When you arrive to a new place and you see a gate that greets you with “Welcome to hell“, you can be sure that you haven’t travelled there for nothing. Helvetinjärvi (Hell’s Lake) national park is located just 40 minutes drive away from my home town so I decided to pay a visit there. Ever since I came back from Australia, I have had huge drive to explore more of my local surroundings. This is something I haven’t felt before. Maybe being in Australia for so long has made me miss Finland. Or is it just me getting older and wanting to get to know my roots? Or it might also be the fact that the Finnish nature is freaking beautiful, especially this time of the year. Look at the pictures and decide yourself.
Anyway, off I went, packed my lunch and drove pass Ruovesi town to Kankimäki parking area located on the east side of the park. There are two other parking areas within the national park but you might want to travel to this one and visit Helvetin Portti (Hell’s gate), a very unique restaurant, at the same time. Among other things, the restaurant serves exotic ostrich and wild boar meat burgers, and the meat comes from a local ostrich and boar farm located just 500 meters away. In May the restaurant is open only on the weekends but from June it is open every day during the summer.
Helvetinjärvi national park was founded in 1982 but even before that it was a popular destination for nature lovers. And I don’t wonder why. I didn’t have a lot of time so I walked only a 4 kilometre loop called From hell to east, but even during that walk, I saw some pretty amazing scenery ranging from green mossy forests to deep gorges and swamps. I even managed to see ice on one cliff even though it was + 24 degrees!
One of the most beautiful spots is Helvetinkolu where I had my lunch. It was so peaceful and tranquil to relax by the lake, enjoy the warming sun and listen to birds singing. Beats the office, uh? In Helvetinkolu you can also find a place to make fire, free wood and old daytime cottage with fireplace (you are not allowed to camp there).
This was my first visit to a Finnish national park during this year, but I can promise to you that it won’t be the last. I must also confess that I haven’t ever slept outside on my own so that is going to be my next target on my “wilderness adventures”. Can’t wait!
More information on Helvetinjärvi national park: www.nationalparks.fi/helvetinjarvinp