This particular tour was worth every Euro. Led by young, interesting and often humorous guides, this National Park tour touches on a variety of attractions within a 200km radius of Tallinn. Our guides were both Estonian and knowledgeable about Estonian history, some of which they personally lived through including the end of the cold war and when Estonia received its most recent independence in 1991.
Stops include several waterfalls including Jagala Falls, one of the highest in all of Estonia at a whopping 8 meters! It is more impressive in its girth however and spans approximately 50 meters. During the winter this waterfall freezes and one can walk in the pseudo cave that forms behind it. During warm days you will see people wading or fishing here.
A stop will be made to try out a traditional Estonian wooden farm swing. A wooden platform is attached to wooden log – participants line up next to each other on each side of the platform. Then they start rocking back and forth, bending down at the knees when you go up, and straightening when you go down. Depending on the effort exerted by the individuals, you can really rock back and forth quite high!
Lunch is a timely stop in the small captains and fishing village of Käsmu on the edge of a small bay on the Gulf of Finland. The owners of the Maritime Museum here put on a delicious locally prepared lunch – with salmon smoked on site and a hearty round of potatoes to accompany. This museum boasts an intriguing collection of historical items – many of which are related to marine activities.
A nearby tower is available for climbing (for the daring) – it used to be a watchtower for several decades – guards used to keep a lookout on any locals trying to escape the country in small boats. Picturesque bays and small beaches line the nearby coastline.
A unique highlight of this tour is a visit to an old Soviet submarine base on the edge of a bay. The base was shut down sometime in the 1980’s – today it is a crumbling relict of what it once was. Graffiti covers the inside rooms with some era propaganda artwork still on the walls from the 1950’s or 1960’s. The happenings on this base were kept a secret from the locals. Large holes in the concrete expose various levels below and or the sea. Rusty iron litters the base.
Approximately 20% of Estonia is covered with bogs – marshy, peat moss areas that are high in acidity and full of small ponds and dwarf trees. We visited the Viru Bog Walk – bogs are spongy and you can easily sink into the earth – as a result there is well maintained wooden path through the heart of the bog. This is in Lahemma National Park; with the weather so nice we immediately stripped down and swam out. The water is fairly clear, yet has a distinct brownish tinge to it. The first 1/2 meter was quite warm, below that was very cold.
It is interesting to note there is a term for humans that have been preserved in the bogs. They are called “bog bodies” and have been found in some peat bogs in northern Europe. Some date back up to 10,000 years old. This environment is very high in acid, low in temperature and often anaerobic in nature (lacking oxygen) – fairly ideal conditions for preservation. Some of the bodies that have been discovered in northern European bogs are well preserved – the skin and the organs and facial features, others are not so much. It is interesting to note that the high acid content in the waters often eats through the bones but the skin and organs are less affected.
This particular tour was recommended to me by @girlatplay on Twitter. Interestingly enough I already had Tallinn Traveller linked on our Links page under Countries >> Estonia. For more information about the tours offered by Tallinn Traveller visit: www.traveller.ee or for this specific tour see: www.traveller.ee/tour/lahemaa-national-park-day-trip