Natural wonders of Lappeenranta and Imatra region
The greatest natural wonders in Lappeenranta and Imatra region are the two parallel Salpauselkä ridges, dividing the whole province. It is a little difficult to see their shapes in the landscape because of their enormous size. A tourist, a hiker or an outdoorsman can, however, learn to see smaller signs of this ice age wonder piece by piece in a scenery that always has interesting stories to tell.
The region is connected by water – in the shape of the Saimaa Canal – to Helsinki, the sea and rest of the world. However, only one-fifth of South Karelia’s surface area is water.
Most places have their own stories to tell about the history of different periods from the time of the Ice age to the beginning of modern wood-processing industry.
The warmer periods that lasted some two hundred years, gave birth to the first and second Salpausselkä ridges around 10.000 years ago.
The Lake Saimaa of that period was connected to the Baltic Sea, and it was separated from the Baltic Sea at the same time as, for instance, Lake Päijänne. Due to the uplift of the land, the outflow of Lake Saimaa found its way through the first Salpausselkä ridge at the site of present-day Imatra, and started to run to Lake Ladoga, the largest lake in Europe. This enormous convulsion of nature, the birth of the Vuoksi River, took place ca. 5.000 years ago.
In the landscape there are noticeable signs of the ice age, for instance at Kyläniemi in Taipalsaari on the second Salpausselkä ridge, the Ukonhauta "graves" at Joutseno, "suppa" pits also on the island of Lammassaari in Imatra, the Parikkala ridges and "suppa" ponds, as well as the great suppa in Uukuniemi called Huttumalja.
Everyman’s Rights in Finland
It is allowed to
- Walk, ski or cycle in the nature, except for other people’s yards, fields or plantation that might get damaged.
- Stay and camp in areas where crossing is allowed.
- Pick wild berries, mushroom, and flowers.
- Angle and ice-fish.
- Swim, go boating, wash in the waters, and walk on ice.
It is forbidden to
- Cause harm or hindrance to others – injure or otherwise harm birds and game.
- Cut down or cause damage to live trees, and take dried or fallen wood, twigs, moss etc. from other people’s land.
- Make open fire on someone else’s land, with the exception of pressing need.
- Disturb the domestic peace by camping too close to property or making loud noise.
- Litter waste.
- Drive a motor vehicle on the grounds without the permission of the land owner.
- Go fishing without the required permits.
All other forms of fishing, except for angling and ice-fishing, require a permit in Finland and everyone (aged 18–64) is assigned a fee.
Saimaa ringed seal
The Saimaa ringed seal (Pusa hispida saimensis) is one of the world's rarest seals, appearing only in the Saimaa waterway in Finland. The Saimaa ringed seal is highly endangered and was given protected status by the WWF in 1979. The Saimaa ringed seal is a unique species, rare and severely endangered. The beautiful creature can be spotted on a cruise or a canoeing trip if you are lucky! According to YLE (17.10.2019) "Conservationists have succeeded in smashing a target for numbers of the rare and severely endangered Saimaa ringed seal, with more than 400 now apparently resident in eastern Finland. Finland's state-owned forestry enterprise Metsähallitus estimates that about 410 seals currently live in the Saimaa lake region."