Suomussalmi & Hossa National Park: Summer vacation in Finland's wild east

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You want to feel the solitude of Finland? Experience the untouched wilderness of Finnish Lapland? Maybe even meet bears? Stay close to nature and vacation sustainably? Then we can warmly recommend a trip to Suomussalmi.

A summer holiday in Suomussalmi promises lonely nature experiences, slowness and deceleration. And: Endless nights, because here in the north the sun doesn’t set until after midnight on some days, only to rise again a few hours later. It never really gets dark.

In this blog article we take you on a summer adventure to Suomussalmi and the Hossa National Park. We will show you which highlights await you and give you helpful tips for planning your trip.

1. Suomussalmi & Hossa National Park: Info & FAQs Where is Suomussalmi and how to get there? Suomussalmi is a very wild and untouched region in eastern Finland. Strictly speaking, Suomussalmi does not belong to Finnish Lapland, but is often included due to its cultural and geographical proximity.

The nearest airport is located in Kuusamo and is served by Finnair from Helsinki several times a week in the summer. There are currently no direct flights to Kuusamo from the German-speaking area (Frankfurt) in summer, so the fastest connection is currently via Helsinki.

From the airport you can easily reach Suomussalmi by rental car in about one hour Hour. We will tell you more information about booking a rental car in this article: Travel tips Finland in summer.

What is Suomussalmi known for or what can I experience there? Wild, untouched nature: Suomussalmi belongs to the so-called “Wild Taiga”, an untouched area in eastern Finland on the border with Russia. The region is very isolated. Often you really drive for miles through “no man’s land” and see nothing but forests and lakes. Bear Watching: Heard to the top point – in Suomussalmi you can see bears in the wild. The word “wild” is of course a matter of interpretation, but more on that in the course of this blog article. Bears avoid people and the chance that you will accidentally bump into a bear in Suomussalmi is extremely slim. So here it is: Don’t worry, please!

Stone Age rock painting: Incredible, but true! In the Hossa National Park there are historical rock paintings that are believed to date from the Stone Age. A well-known hiking trail leads to the “Värikallio” paintings, which we will of course introduce to you in the course of the blog article. When is the best time to travel to Suomussalmi in the summer? Around midsummer days are the longest in Suomussalmi. The further north you go, the greater the chance you’ll see the midnight sun. This means that the sun is still visible and shining on the horizon at midnight.

Experiencing this light spectacle is really something special. The sunsets last almost endlessly and are simply a paradise for fans of the golden hour.

The downside: This period is usually also the high season for mosquitoes. If you want to avoid the little tormentors as much as possible, you should come a little later in the summer. For example, August usually has significantly fewer mosquitoes.

What temperatures can I expect in summer? Don’t worry: It’s usually not as cold as feared in Suomussalmi. The average daily temperature in July is comfortable 22 degrees Celsius – perfect for hikes or excursions.

Important to know: On Rainy days you have to be prepared in any case. And: It can also be much colder – but of course also warmer. The weather in the north is simply unstable.

We therefore recommend that you bring airy, summery and warm clothing and rain gear with you. You can find more equipment information in this blog article: Travel tips Finland in summer.

2. Things to do in Suomussalmi: What you can do around Hossa National Park Hiking in Hossa National Park Hossa National Park is one of the absolute natural highlights of the Suomussalmi region. The Julma Ölkky Canyon in particular is very scenic with its steep walls.

The most popular way to explore the national park is on foot. You can choose from a wide variety of hiking routes – from short, wheelchair-accessible walks to more demanding tours, everything is included. Here you can find an overview map: Hossa National Park.

We decided on what is probably the best-known daily route, namely the hike to the famous rock paintings from the Stone Age (“Värikallion kaarros”).

This approximately 8-kilometer circular trail runs mostly through the forest, in some sections also over wooden stairs. You also get a little sweaty in between, because it also goes a bit uphill and downhill.

About halfway you come to the rock paintings, which can be reached via a short detour from the main route. Just crazy when you consider that these have existed for thousands of years.

Information about the hike to the “Värikallio” rock paintings Starting point: Lihapyörre car park directly in the Hossa National Park (accessible via a gravel road)

Walking time: Total about 3 hours (It took us about 2.5 hours. )
Food/Equipment: Good shoes are important. Take provisions, water and mosquito repellent with you. After the hike you can have something to eat in the visitor center of the national park. (By car approx. 15 Minutes from Lihapyörre Parking.)

Route: Värikallion Kaarros (Outdooractive)

Canoe tour at Julma-Ölkky Lake Paddling under the midnight sun in an amazing setting – wow! The Julma Ölkky is a very narrow, elongated lake in the Hossa National Park. With the cliffs rising to the left and right , it resembles a canyon.

The great thing about this tour: You are really surrounded by nothing but pure nature. Except for the chirping of birds and the splashing of the water through the paddle, you hear nothing. We were very impressed by this slowness, this calmness paired with the unbelievable lighting atmosphere .

Accompanied by a guide, you paddle once to the end of the lake and back again. During the tour there is even hot tea and chocolate directly on the water. By the way: Instead of a canoe, you can choose to do the tour with a kayak or SUP board.

Information about the canoe tour Claim : Suitable for beginners, but expect to feel your arms the next day.

Duration: approx. 3 hours

Equipment: The equipment (including life jackets) will be provided. We recommend sturdy pants and jacket. But you don’t get wet while canoeing – unless it’s raining.

Further information & booking: Julma Ölkky canoe tour at sunset

Observing bears in the wild The moment when suddenly a huge brown bear appears in front of you out of nowhere, so close you can even hear him smacking his lips – without words! Eastern Finland is one of the last wilderness areas in Europe, where you can get close to these massive animals in their natural habitat.

Important to know: Bears avoid humans. A bear can smell the likes of us from several kilometers away. The chance that you will meet a bear on an ordinary hike during your summer vacation in Finland is zero. That’s the good news.

The bad news: In order for us humans to get a bear in front of our lens, they have to be attracted. And that happens everywhere (not only in Finland) with food. In a way, watching bears is also an intervention in nature.

Our Choice: Night time bear watching with Martinselkonen Wilds Center There are several companies operating in Suomussalmi organize bear watching. We ourselves stayed in the well-known Martinselkonen Wilds Center and started our evening observation from there.

Don’t worry: You are in a safe hiding place during the observation. It is equipped with windows for observation as well as hatches for photography. Only the short distance from the car to the hiding place has to be covered on foot – but accompanied by a ranger.

Tip for photography: Our photos were taken mostly with a 22-200mm 2.8 telephoto zoom lens. This focal length was completely sufficient in our case, because the bears came surprisingly close. Sometimes they were less than five meters away from us.

The Martinselkonen Wilds Center has numerous hiding places, some of which can also be used to spend the night. The scenery is a bit different everywhere (forest, swampy area or also at the lake). So it may be that other hiding places require larger focal lengths.

Some guests are real bear fans and stay for several days – every day in a different hiding place, so to speak. The evening tour was just right for our needs. This takes about 5 to 6 hours.

By the way, we were particularly lucky and were able to select numerous oxen bears also observed six bear cubs. For us the absolute highlight of the tour!

Information on bear watching (evening tour) at a glance Duration: approx . 20 until approx. 22/23 Watch

Food/Equipment: Sturdy shoes and mosquito protection for the short walk to the hiding place; a jacket in case it gets cooler; There are small snacks, water, tea and coffee as well as a dry toilet on site in the hiding place

More info & booking: Martinselkonen Wilds Center (official website)

The Silent People A art installation of a special kind and one of the most unusual sights in Suomussalmi are the so-called Silent People. A sea of ​​scarecrow-like figures awaits you directly on the main street.

The figures were originally created by artist Reijo Kela as extras for a dance performance . They are now regarded as an independent work of art that leaves a lot room for interpretation . Curious thing: the figures are changed twice a year by a local youth workshop.

There is a covered open-air café right next to the Silent People. and an associated restaurant (indoor). Perfect for a short coffee break. Our conclusion about the Silent People: If you are in the area anyway, then definitely stop by. Personally, we wouldn’t take a huge detour.

Information about the Silent People at a glance Address: Viitostie 547, Suomussalmi
Admission: Free
Further information & opening times of the café: The Silent People (official website)

3. Where to stay: Tips for (unusual) accommodation in Suomussalmi Who likes stayed close to nature, will love Suomussalmi. The region is definitely not for luxury travellers. You will look in vain for boutique hotels. Instead, there are many campsites and cabins. In this chapter we share our accommodation recommendations with you.

Hossanportti Hast have you ever stayed in a tent floating between trees? Sounds adventurous? It is! At Camping Hossanportti there is the possibility to book a night in a tree tent.

You’re floating about a meter above the ground here. The tent is equipped with warm sleeping bags so you won’t get cold. (We still wore thermal underwear and didn’t regret it.) A rain cover protects against possible showers.

The feeling is very special: Due to the movement and depending on the wind, the tent starts to rock slightly, so that the sleeping comfort is very unusual at first . However, the view of nature from the tent is priceless!

In general, nature is really amazing here. So secluded and idyllic! The campsite Hossanportti is located on a lake and consists of several simply equipped cottages. Showers and toilets are in a separate hut.

Here you can find more information about the campsite and the tree tent: Hossanportti

Kainuun Luontoretket It couldn’t be more natural and sustainable! In these cottages by the lake you stay with your host Timo, a “wilderness guide” who not only runs the small huts, but also offers a variety of tours around the Hossa National Park. We stayed one night for our impressive canoe tour on Julma- Ölkky Lake.

The cabins are very cosy, recently renovated and have huge picture windows facing the forest. Important to know: the sanitary facilities are not in the room. And: There is no running water, but a dry toilet.

Showering is also a little adventure. Either you simply jump into the lake or you have the option of showering off with (thanks to the sauna) heated lake water. Close to nature, we say so.

We were very impressed by the very isolated, actually almost self-sufficient life here. The electricity comes, for example, from the in-house photovoltaic system. And the plates for the outdoor lunch by the fire (which, by the way, is delicious and highly recommended) are made from tree trunks. Crazy, isn’t it?

You can find more info here: Kainuun Luontoretket

Mart Island cones Wilds Centre Our Bear Watching was hosted by Martinselkonen Wilds Centre. Not only do the tours start here, but you can also spend the night here.

Martinselkonen Wilds Center is in an incredibly remote location, close to the border with Russia. No neighbors, just a gravel road and nothing around but pure nature – the flair is very special.

The rooms are functionally furnished, but there is everything you need. Most of the rooms have their own bathroom – so it is best to indicate your preference when booking.

Breakfast, lunch and dinner are served in the dining room of the main building at certain times and can be booked as an option. All in all, a very nice place to stay, which is a good starting point for an evening bear tour.

More information can be found here: Martinselkonen Wilds Centre

4. Map: All highlights in Suomussalmi at a glance Finally, we have you in all the highlights and tips are shown on this interactive map. How do you get the most out of this card? Our tip: It is best to click on the rectangle at the top right to open the map in the Google Maps app on your smartphone. So you can easily navigate from A to B on site.

Google Maps usually works very reliably in Finnish Lapland. If in doubt, it is better to compare the route with the directions from your accommodation.

Transparency: Advertising Our journey to Suomussalmi and this blog article were created in cooperation with Suomussalmi and are part of the #getlappi campaign. Thank you very much for this wonderful trip! Of course we are free to report. This cooperation has no influence on our honest opinion.

This blog article contains our personal recommendations in the form of so-called affiliate links. If you book or buy something through the links, we will receive a small commission. For you, this does not change the price at all. A thousand thanks from both of us!

Have you ever been to Finnish Lapland or maybe even Suomussalmi or Hossa National Park in the summer? ? Or do you still have questions about travel planning? We look forward to your comment below this blog article.