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General information about Kuusamo and Ruka
Why to Kuusamo
In winter: ski resort Ruka, Ruka pedestrian village, cross country tracks, snowmobiling routes and great variety of guided winter activities.
In summer: the magnificent nature in Kuusamo — National Parks Oulanka, Riisitunturi, Syöte, Pyhä and Paanajärvi (the latter in Russia), Karhunkierros hiking trail, Kitka and Oulanka rivers, steep hills and numerous lakes with lots of fish.
Ruka ski resort
Ruka in Lapland is one of the largest ski resorts in Finland.
Snow Conditions and Temperature
Kuusamo is one of the snowiest areas in Finland: the ground is snow-covered for about 200 days a year.
The average annual temperature is −0.37 °C, annual precipitation 525 millimetres (20.7 inches). July is the warmest month with an average temperature of +14.3 °C, January is the coldest with −13.2 °C.
The center of Kuusamo is located approximately 60 km (37 miles) south of the Arctic Circle, thus polar day and night play a major role. The midnight sun lights Kuusamo from 14 to 29 June.
Winter is the longest season in Finland, lasting about 200 days in Lapland and 100 days in Southern Finland. In Lapland, winter usually begins in mid-October. In Kuusamo snow is guaranteed every winter for a very long period, and even 80 to 90 cm deep (30 to 35 inches). A peculiarity of the winter climate is the so-called crown snow load, as snow, ice, and frost accumulate on tree branches, forming surreal snow sculptures.
Fresh snow just makes you want to make angels: choose an unmarked spot, lie on your back, and wave your hands up and down, and as your legs in and out on the ground. Try to get up without pushing with your hands or leaving any other marks. When you take a look at this beautiful "piece of art" you've made, you’ll see the shape of an angel – a snow angel!
In late November, lakes are usually so frozen, you can drive a car onto the ice. Thickness ranges from 30 to 60 cm (12 to 24 inches) in winter. Temperatures during the day can range anywhere from +5 to -25˚C (40 to -13˚F).
North of the Arctic Circle part of the winter is called the twilight, polar night, or "kaamos" in Finnish. During this period, the sun doesn't rise above the horizon at all. Up in the northernmost part of Finland, the twilight lasts for over 50 days. But it’s actually not that dark! The moon, stars and Northern lights light up the skies and the light is reflected from the snow, making the surroundings about as bright as a cloudy day!
If the weather is cloudy and you are in an area with some city lights, you can experience a peculiar thing: the light of the lamps is being reflected from the snow to the skies and back down from the clouds, bouncing back and forth.
The population density in Lapland is only 2.2 persons per km². This leaves a lot of untouched wilderness for hikers, hunters and fishermen to explore. However, we are not the only habitants in the forests. Finland is home to around 42,000 species of plants, animals and fungi.
Undisturbed forests and lakes and the abundance of food enable some endangered species to thrive in Finland: the Saimaa ringed seal, the flying squirrel, brown bear, wolf, wolverine, lynx, the golden eagle and white-tailed eagle. Many of these species have - sad to say - earlier suffered from persecution, but now the co-existence with humans and these endangered creatures seems to succeed.
Despite the cold and sometimes harsh conditions in the winter, or maybe just because of them, Finns live very comfortably in sturdy, warm buildings. Cars are made to last the cold conditions and roads are kept in good shape for safe winter driving.
Sami, Santa & Sauna
Finland has a couple of well-known "ambassadors": the indigenous Sámi, Santa Claus and the Sauna.
There are over 75,000 Sámi in Norway, Sweden, Finland and Russia. About 6,500 of these live in Finland, cherishing their own history, language, culture, way of live and identity. Reindeer herding, fishing, hunting, gathering nature's products and handicrafts are traditional Sámi livelihoods.
Father Christmas or Santa Claus, lives in Finland at Korvatunturi (Ear Mountain) with his wife, elves and reindeer. A lot of families fly to Rovaniemi each winter to meet him. His village is a winter wonderland full of exotic places to visit with funny activities to experience, like reindeer sleigh rides. Santa even has his own Main Post Office!
For many Finns the sauna is most relaxing place in the world! It makes one feel like a totally new person. After an action-packed day out in the snow, a hot sauna and delicious meal is second to none! If sauna’s too hot, try the Finnish custom of jumping out of the sauna to make snow angels naked to cool down before quickly running back into the sauna!