Imagine a dream where you’re standing in the middle of the woods with your eyes closed and your face toward the sky.
You feel the rays of sun kiss your cheeks, you dangle your feet into the crystal clear waters and you hear nothing but the sound of birds singing the wind brushing through the pine trees. You look to your left and find a family of reindeer eating fresh blueberries from the rich soils. You look to your right and you’re peering out onto a lake as clear as glass, watching the fishermen cast their rods into the waters. You take a deep breath, you open your eyes and realise it’s not a dream.
You’re surrounded by the beautiful nature of Hossa National Park in Finland.
While it is quite possible you’ll be able to stand there all day with your eyes closed, your toes in the water and the rays of sun kissing your cheeks, there are so many incredible ways to experience the Suomussalmi municipality, that you might want to jot down a few of these before you start the journey.
Here are 10 incredible ways to experience the Hossa Region in Finland.
Visit the Reindeer Farm
There’s no doubt you’ll see your fair share of reindeer along the main roads heading towards Hossa National Park, but if you want to get to know a few reindeer up close and personal, the Hossa Reindeer Farm is the perfect place to start. This is not a zoo for reindeer, but a home for the reindeer who have been abandoned or who have lost their family while predators like the bears and wolverines are on their hunt. At the Reindeer Farm, you’ll be able to snap candid shots of the reindeer, feed them and interact with them.
If you’re up for trying some delicious reindeer and potato soup at their traditional Finnish kitchen/tervetuloa, it is right next to the farm in a beautiful old red farmhouse.
Camping under the stars
If you’re already making a visit to the Hossa National Park, you can’t leave without spending a night out in the wild. There are many guided tours offering camping excursions which include your supplies, food and tents for the journey. We joined Tarmo from Hossa Travel for an incredible night under the stars in tree hung hammocks. You can also bring your own gear with you, camping in Hossa National Park is free of charge. There are public washrooms and rest areas which include pre-built campfires, shelters and wood stations where you can chop your own pine wood fresh for the fire. If you’re looking for a couple cabin rental options, check out our post on the coolest places to stay near Hossa National Park.
Saunayoga is a new Finnish favourite, similar to hot yoga, but with a unique Finland twist. Saunayoga consists of calm and peaceful yoga exercises which take place in a warm sauna (approx. 50 degrees Celsius). Whether you want to try it out on your own or join a class to get started, there are plenty of saunas in Hossa to wake up your body or calm you down after a long hike. JoogaTaival is the activity operator in Hossa we had an opportunity to meet up with, and our session was run by the lovely and talented Ms Saija Taivalmäki. In addition to Saunayoga, Saija also offers outdoor yoga classes and eco-mindfulness camps.
Picking herbs and berries
For such a simple act, it amazed me at how much value picking and catching my own meals added to my Finland experience. It is not only something fun to do when you’re hiking through Hossa National Park, but it is actually quite a common hobby for the locals around Suomassalmi. Around 60% of locals actually pick forest berries as a hobby. Why? Because it’s fun for the family, and local herbs, berries and mushrooms offer excellent health benefits. So inspired, I was able to put together a guide to eating your way through Hossa National Park, check it out and jot it down!
If you’re interested in learning a bit about the etiquette and tips to berry picking in Finland, be sure to visit the Arctic Flavours website.
Go Husky Trekking and visit the Husky Farm
Husky Trekking in the National Park isn’t just a walk in the woods, it’s an experience and an adventure. Husky Trekking takes stamina and balance, but it is also an extremely rewarding and incredible way to hike through the National Park. Norwide runs a home of 171 Huskies (as of July 2017) and well known for having quite a cuddly bunch of pups. You’ll have an opportunity to trek with the Huskies and then visit the rest of the litter when you return them back to their home at the end of the day.
Stop to check out the Silent People and grab a pancake lunch
If you’re making your way up to Hossa National Park from Kajaani Airport, you will certainly spot the 1,000 Silent People scattered through a field along the main road in Suomussalmi. Since 1994, Reijo Kela’s Silent People has been standing in this field, fully clothed and always dressed for the season. The Suomussalmi Youth Workshop cares for the Silent People, changing their clothing twice a year and ensuring their peat-heads are kept in good shape. No one really knows what the Silent People are supposed to represent, the artist has left that up to the visitors to interpret. Some passerby’s find the colours, the movement and life of the clothes blowing in the wind to be magical and rhythmic, I personally found it a little eerie to see thousands of wooden crosses scattered through a field, and brought to life with peat-heads and the clothing of the locals. Certainly cool, but also quite spooky.
If you’re making the stop in the summertime, you will have to try out the incredible pancake lunch cooked over a wood burning stove at The Field Café. Either the wonderful Ritva Huttunen or her staff will cook you up a delicious, crispy-edged pancake topped with raspberry jam and sugar or stuffed with tender reindeer meat and homemade creamy spread.
Fat Bike through the National Park
Biking is great, but Fat Biking is awesome. Fat Bikes are designed to tread through snow, weave around dirt corners and bike over rocky rubble in the wilderness. We had the opportunity to Fat Bike through the hills of Hossa National Park, and while it was just as much of an adrenaline rush as a typical mountain biking tour might be, the bikes also allowed us to move fast with more stability. That meant I didn’t have to worry about wiping out after a risky move or a tight corner.
Camping Hossan Lumo offers Fat Bike rentals so you can go out and explore the National Park in style.
SUP the Canyon Lake
Julma-Ölkky (also known as Canyon Lake) runs 50 metres deep into the dark waters and 50 metres high above the canyon. Julma-Ölkky is also one of Finland’s largest canyon lakes which is what makes it such a gem to visit in the Hossa National Park. So instead of just checking out Julma-Ölkky from a distance, why not dive in and SUP (stand-up paddle board) your way around the lake? Teija, owner at Lazy Dog SUP tours will give you a lesson on getting started and take you around the lake on paddle board. You’ll catch a glimpse at a smaller rock painting said to have been made from blood and red ochre about 4,000 years ago. You’ll also paddle board your way under the Canyon Lake’s suspension bridge swinging high up in the air. If you have some more energy after your beautiful SUP tour around the lake, hop off the board and enjoy a 5 or 10-kilometre hike high up on the rocks around Canyon Lake.
Take a canoe ride through the Lakes of Hossa National Park
The Hossa area is home to approximately 130 lakes and ponds, which means canoeing through Hossa National Park is just as much of an option as hiking is. We were lucky enough to be staying at Camping Hossan Lumo where we were able to rent a canoe for the day to go out and explore the nature. Of course, you always have the option to bring your own canoe with you and explore the lakes and rivers free of charge.
Fish for your dinner
Hossa National Park is a fisherman’s paradise. If you’re passionate about fishing, you’ll definitely have to get yourself a fishing licence (required by law) and spend a few days out on one of the 130 lakes and ponds around the area. There are designated lakes where you’ll have excellent luck at fly fishing too. Our fishing adventure with Tarmo, Founder and Tour Leader at Hossa Travel, was definitely one of the highlights of our trip. While sport fishing isn’t a top hobby of mine, Tarmo had taken us out to fish for our dinner. Until I had made the perfect catch of the evening, I hadn’t realized how rewarding it actually was to catch your own meal and cook it. Of course, we had a few cheats along the way, Tarmo provided all the fishing gear and the boat. He also brought the pike fish back home to smoke it up and prepare it for dinner. It was delicious and extremely satisfying after an afternoon fishing on the water.
There are plenty of incredible ways to experience Hossa National Park, now it’s up to you to build your itinerary. If you want a little more inspiration, you can find the coolest places to stay, the most beautiful hiking trails and tips and tricks to eating your way through the wilderness on our other blog posts about Wild Taiga.
Travel tip shared by Jenna for Travel Dudes.
The #VisitFinland trip was created and managed in association with Visit Finland, Wild Taiga and Hossa National Park. Travel Dudes maintains full editorial control of the content published on this site.