake was just 10m from the sauna so we jumped into into the lake couple of times small kids.
On day 6 it was time to head toward the base camp in Anttola. We did it in one go stopping only once to have some hot meal.
The adventure was over and it was time to meet civilization again…
We arrived to Anttola at about 6pm in the evening and spent the night at the wildcanoe base camp. There is a small barrack at the base camp with 8 beds where you can stay overnight before or after the trip. It is very simple but very practical for somebody who just came from the trip and all he needs is just a bed 🙂
We checked the bus timetable to Mikkeli in the evening and were planning to leave at 6 in the morning. The next day we were at around 5.40 at the bus stop. When the clocked showed 8:30 and there was still no bus it was obvious that there is something wrong… A man living in a house next to the bus stop, a retired coroner, informed us that today is a public holiday in Finland (Bad luck!) and there are no buses leaving to Mikkeli or anywhere else… He was so kind that he offered to bring us to the bus station in Mikkeli which is about 20km from Anttola.
During our drive to Mikkeli we had a nice chat and I asked him if he, as a retired coroner, had ever had a case where the death was caused by an animal. After a short pause he answered: Yes, it was when a horse bite his owner’s chest and the man died. Not a bear, not a wolverine, not a wolf … A horse !
Last stop before Anttola
Route map of our trip in Google Maps Engine