Paanajarvi National Park is situated in the northern part of Karelia, Russia. The Polar Circle is just several kilometers from its northern boundary. The western sector of the Park lies along the Russian - Finnish border. Administratively, the Park belongs to the Louhi Region of the Russian Karelia, the nearest settlement to the Park is a small town of Pjaozersky.
The Park was founded in 1992 to protect the unique natural complexes of Paanajarvi Lake and the Olanga River. Currently, the area of the Park is 104,473 ha, and the wilderness zone is 100,000 ha (96% of the total area).
The heart of the Park is Lake Paanajarvi, lying in a deep canyon, which appeared over 1,5 billion years ago as a result of earthquakes. This narrow Lake is one of the deepest in the Northern Europe (maximum depth is 128 m). Paanajarvi Lake is a source of the Olanga River, flowing in the relatively big Lake Pjaozero. There are hundreds of smaller lakes, ponds and streams on the territory of the Park. The Park has many hills and mountains, with three highest points: Mt. Nuorunen (576 m), Mt. Mantutunturi (542 m) and Mt. Kivakkatunturi (often called as Kivakka, 499 m).
Flora and fauna
Most of the Park area is covered by completely untouched forests, which preserve many plant and animal species. One of the symbols of the Park is a wonderful Lady's-Slipper, which can be found in the marshlands. 36 mammal species inhabit the area, including the Brown Bear, Wild Reindeer, Wolverine, Elk, Lynx, Wolf, Otter, Hare and others. Many bird species can be observed in the Park - White-Tailed Eagle, Golden Eagle, Fish-Hawk, Great Gray Owl, Ptarmigan, Capercaillie, Swan, ducks, geese etc.
Another symbol of the Park is Brown Trout. In summer, it swims up the Olanga River to Lake Paanajarvi and farther to smaller rivers to spawn. In a certain season fishing for Brown Trout is allowed, the heaviest trophies caught can weigh between 10 and 12 kg. Other valuable species are Grayling, Char and Whitefish.
1. Paanajarvi Lake, Ruskeakallio and Mantykoski Cascade
Paanajarvi National Park. Mantykoski Cascade Paanajarvi Lake is 23.5 km long and 1-1.5 km wide. The most impressing site on the Lake is Ruskeakallio (Red Rocks) Cliff. This is a 60-meter high vertical rock on the northern shore of the Lake, about 11 km from its easternmost part. The beautiful 5-step Mantykoski Cascade is located a few kilometers farther to the west on the shore of the Mantyjoki River.
2. Olanga River and Kivakkakoski Cascade
Paanajarvi National Park. Kivakkakoski Cascade The Olanga River runs from Paanajarvi Lake to Pjaozero Lake, the length of the River is 28 km. Close to the mouth of the River the Kivakkakoski Cascade is located. Being 12 meters high with water consumption of 63 cubic meters per second, it is the biggest cascade in Karelia. The name of the Cascade originates from Mt. Kivakka, which overlooks the Cascade. The Olanga River is rich with brown trout, grayling, char and pike.
3. Kivakka Mountain
Mt. Kivakka is the 3rd highest mountain of the Paanajarvi Park and Karelia; it is just a few cm lower than 0.5 km. Centuries ago, this Mountain was a religious place of the Saami (Lapp) tribes, and a well-preserved ancient sanctuary, seid, is located on its top. From the summit of the Mountain one can enjoy a beautiful panorama of Pjaozero Lake, Kivakkakoski Cascade and Mt. Nuorunen.
4. Nuoronen Mountain
The Nuoronen Mountain is the highest in Karelia, and reaches 576 meters. It offers a magnificent view on the nearby territory.
5. Asteronjarvi Path
The Asteronjarvi Path is 8 km long; it goes through marshland, forest and along small lakes of the northern part of the Park.
Excursions and Activities
1. Tour of Paanajarvi Lake, Mantykoski Cascade and trolling
The tour starts from the easternmost shore of the Paanajarvi Lake. In 13 km from the starting point travelers reach Ruskeakallio Cliff, which can be observed from the boat. Several kilometers farther to the west the mouth of the Mantyjoki River is located. A walk to the beautiful Mantykoski Cascade is very short, just 5-7 minutes. During the trip on the Paanajarvi Lake, travelers may encounter various species of birds, plants and herbs. For fishermen, trolling on Paanajarvi Lake can be added.
Duration: ~6 hours (longer with trolling).
2. Tour to the Kivakkakoski Cascade
A simple bus of the Park picks up travelers at their lodges and drives along the bank of the Olanga River to the abandoned village of Vartiolampi. A 5-kilometer long ecological trail has been constructed from the picturesque meadows of Vartiolampi to the impressive Kivakkakoski Cascade. The roar of the Cascade is hearable at a distance of 1-2 km around it.
Duration: ~4-5 hours.
3. Tour to Kivakka Mountain
Paanajarvi National Park. On the top of Kivakka Mt. The trail to Mt.Kivakka begins on the road going from the entrance of the Park to the Olanga River. While ascending to the top of the Mountain, travelers can see the drastic change of landscape and vegetations, from typical taiga forest to mosses and lichens of mountainous tundra. A picturesque small lake is situated near the summit of Kivakka, being fed by rain and melting snow. On the very top, the breathtaking view of the endless taiga around and Pyaozero Lake in the south-east opens up.
Duration: ~6 hours.
4. Tour to Nourunen Mountain
The distance from the starting point of the tour at the very entrance to the park to the top of Mt. Nuoronen is 26 km. In summer time, getting there requires at least a 2-day hike. In winter, it is much easier by a snowmobile.