Linnansaari National Park, in the heart of the Finnish Lake District, is an ideal place to spot rare lake seals and majestic ospreys. Right now the ospreys are in Africa but the seals are here. The waters of the park are dotted with lush green islands and rocky islets. The maze-like archipelago is ideal for nordic skating. Haukivesi is a part of the huge Lake Saima with a shore line of 14 850 km and about 13 710 islands. Our base for skating was Oravi, about 41 km north west of Savonlinna.
Our last day was spent in Linnansaari National Park Archipelago – an absolute Grande Finale! Sunshine, black ice, no wind, wonderful nature, peaceful, vast areas of shining smooth ice and traces from ringed seals in the ice. The only people we met on our 42 km tour was one fisherman on his way to his nets and one ice skater – our hostess at Oravi Village.
Our first break was at the old settlement by the island Linnansaari. We enjoyed the sunshine and the well kept area – an inviting open museum. At Linnansaari Croft traditional slash-and-burn farming practises are preserved.
After the break we headed north in the fairy tale landscape – following the best ice. Just like heaven!
Linnansaari National Park provides a protected home for the endangered Saima Ringed seal. It is prohibited to visit many islands and islets where the seals live. We were lucky to find different traces of seals on the ice.
When we arrived to Oravi the ice conditions for skating were poor. We had spring ice, which means weak and hazardous ice. Too long period with temperatures above zero. We had a try the first day but had to leave at the east shore of Linnansaari main island because the ice was too dangerous. Following morning the temperature was above zero with strong winds.
We had a strengthening head wind with lots of water on the ice. During the day the water disappeared and offered us a wonderful surface. In the evening the temperature decreased and we could skate again on fresh, dry ice.