LAHEMAA NATIONAL PARK
With most of the country covered by forests, it’s no surprise that Estonians turn to nature for a relaxing escape. Over 725 km², Lahemaa National Park is full of bogs, forests, seashores and small villages. With less than an hour drive outside of Tallinn and 15 euro car rentals, it makes a perfect day trip. I have been to the park twice, in February and April, and both times spent the entire day in awe of the beautiful landscapes.
A thirty minute drive from EBS, you’ll find the Jägala Waterfall. Only about 8 metres high, it’s the highest natural waterfall in Estonia (it’s a pretty flat country). My friends and I first went in mid-February and it was completely frozen over – definitely a cool experience to stand in-between the cliff edge and the water. Going back at the start of April was a little less exciting as it was halfway through the process of melting, but I can’t wait to see how it looks in the summer.
On my February trip, my EBS friends and I spent the entire day walking through the trails. Mostly skinny mud trails through the forest with handmade wooden planks in some of the swampy parts. It was completely empty – we didn’t run into anyone the entire day. It was beautiful being surrounded by forests and the silence of the nature.
Going back with my roommate and his friends in April, we spent hours walking through the bog. Before the pathway starts, you’re able to climb a viewing tower to get a good look of the almost 4km trail. We walked along the narrow boardwalk through the changing landscapes, from open waters to forests, stopping to read the information signs about the history of the bogs.
Not going to lie, the first time I went to Altja (the little fishing village) was completely by accident. We got a little lost on the forest trail in February and ended up walking a solid 4 hours before stumbling upon it. The beautiful seashore was covered by ice, and we were able to walk along the ice and the rocks pretty far out. Going back again in April, although we couldn’t walk on water we were able to walk along the beaches and watch the locals go fishing.
All in all, the national park makes a great escape from the city life of Tallinn. Even though I’ve been there twice, I still feel like there’s a lot more to see – especially when the weather gets a little nicer. It definitely gives you a better understanding on why Estonians have such an appreciation for nature.
Photos: Jackie Muru
Editor: Kärt Mättikas