Source: Jarek Jõepera
The Soomaa National Park is a wetland area in the Pärnu and Viljandi County. Visitors might know Soomaa best for its great flood or the so-called fifth season, when the water from melted snow or heavy rains floods all the lower forests, roads and even yards.
If you are approaching Soomaa from Pärnu, be sure to stop at the mysterious Tori Hell. When headed to the Visitor Centre of the Soomaa National Park, stop by the historical Riisa Study Trail, which is accessible for both explorers in wheelchairs and hikers with baby prams.
Soomaa visitors can take part in regular, canoe and snowshoe hikes; beavers are the popular focus for animal viewing tours. The Beaver Trail, which starts at the Visitor Centre of the Soomaa National Park, is accessible both by wheelchairs and baby prams.
There are five large wetlands in Soomaa, also known as the capital of Estonian primeval nature. Traditional cultivation of land has turned the banks of the meandering river into diverse river flood-meadows and wooded meadows. It is due to these untouched areas that Soomaa is part of the network of European wilderness.
Soomaa is a shelter for smaller and larger birds and animals. These forests are home to elk, deer, wild boar, lynx, wolf and bear; watery landscapes are designed by beavers.
Birds living in Soomaa include grouse and golden eagle; mash edges are the playgrounds of the capercaillies, while open mash fields are filled with the cooing of black grouses. Woodpeckers and many owls can be found in more humid forests. Flood-meadows are home to Charadriiformes, great snipe and corncrake.
The history of human population in Soomaa dates back to the Stone Age. The ancient and charming nature of this place is reflected in the traditional aspen logboat, the making of which can be learned in Soomaa.
The Soomaa National Park belongs to the PAN Parks network of protected areas, which focuses on the protection of wilderness.
In 2007, the European Commission launched the European Destinations of Excellence (EDEN) competition. The Soomaa National Park - 2009 winner in category “EDEN. Estonia’s hidden treasures. Tourism and protected areas” .
Head south of Tallinn to explore some unique places.
The fifth season happens somewhere between winter and spring. It is best witnessed in Estonian natural parks.
Travel writer and filmmaker Ashwin Bhardwaj undertook a 5000-mile overland journey to explore the line between East and West