The best destination for wildlife travel – Finland

Hiking in Finland
Jouni Laaksonen 4.9.2019

Yesterday I came across a study that said: “Our 2019 analysis has found Finland to be the best destination in the world for wildlife travel – thanks to its high levels of environmental sustainability, its unique and varied diversity of species, beautiful natural landscapes, and conservation efforts.” This study is called the Global Wildlife Travel Index.

Naturally I was pleased. 🙂 Yes, I agree, Finland is beautiful with many different kinds of landscapes, like thousands of lakes, vast forests, archipelagos, treeless fells, colorful bogs, imposing traces of Ice Age and so on. And Finnish variety of bird, butterfly, flower etc. species is different from other parts of Western Europe, with interesting northern and eastern traits. Wolverines, brown bears, wolves and lynx roam in our forests, together with elks and forest reindeer and so on. There are 40 national parks and about 2000 Natura 2000 conservation areas.

Hiking in Finland

Oulanka National Park, Harrisuvanto suspension bridge along Karhunkierros Trail.

Hiking in Finland

Brown bears and other predators have superior senses compared to us humans. They hear or smell us from far away, a lot before we can see or notice them in any way, and they steer clear. It’s extremely rare to see bears, wolves, wolverines or lynx while hiking. But if you book a night from a wildlife tourism company, you very probably will see wild predators coming to eat the meat that company provides for them. You can photograph or observe them safely from a hide.

On the other hand, more could be done in nature conservation in Finland. This can be said of every country in the world.

I also think almost every country in the world is a wonderful place for a wildlife tourist. It’s a miracle we have this living planet, with different kinds of life in different parts of the world. There are no deep ocean species or desert species or jungle species in Finland, and on the other hand many of our northern species are missing in Australia, Tanzania or France.

So, I find this study interesting, but I’d more look at the top 30 table than top 1 or top 3. Here’s top 30 according to

Hiking in Finland


How was the study done?

They decided those eight categories are of interest:

  • Megafauna Conservation
  • Wildlife Species
  • Number of National Parks
  • National Parks Pioneers
  • Protected Natural Areas
  • Forest Area
  • Environmental Prosperity
  • Environmental Sustainability

In each category the countries of the world were given a score from 1 (worst) to 5 (best). So, 40 would be the maximum score with 5 from each category. Score of 4 from each category would mean 32. Finland got 33, Sweden and Brazil 32, and also Canada, USA and Norway reaching above 30. And many other countries are coming closely behind.

There are clearly some issues with the study. For example, why is the number of national parks important but the size of national parks is not? However, this is not something you can measure in kilos or seconds, so choices must be made.


Finland for nature tourists

Where do tourists come to Finland? The top ten countries are Russia, Germany, The United Kingdom, Sweden, China, France, USA, The Netherlands, Estonia and Japan, says the official travel site of Finland, Visit Finland.

I’ve been blogging since December 2017. I’ve published a new post almost every Monday. I don’t usually focus on something I did just today or yesterday, but I’ve been trying to cover different aspects of hiking and nature here in the north. Seasons, hiking skills, equipment, long distance hiking, ultralight hiking, nature, phenomena like aurora borealis etc.

Finland has four distinctive seasons, winter with lots of snow being one of them. Aurora borealis can been seen in winter, but also during autumn hikes, like we did last September.

I hope this blog grows to a database where you can find answers to many questions related to hiking in Finland. I’m so happy with you fellow bloggers who visit here from week to week, thanks! And I’m so happy to see from the statistics how the traffic is not only to the newest posts, but my older posts are read regularly. I see this as a sign that many who search the net with some specific question in mind bump into one of my blog posts, and hopefully finds answers.

I try to use tags and categories, but still, a blog is rather a haphazard collection of information and ideas. A more coherent presentation of all aspects related to hiking in Finland is my guidebook: Hiking in Finland – Day Trips and Backcountry Expeditions. On my Books page you can find lots of information about the book, like example pages, index, pics and so on.

Hiking in Finland

All of us should try to live in a way that this living planet of ours will be living still when our grandchildren are old, and into the unforeseen future. This means Leave No Trace, and Don’t Disturb. In the pic you see light brown eggs in the lower right corner. We came to see this view to river Kitkajoki in Oulanka National Park and did not notice the capercaillie (wood grouse) mother who was incubating her eggs. After several minutes of admiring the scenery we moved a little bit, and the hen finally got scared enough to fly away. We got startled, too! We naturally immediately left the place, to allow the hen to return to her eggs as soon as possible. Keeping this planet requires a lot more than behaving nicely when hiking, though. You and me, everyone, makes choices in everyday life, like what food to eat, what kind of energy to use for your house, buying cheap stuff that is soon broken, or trying to find more durable gear, and so on. All in all we all should me consuming a lot less – at least in western countries.


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