Two primarily watery national parks in the Savonlinna area – Kolovesi and Linnansaari – offer fabulous lakescapes dotted with islands that are best explored by hiring a canoe or kayak. Several outfitters offer these services, and free camping spots dot the lakes’ shores. It's the best part of the Lakeland to really get up close and personal with this region’s natural beauty.
This is the habitat of the endangered freshwater Saimaa ringed seal. Separated from its Baltic cousins at the end of the last Ice Age, it was in imminent danger of extinction during the 20th century due to hunting and human interference. Though there remain only a precarious 300-odd of the greyish beasts, population levels are on the increase. Late May is the most likely time to see seals, as they are moulting and spend much time on rocks.