Located some 800km north of Helsinki, by the border with Russia in Northern Ostrobothnia, the Kuusamo Ruka region is famed for its natural beauty. Adorned with lakes, rivers, rapids, canyons, and ancient forests that have largely remained untouched, and hemmed in by some of Finland’s most striking fells, Kuusamo is one of Finland’s major holiday destinations, attracting almost a million tourists annually.
Nature lovers and photographers come to Kuusamo as it is home to some Finland’s rarest species of animals and plants, including the large forest predators; wolves, bears, and wolverines. Thanks to its proximity to Russia, the range of flora and fauna found here is diverse, comprising arctic, Siberian, and southern species. Such is the natural beauty of the surrounding region that there are four National Parks accessible from Kuusamo.
A little to the north lies the magnificent Oulanka National Park which covers 270 km2 and includes Finland’s most popular hiking trail, the legendary 82km long Karhunkierros Trail. Not far from Oulanka lies the much smaller Riisitunturi National Park, famed for having some of the finest sloping bogs anywhere in Europe. To the west of Kuusamo Syöte National Park, a sprawling 299 km2 of wooded hills, open scenery, ravines and valleys, small bogs and open waters. An hour to the south Hossa National Park covers 110 km2 and was the oldest official hiking area in Finland, home to the oldest rock paintings in Northern Finland, at Värikallio, dating back to 1500-2500 BC.
Ruka Ski Resort
Kuusamo is home to Ruka Ski Resort, one of the largest and most modern in Finland. The resort has 35 slopes (30 are illuminated) that range from gentle beginners’ to challenging black slopes for professional skiers. The season usually begins in mid October and can last until June, thanks to the resort’s 100 snow-cannons. There are 22 ski lifts, including the new Village-2-Valley scenic gondola and Village Express chairlift which take visitors to the top of Ruka all year round.
There are a variety of activities to be enjoyed throughout the year in Kuusamo, with most set in the untouched surrounding nature.
In the summertime, the main activities include hiking, fishing, rafting, cycling and mountain biking, horseback riding, bird watching, husky and reindeer farm visits, and rock climbing.
Downhill skiing is by far the most popular winter activity at Ruka. Snowmobiling and winter karting are also available, as well reindeer and husky safaris, ice floating, and ice fishing.