“Enonkoski, Finland — A brisk wind was kicking up silvery ripples on the water’s surface — a pretty sight but no help in the search for Saimaa ringed seals.
Matti Siivonen, our guide, said the surface disturbance would camouflage the rare animals, relatives to the arctic seal, which have been stranded in freshwater lakes here for 8,000 years. But, he added, spotting seals usually requires more than a week’s stay in Kolovesi National Park, an 18-square-mile wilderness of wooded islands set amid a maze of straits and channels. We were booked for two days.
The seals let us down, but the park did not: Kolovesi’s pristine wilderness teems with bird, mammal and fish life. Its numerous islands and islets boast soaring cliffs, forests laden with wild berries and mushrooms, ancient rock formations and caves with prehistoric drawings.”