Paanajarvi National Park is located in the North-West corner of Karelia. The heart of the park is magnificent lake Paanajarvi which is about 15 km long from East to West and about 1-2 km wide. It is surrounded by forest-covered mountains and some of them rise up to 300 meters above the lake.
In the nearby areas of lake Paanajarvi one can find equally magnificent fells and forest-covered hills. The highest, lonely fell is Nuorunen (576 m) where one can see over great distances if the weather is clear. In the west the Russian-Finnish border is well marked by Finnish clearcuts. In the west one can also see the skiing slopes of Ruka-fell. In the north there is landscape of endless forests and forest-covered hills and the fells of Mantytunturi and Lunas. Paanajarvi itself is not visible since it lies in it's canyon. Looking at east and south one can see Pjaozero-lake, forest and Russian clearcuts. From this view one can see that Paanajarvi National Park is a pearl in northern taiga and a heaven for threatened animals and plants as well as stressed humans who want to see nature as it has always been.
Another viewing site is the fell of Kivakka which is not as high (499 m) as Nuorunen but offers equally magnificent view and is more easily accessed. There is a 6 km footpath to the peak and from there one can see the Kivakka falls which are down in Oulanka river about 2 km away and 400 m down from the peak.
Around Paanajarvi National Park borders there is vast areas of taiga especially to the north. You should seriously think about visiting these areas as well because they might be logged in the future. There you can have the greatest wildlife experience ever because there is no roads, no services, no footpaths, no cabins and no emergency service. You have to survive by your own in the taiga for days or weeks.
One can travel to the National Park of Paanajarvi by car from Finland via Kostamuksha, Voknavolok, Vuonninen and Kalevala along gravel roads. Another good connection is from east by train to Louhi and then by bus to Pjaozero, where park administration is located. Public buses run about three times a day between Pjaozero and Louhi. Park office can arrange transportation in and out of the park from Pjaozero. If you come by your own car, you can leave it in a secure place in the Park entrance.
If you prepare well in advance you might get a permission to cross the border from Kuusamo directly to Pjaozero via unofficial border crossing checkpoint in Kortesalmi. But be prepared this can be difficult and unsure even until to the day of crossing. Park administration might help you to get this permission.
Some examples of prices that Park Administration charges (28th June 1997):
There is a Finnish cruising boat available in the lake of Paanajarvi. It is operated by Mikko Leinonen. A cruise costs 200 FIM/person and the Park gets 30 % of this according to the contrary with the cruising company. You can also hire rowing boats in Paanajarvi but in other remote lakes there are no boats available. It is not allowed to drive gasoline powered motorboats in the lake except when companied by a ranger.
As you arrive to Pjaozero and pay for the entrance and other services you get a recipe that can be checked any time by a ranger while you stay in the Park.
There are tourist cabins and saunas available at the Park entrance near Kivakka-fell, at the bridge accross the river Oulanka and at the east end of lake Paanajarvi where is also open shelters and fire places available. One tourist cabin were under construction in june 1997 at the east end of Paanajarvi. From oulanka river bridge there is a narrow 6 km long road to the east end of Paanajarvi along the north bank of Oulanka river. There are some cabins also in the north side of Oulanka river east from the bridge but you have to check this from a map or from rangers.
Park office is located in the centre of Pjaozero in a semi-constructed shopping centre. The above address is not complete. There's no email address. The area code for Paajarvi is something like: +7-814-39-.