Paanajarvi National Park is situated in the northern part of Karelia, Russia. The park is famous for the beauty of its landscapes, and it is rich in flora and fauna.

Paanajärvi National Park is located in the northern part of Karelia, just a few kilometers from the Arctic Circle. The western part of the park goes along the border with Finland. The nearest settlement is the village of Pyaozersky. It houses the Visitor Centre of the Park.

The Park was founded in 1992 to protect the unique natural complexes of Paanajarvi Lake and the Olanga River. Currently, the area of the Park is 104,473 ha.

The heart of the Park is Lake Paanajarvi, lying in a deep canyon, which appeared over 1,5 billion years ago as a result of earthquakes. This narrow Lake is one of the deepest in the Northern Europe (maximum depth is 128 m). Paanajarvi Lake is a source of the Olanga River, flowing in the relatively big Lake Pjaozero. There are hundreds of smaller lakes, ponds and streams on the territory of the Park. The Park has many hills and mountains, with three highest points: Mt. Nuorunen (576 m), Mt. Mantutunturi (542 m) and Mt. Kivakkatunturi (often called as Kivakka, 499 m).

Flora and fauna of Paanajärvi

Most of the Park area is covered by completely untouched forests, which preserve many plant and animal species. One of the symbols of the Park is a Lady's-Slipper orchid, which can be found in the marshlands. 36 mammal species inhabit the area, including the brown bear, wild reindeer, wolverine, elk, lynx, wolf, otter, hare and others. Many bird species can be seen in the Park - white-tailed eagle, golden eagle, fish-hawk, great gray owl, ptarmigan, capercaillie, swan, ducks, geese etc.

Another symbol of the Park is the brown trout. In summer, it swims up the Olanga River to Lake Paanajarvi and farther to smaller rivers to spawn. Other valuable species are grayling, xhar and whitefish.

Attractions in Paanajärvi National Park

The park has a number of visitor attractions, including Lake Paanajarvi, Kivakka Mountain and Kivakkakoski Waterfall.

1. Paanajarvi Lake, Ruskeakallio and Mantykoski Cascade

Paanajarvi Lake is 23.5 km long and 1-1.5 km wide. The most impressing site on the Lake is Ruskeakallio (Red Rocks) Cliff. This is a 60-meter high vertical rock on the northern shore of the Lake, about 11 km from its easternmost part. The beautiful Mantykoski Cascade is located a few kilometres farther to the west on the bank of the Mantyjoki River.

2. Olanga River and Kivakkakoski Waterfall

The Olanga River runs from Paanajarvi Lake to Pjaozero Lake, the length of the river is 28 km. The Olanga River is rich with brown trout, grayling, char and pike. One can obtain a fishing licence in the visitor centre. Close to the mouth of the river, the Kivakkakoski cascade is located. Being 12 meters high with the flow rate of 63 cubic meters per second, it is the biggest cascade in Karelia.

3. Kivakka Mountain

Mt. Kivakka is the 3rd highest mountain of the Paanajarvi Park and Karelia; it is just a few cm lower than 500 meters. Centuries ago, this Mountain was a religious place of the Saami (Lapp) tribes. From the top of the Mountain one can enjoy a beautiful panorama of Pjaozero Lake, Kivakkakoski Cascade and Mt. Nuorunen.

4. Nuoronen Mountain

The Nuoronen Mountain is the highest one in Karelia, and reaches 576 meters. It offers a magnificent view on the nearby territory.

Excursions and activities in Paanajärvi

Being one of the best places for outdoor activities in northern Russia, the Park offers several exiting boating, hiking and trekking trips.

1. Paanajarvi Lake boat trip

This trip starts from the easternmost shore of the Paanajarvi Lake. In 13 km from the starting point travellers reach Ruskeakallio Cliff. Several kilometres farther to the west the mouth of the Mantyjoki River is located. We get off the boat and then we walk to the beautiful five-step Mantykoski Cascade, which is 9 meters high. The whole adventure lasts for 3 or 4 hours.

2. Hiking to Kivakkakoski Cascade

Pick-up at your lodge and transfer to the abandoned village of Vartiolampi. Continue along the 5-kilometer long ecological trail to the impressive Kivakkakoski Cascade. The roar of the Cascade can be heard at a distance of 1-2 km. Return in the similar way. Total duration is about 4 hours.

3. Trekking to Mount Kivakka

The trail to Mt. Kivakka begins on the road going from the entrance of the Park to the Olanga River. While ascending to the top of the Mountain, travellers can see the drastic change of landscape and vegetation, from typical taiga forest to mosses and lichens of mountainous tundra. A picturesque small lake is situated near the top of Kivakka, being fed by rain and melting snow. Duration: 5 hours approximately.

4. Snowmobiling to Mount Nourunen

The distance from the starting point of the tour at the very entrance to the park to the top of Mt. Nuoronen is 26 km. In summer time, getting there requires at least a 2-day hike. In winter, it is much easier by a snowmobile.

Visitor centre of “Paanajarvi” National Park

Open on weekdays from 9.00 till 17.00. Closed — Saturday and Sunday. Under the preliminary request, the tourists can be registered daily from 8.00 till 19.00.

Getting here

Paanajärvi National Park is located in the north-west of Karelia, near the Russian-Finnish border.

You can get to the national park by road, following the road between the villages of Loukhi and Suoperya to the village of Pyaozersky. The distance from Loukhi to Pyaozersky is 110 km. The distance from the international checkpoint on the Russian-Finnish border of Suoperya - Kuusamo to Pyaozersky is 57 km. The distance from Pyaozersky to the checkpoint of the national park is 59 km.

The roads in these places are mostly dirt roads, so travelling by car takes a lot of time.