Happy 29th anniversary to Vilsandi, Soomaa and Karula national parks!


Margit Turb

Visiting national parks is well worth your time, even now in the winter. The natural scenery is dressed up in white and, in the magical snowlight, the views are unlike any other time of the year.
Each national park is unique in its nature and cultural heritage.

  • The rivers and bogs of Soomaa have frozen over and are covered in a fluffy white blanket of snow. The still life of winter invites you to discover its wonders on skis, kicksleds, ice skates or even on foot, trekking through the snow. More observant explorers may notice the paw prints of a lynx on the snow or catch sight of roe deer on the hunt for food. Meanwhile, locals are busy knitting beautiful gloves decorated with the Estonian inlay technique roosimine or are searching for a suitable aspen tree to make a dugout boat while pondering over what the spring is going to bring – will there be a glorious fifth season?
  • Amidst the snowy junipers of Vilsandi, the season of Estonian potato flat-bread baking and white sausage making (containing pork and barley groats) has begun in all village farms. The sea is still releasing its heat so there is no chance of it freezing over any time soon. Storm winds wash mud (seaweed) ashore, which the locals use to fertilise their gardens or to earn additional income (Furcellaria lumbricalis).  With its ever-changing coastline, Harilaid attracts hikers even in the wintertime and, if you visit the Soeginina cliff on a mild, calm day, you may be able to hear the howling of seals at sea.  
  • On the paths and roads winding through the hills of Karula, you cannot help but to take things slow and enjoy the scenery. On Saturday evenings, the locals enjoy a hot smoke sauna and, in the fast and talented hands of the women, beautiful woollen Karula striped skirts are made. Everyone is busy preparing for the winter solstice: people thoroughly clean their houses and make traditional blood sausages as well as gingerbread dough.
Harilaiu tuletorn Vilsandi rahvuspargis talvel
Harilaiu peninsula, Vilsandi national park. Photo by Kadri Paomees