Scenic Salla National Park in Finland
Salla National Park: Finland’s Newest Addition
By Aysia Reed
Rolling landscapes, alluring lakes, and snow glazed mountains all encompass the breathtaking elements of Finland’s national parks. Presently, there are 40 national parks in Finland.
Yet, the Finnish Ministry of the Environment has disclosed that two additional parks will soon be added. Salla National Park would be the first addition and could be completed sometime in 2021.
Salla is located in Finland’s north most region, Lapland. The region covers 5,800 sq km. It is north of the Arctic Circle and borders Norway, Sweden, Russia, and the Baltic Sea.
The area is sparsely populated, with only 3,400 total residents. It is one of the smallest populated areas in Europe. There is a higher density of bears and reindeer than there are residents.
This new national park will provide an eco-friendly network to Russia’s nature reserves. There is a bountiful amount of swamps, forests, and animals. These species are spread out over the national park’s 10,000 hectares.
Tourism in Salla
Salla national park is devoted to sustainable tourism. Existing tourism establishments in Salla have acquired environmental certifications for their responsible ecological efforts.
The tourism destination will be built directly beside the national park. Tourists will be able to explore over 300 km of established hiking trails in the park.
Travelers are also welcome to ski, mountain bike, and walk on any marked trails.
Nearby establishments host and organize canoeing, snowshoe, fat-bike, and guided reindeer and husky trips in the national park. The tourism destination also includes restaurants and accommodations.
There are over 10,000 reindeer in the region. The Salla Reindeer Park gives tourists a closer look at the species and allows them to learn more about them.
Tourists have the opportunity to book reindeer sled rides through the forest and are able to feed them as well.
The Reindeer Park can be visited in the summer, too. With an entrance ticket, travelers can hike on the marked trails and get a closer glimpse of the reindeer.
There are a few campfire site locations where guests can enjoy snacks and roast their own meat. There is also a cafe at the main building.
Railways and public buses can easily reach Salla national park. The nearest airport is Kuusamo and can be reached by public transportation in a little over an hour. For eco-friendly transportation, the overnight train can take tourists to Kemijärvi.
Many covid safety precautions have been put into place for when tourists travel to Salla national park.
The Lapland Healthcare District highly recommends that face masks are worn in all of the public areas, especially where social distancing is difficult to do.
Travelers are also urged to wear masks on any form of public transportation. The driver is also required to wear a mask. There will be a limited amount of people allowed per public transportation vehicle. It is also asked that tourists wait in an order area before being picked up.
Travel agencies and tourism companies document all contact information, to easily contact trace. The documents are only stored for 14 days to track any potential infection.
Outside of the national park, but still in Salla, is Sallatunturin Tuvat. This is a cottage rental company that has 64 cottages. The cozy cottages come in different sizes and have different accommodations.
The regular-sized cottages can have 1-4 rooms, saunas, and a shower.
The Sihteeritupa and Pomotupa cottages are much larger and can accommodate larger groups. They are also big enough to host meetings. Some of the cottages also have closed heat-storing fireplaces, equipped with firewood from their own forest.
The Sallatunturin Tuvat cottages offer authentic Finland cuisine at their Kiela restaurant. They also have the Papana Pupi pub to get a nightlife experience.
Investing in your very own plot is an option for tourists, if a cottage is not ideal. Construction begins immediately.
On every plot, road access, a sewage system, and running water are all included. Just like the cottages, the plots have a breathtaking view of the mountains and forest. Plots are an ideal and feasible option for those who want a vacation home.
Restaurants in the Area
If an overnight stay is not on your agenda, book a table at Keloravintola (log restaurant).
Keloravintola is located on the slopes of Salla. The restaurant makes its food from scratch, and with local Finnish ingredients.
The vegetable and berry produce comes straight out of Salla, their salmon comes from Naruska, and their reindeer meat is Salla’s entrepreneurs.
Some items on the menu include pasta, pizzas, burgers, house specialties, homemade pastries, and freshly brewed coffee.
Keloravintola offers a relaxing atmosphere to unwind and enjoy food. They often have live music each night as well.
The restaurant has collaborated with Salla’s bio-waste sorting in order to cut down on their amount of waste and unnecessary plastic. They strive to not waste any food and to use all of their produce.
They are on track to earn their Green Key certificate, which will exemplify their dedication and hard work towards an ecological restaurant.
The Locals in Salla
Not only is the national park and the activities surrounding it a treasure, but so are the residents. The locals in Salla are an aspect that is a colossal part of the region.
They live and breathe nature, and have been significantly shaped impacted by the wars and reconstruction on their eastern border.
The residents were forced against their will to forfeit land to their neighbor, Russia. This has caused grief and tension between the border.
Battlefields and monuments still litter Salla, reminding the residents of the past. War trenches have also affected the area, and have damaged the once alluring landscape.
Villages that were once accompanied by Salla residents are now Russified. Alakurtti and Kuolajärvi are two of the recognized villages that have been taken over.
Yet the residents still push forward and are continuously inspired by their surroundings; inspired by Salla. They feel endowed to be in the region that they are, and treasure the nature around them.