+358 44 794 5669 matkailu@mikkeli.fi
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Asta Aalto, nature guide and entrepreneur

Locals recommend

Before I came to Mikkeli I lived in Salo, a town in Western Finland. I ran my own company as an interior designer at that time. I moved to Mikkeli in 2009 at the recommendation of a friend and continued my design career here. However, I began to feel tired of hectic sales work and that didn’t help my worry about nature's condition either. I started to look for a new more sustainable way of life. Being a nature-lover, becoming a nature guide felt like a natural fit, so I pursued that education. Once I graduated, I resigned my job as an interior designer and started to plan my own business. I yearned for a less stressful life surrounded by pure nature.

During my practical training, I met Ilkka, who was a chef at D.O. Saimaa at that time. We spent much time working and doing things together and decided to continue our journey together. As we often drove along Mikkeli countryside, we noticed a beautiful, old house that had been abandoned. We found out who owns the house and asked if it would be possible to move there and take care of the house. Luckily they liked our proposal and now we live in an old house from the 1930s that requires maintenance.

The idea to start a company offering unique accommodations came to me in school. My father has started to build tiny movable living spaces from wooden material from the big spruce fence that a storm knocked down (the storm was named “Asta” by the way). We had found a common ground and he started to push the idea forward with me. Initially, I thought they would be perfect in the middle of the forest offering peace of nature to people, but Ilkka had the idea to float them on Lake Saimaa. So now, we have floating rafts for accommodation and a sauna on the lake.

Our company's vision is to combine nature, local food, and unique experiences. Nature and sustainability is at the core of everything we do, from our activities to our food and accommodations. Our goal is to bring people closer to nature and help them experience its beauty in every aspect of their stay.

Living in the middle of nature, our nature connection is closer than ever. Also, here you feel all the four seasons of Finland better, when there's no comforts like living in the city. I also would like everyone to experience Finland in autumn, my favourite time of the year! It’s a quieter season than summer and you get to experience beautiful colours in nature and all the food treasures forests have to offer. 

My guide tips for the region:

  1. Meet Ceramist artist Paula Ruuttunen. As a fellow ceramist, I have a deep appreciation for Paula’s exceptional work - that’s truly art that you can use in your everyday life! I recommend visiting Paula’s workshop in Mikkeli Pursiala or exploring her stunning creations at Kenkävero Shop. Find out more here: linkki. 
  1. Lake Saimaa experience on a cruise. You must experience the beauty of Lake Saimaa on the cruise in Aino ship. Feel the refreshing breeze of summer or see the beautiful colours of ‘ruska’ in the autumn on the ships’ deck.

  2. Admire Astuvansalmi rock paintings in Ristiina. Astuvansalmi rock paintings, the largest rock art site in the Nordic countries in Ristiina, Mikkeli, is a unique Saimaa Geopark site. The rock paintings were painted on the face of a sturdy, majestic rock located along a natural waterway. The place exudes peace of nature. Great place to go also in winter!

  3. Visit Pien-Toijola Open-Air Museum near Mikkeli. Located around 40 km from Mikkeli in the village of Toijola, you will get a fascinating look in to the rural Finnish life in the 18th and 19th centuries at the Pien-Toijola Open-Air Museum.  The museum has 28 buildings for you to explore from the main building to barns, storehouses, and saunas. You will get to see how Finnish farms functioned and how the households and peasants lived during those times and explore the many artifacts which were in everyday use. 

  1. Simply: go to forest. Forest is the place to discover your inner peace. Due to everyman’s rights in Finland you are free to pick berries and mushrooms. Calm down and just listen to the birds singing and wind rustling the trees. You can explore the forest on your own or with a guide. We offer guided excursions to help you get the full experience of pure nature.

  1. Eat local food sourced from surroundings, forests, and Lake Saimaa. I highly recommend you join the wild food experience on the lake where you can enjoy the mystic Lake Saimaa during our guided wild food experience whilst tasting the best food the region has to offer. Our charming fishing boat Juno will sail us to our island destination where the tables are set, and a delicious 3 course dinner served out in the wild on the lakeside cliffs. Find out more here.

  1. Floating sauna experience. The floating sauna offers a great experience of traditional Finnish sauna rituals. Starting with heating the wood burning stove and carrying the water in from the lake, you can take a break and enjoy a drink on the large terrace. After the gentle steam of the sauna, you can take a refreshing dip in the cooling waters of Lake Saimaa. The sauna fits 4-6 people at a time and the raft carries 12 people in total. 

  1. Canoeing to Canal of Vuoltee.The Vuoltee canal is situated between two sections of Lake Saimaa, known as Yövesi and Louhivesi. After just an hour of paddling from Uhkua, you will find yourself surrounded by breathtaking lake vistas. During the summer months we offer weekly guided canoeing tours that include a lunch break in nature at the canal. 

  1. Hike up to Tollonvuori Hill. Neitvuori Hill is not one and only hill to hike up in the Saimaa region. Tollonvuori hill is the hidden gem of Saimaa UNESCO Geopark attractions. It is also a paradise for climbers with its rocky grandeur. 

  1. Hurissalo Summer Theatre in Puumala. Sense the pure Finnish atmosphere in Hurissalo Summer Theatre, which is run by local actors. People gather to enjoy live performances amidst the natural beauty of Finnish summer. I think it’s a great experience even if you don’t understand the language.  Best rural and village culture you can imagine.