We hope that our previous post about Nuuksio National Park Adventure has convinced you to take at least a day trip from Helsinki to visit this beautiful park. And kudos to you if you decide to take a further challenge by spending the night amidst the nature.
While staying in a rental cottage gives you the “cabin life” experience, it can be very costly. On the other hand, camping is definitely a more affordable option, which guarantees no less fun, if you come prepared *wink*
Not only is camping a very Finnish thing to do, it is also the perfect way to enjoy nature to the fullest.
In Finland, people go camping all year round, but summer is the most convenient and popular time to be in the wild, especially for hikers with little experience (like me). If you stay in Helsinki area, Nuuksio is by far the most ideal destination because it is easy to reach while offering amazing sceneries and various recreational activities.
I’m going to share with you about my Midsummer camping trip in Saarilampi, a great getaway from civilization.
Camping in Saarilampi
Before going on this trip, I only had one camping experience at Holma-Saarijärvi campsite of Nuuksio with my co-workers last year. It was a memorable experience though I would have enjoyed it much more if the place hadn’t been packed with people. Therefore, when planning my Midsummer camping trip, I did some intensive research to look for a more lowkey destination to spend the night, with prospect of a long hike during the day. I wanted to start hiking in Haukkalampi and considered between Saarilampi and Valkealampi campsites. After all, I chose Saarilampi as I could do long hikes from Haukkakampi via Kattila.
Going camping in Nuuksio in Midsummer is actually very popular. I was horrified to encounter lots of campers on the bus, and even more at the car park. Luckily, majority of those chose to settle within 2km radius from Haukanpesä Guide Hut. As the only water refiling point is located next to Haukanpesä, I made sure I had all the bottle full before heading into the wilderness. The hike to Saarilampi was indeed very enjoyable as I hardly encountered anyone and just immersed myself in the summer beauty of the forest. Nothing is more relaxing than listening to the sound of birds singing, insects buzzing and leaves rustling on the trail! I made a couple detours on my way to get off the trail and check out some lakes so by the time I reached Saarilampi, I had hiked for more than 15km (I stopped for a quick lunch at the scenic Haukkalampi viewpoint).
The moment I saw this rocky base, I knew right away this was the perfect spot to campWhen I arrived at Saarilampi campsite, there were already two tents put up near the fireplace, so I wandered a little bit around for a more remote spot. And on the opposite side of the lake, I found a perfect spot by the lake with a rocky base.
The best part of it was that there was flat enough ground to put down a tent! No competition for me then! I quickly decided to hang my hammock claiming my “possession” to this part of the lake. The weather was pretty hot that day so I very much welcomed the continuous gentle winds while relaxing on my hammock and admiring the vivid reflection of the green woods and blue sky on the lake.
After taking a refreshing swim in the lake and savoring my hearty dinner of home-baked pie, salad and warm tea, I took a late night evening stroll around the lake before tucking myself on the hammock and reading till I fell asleep.
I woke up to the sound of bird chirping loudly and the bright shining morning sun, feeling much more recovered. I sat by the lake to eat my favorite banana chocolate oat porridge and some tea before packing up and hiking another 15km to Haltia to catch a bus home.
Now, let’s find out what you need to know before embarking on a summer camping trip to Nuuksio’s mesmerizing nature.
1. Pick your campsite beforehand
First thing first: You don’t wait until you reach the park and start searching for a place to put your tent. There are many campsites in Nuuksio, some are close to the car park/bus stops while some require a long hike. Knowing your destination in advance will save you a lot of time and energy. As mentioned in our earlier post, Haukalampi is the most popular gateway to Nuuksio. Therefore, it comes as no surprise that most people tend to camp in this area. Don’t expect much privacy and solitude if you camp in Mustalampi and Holma-Saarijärvi.
If you prefer more solitude and privacy for yourself, it is worth venturing deeper into the forest to reach more isolated campsite.
After deciding on the site, you should start planning your route there. In case you are wondering, we have shared our knowledge on how to get to Nuuksio via public transport. Bring along a map just in case you get confused and lose sense of direction.
If you know where to go and how long it takes, you will have a better idea what to pack with you. You don’t want to over-carry and hike a very long distance to reach your campsite.
2. Check off your packing list
Nobody go camping in the wild unprepared! Even for only one night stay, you have to prepare well to fully enjoy the experience. Camping in the summer is much easier, thanks to the lovely weather, so hardcore gears are not required. Here are some essential items to put on your check list:
- Sleeping bag: Though it can be very hot and sunny during the day, temperature may drop dramatically when night falls. Sleeping bag will keep yourself warm and cozy to enjoy a good night sleep.
- Sleeping pad: The forest floor is uneven and although lying on top of mosses and leaves may sound fun, you will wake up feeling all sore. Extra padding underneath your sleeping bag will make you more comfortable.
- Tent or hammock: It totally depends on your preference. Tent provides better privacy and shelter from weather and insects, while hammock is lighter to carry and you can skip the sleeping pad. As for us, we prefer sleeping in a hammock during short trips and we make sure to pack along a tarp in case it rains.
- Clothing: If the weather is warm enough, you are good to go with short sleeved clothes. You no doubt need good hiking shoes for comfort. We tend to wander off marked trails, so we usually bring along waterproofed clothing. Swimsuit and towel would prove useful in case you want to swim or do water sports.
- Personal toiletries: Keep your toiletries bag light with only necessary items, such as: sunblock, biodegradable soap, tooth paste and brush, toilet paper, etc.
- Flashlight or headlamp: While it does not get complete dark during the summer, it still gets dark. Therefore, it might be useful to have a flashlight or headlamp to locate an item in your tent or find way to the toilet.
- First-aid kit: Okay, don’t scare now! It is unlikely to experience a life-threatening injury during a one-night camp in Nuuksio. However, you might get some cut and scrapes on your arms or blisters in your feet after a long hike. Hence, it is necessary to pack along some antiseptic, plaster and bandages.
- Mosquito and insect repellent: Do not forget this if your skin is extremely sensitive with mosquito bites. Sitting by the campfire won’t be that nice if you have to keep scratching yourself.
- Pocket knife: It is always useful to have a small knife with you to the forest since it helps with various tasks: cutting ropes, sharpen a stick, slicing cheese, etc.
- Fire starter: No doubt you would like to get cozy around a campfire at night, bringing along a lighter or some matches absolutely helps you start a fire faster.
- Navigation tool: While a digital map is sufficient, you might want to bring a paper map as extra precaution. Compass is not mandatory if you plan to stay on trail.
3. There is no party without food and drink!
After you have already packed all abovementioned essential items in the backpack, let’s see how much space is left for foods and drinks.
Most importantly, make sure you bring enough water! If you camp near Haukkalampi, you don’t have to pack water purification tablets. However, we recommend to carry some just in case.
Since we are packing for only one or two night stay, we can bring pretty much any foods we crave. Do consider packing only a sufficient amount with you. On my first camping trip to Nuuksio with some co-workers, we made a huge mistake of bringing way too much food. We ended up carrying almost half of the rest home. Therefore, plan well on how many meals you want to have, which foods to eat and whether they requires cooking. If you prefer packing light, having something simple like grilled sausages with breads is good and easy. Feel free to check out our tips on the best backpacking meals here.
4. Stay safe and play by the unwritten rules
While the Finnish Everyman’s right grants you the immense freedom to roam and enjoy the nature, keep in mind the responsibilities that comes with it. Here are a few things to learn by heart:
- We love and respect nature, that’s why we are in it and we want to keep it clean. Therefore, take all your trash with upon leaving.
- You should light the fire at designated places only.
- You shouldn’t make too much noise or disturb the flora and fauna and other fellow campers.
- Feel free to ask a Finn if you are unsure of certain doings and rights.
In a nutshell, camping in Nuuksio is a great way to experience Finnish amazing wildlife and a perfect getaway from the hustle and bustle to find one’s inner peace. Stay tuned for our next post about awesome Finland!