Two summers ago we took our four person party to the Estonian ground. No, we were not heading to the Tallinn nights but towards the Saaremaa island in the south-western Estonia. In Saaremaa is situated Vilsandi, one of the Estonian national parks or rahvuspark as it is in Estonian.
We started from Helsinki in the afternoon and took a ferry to Tallinn, which takes about two hours. You have good time to have some supper on the ferry and then continue from Tallinn along the via baltica road towards Saaremaa, it’s only a couple of hours drive from Tallinn as Estonia isn’t a huge country in size. To get to Saaremaa you have to take another ferry from the mainland to the island situated on the western coast of Estonia.
Vilsandi National park is situated on the western part of Saaremaa island area and is made up of 150 smaller islands. We arrived on the national park in the evening and it was already dark so we spent the first night camping by the car. We parked at the Loona Manor, a 15th century manor situated in the middle of the national park. In Loona Manor there is the info point of the Vilsandi park where you can find information about the park and also start some of the hiking trails. I don’t know if it has official camping grounds but anyway, we spent the night there and started fresh in the morning from the info point and headed towards the Park.
We didn’t start our trail from the Loona manor but decided to drive to the shore where the trail towards Vilsandi island starts. Vilsandi is biggest of the islands that form the national park and is reachable by boat or by foot thru a chain of islands. To get to Vilsandi you should be prepared to get wet. The trail goes along small islands and in between the islands the water reaches your hips so be prepared with shoes fit for walking in water. After a couple of kilometers in the sea we reached the island, on some parts of the trail the smell was overwhelming as the sun was drying the muddy trail, quite exotic. The Vilsandi island itself has got good trails and partly roads to walk on. There are old farms and nostalgic windmills on the fields. The camping grounds are quite good and there are fireplaces and toilets, at least at the place we spent our second night. Our trail was quite short this weekend, after the “island hopping” we walked a couple of kilometers to the camping grounds and spent the evening with some good food and drinks, enjoying a warm summer night in the Estonian archipelago. Good life.
Vilsandi is definitely a place to visit. If you are situated in Helsinki it’s only a few hours away and a good place for some weekend trekking in the summer. The nature is really different from Finland and feels that you are a lot more further to south from Finland than you really are. So why not go there next summer?