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Oulanka National Park
In the rugged landscape of the Karhunkierros Trail, you will observe the power of water. The many trail options and hanging bridges will take you to the most impressive waterfalls in Finland. The jumps of wild brown trout, the dives of European dippers, the unlimited beauty of the aapa mires and the lovely calypso will challenge even the experienced nature photographer. Nature doesn't recognise any state boundaries: the vast wilderness of the Paanajärvi National Park is to be found on the Russian side of the border.
Kuusamo belonged to the first dry areas and was ready to receive its inhabitants. This early scenery can be seen today by visitors of the Oulanka National Park. The National Park has an extremely diverse flora. The shores are covered with ferns. The most magnificent orchid in Europe, lady's slipper, grows in the marshlands. The unique flora is found on rocks called "pahta". The shady sides of these rocks are covered with northern species crowned by mountain avens and the hot sunny sides with southern species.
Protecting nature cross the borders
The Oulanka National Park covers 290 square kilometres and is located in the upland areas of northern Kuusamo and the southern part of Salla. The park was established in 1956, expanded in 1982 and 1989. In the east, the park borders the Paanajärvi National Park, established on the Russian side of the border in 1992. The Paanajärvi Park is four times bigger than Oulanka National Park.
Rare birds and plants
Oulanka contains river habitats unique in many respects in the whole of Finland. Most of the natural beauty spots in Kuusamo are situated in the park. Animal life is also plentiful. There are 30 species of mammals, more than 120 species of birds (various rare bird species are found there as well as rare plants, such as calypso and lady's slipper, for instance) and over 7000 species of insects. Oulanka is also the domain of the bear, the king of forest. The nobility of Finnish birdlife, eagles and swans, also nest in the National Park.
Only about a kilometre’s walk away from the Oulanka Visitor Centre you will be stunned by the magnificent rapids of Kiutaköngäs. Kiutaköngäs Rapids are 325 metres long. The waterfalls can be best be accessed by walking the island in the middle of the riverbed to its eastern point, from which a fine scenery unfolds towards the waterfalls, the handsome reddish cliffs and the backwater in the lower reaches of the river.
Read more about hiking in Oulanka in the Activities -page!