#VisitSeinäjoki: Nature Trails, Beaches & Foraging in the Forest

Listen to the show

Download MP3 File of #VisitSeinäjoki – Nature Trails, Beaches & Foraging in the Forest

Original #VisitSeinäjoki Blog Posts:

4. Six Things You Must Experience at Ähtäri Zoo

Photo by Anssi Nokelainen, Ähtäri Zoo

Play the Podcast

Download an MP3 of Six Things You Must Experience at Ähtäri Zoo

Read the original article here: https://explorefinlandpodcast.com/2019/02/18/six-things-you-must-experience-at-ahtari-zoo/

Read more in English and plan your visit: https://www.ahtarizoo.fi/index.php/en/

Six Things You Must Experience at Ähtäri Zoo

Subscribe to the Ähtäri Zoo Podcast on iTunes

Once you get out into the wilds of Finland, it’s easy to think you are in the middle of nowhere, but I discovered recently that the small town of Ähtäri, with it’s zoo resort, is actually at the centre of everything. Below are some of things that you must not miss-out on when you visit Ähtäri.

Photo ÄhtäriZoo Panda Lumi3 by Timo Ahopelto

#BeLikePanda or #SleepLikePanda

Since they arrived in early-2018, Pyry and Lumi the giant pandas have become the headline act at Ähtäri – they have even been re-branded, as SnowPandas. They reside in the custom-built Snowpanda House at Ähtäri Zoo, in enclosures that were designed to replicate the mountainside environment of their native China, complete with a stream running down the sloped, rocky terrain.

If you are lucky, you will be there at playtime, when the pandas are most active, padding around both inside and outside, playing with their toys or climbing frames. Or you will be there at feeding time, and see them expertly stripping their bamboo canes and devouring the inside. Making a lot of noise in the process.

It is recommended to buy a combination ticket for the zoo and panda house. This gives you two days at the zoo plus one visit to the panda house. Be sure to take your time, the pandas are not always ‘performing’, they also sleep. A lot. There are benches and bean bags, so you can make yourself comfortable and just hang-out with the pandas. People have been known to stay in the Panda House for hours. #BeLikePanda indeed (although I’m not sure if anyone has taken the #SleepLikePanda hashtag seriously, not yet anyway.)


Read more

A Winter Visit To Ähtäri Zoo & SnowPanda Resort

Photo: AhtariZoo Panda Lumi Talvi by Timo Ahopelto

Play the Podcast

Download an MP3 of A Winter Visit to Ähtäri Zoo & Snowpanda Resort

Subscribe to the new Ähtäri Zoo podcast: https://itunes.apple.com/fi/podcast/%C3%A4ht%C3%A4ri-zoo-explore-finland-radio-show/id1451443467?mt=2

Episode 39

In Winter 2018, I was commissioned to make a pilot series of a new podcast; The Ähtäri Zoo Podcast. This episode is a selection of stories from the first three interviews with people powering Ähtäri Zoo:

  • Satu Keski-Valkama, Tourism Development Project Manager
  • Heini Niinimäki, Zoological Director,
  • Anna Palmroth, Panda Keeper

I’m sure you will find this a fascinating look, at the workings of a modern-day zoo.  If you search for Ähtäri Zoo Podcast on your podcast player, you will find two full-length episodes, with more to follow.

The podcast will be supported by blog posts that highlight some of the unique aspects of Ähtäri; at first this will focus on the zoo but,  with your support, it could expand to include the town of Ähtäri and the surrounding area – there is plenty here to show you.

So if you want the series to continue, then we need to hear from you. Whichever episode you are enjoying, please share it on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. Be sure to tag the zoo @ÄhtäriZoo and me @explorefinland and use the hashtag #AhtariZooPodcast. While you’re doing this, why not tell us where in the world you are?

This will help spread the word about this new podcast. It will also demonstrate to everyone in Ähtäri that there is an international audience for this show and it may convince then to continue making it – it’s up to you now.

Thank you for listening, remember to subscribe to the show so you get new episodes when they are published Ähtäri Zoo Podcast on iTunes

– Mark Wiltshear, Explore Finland Radio Show

A Tour Around Lappajärvi, Europe’s Largest Crater Lake

Season 3, Episode 37
In this episode, I speak to Teemu Öhman who is a Craterologist or, to be more precise, an Earth and planetary scientist and lecturer at Arctic Planetary Science Institute.
Teemu explained about the creation of Lake Lappajärvi in Etelä-Pohjanmaa, and then gave some recommendations of places to visit in the Lappajärvi area. All of which you can discover for yourself, using the new virtual Craterlake Geotrail commissioned by Järviseutu-Seura ry

MP3 Player


Download MP3 of A Tour Around Lappajärvi, Europe’s Largest Crater Lake Read the Show Notes

One Week Holiday in Finland: Putting The Podcast Into Practice

Similar to my summer 2016 post, in summer 2017 I had another opportunity to put what I learned in the podcast into practice. Whenever I have visitors staying with us, I always try to give them the ‘Finland Experience’, and it was no different when my parents came for a one-week holiday. It seemed that we had a different activity for each day, an ‘ideal week in Etelä-Pohjanmaa’.   I thought I’d share our week with you along with some photos, from a small sweet factory to live sport to a music festival.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Read more

Exploring Finland: Putting The Podcast Into Practice

Podcast Into Practice

During summer 2016, I had the opportunity to visit the wilds of Eastern Finland, near to the town of Kitee.  I was invited to join Satu at her Grandparents’ old home, right on Finland’s border with Russia. During this trip, I found myself saying ‘yeah, I know about this, I covered it in the podcast’, for example; sauna with vihta, foraging in the woods, the eveacuation of Karelia and Finnish ice cream.

I thought I’d share with you some pictures of these activities, and the podcast episodes they came from. Read more

Ice-hole Swimming & Sauna: A Natural High!

Lakeuden Avantouimarit

Kyllä kylymä teköö hyvää – Yes, the cold does good! Image: http://www.lakeudenavantouimarit.net/

Season 2 Episode 32
I learn why swimming in ice-cold water after taking a sauna is better than sex or morphine! Jussi explains ALL the benefits of Avantouinti, before taking me swimming in the hole in the ice on a frozen pond. Yep, that’s right…

Guests: Jussi Mustikkamaa, Journalist

Listen to the show  on your preferred podcast player  – iTunes or Stitcher radio or Feedburner

Download an MP3 file of Episode 32 – Ice-hole Swimming & Sauna – a natural high!

Read the Show Notes

Foraging for Mushrooms in Finland’s Forests

k: http://explorefinlandpod cast.wordpress.com/2014/11/03/episode001

Season 1 Episode 1
Foraging for Mushrooms with Mari. An introduction to ‘Everyman’s Rights’ and the art of finding wild mushrooms.

Guest: Mari Dawe, Mother Nature’s ambassador to Seinäjoki

Listen to the show  on your preferred podcast player  – iTunes or Stitcher radio or Feedburner

Download an MP3 file of this episode

Read the Show Notes

Magic mushrooms

Well, maybe not ‘magic’ mushrooms, but the way these sprang up almost overnight was quite something to see. There’s a small trail through the woods near our house, a loop of about 400 metres – perfect for early morning walks with Boris. One morning in late-August, we entered the woods and I was struck by the sheer variety of mushrooms that had appeared.

These were snapped on my phone, as I don’t often take the SLR out with me for the morning walk! I have absolutely no idea what they are, or which might be edible, but I intend to cover that on one of my podcast episodes, so watch this space. In the meantime, if you know what any of these mushrooms are called, why not let everyone know in the comments?


Welcome to Hell

Located just south of Etelä-Pohjanmaa, Helvetinjärvi couldn’t be named less appropriately. It’s name translates as Hell’s Lake and comes from an old story containing a warlock, an argument and cursed fish supplies, naturally! We came to visit on a Saturday in late-September and brought the kids’ cousin Siiri along for a walk through the woods to the lake and the gorge. Boris was able to come with us, so long as we kept him on a (flexi-) leash.

We parked near the Helvetin portti restaurant at Kankimäki, had a quick picnic in the car and then headed off to follow the 4km track. It was immediately clear that the terrain here was different to Seinäjoki. On the first part, the gravel trail wound through a wooded area, where the moss covering the rocks was so thick that the kids bounced on it like a trampoline, and the narrowest stream I’ve ever seen – you could hear the babbling, with no sight of the brook.

After a consistent incline, we came to a significant structure of wooden walkways and steps, the former taking us safely across the rocky cliff top with lovely views of the lake, to Helvetinkolu, a natural gorge in the rock that leads down to the lakeside. The stairs taking a slightly easier route down to the same area, with a toilet and wood-hut and not much else. Perfect, it seemed, for the group of Scouts to cook their lunch over open-fires.

After negotiating both the stairs and the gorge we, again, followed the path away from the cliff top through the woods with many fallen trees, unable to take root on the rocky ground. Suddenly, the forest environment ended and gave way to the breathtaking sight of long, golden grass swaying in the swampland. The sturdy duckboards weaving their way through the swamp helped us negotiate our way through, although a couple of mis-steps showed the benefit of wearing waterproof shoes 🙂

We we soon on the home straight, heading towards the car, the restaurant, hot coffee and ice cream – rewards for everyone!

Although we only walked a small fraction of Helvetinjärvi National Park, the 4km trail was perfect for these kids (ages 11, 8 and 6) although it would be difficult for baby strollers or wheelchairs. Challenging enough to be interesting, tiring enough that we all (except Leena) slept on the journey home, but short enough that no-one was bored. I’ll finish by quoting Olli who said “I never knew this trip would be this much fun!”

Helvetinjärvi in pictures (courtesy of Leena Wiltshear)


Picking Lingonberries

There’s an interesting law in Finland called Everyman’s Rights, which basically allows anyone to pick any flowers, berries, mushrooms etc. that are growing in the wild. You even have free access to angling and ice-fishing in many places. Unlike back in the UK, you have rights even if you’re not the landowner and if you’re just in Finland to visit.

I’ve only started taking advantage of this in the past year and I still don’t trust myself with mushrooms – I was brought up fear the poisonous varieties e.g. anything that doesn’t come in a plastic box from the supermarket – but berries are a bit easier, so here are a few pictures from when Evie, Boris and I went out recently…