Welcome to Soomaa National Park
Up to 43 different mammal species inhabit the surrounding forests, among them the wolf, lynx, brown bear, elk, wild boar and otter. Thousands of birds migrate to Soomaa every year, with 180 observed species. The best time to visit for a wildlife encounter is from September to May, when you’ll be able to see tracks in the snow at least – and avoid the blitzkrieg of insects that comes with summer.
A good way to explore the national park and its numerous meandering waterways is by canoe or by haabja, a traditional Finno-Ugric single-tree boat that is carved from aspen wood and has been used for centuries for fishing, hunting, hauling hay and transportation.
Bogs have historically provided isolation and protection to Estonians. Witches were said to live there, although traditional healers were sometimes stuck with that label. According to folklore, it is the mischievous will-o’-the-wisp who leads people to the bog, where they are forced to stay until the swamp gas catches fire, driving the grotesque bog inhabitants out for all to see. Closer to reality, bogs were also hiding places for partisans escaping from outside invaders who couldn’t penetrate their murky depths as easily as they could the forests (perhaps they were scared of the gremlins).