The whispering waters of Estonia

Source: Kristjan Lust

The whispering waters of Estonia

The streams, rivers and lakes of Estonia have not just provided Estonians with sustenance – they have provided avenues for travel, a backdrop for their legends and peerless beauty.

Storied waters

With close to 1,500 lakes, the waters of Estonia are considered one of the country's most valuable natural resources. They have been part of everyday life and culture. Many of Estonia's numerous waterbodies are to this day used for canoeing, sailing, water sports or as a venue for taking a voyage on a historical ship, such as those that sail on Lake Võrtsjärv or the Emajõgi River.
This extraordinary number of lakes cover nearly 6% of Estonia. The country hosts the fifth-largest lake in Europe – Lake Peipus – by the shores of which are situation Estonia's unique Russian village communities of traditional Old Orthodox Believers. The lake is also one of the locations named in the Estonian National Epic Kalevipoeg, and along its shore is Estonia's longest sandy beach – measuring over 30km in length.
On the other end of the spectrum is what may quite possibly be Estonia's most famous small lake, Kaali. This little lake fills Estonia's best-known meteorite crater.

Wet landscapes

Lakes make up about 5% of Estonia's territory.

Photo by: Arne Ader

Winding rivers

In addition to its lakes, Estonia also has over 200 natural spring-fed rivers, and countless bogs of brownish but clean marshland waters. The most scenic of these are Piusa, Ahja and the 162-km Võhandu, which all have sections of exposed Devonian sandstone outcrops. Equally memorable is the Soomaa National park where, in the spring, the rivers are unable to cope with the melting snow, causing a spectacular annual flood. This deluge is something akin to a 'fifth season' - when canoes can be paddled along roads, through forests and sometimes even in yards.
Perhaps the most iconic of all of Estonia's water scenes, however, are the Jägala and Valaste waterfalls, 8- and 30- metres high respectively, making them the tallest and most powerful in the country.

Jägala waterfall

One of Estonia's most well known waterfall is a short ride away from Tallinn.

Photo by: Oliver Pütsepp

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Last updated : 01.03.2019

In category: Activities & Adventure, Nature & Wildlife