Visiting The Green Planet's Taiga Forests
Sir David Attenborough's latest BBC series 'The Green Planet" re-visits the taiga forests of Finland. This subarctic forest lies just south of the Arctic Circle and is a playground for hikers, bikers, and boaters, in summer and winter.
In Sir David Attenborough’s new five-part BBC series released in 2022, he re-visits the wild taiga forests of Finland in winter. The taiga is a forest of the cold, subarctic region, lying between the tundra to the north and temperate forests to the south. It can be found just south of the Arctic Circle. Finland and Scandinavia have wild taigas as well as Russia’s Siberia region. Sometimes referred to as a boreal forest or snow forest, Finland’s taiga forests are full of pines, spruces and birch. ‘The Green Planet’ focusses in on these incredible confers that can survive under snow for up to 6 months a year and not die due to the anti-freeze quality in their sap. Any visitor to Finland in winter will remember the beauty of these trees in the frozen landscape and marvel at their ability to prosper.
Interestingly, once the landscape has thawed in summer, the soil beneath the taiga often contains permafrost—a layer of permanently frozen soil. Often a layer of bedrock lies just beneath the soil, which together with the permafrost, prevents water from draining from the top layers of soil. This helps create the bogs that Finland forests are so famous for. It is not unusual to find local’s using these bogs for health and wellness purposes or recreation, just google bog snorkelling, wrestling and so forth.
Something to look out for is that in some of the boggier (drunken) forests, trees tilt in different directions. These trees aren’t tipsy from the local brew, but from changing taiga soil conditions. When permafrost layers in the soil thaw, the ground sags. This causes nearby trees, which have very shallow roots, to lean toward the depression.
Pronounced like 'tiger' in Finnish, the Finnish taiga forests are very precious to the local inhabitants. There are traditional reindeer herders still living in and around the forests. Picking berries and mushrooms in autumn is a local tradition and you can enjoy the fruits of their picking when visiting the area.
In Finland, you can find the wild taiga forests mostly on Finland's eastern border around Kainuu, Kuhmo and Suomussalmi. During summer, these small villages offer unique opportunities to see wildlife such as bears, wolverines, birds of prey and elk in their natural settings. You can visit these taiga forests by private car or by day tours out of these northern villages. Depending on how long you have, you can fly or drive up to these regions. Oulu, Kuusamo, Joensuu and Kajaani all have airports that are a short distance away from a taiga forest. These towns are approximately an hour’s flight from Helsinki.
During summer, hiking and picnicking are some of the favourite ways to explore the taiga forests. Most of Finland’s National Parks have well-presented Discovery Centres and places to learn about the local forests and fauna. There are also many wildlife parks and local outdoor activities that can be arranged. Activities range from day or overnight canoeing tours, guided hikes, overnight animal hide stays to easy going buggy tours and wildlife safaris.
In winter, a whole new range of holidays present themselves. Northern Lights tours, skiing and winter adventures are possible. We can arrange Northern Lights and Christmas tours which include snowshoeing, dogsledding, or snowmobiling through the beautiful snow forests of Finland. One of our favourite winter tours to allows you time to discover the forests of Finland is the Finnish Short Winter Break. This 5-day tour includes a snowmobile safari and dogsledding through the forests around Kittilä.
Many travellers visit Finland’s taiga forests to see large carnivores like bears, wolves, and wolverines in their natural habitat. Others come to photograph the wild variety of birds that make the taiga their home. Elks, flying squirrels and Finnish caribou also can be seen in this area. Wildlife and photography safaris operate throughout the year depending on what you are looking for. Overnight hide stays can be arranged with long summer nights making perfect conditions for wildlife spotting.
- Oulanka National Park with rugged cliffs and frothing rivers, great hiking on the Karhunkierros Trail, and endless taiga forest stretching to Russia.
- Muonio and Rovanemi offer dogsledding where you can mush through vast expanses of Finland’s frozen winter wilderness.
- Summer Festivals – both the Kuhmo Chamber Music and the Sommelo festivals are well known and worth visiting during the summer months.
- Slow and Wellness travel experiences are key to a relaxing visit to this region of Finland. Sharing a wood sauna with locals, swimming in pristine lakes and booking a wellness package at your accommodation are all highly recommended.
50 Degrees North offers several summer tours that visit the taiga forests of Finland and across Scandinavia and Russia. Our Green Forests and Blue Lakes self-drive in Finland travels to the eastern parts of Finland, exploring the Ukko Nature Centre in the Koli National Park.
Our Log Cabins and Bears of Finland self-drive tour includes an extended bear safari, guided hikes, and many wildlife experiences in the taiga forests. This 8-day tour departs any day between May and September. Wolverine overnight observation, husky trekking, husky farm visit, rapid swimming, paddling excursion and rafting can be included as optional extras.
In winter, see our wide range of Northern Lights tours that visit the snow forests of Finland.
Images: Visit Finland, photographer: Kristiina Kontoniemi, Veikko Venemies, the Aurora Village.