Does Oulanka mean something?
In Häme dialect Oula/Oulu means flooding. The Oulankariver floods every spring.
How can I get to Oulanka with public transportation?
Buses travel to the Oulanka National Park from Salla and Kuusamo. During summer the Karhunkierros bus operates in the area. The starting points of Karhunkierros trail that are next to big roads are easiest to access with the Karhunkierros bus: Ruka, Ristikallio starting place and Hautajärvi. There are also less frequent bus connections to Juuma and to the Oulanka Visitor Centre. An airport bus from Salla to Kuusamo airport travels through the area along the roads no. 950 and no. 5. Note that there are very few bus connections on weekends. The towns of Oulu, Rovaniemi and Kemijärvi can be reached by train. The most frequent bus connection to Kuusamo is from the town of Oulu. Connections from Kemijärvi to Kuusamo are poor.
Is there firewood near the camp fire places?
Yes. Chop as much wood as you need and leave a few pieces of chopped wood for hikers coming after you. You can find a saw and an axe from the wood shelter.
Where can I get drinking water?
Tap water is available at the Oulanka and Karhunkierros Visitor Centers. In Juuma area you can ask for tap water from the local companies offering accommodation (e.g. Retkietappi and Basecamp Oulanka). While hiking, prefer flowing water from the rivers and brooks. You can also take water from lakes and ponds but in still waters there is a bigger risk of impurities. We recommend boiling the river and lake water before drinking to avoid a risk of diseases. Drinking water from the parks water-system is at each person's own risk.
What are the conditions in Karhunkierros Trail in winter time?
The Karhunkierros Trail is not maintained in winter time. This means that the conditions are harsh and physically demanding as there are no paths visible and the snow depth can be even up to 1 meter. The hiker can sink into the snow almost till waist-high if not using snow shoes. In mid-Winter from December till February the temperature can be up to -40 Celcius degrees and the daylight time only a few hours. There are very few hikers on the Karhunkierros Trail in winter so the hiker has to be prepared to survive on his own.
The trail markings (orange paint marks in trees) are not necessarily visible in winter time and they are not reflective. Staying on the right path requires good orienteering and map reading skills. Skiing along the Karhunkierros Trail is not recommended as the terrain is hilly and the forest is partly dense. Snow shoes and sliding snow shoes are more suitable in Oulanka landscape.
The only maintained trail in the Oulanka National Park is the Oulanka Wilderness Trail (26 km) from Oulanka Visitor Centre to Juuma. The Wilderness Trail is maintained with a snow mobile and a leveller from mid-February till mid-April and it is possible to ski on the Wilderness Trail.
Please contact the Oulanka Visitor Centre for more information about the winter time hiking: by email oulanka(at)metsa.fi or by calling +358 206 39 6850.
What should be done to trash? Where are the eco-points?
The National Park and Karhunkierros Hiking Trail have three recycling points: Oulanka National Park's camping ground, Ylikota lapphut in Päähkänä and Juuma. Visitors can recycle for example glass and metal at these points as well as hazardous waste such as batteries. Clean cardboard and paper should be burnt at campsite's fireplace and organic waste placed in dry toilets. More information on litter you'll find on Hiking in Finland pages.
Is cycling allowed in the national park?
On Karhunkierros trail cycling is only permitted on the designated trail from Taivalköngäs to Oulanka visitor centre (9 km). Cycling on forest roads is also permitted.
Can I use a camp stove (Trangia, Primus etc) while the forest fire warning is on?
Yes you can. More information on campfires.
Where can I find accommodation in and around Oulanka?
Near Oulanka Visitor Centre you can find accomodation from the Oulanka Research Station as well as the Oulanka National Park's Camping ground (open during summer) that is 1, 5 kilometers from the Visitor Centre. In Juuma there are two camping grounds that rent cottages and Basecamp Oulanka, a wilderness hotel.
What are the basic guidelines for using open wilderness huts?
Open wilderness huts are intended for hikers, skiers etc. to be used as resting points or for overnight stays lasting 1 to 2 nights. Make room for visitors arriving after you, as the last to arrive at a hut have the primary right to stay overnight there. Do not disturb other people staying at the hut. The huts have wooden bunks for sleeping but you should bring your own sleeping pad and a sleeping bag. There are gas cookers in Oulanka´s open wilderness huts. Sign the hut's guestbook. Pets are allowed in the hut, but only in case that other visitors agree with it.