Touring Saimaa by boat
In the heart of Finland’s Lakeland, Saimaa is a jewel of the Finnish countryside. Saimaa is Europe’s fourth largest freshwater lake, yet impossible to view all at once; left by the raking effect of the ice age and melting glaciers, it is strewn throughout with thousands of forested islands, rocky cliffs and sandy bays. Boat tours and cruises let you experience Saimaa at its best.
To imagine Saimaa, imagine first the open water, then the forested shoreline on each horizon, with the sun on your face and a calm breeze in your hair. It harbours quiet beaches, and lively towns, hidden inlets and vast open waters. Straddling the old trade route, there’s even Europe’s northernmost medieval castle in Savonlinna which looks down at all who would pass through.
Saimaa’s huge size accommodates anything from one-man canoes to sizeable cargo ships, making boat tours the ideal way of seeing it. Harbours in towns like Savonlinna and Mikkeli offer all the services you’ll need for your boat trip.
Boats of any description are available in Saimaa. Along with rowing boats and canoes, motorboats are incredibly popular with both locals and guests alike. Many companies offer hired use of their boats while others will offer tour packages with a guide who knows the area and can take you to the best spots.
Lake Saimaa’s intricate network of waterways and forests creates a range of different habitats for fish, wildlife and birds.
As well as fantastic fishing spots on the open water and shoreline, foaming rapids and calm streams offer the fisherman many options. Since many boat tours in Saimaa specialise in fishing trips, it’s a great opportunity to get local advice on the best places.
The islands and peninsulas of Saimaa are sanctuary to a variety of birdlife, particularly waterfowl and those migrating to the huge feeding grounds in the wetlands of Lapland. From a boat, the lake offers wide, open lines of sight to birds as large as the extraordinary white-tailed sea eagle.
The list of Finnish wildlife found around Saimaa could fill a book, but while on its lakes, keep your eyes peeled for the tell-tale signs of the industrious beaver, and of the critically endangered Saimaa ringed-seal. Beavers can have a huge effect on water systems they belong to and even if you don’t see one, you might still see trees they’ve felled or lodges they’ve built. As for Saimaa’s seals, there are only a few hundred left in the world, all in Saimaa, but the locals and visitors love the sight of them bobbing in the water or sunning themselves on rocks.
With its idyllic scenery, Finland’s nature is of great important to the Finnish society and culture. Outdoor activities are available everywhere in Saimaa, but here in Lakeland the real place to be is on the water! Check out local boat tours in Saimaa for great deals.