Heritage Sites:Soomaa National Park
The national park was established in 1993 to protect a pristine area of bogs and marshes, species-rich meadows and a variety of forests. Its diverse nature, unique suspension bridge, distinctive boat culture have made it a very popular attraction. 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. During the floods and high water, most of Soomaa is accessible by canoe, kayak, or dugout canoe, and visitors are able to view areas that can otherwise only be reached in winter when everything is covered in snow and ice. The Finno-Ugric one-log boat (also know as dugout canoe) or haabjas in Estonian is probably the world’s oldest boat type and the forefather of modern plank boat. By today Soomaa has developed into a center for builiding and maintaining the traditions of these ancient dugout boats in Estonia. The most popular sights in the national park are the Ruunaraipe meadows, the beaver trail, the Riisa bog trail, the Mulgi hay fields, the Oksa complex, the Latvia viewing platform, the Meiekose study trail and campsite, the Ingatsi trail and viewing tower and its suspension bridges.
The Soomaa National Park visitors centre in Kõrtsi-Tõramaa has a permanent exhibition and computer programmes designed for visitors. In the year 2009 Soomaa National Park became a member of PAN Parks network - standing for european wilderness. On the same year Soomaa was awarded by European Commission in the contest "Tourism in protected areas" as a supreme nature holiday destination -European Destinations of Excellence.
Soomaa Nature Centre is located in the middle of the park. Building of the visitor centre was finished in 1998 and has been placed on the historical crossroad of ancient winter ways that were used up to the beginning of 20th century for transporting goods from Pärnu to Viljandi.
About the Heritage Site
- Country: South-West Estonia, Viljandi and Pärnu county
- Location: Pärnu and Viljandi county, Kõrtsi-Tõramaa, Tipu Village
- Type of location: Protects a pristine area of bogs and marshes, species-rich meadows and a variety of forests. Its diverse nature, unique suspension bridge, distinctive boat culture and five seasons have made it a very popular attraction.
- Experience offered:Informs visitor about its natural and cultural values and gives nature education. The National Park offers a variety of excursions such as canoeing, bogshoeing and other nature trips (hiking trips on foot,nature education, fishing).
- Website: www.soomaa.ee
- Postal Adress:
- Soomaa National Park Visitor Centre, Kõrtsi-Tõramaa, Tipu Village, Viljandi County, Estonia 71211
- phone: +372 43 57164 / +372 52 61 924
- e-mail: email@example.com
Accessibility of Heritage Site
- Opening times: The park’s visitor centre is located in located in the middle of the park.
- 15.04.-15.09: Open every day from 10:00 to 18:00
- 16.09.-14.04: Open Tuesday-Saturday from 10:00 to 16:00
- Entrance fee: Free of charge
- How to get there
- By car: Soomaa National Park visitor centre is located in the middle of the park 44 km away from the centre of Pärnu and Viljandi cities. The easiest way to get here is with a car or transfer organised by local companies. There is sadly no direct public transport access to National Park Visitor Centre.
- By bus: Closest point to get here daily with public transport is Riisa village (Tori municipality), located 8 km away from the Visitor Centre.
Size/capacities of Heritage Site
- Soomaa National Park is the most valuable part of the remaining extensive wilderness area in southwest Estonia. Kuresoo Bog is one of the two best surviving large bogs in Estonia with species diversity amongst the highest. The alluvial meadows and forests that cover the riverbanks are of great botanical value. Approximately 200 species have been recorded, including Gladiolus imbricatus, Iris sibirica and Sedum telephium.
- Services like accommodation, guided tours and other activities in the Soomaa National Park are organised by private companies and need to be booked ahead.