The Taiga forest region of Kainuu in north-east Finland is a beautiful, unspoilt region of ancient forests, ridges, moorland and lakes, and a haven for wildlife including the endangered wolverine.
Hiking in the Finnish-Russian Borderland is a guided tour taking you through some of the best of this wonderful region, with accommodation in simple log cabins and guests houses along the route, combining "point-to-point" days moving between accommodation and day tours from fixed location. Luggage transfers are included, so you walk during the day with only your daypack.
Distances vary up to max. 19km daily and the terrain is generally easy-going and level, making this experience accessible for a wide range of adult participants who enjoy walking. In true Finnish style, each of your accommodation locations features the possibility for sauna (followed by a swim in the lake of course!). From the guest houses you will receive a warm welcome and have the opportunity to enjoy local food from the region.
The route takes you through a number of protected areas, beginning at the Martinselkonen nature reserve with its wetlands and abundant wildlife. For those with a particular interest in wildlife, this day gives the option to add a bear-watching excursion. Your tour continues along the border with Russia and into the Hossa National Park with its beautiful pine heathlands and with good chances to see reindeer and moose. Here you take to the water for a day's canoeing to explore a different side of the reserve. As your tour comes to a close, you hike to the shamanic rock paintings at Värikallio, before your last evening together to reflect on your tour.
For those who love the quiet, deep forests, shimmering lakes and traditional hospitality which characterise this area, Hiking in the Finnish-Russian Borderland is the perfect way to explore the region's landscapes, wildlife and local culture.
Arrival and transfer to your accommodation for the night at Martinselkonen.
NB: Transfers are in connection with fixed flight times. Note that the arrival point is either Kajaani or Kuusamo depending on tour dates:
- Tours with arrival dates 28.07.19, 04.08.19 and 11.08.19: Transfers will meet Finnair flight AY415 departing Helsinki 15.55 arriving Kajaani (KAJ) 17.10.
- Tours with arrival dates 18.08.19 and 25.08.19: Transfers will meet Finnair flight AY489 departing Helsinki 18.15 arriving Kuusamo (KAO) 19.55.
Transfer time is approx. 2 hours from either Kajaani or Kuusamo.
Guests arriving by train/bus to Kajaani/Kuusamo or overnighting locally before the tour can have transfer from the bus/train station or from centrally-located accommodation. However, this must be advised well in advance so that arrangements can be made. Guests travelling by train or bus must plan arrival to fit flight transfer times above, with arrival no later than 30 mins before flight arrival. Pick-up time will normally be around 30 mins before flight arrival but will be confirmed by arrangement.
Dinner and introduction to the tour before you settle in for your first night in the Taiga forest.
Day 2 (16km with optional Bear Watching Excursion):
After breakfast to give you energy for the day, your tour begins through the nature reserve towards your accommodation for the night at Arola. The reserve protects important habitats of lichen-covered ancient spruce and swampland. On arrival at Arola, you can enjoy a dinner of local forest produce and a sauna.
You will return from hiking around 16.00 and those who wish to can join a 6-hour bear watching excursion for the evening, which gives good chances to see brown bears in their natural habitat. Sightings can of course not be guaranteed, but bears are regularly seen during the tours.
Day 3 (19km):
Today you will be hiking north along the Russian border, with several view points over into Russia. You stop for lunch in front of the fire at a wilderness hut before reaching your accommodation for the night, a wilderness cabin at the top of Kovavaara hill. Sauna is available.
Day 4 (18km):
You have a short transfer by car to the starting point of today's hike into the wild Hossa National Park, which supports a thriving population of the endangered wolverine. Wolverines are very shy and rarely seen, but with luck you may spot tracks, as well as cranes and swans on the lake. The wetland areas are easily traversed by walkboards and in August blueberries abound - perfect for a delicious energy-giving snack as you walk! Tonight you stay at a local guest house which is a former border guard station. Sauna is available.
Day 5 (13km):
You continue through the Hossa National Park, locally known for its excellent fishing, stopping for lunch at the visitor centre with its exhibition. Today you reach the cabin at Jatkonsalmi, which will be your base for the rest of the tour. Sauna is available by the lake.
Time for canoeing! A wonderful way to experience the landscape from a different perspective, today you take to the water in 2-person Canadian canoes to explore the lakes and rivers surrounding the cabin. You will be paddling on calm waters with good chances to see moose and reindeer. For guests who do not wish to canoe, there are trails in the area for self-guided hiking. Return to the cabin for overnight accommodation and sauna.
Day 7 (16km):
Today you visit the mystical Värikallio cliffs and rock paintings, which date back 4000 years and are the oldest prehistoric paintings in Finland. You enjoy a picnic lunch around an open fire before hiking back through beautiful forest to your cabin accommodation for your final night (and sauna of course!).
Breakfast and transfer to Kajaani for onward travel.
NB: Transfers are in connection with fixed flight times as follows:
- Tours with departure dates 04.08.19, 11.08.19, 18.08.19, 25.08.19 and 01.09.19: Tranfers will meet Finnair flight AY414 departing Kajaani (KAJ) 11.10 arriving Helsinki 12.25.
Transfer time is approx. 2 hours.
Guests departing by train/bus from Kajaani or overnighting locally after the tour can have transfer to the bus/train station or to centrally-located accommodation. However, this must be advised well in advance so that arrangements can be made. Guests travelling by train or bus must plan departure to fit flight transfer times above, with depature time no earlier than one hour before flight departure. Pick-up time will normally be around 30 mins before flight arrival but will be confirmed by arrangement.
Scheduled tours run Sunday-Sunday during August (groups may book other dates on request between May and September).
- 28.07–04.08.19, 04.08–11.08.19, 11.08–18.08.19, 18.08–25.08.19, 25.08–01.09.19
NB: Arrival/departure point varies depending on tour date. Arrival point is normally either Kajaani or Kuusamo and departure point is normally Kajaani. See travel information for details.
Note that the optional bear-watching excursion on Day 2 is not available for tours starting 18.08 and 25.08.19 as this is outside bear-watching season.
|Per person||GBP 972||EUR 1,010|
- Bear-watching excursion: On evening of Day 2, price €80 Euros (paid locally but must be advised on booking). NB: Not available for tours starting 19.08 and 26.08.18 as this is outside bear-watching season.
What's Included »
Sleeping accommodation is normally in shared 2-4 person rooms with shared WC/shower facilities. Showers are available on all nights except Day 3. Sauna is included on all nights except Day 1. Bed linen and towels included. Sleeping bag and liner is provided for use in the cabin on Day 3.
- Day 1: Former border guard station guest house. As all nights, accommodation is normally shared but 1-person rooms may be offered locally if available. Rooms here may have private or shared WC/shower facilities. Sauna.
- Day 2: Farmhouse with six bedrooms in separate building. Dinner served in traditional log house.
- Day 3: Simple wilderness cabin heated with wood-burning stove. Shared rooms. No shower is available here but the sauna provides opportunity to wash. Outside wilderness toilet. This is the simplest accommodation used on the tour.
- Day 4: Former border guard station guest house. Five sleeping rooms, living room, kitchen, shower and toilets.
- Day 5-8: Simple but well-equiped cabin on Lake Jatkonjärvi in the Hossa National Park. Total 204 square metres with eight sleeping rooms, kitchen and dining area. Central heating. and sauna. Barbecue area and outside fireplace. Shared toilets and showers.
Example accommodation during the tour
All meals are included from dinner on Day 1 to breakfast on Day 8 (breakfast, packed lunch, dinner). Please let us know any dietary requirements on booking.
Experienced and knowledgeable local guide.
Canadian canoe with paddles and buoyancy aids for canoeing Day 6.
- Return transfer between Oulu airport, train station or bus station to start/end accommodation at fixed times.
- Luggage transfers between accommodation and local transfers required during the tour.
- 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.
- Alcoholic drinks.
Good To Know »
Good level of general health and average fitness. You should enjoy walking and living in close proximity to others and be able to hike for up to 19km in a day over easy terrain with day pack. No previous experience required for canoeing. Recommended minimum age 15 (younger children may be possible by arrangement).
What makes this "Medium"?
The tour features luggage transfers, which means it is necessary to hike only with a daypack during the day. Terrain is relatively flat, though as a fairly long tour (6 days' activity), can still be moderately 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.
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.
No minimum - tours are guaranteed to run from the first booking.
Combine This With
This experience makes a good combination with the following:
Max. group size 13 persons.
This provider has a written ecotourism policy.
Getting There »
Detailed information on travel options to this experience 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.
Please ensure that you make a booking with us first and wait for confirmation that your spaces are reserved before making any travel arrangements.
Fly to Helsinki for onward travel to by domestic flight (1 hour 15 mins) to Kajaani or Kuusamo (depending on tour dates) on arrival and from Kajaani on departure. Please see under "Itinerary" for details.
It is also possible travel by train or bus to Kajaani and by train + bus to Kuusamo.
Transfers are included in connection with fixed flight times (transfer time approx. 2 hours).
Train from UK to Stockholm (Sweden) for ferry to Helsinki and onward train.
Gallery & Reviews »
"[The best parts were] the first three days in the really remote part of the borderlands before we got to Hossa National Park; our two brilliant guides; the small group size (we were only seven) and all well-matched in ability." Jacky, August 2018
"The guide, the group, the scenery. Loved it all." Lesley, August 2017
"Because many of our trip members came from different tour organizers, I had the opportunity to compare them and I have to say that yours is the best! Thank you for keeping us updated about the weather conditions (rubber boots were the only option for the first two days!) and for all extra arrangements before the trip (Kajaani flight was later than expected) and after (visiting the beautiful city of Kajaani). Our great guide, Joose, was taking very nice care of us. The size of the group was just perfect, and although almost each group member was from a different country, we made friends in an instant. The trip felt like a laughing retreat in the Finnish bogs, which made it much easier to deal with trilliards of mosquitoes! I have travelled with Nature Travels few years ago, so I knew it's a reliable and well-organized company." Joanna