A day’s kayaking on Lake Saimaa
On the map Lake Saimaa looks a bit like the aftermath of some enormous explosion. It is hard to believe that this is Finland’s largest lake and the fourth largest natural freshwater lake in Europe.
Saimaa is made up of a number of stretches of open water linked by straits and dotted with islands. This is one of the things that makes Saimaa the perfect place for kayaking. The landscape is beautiful and often changing. In the shelter of the archipelago, waves are almost non-existent, making the kayaking routes suitable for experts as well as beginners and families too.
A national park of 130 islands
We head out for a day’s kayaking in the Linnansaari National Park, one of the number one spots for kayaking and sailing in Lake Saimaa. There are 130 islands covering more than a hectare in this area and 21 harbours for visitors. As far as kayaking is concerned, Linnansaari’s varied landscape is part of the attraction. Out in the open water you’re paddling across the waves but as soon as you steer your kayak into the lee of the islands, the paddling rhythm changes along with the scenery, with the water beneath as smooth as a mirror and sheer rock faces rising above you. And because there are plenty of places designed for taking a break, you can head for the shore whenever you like for coffee over an open fire or simply to climb to the top of the rocks and admire the view.
Service even in the wilderness
The Sammakkoniemi campsite is situated on the main island. The island is a nature reserve so there are very few buildings and those that do exist barely impinge on the natural surroundings. Nevertheless, the campsite has everything the traveller could need, in other words accommodation and a small shop, not to mention, seeing as this is Finland, the obligatory sauna. I recommend settling down around the shared campfire in the evening to listen to the kayaking tales of fellow travellers from all around the world. Someone might even have managed to see the world’s most threatened seal species, the Saimaa seal. Linnansaari is the best place in the world to spot one.
Trips for everyone
A wide range of guided tours to Linnansaari are provided, from a couple of kilometres of sightseeing lasting a few hours to kayaking trips lasting several days and taking in the other national parks in Lake Saimaa. The number of kilometres paddled naturally always depends on the people doing the paddling, although with the right technique kayaking doesn’t tire you out in the archipelago even when covering long distances. It’s quick to learn especially with an experienced guide paddling alongside.