The rugged and beautiful Luonteri is a geological and historical gem of Lake Saimaa, a Saimaa Geopark site. Both the Saimaa ringed seal and many species of fish thrive in its clear waters.
The landscape of Luonteri is a combination of wide open waters, wooded islands, steep rock walls, smooth rocky islets, bays, capes and beautiful sandy beaches.
Luonteri is famous for its clear water. Despite its low vegetation, this oligotrophic, barren and low-nutrient lake has a rich ecosystem. The clear waters of Lake Saimaa are home to, for example, the rare Saimaa ringed seal and many fish species, such as vendace, pike, perch, lake salmon, trout, whitefish, zander and rare large Arctic char. Luonteri's diverse islands and wide forest areas provide a sheltered habitat for many birds, such as the lesser black-backed gull and white-backed woodpecker.
Luonteri is a child of the ice age, a scenically unique area, the terrain of which reveals the power of the ice. The ice sheet moved slowly from northwest towards southeast, which is reflected in the orientation of the islands and landscape. The ice age hammered the bedrock detaching massive erratics that were carried all around the area by the huge masses of meltwater. These enormous stones engendered respect among our ancestors and they were believed to be the work of giants or other greater powers.
Luonteri has been the habitat of our ancestors for thousands of years. Stone Age dwellings as well as mysterious rock paintings have been discovered on its shores.
You can find signs of Stone Age dwellings, such as an oval-shaped cairns on Raintsaari island.
The high cliffs of Sarkaslampi have inspired ancient hunters and fishermen to paint figures of moose and boats on the rock wall. In Ristilampi area, there is also a prehistoric quartz quarry.
Majestic cliffs and other mystical, awesome natural sites became places of worship for our ancestors. The word "hiisi" used to mean a sacred place, and the word is still present in the names of numerous natural phenomena, such as "hiidenkirnu" i.e. giant's kettle, "hiidenkivi" i.e. erratic or "hiidenkiuas" i.e. stone mound burial site. It shows also in the names of places in the Luonteri area, such as Hiidenmaa, Hiidenkota and Hiidenvuori.
In time, with the spread of Christian religion, the pagan "hiisi" took also a meaning of a giant or a goblin, a mysterious and magical figure.
Neitvuori hill in Anttola rises up to a height of 184 meters, from where you can see over the maze of Luonteri archipelago, the national landscape of South Savo.
Neitvuori used to be known as Hiidenvuori, the name meaning a mighty, sacred place. The name was changed to Neitvuori, "maiden hill", when, according to the legend, a girl plunged off the cliff while fleeing her persecutors at the time of Greater Wrath in the early 18th century.
Follow the trails of ice age in Anttola on a 5-kilometre-long Sydänmaa hiking trail. Along the trail, you can witness the result of ancient forces of nature. The rock gorge, Rakokallio, split by an earthquake, is about hundred meters long and 0,5–1 meters wide, with a depth of up to ten meters.
Hiiden polut hiking routes circle the terrain of Luonteri in Anttola, Mikkeli and Hiidenmaa in Juva. In the nature reserve in Neitvuori, Anttola, there is a 4-km-long Hiijje silimukka trail which joins to a 13-km-long Hiidenkierros trail. There are several lookouts and campfire sites along the trails.
There is a connecting trail, Viiden vuoren reitti, "Five-mountain-trail", from Neitvuori to the Metsänväentaival hiking trail, which runs through forests, rocky landscapes and on the shores of ponds and rapids in Juva. Along the Metsänväentaipale trail, you can find the huge broken erratic and Saimaa Geopark site called Enkelinpesä, "angel's nest". You can also see old huts with mounds created by ancient slash-and-burn farmers that tell a tale about the life of the forest folk.
Anttolan Kone ja Urheilu store in Anttola offers information about Lake Saimaa nature, guidance for excursions as well as rents eqipment.