Specialists for Nordic Outdoor & Adventure Holidays in the Nordic Countries since 2006


Photo: WP

Canoeing on the Tar Route in Kainuu (Finland)

A remote canoe adventure through the beautiful Lentua lake system on Finland's famous Tar Route

  • Self-guided (min 2 pers)
  • Medium
  • From £/person
  • May-Sep, 4-8 or more days
  • Adults, Families (min age 12), Groups


  • Wonderful canoeing in little-visited area
  • Camping and cooking equipment included
  • Network of overnight camping spots with wood provided
  • Flexible duration and distances
  • Simple cabins and island sauna available en route
  • Optional wilderness cabin for nights before/after

Description »

An inland archipelago system of interconnected lakes surrounded by Taiga forest

This canoe tour passes through the lovely Lentua lake system, a network of lakes dotted with islands large and small and connected by rivers and small lakes with winding passages and short rapids (which are easily bypassed with short land transports).

You spend your days exploring this beautiful area and at night wild camping at a wide choice of designated camping areas with wind shelters and fireplaces where wood is provided. The clear waters offer wonderful opportunities for swimming from gentle, sandy beaches to cool off after enjoying a hard day's paddling!

Canoeing on the Tar Route

The Tar Route offers a remote and tranquil canoeing experience with flexible duration and level of challenge. Photos: Georgina Greaves.

You will be canoeing through thick Taiga forest rich in wildlife, with relatively little sign of civilisation/few settlements along the way, giving a real sense of remoteness during many parts of the tour. Much of the area is protected and the majority of islands are uninhabited, except by the local wildlife of course!

A number of land transports are required, but a very special feature of this tour is that there are "tracks" at many of the transport sites, where the canoe can be lifted onto rails, making the land transports much easier.

In addition to all the canoe equipment you need (including maps and route description), all camping and cooking equipment is also provided - just bring yourselves, some suitable clothes, food and a sense of adventure!

Transport tracks on the Tar Route canoe tour

The many "canoe tracks" along the route make land transports straightforward. Photos: Nature Travels.

Wilderness cabins along the route for an optional roof over your head!

The tour is based on wild camping, but there are also two free-to-use wilderness cabins along the route, including one on Lentosaari island. These are open to the public and free of charge, providing shelter and a degree of comfort for passing paddlers. One of them even has a sauna!

The cabins cannot be reserved and are open to all - you may well find you have a cabin to yourself for the night, or it could be a wonderful opportunity to make new friends!

Wilderness cabins on the Tar Route canoe tour

Two free-to-use public cabins along the route offer additional options for overnight stays, including one with a sauna! Photos: Nature Travels/John and Jenny Baston.

Vary the duration and level of challenge to suit you

The Tar Route route was used to transport barrels of tar derived from the Taiga forest from the Eastern border to a port for the Baltic Sea. You will explore a section of this remote yet accessible area, paddling south to Kuhmo. Explore the protected area of Lake Lentua, enjoy lunch on your own private island, or spend some time fishing.

Canoe on the Tar Route in Kainuu is suitable for adults and families with older children (recommended min. age 12, younger children possible by arrangement) - as a flexible tour you can make it as challenging or relaxing as you desire.

You paddle a minimum distance of 60km to Kuhmo, but you can extend your tour as much as you like to discover the lake system's hidden treasures, or even spend a day or two on land to go hiking. This experience requires minimum 4 days/3 nights, but is also ideal for longer tours of a week or more.

Overnight camping spots in the Lentua lake system

There is an extensive network of overnight camping spots with fireplaces and shelters. Photo: Christine Davies.

Combine canoeing and fishing or extend the adventure with stay at wilderness cabin

The tour also offers very good possibilities for fishing, especially for perch and pike, and fishing equipment is available to hire.

If you wish to stay locally for extra nights (min. stay two nights) before or after your tour, a simple wilderness lakeside cabin with rowing boat included is available as an optional extra (NB: this cabin is not the same as the free public cabins available for use during the tour, but is a private cabin at different location and with additional facilities).

Fishing on the Tar Route canoe tour

Taking time for some fishing during the tour is a popular option. Photo: Mark Dixon.

Canoeing for odd-numbered groups

Canoes used are 2-person Canadian canoes. Odd numbered groups will normally travel as even number in a canoe with the additional person in single kayak. For odd-numbered groups including a child, the child can travel as 3rd person in canoe.


Itinerary »


Meet in Kuhmo (start time between 09.00 and 18.00 by arrangement). You will receive your equipment and some guidance on suggested routes to take before transfer to the start point (approx. 45 mins) to begin your tour.

There is some flexibility in exact start point for the tour depending on factors such as the duration of the tour and your preferences, but tours will normally start near Lentiira and you will paddle back towards Kuhmo. You will have the opportunity to discuss the most suitable drop-off point for you on arrival.

Following Days

Your canoe tour takes you through a series of lakes connected with river sections and some short rapids. Rapids (100m-400m) are easily bypassed by short carries or using the rail/trolley system provided at certain points to assist with land transports.

The area offers many route choices to explore the lakeland landscape and as a protected area you will find few settlements/houses, offering a real taste of remoteness during many parts of the tour. Spend the nights wild camping at one of the many designated camping spots, where you can find wind shelters and fireplaces.

Depending on the length of tour and route taken, you will also pass two free-to-use public wilderness huts (including one with sauna, on the island of Lentosaari), which you are welcome to make use of.


You paddle your way to Kuhmo, where you will end your tour and return your equipment.

Dates & Prices»

Dates 2024

Start any day by arrangement between 16th May and 20th September between 09.00 and 18.00. Tour durations are typically 4-8 days but longer tours are also possible.

NB: Although start/end days for this tour can be any day, we recommend if possible not planning to travel to/from Kuhmo on Saturdays or Sundays, as public transport connections are very limited at the weekend. In particular, travel on Saturdays is not recommended as there are no connections to/from Kajaani.

Note that you should be prepared for cooler conditions when paddling at the start/end of the season.

Prices 2024

Price includes camping/kitchen equipment.

Sleeping bags: Bag and mat provided as standard is ideal for tours during the summer season. For tours early/late in the season when temperatures are lower, it is possible to upgrade to a very warm, winter-rated sleeping bag and mat. As temperature and weather conditions for your tour cannot be known in advance, this upgrade is paid locally on arrival, but please advise in advance if you believe you will wish to upgrade so that suitable equipment can be brought to the start point. Price for winter bag/mat upgrade is €5/person/night for first 6 nights and €2/person/night for extra nights thereafter.

Please note that price for transfer to start point must be added to all bookings. Transfer price includes collection from Kuhmo bus station or accommodation locally in Kuhmo and time to shop for food at supermarket if required before transfer to the start point.

For additional adult in odd-numbered group, extra tent is provided. Additional child in odd-numbered group will share tent.

Price for single kayak applies for additional adult in odd-numbered group only. If more than one member of your group wishes to paddle kayak, please contact us for details and prices.

Tour durations are typically 4-8 days but longer tours are also possible. Please contact us for price information for tours longer than 8 days.

Standard Prices 
Transfer to start point, per booking 2-4 personsGBP
Transfer to start point, per booking 5-8 personsGBP
4 days/3 nights 
Even-numbered groups/person (2, 4 persons, etc)GBP
Additional adult for odd-numbered groups (using single kayak)GBP
Additional child for odd-numbered groups (travelling as 3rd person in canoe)GBP
5 days/4 nights 
Even-numbered groups/person (2, 4 persons, etc)GBP
Additional adult for odd-numbered groups (using single kayak)GBP
Additional child for odd-numbered groups (travelling as 3rd person in canoe)GBP
6 days/5 nights 
Even-numbered groups/person (2, 4 persons, etc)GBP
Additional adult for odd-numbered groups (using single kayak)GBP
Additional child for odd-numbered groups (travelling as 3rd person in canoe)GBP
7 days/6 nights 
Even-numbered groups/person (2, 4 persons, etc)GBP
Additional adult for odd-numbered groups (using single kayak)GBP
Additional child for odd-numbered groups (travelling as 3rd person in canoe)GBP
8 days/7 nights 
Even-numbered groups/person (2, 4 persons, etc)GBP
Additional adult for odd-numbered groups (using single kayak)GBP
Additional child for odd-numbered groups (travelling as 3rd person in canoe)GBP

NB: Bed linen bag must be added for all wilderness cabin stays 2-5 nights.

Optional Extras (see description below) 
Wilderness Cabin before or after tour (per night for 2-5 nights, minimum stay 2 nights)GBP
Bed linen for Wilderness Cabin (per person/stay up to 5 nights)GBP
Wilderness Cabin before or after tour/cabin/6 or 7 nights (includes bed linen)GBP
Extra Trangia (if required for odd-numbered person)/dayGBP
Fishing equipment/set/dayGBP
  • Wilderness Cabin before or after tour: See image below. Stays are possible either before or after your canoe tour, minimum stay 2 nights, suitable for max. 4 adults or a family of 5. If you wish to extend your stay in the Kuhmo area before/after your tour, this simple wilderness cabin is an ideal option for a real "back to nature" experience. Located on a wooded hillside on the shore of Lake Rastinjärvi approx. 20km from Kuhmo (and 1km from your host's house) with use of rowing boat included, the cabin has wood-fired sauna and sleeps up to 4 persons in one room with 2 x bunk beds 120cm and 160m wide with extra bed available. The cabin is suitable for up to 4 adults for 2 nights or a family of 5 for longer stay. The cabin has no mains electricity or running water, but there is solar power for the fridge and to charge mobile phone/laptop. Heating is by wood-burning stove and a simple gas ring provides cooking facilities. Wood is provided for heating the cabin and sauna. There is a dry outside toilet. The lake offers very good opportunities for fishing. The fishing equipment available to hire for canoe tours can also be hired for cabin stays. You will need to purchase provisions for your stay in Kuhmo before transfer to the cabin. Note that bed linen should be added for all stays 2-5 nights (bed linen is included for longer stays).
  • Extra Trangia (if required for odd-numbered person): Trangia stoves are included as standard one per two persons. If you require an additional stove (e.g. if travelling as 5 persons and wishing to have 3 rather than the included 2 stoves), extra stove can be hired as optional extra.
  • Fishing equipment: See image below. Includes casting rod + 10 lures (note that lures must be replaced if lost, price €4-€8/lure). Fishing licence is required (purchased locally) if fishing with lures, price around €17/week. If fishing with line only, no licence is required and line, hook, bobber and worms can be provided. Perch (up to 500g) and pike (up to 2kg with equipment available or up to 8kg with own fishing gear) can be caught the whole summer. In warm weather, pike perch are also possible. Roach are also commonly caught. It is possible to fish for trout in the local rapids for additional licence fee of around €22/day.
  • Pick-up from alternative end point: Tours are based on ending in Kuhmo. However, if you wish to end at a different point, either before reaching Kuhmo or if continuing your tour to end west of Kuhmo, this can be arranged and paid for locally on arrival. Cost typically €20-€80 for up to 4 persons depending on location of alternative pick-up point.
Wilderness cabin by the lake

Wilderness Cabin for night(s) before/after tour (bottom two pictures show sauna). Photos: WP

Fishing equipment

Fishing equipment

What's Included »


  • Canoe equipment: 2-person Canadian canoe (canoes used are typically Bell Northwind, Swift Dumoine or Nova Craft Prospector), paddles, buoyancy aids, waterproof containers. Child travelling as 3rd person in canoe will have extra seat/paddle/buoyancy aid.
  • Kayak equipment (if adult in odd-numbered group): Single kayak, paddle, buoyancy aid and spray skirt. Kayaks used are normally Peception Carolina 15, length 442 cm (image below shows Carolina 13.5, slightly shorter than the model used).
Kayak for odd-numbered groups

Single kayak can be chosen as an option for extra adult in odd-numbered group.

  • Kitchen equipment: Trangia* cooking stove (one litre fuel/week is included). NB: Note that Trangias are suitable for 2-3 persons and therefore for odd-numbered groups, an additional Trangia is not supplied (e.g. 2 Trangias are supplied for 5-person group).
  • Camping equipment: Tent (number/type provided depending on group size, models vary e.g. 2-person tent Jack Wolfskin North Bay II or similar, 3-4 person tent Hannah Serak 4 or similar), sleeping bag and foam sleeping mat suitable for spring/summer use* (please bring own liner), pillow. *If doing your canoe tour in the early spring or in the autumn, or if conditions are particularly cool during your tour, sleeping bag and mattress suitable for colder temperatures can be provided locally for additional charge €5/person/night (up to 6 nights, then €2/person/night thereafter). Sleeping bag/mat upgrade is arranged and paid for locally on arrival.

*Exact Trangia contents/models may differ from example shown below.

Camping equipment and Trangia

Full camping and kitchen equipment is provided.

  • Maps: Two waterproof canoeing maps.
  • Instructor: Introduction/assistance in planning your route before your tour starts.

Please be careful with the canoe and the rest of your equipment! If some part of the equipment should break as a result of misuse or carelessness, you may be charged for the damage caused.

Not Included

  • Travel: We do not arrange flights or domestic travel, but are happy to advise on suitable connections and assist you with any aspect of planning your journey. See under "Getting There" for general travel information.
  • There is no food included. You must bring all food needed during the tour with you from the beginning as this tour runs in a remote area with no opportunities to buy food along the way. Provisions can be purchased in Kuhmo or from a small store near the start point.

Good To Know »


Health requirements/experience:

Swimming ability required by all participants. Minimum 2 adults. You should be in good health with a good general level of fitness and strength and enjoy the outdoors. Recommended minimum age 12.

The canoe tour runs through a series of lakes connected by sections of river and short rapids. Rapids should be bypassed on foot by carrying the canoe or using the trolley/rail system available at certain points to assist with land transports.

Note that there are large areas of open water on the tour. Paddling on lakes can be challenging in windy conditions and the water can be choppy. You should consider carefully the best side of the lake to paddle on and cross areas of open water at the narrowest points and when conditions are as favourable as possible. You should be prepared to adjust your itinerary and allow extra time depending on weather conditions.

In summertime, the prevailing wind is east to west, and as you are predominantly paddling west, you may experience headwinds. Even on windy days, conditions will often be much calmer in the early morning or late afternoon/evening, so in windy conditions, you may wish to adjust the times of day you do the most paddling.

What makes this "Medium"?

The area is quite remote and outside high season you may see few other persons during your trip, but has a network of camping locations and also rails provided for some portages. Total distance paddled and route is taken is flexible. In windy conditions, the lakes can be choppy and paddling more challenging.

NB: Perception of difficulty is very subjective. What is hard to one person may be easy for another and vice versa, depending on factors including level of fitness, age and previous experience. Weather conditions/temperatures can also dramatically affect the actual level of challenge encountered.

Equipment/clothes needed:

For information on any equipment and/or clothing included as standard for this experience, please see under "What's Included".

A detailed recommended packing list for personal items to bring will be sent with your booking documentation.

NB: We advise you not to buy equipment or clothes for your trip or to incur other non-refundable expenses such as flights until you have received confirmation of your booking from us in writing. Note of course that the most appropriate clothing to use as well as the level of challenge experienced during any outdoor activity may vary significantly depending on factors such as the time of year and the particular weather/temperature conditions during your trip.

Preparing for your trip:

For further reading, we also have a number of general information articles to get you ready for your trip, covering a wide variety of topics from what to do on a city break before/after your tour, advice on packing, eyewear for winter and considerations for female travellers.


This experience is ideal for groups. Please contact us to discuss your requirements.

Eco Info

This provider has a written environmental policy.

Getting There »

Getting There

See below for a summary of travel options. To learn more about how to travel to this experience, please get in touch!

Detailed information on travel will be provided in response to your enquiry. We are happy to advise on suitable connections and assist you with any aspect of planning your journey.

NB: Please ensure that you make a booking with us first and wait for confirmation that your spaces are reserved before making any travel arrangements.

Travel Summary:

By Air:

Fly to Helsinki for travel by train (6 hours) or domestic flight (1 hour 15 mins) to Kajaani for onward travel by bus to Kuhmo (1.5-2 hours).

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