Wild Taiga (Finland)
Kuhmo-Suomussalmi or Wild Taiga lies at Finland’s easternmost borderline, neighbouring Russia, in the Kainuu region. Its location in the westernmost part of the Eur-Asian Taiga forest area makes it an enchanting place featuring green coniferous forests, esker valleys formed in the ice age, clear waters and rich wild animal stock. This local landscape has been captured in many famous Finnish paintings.
Its location has also made the area a place of historically significant battle fields. The Finnish national epic Kalevala, compiled by Elias Lönnrot from ancient oral poetry, is the brightest gem of the unique cultural background and owes its existence to the folklore collected from the region, in particular from the Viena-Karelian oral tradition. Building on small family-owned enterprises, Wild Taiga is a marketing association promoting the local way of life of its people, its traditions and products as well as bringing nature closer to individuals.
Wildlife watching in Europe’s Green Belt
The vast nature reserves in the region, together with the protected areas in Russia, form a part of Europe’s Green Belt. This wilderness offers possibilities for wildlife watching and photographing and makes it one of the best areas in Europe for spotting wild brown bear, lynx and wolf. Two information centres are there to guide people through this wildlife – Petola and Hossa. Midnight sun (even) makes wildlife watching possible throughout the night.
There is an endless string of outdoor activities on offer, from horse-back riding and fishing to hiking and kayaking. Crispy autumn days are the season for mushroom and berry picking. And, for more challenging activities, the Hossa hiking area offers 100 km of marked trails along the Russian border.
This bordering region between Finland and Russia is a crossroads and a place of significant battlefields such as the Finnish Winter War in 1939-40. The war history is presented in large exhibitions at the Gateway to Raate and the Winter War Museum with pictures and restored trenches, fortifications and memorials.
The Kalevala spirit
The Kalevala Spirit Experience Park is a new attraction where visitors can acquaint themselves with Kalevala and its culture in many ways.
A rich cultural background accompanied with a special relationship with nature are key characteristics of the area. The Juminkeko Foundation, as well as several interesting events, demonstrate these characteristics and show how the epic Kalevala has been kept alive.
The biggest event of the year in Kuhmo is the international Kuhmo Chamber Music Festival. Held since 1970, the festival is today one of the biggest in Finland. Concerts, music and dance courses, guided nature treks, boat trips, athletics specially planned for children colour the month of July (which is dubbed Jolly July). The region also hosts other festive events such as Sommelo, the International Ethnic Music Festival and the World Championship of Berry Picking.
The traditional food of Kainuu is a result of influences from centuries of eastern and western food culture. The wild mushrooms, berries, fish and game meat are served by the local restaurants and add a unique flavour to the dishes.
The Orthodox buffet is a sample of Karelian cuisine, which is characterised by braising and oven roasting dishes. Local cuisine follows the seasons and uses seasonal produce. It respects traditions in an innovative fashion. Local fish from lakes, meat dishes, a variety of pies and pastries and mushroom dishes are served at the buffet. Desserts include oven baked cheese with forest berries and curd pastries. Tourists can also learn to make traditional Karelian pies themselves.
At Christmas time, visitors can enjoy the atmosphere of Finnish Christmas with scents, candles, music and snow. The fortress-like Pohjola house compound with its idyllic yard and traditional log buildings creates an ambiance reminiscent of a Christmas fairytale.
Wild Taiga (Finland) [253 KB]