Soomaa National Park, which was created in 1993, is located on the border of Pärnu County and Viljandi County and is the second largest national park in Estonia. Soomaa has bogs that are almost completely untouched by human activity and rivers flowing in their natural beds, and it is truly one of the jewels of Estonian nature. In addition to the national park, the Soomaa region includes many culturally significant sites, including Suure-Kõpu Manor, Tori Horse Breeding Farm, and Kurgja Farm Museum, which are linked together by the diverse and seasonal nature tourism services provided by the local businesses. More than 50 different RMK accommodation facilities are open to all visitors travelling on their own in Soomaa National Park and its surrounding areas, which span from Kurgja to Viljandi and Pärnu. (For more information visit www.soomaa.ee)
Author: Aivar Ruukel
Soomaa’s unique landscapes, bogs, floodplain meadows, and dunes provide new and surprising experiences every season. Soomaa's most distinctive feature is what the inhabitants of the local villages usually refer to as the "fifth season". According to the villagers, they have the four seasons of spring, summer, autumn and winter, but also a fifth season of high water. In olden times, people living in Soomaa, whose feet got wet when they got out of their beds in the morning used to say: “Look! There’s a visitor in the room!” During the floods and high water, most of Soomaa is accessible by canoe, kayak, or dugout, and visitors are able to view areas that can otherwise only be reached in winter when everything is covered in snow and ice. The rivers as well as riverside floodplain meadows and bog forests have retained their natural appearance and pristine form. This means that during the high water, you can glide along a river and see animals and birds that otherwise hide from humans in the depths of the forests or in the shade of trees that line the banks of the rivers.
Author: Aivar Ruukel
In springtime, the water level sometimes reaches so high that it carries off large stacks of firewood as well as lighter buildings. Rivers and floods have influenced the development and persistence of several Soomaa traditions. One of the most characteristic of these is the tradition of making dugout canoes and the skills necessary for making dugouts are being passed on to this day. In the past, people began preparing early for the floods that occurred at the beginning of spring. Their preparations included baking several batches of bread, tying stacks of wood to fences, lifting grain containers on top of trestles, and nailing crosswise boards on the floor in order to prevent the rising water from carrying the floors away. The high water sometimes persisted for as long as a couple of weeks. In Soomaa, even the dwellings were built differently than elsewhere in Estonia – with their front doors towards the river, since that was where all visitors came from and that was the way they went.
AS A HIKING AND VACATION DESTINATION, SOOMAA is attractive to all nature lovers.
The national park is open to all visitors throughout the year and its natural environment, the public tourist facilities created in the park, and the various services provided by the local businesses offer diverse opportunities for holidays or going on a trip. We ask that visitors who are planning on hiking or having a holiday in the national park treat the resources available to them with respect and familiarise themselves with the options available and the rules and regulations in Soomaa on the national park’s website: www.soomaa.ee
The following companies offer services to the visitors of Soomaa National Park:
TRAVEL ARRANGEMENTS and GUIDED TOUR SERVICES:
ACCOMMODATION in the Soomaa region:
DINING in the Soomaa region:
Sookolli Söögituba (advance bookings only)
Energia talu (advance bookings only)
Klaara-Manni Puhketalu (advance bookings only)
Põnka Puhketalu (advance bookings only)
Vanaõue Puhkekeskus (advance bookings only)
Vana Postimaja Suure-Jaanis (advance bookings only)
How to get from Pärnu to Soomaa:
In order to get from Pärnu to the tourist centre in Soomaa by car, you will have to drive 44 kilometres, first in the direction of Tori and then towards Jõesuu. In Jõesuu, road signs pointing 15 kilometres to the Soomaa tourist centre can be found approximately 50 metres beyond the border of the village.
Public transport can be used to get from Pärnu to Soomaa twice a day:
Pärnu - Riisa (Tori rural municipality) bus no. 339
Riisa – Pärnu – Riisa bus no. 339