Best time to visit Wild Taiga


The best time to visit Wild Taiga depends on whether you want winter or summer wilderness. Summer is early May-early Sep, with early autumn still a great time for hiking, cycling or self drive vacations. Bear watching is great May-Sep as this is mating season, and migrating water birds, wolves and other wildlife are also active during these months. Culture is hopping in summer, with July being time for the Sommelo Music Festival in Kainuu as well as the Kuhmo Chamber Music Festival. For winter vacations, Christmas isn’t ideal as the days are very short; Feb-Mar are better for long treks.

Things to do in Wild Taiga


Things to do in Wild Taiga…

Wild Taiga is hiking terrain, particularly through its recently designated Hossa National Park. Hike along the shores of Lake Somerjärvi or the more extensive Itäraja Summer Hiking Route which starts in Hossa and links up with the UKK National Trail that continues to Kuhmo. You can even go hiking with huskies, keeping them busy and fit between winter sledding seasons.
In winter, don cross country skis or snow shoes, especially during February and March, when the trails are at their best. For full on wilderness you can travel from one wilderness hut to another, with your bags transported for you, as you ski through untouched heathland, snow shoe across frozen wetlands and through blanketed ancient forests of Hossa or Riisitunturi National Parks. And of course, you will always be in with a chance of catching the Northern Lights too. Read an interview with one of our travelers, Jay Sivell, on a snow shoeing vacation in the Wild Taiga.
Wild Taiga’s ancient boreal forests are habitat for brown bear, and are also well set up to host wildlife watching vacations, accommodating you in back to nature overnight hides with local naturalist guides. Because you definitely want to be in a warm, safe and hidden spot when the bears come out to feed, mate or just generally mark their taiga territory. Read more about the experience of bear watching from Responsible Travel’s founder, Justin Francis.

Things not to do in Wild Taiga

Assume it’s just for earthy hikers and birdwatchers. Wild Taiga is wonderful for family vacations where you want to detox from all things digital and just let your little ones find the feral within. Hossa National Park is all about staying in log cabins, canoeing across glassy lakes, snow shoeing and igloo building. And hiking or riding with huskies is one of the best ways to travel, too.
Ignore the fact that the Wild Taiga is seriously remote. You need to respect nature. In winter, you need snow tyres, preferably with studs. Engine heaters are the norm and be wary of black ice. But vacation companies are switched on to any dangers. Be wary of wildlife too, as collisions with deer are common and moose can do serious damage. So take it easy out there, and learn to be bear aware.
Forget to pack insect repellent. And a hardcore one, too. Mosquitoes in late June-July are vicious, so keep your body well covered, bringing a net for nighttime wanderings if possible. Be aware that some bear hides do not allow the use of mosquito repellent, or perfume, or any sorts of noise. Even noisy cameras.
Although unlikely if you are committed to responsible tourism, if by any chance you are tempted to buy Finnish fur as a souvenir, beware that it might be from one of Finland’s fur farms, which do not have good reputations for animal welfare practices.

Wild Taiga travel advice


Family vacation tips

Urpo Heikkinen, from our Wild Taiga supplier Upitrek, offers advice for visiting with kids: “Families need to pick activities carefully. Kids can do softer treks but if they get tired you may need to take a short cut so that no one gets left in the forest! They can see reindeer and sometimes elk on the walks, but bear watching is a problem as in the hides you sometimes have to be silent for hours. It depends on the nature of the children and how active they are. Sometimes it works, but it’s not for everyone.”

Family vacation tips

Aki Käräjäoja, founder of our Wild Taiga supplier (and THE man to talk to about huskies) Routa Travel: "It’s better not to have a very strict timetable and to understand that you are doing things differently than at home because it’s not always easy to plan. Parents often have high expectations but it’s better to be open minded and see how the kids are and how cold it is. So we can make tours shorter, and instead of a full day sledding, we can go indoors and take a few of the huskies. Thinking flexibly is good – if, after 2km, it’s cold and the kids aren’t happy then you have to work around that."

Responsible tourism tip

Veikko Virkkunen, from Metsähallitus Natural Heritage Services: “Finnish National Parks represent wild nature in the sense that no one lives there. When tourism businesses want to operate in a National Park, they agree to adhere to our Principles of Sustainable Nature Tourism. Everybody following these guidelines helps us to provide the visitors safe and memorable nature experiences.”

Snow shoeing advice

Tom Wilkinson, showshoeing expert at our supplier, Exodus: “If you can walk you can snow shoe. There are of course techniques/tips for going up and down, and through deeper snow, but really this is the winter sport anyone can do. With snow shoes a beginner can access places usually reserved for red hot off-piste skiers – and you’re far less likely to crash into a tree! Aside from thinking you’ll be using tennis racquets (modern snowshoes are sleek and light) people can forget that if you’re in deep snow, walking in single file means the person at the front does all the work breaking the trail, though good etiquette is to take turns doing that.”

Cross country skiing

Urpo Heikkinen, of our Wild Taiga supplier, Upitrek: “I really recommend cross country skiing. You go from place to place, spending each night with different people – you feel like you’re having an adventure. The rhythm is flexible and it’s much easier than walking; you can cover great distances while still seeing wildlife and tracks in the snow. On the downhill sections you’ll enjoy the speed. In these remote areas people still have a more traditional way of living – they have gardens where they grow their own vegetables; it’s always Finnish food made with local ingredients, so no pizza or pasta! It all comes from very close by. Skiing from place to place is also an environmentally friendly way to see Finland – it’s much better than traveling by car.”

Wild Taiga travel travel advice


At Responsible Travel, we think the best people to advise our travelers are often... other travelers. They always return from our tours with packing tips, weather reports, ideas about what to do - and opinions about what not to.

We have selected some of the most useful Wild Taiga travel tips that our guests have provided over the years to help you make the very most of your vacation – and the space inside your suitcase.
“The entire week was an amazing experience, but I particularly liked the overnight stay in remote huts without electricity etc. Furthermore, seeing the Northern Lights was like a dream coming true. Even though the walks are not really very long and you may expect a more challenging week, you will be tired in the evening. So the amount of walks seems pretty right to me. Furthermore, do not expect sunshine all the time. We were very happy to have a day of sunlight in the one week vacations. But it may as well be that it is cloudy weather all the time. However, even if the forecasts are very bad, you still may suddenly have a sunny morning or star night "coming out of nothing", so never give up hope!” – Dani Rotzetter on a snowshoeing vacation

“Fantastic vacation for active families with young kids. The weather was excellent for us in early August, low 20's °C every day, hardly any rain but pack for all weathers just in case. Take plenty of insect repellent, there are millions of mosquitoes about in the summer months in the pine forests of northern Finland.” - Richard Mayneford on a self drive family vacation

“There were twelve of us, and most of them were older than me, and I am 57! And they were shit hot fit, all of them! I tell you what, hanging out with retired people is very bad for morale when you are self employed. I want to retire now... they are having so much fun out there! There was one 50-year-old, and the oldest was 70, and he was very fit….I expected it to be hard to make friends as a solo traveler. I was a bit concerned about that, as I normally travel with my husband. But it was fine, lovely in fact.”– Jay Sivell. Read our interview with Jay on her snow shoeing vacation

“Aki and Sovi have an extensive wardrobe of cold weather gear so apart from thermals and similar there is really no need to bring (or buy) lots of winter gear. For us, a 3-4 hours sledding trip each day was enough; if you want to have a tough experience than other operators can offer 24 hour a day wilderness, cutting holes in the ice for water and (probably) being pretty cold at night!” – Matthew Peek on a tailor made husky safari
Photo credits: [Temp chart: Arend] [Family vacation tips1: Timo Newton-Syms] [Responsible tourism tip: Timo Newton-Syms] [Cross country skiing: Upitrek] [Tip1: Jay Sivell] [Tip2: Maarten (c)]
Written by Catherine Mack
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Photo credits: [Page banner: Karel Bartik]