The city of Sastamala has loads of natural beauty to explore

Tree Tent Kommee Kurki is located in the Tampere Region in the city of Sastamala, which is known for its beautiful nature and almost 200 lakes. If you come to Finland, you might be interested in the fact that dispite of its rural status, Sastamala is actually pretty handy for exploring the western and southern parts of Finland. From Sastamala it is 60 km to Tampere, 80 km to Pori, 120 km to Turku and 190 km to the capital of Finland, Helsinki.

The city centre of Sastamala is situated in the crosspoint of Lake Liekovesi and Lake Rautavesi.

The city centre of Sastamala is situated in the crosspoint of Lake Liekovesi and Lake Rautavesi.

The city centre of Sastamala has extremely picturesque views, as it is situated in the crosspoint of two large lakes, Lake Liekovesi and Lake Rautavesi. In the countryside of Sastamala there are all kinds of lakes, from a bit bigger ones like Lake Houhajärvi to small ones like Bird lake Hanhijärvi. All in all the lakes and rivers are ideal for canoeing, fishing and boating.

The hoods of Tree Tent Kommee Kurki

Tree Tent Kommee Kurki is located on the border of the nature reserve of the bird lake Hanhijärvi.

Tree Tent Kommee Kurki is located on the border of the nature reserve of the bird lake Hanhijärvi.

Tree Tent Kommee Kurki is located on the border of the nature reserve of the bird lake Hanhijärvi. The area is ideal for this kind of ecological camping in a Tentsile tree tent. The protected area consists of the lake itself and is 183 ac (74 ha). Lake Hanhijärvi is two kilometres long and has an open water area of 450 x 100 metres.

The swamplike lake area of Lake Hanhijärvi is a great source of wild berries like bilberries and lingonberries: in spring you can even pick cranberries. The Finnish Everyman’s Rights apply in the area. In the area you can see white-tailed deer and rabbits almost daily, and also foxes, badgers, raccoon dogs and elks can be spotted.

Lake Houhajärvi is a long and narrow lake. Canoeing in Vesaranta, the south end of the lake.

Lake Houhajärvi is a long and narrow lake. Canoeing in Vesaranta, the south end of the lake.

As Lake Hanhijärvi is swamplike except for its middle part and therefore swimming isn’t an option there, the nearest beach is Vesaranta in the south end of Lake Houhajärvi, about 6 km from Kommee Kurki. In Vesaranta there is also a summer theater.  In only a few kilometres there is Lake Ylistenjärvi, where you can also find the outdoor area of Taipaleenvuori with a campfire site at a picturesque tiny cape.

The soundscape of Tree Tent Kommee Kurki

Cranes are the noisy giants of this area, and they live very near the site of our tree tent. At the other end of Lake Hanhijärvi there are nesting some whooper swans (the national bird of Finland). Other birds that can be seen and heard are e.g. Eurasian hobby, great bittern, mallard, cuckoo and common snipe.

Bird lake Hanhijärvi is home to several cranes.

Bird lake Hanhijärvi is home to several cranes.

Together all the birds make a magnificient choir, that you can amaze and enjoy especially in the evening. The soundscape is truly worth experiencing, and what could be a better way for this eco experience than staying in the “floating” Tentsile tree tent almost 2 metres above the ground level! During the evening and the night the sky gets magical and it also often gets foggy above the lake, so during the summer the view in the Finnish nightless night together with the soundscape make this an extraordinary experience.

The Ritajärvi nature reserve for hiking

For hiking the best option in Sastamala is the Ritajärvi nature reserve which measures 127 hectares and is situated in Hornio area. The nature in the area diverse, with small wilderness lakes and natural forest.  The area is quite rocky with some big erratic blocks along the way. You can spot e.g. Sikokivi, the biggest erratic block of the Tampere region. The best starting point for hiking is the main parking area, in address Ritajärventie 358, Sastamala, about 35 km from Kommee Kurki. There you can find guideposts in Finnish and in English.

Hiking trail in the Ritajärvi nature reserve.

Hiking trail in the Ritajärvi nature reserve.

There are wellmarked hiking trails for 12 kilometres. The area’s hiking trails mainly run along the wilderness lake shores. You can choose between trails of different lengths. The Outdoor Association of Finland (Suomen latu ry) classifies hiking trails in three levels of difficulty: easy, medium and strenuous. All hiking trails in Ritajärvi fall into the medium category. The easiest trail, however, is the 2 km trail around Lake Valkeajärvi. The trail of all three lakes “Kolmen järven kierros” is 8 km long and is quite challenging in some parts. You can download the hiking map of Ritajärvi HERE.

There are also paths leading from the area to the east in the direction of Karkku and to the west in the direction of a camping centre near Lake Pääjärvi. However, there are no guideposts for these trails.

Lake Valkeajärvi in the Ritajärvi nature reserve is rough and beautiful.

Lake Valkeajärvi in the Ritajärvi nature reserve is rough and beautiful.

Facilities and biodiversity in Ritajärvi nature reserve

Visitors can find four dry toilets and several campfire sites, a lean-to shelter near Lake Valkeajärvi and a cabin on the shore of Lake Alinen Ritajärvi. During 2015-2016, duckboards and guideposts were constructed to increase recreational opportunities for the area. Campfire sites provide visitors with firewood in nearby woodpiles.

Big erratic blocks in the Ritajärvi nature reserve.

Big erratic blocks in the Ritajärvi nature reserve.

The nature reserve is renowned for the biodiversity of its natural old-growth forests, small wilderness lakes and large glacial erratics and boulder formations. The vegetation of the area is very versatile. Examples of the vegetation found in the broadleaf woodlands include spring pea, herb paris, wood cranesbill, fly honeysuckle, baneberry and lady-fern. Deep forest vegetation is characterised by male fern, common polypody, northern beech fern, spiky bog-moss and lesser twayblade. On the shores of streams and trickles you will encounter flood meadows with common reed, black alder and bogbean.

Pine and spruce are the dominant tree species making up the woodland. Birches, European aspens, small-leaved lindens and goat willows can also be found in the area. You may stumble upon ancient, charred tree stumps that stand as a reminder of previous forest fires.

But there is even more to see – try the observation and bird watching towers!

The lake scenery from the observation tower of Pirulanvuori.

The lake scenery from the observation tower of Pirulanvuori.

In Sastamala there are several observation towers and bird watching towers. The most graceful of them is the observation tower of Pirulanvuori in the northern part of Sastamala in Suodenniemi (Laviantie 600, Sastamala). This tower is 15 metres high and there is a special feature to it: the lake scenery with its swans is illustrated into the backside of the Finnish coin of one euro.

You can find bird watching towers e.g. in several areas of Nature 2000 -network: among them are the bird watching tower of lake Ekojärvi (Kolkuntie, Sastamala) and the bird watching tower of Lake Keskistenjärvi (Hiedanmaantie, Sastamala).

Sheep of the Vehmaanniemi nature reserve.

Sheep of the Vehmaanniemi nature reserve.

Near the centre of Sastamala in the shore of Lake Rautavesi there is the small Vehmaanniemi nature reserve (Tampereentie 258, Sastamala). There you can find a protected traditional scenery of 7 ha. Vehmaanniemi is a cape, which has a nature trail with several stone covered tombs from the Iron Age. Usually during summertime there are kept black and white sheep to take care of the meadows.

In the southwest corner of Sastamala, mostly situated in Huittinen ja Kokemäki, there is the national park of Puurijärvi and Isosuo. Lake Puurijärvi is an even internationally recognized bird lake. The bird wathing tower of Kärjenkallio is among the biggest birdwathing towers in the Northern countries with the heights of 18 metres and offers a view to the whole area of Lake Puurijärvi. This birdwatching tower is the easiest to reach from the parking area of Työtilä (Yttiläntie 981, Kokemäki). You can download the map of this area from HERE.


Sastamala –a city with rich cultural and historical background

Of course Sastamala is not only about its nature. The city, also formerly called Tyrvää or Vammala, has even more faces than names.

St Olaf’s Church in Tyrvää is a late medieval stone church that stands in a beautiful surrounding of Lake Rautavesi.

St Olaf’s Church in Tyrvää is a late medieval stone church that stands in a beautiful surrounding of Lake Rautavesi.

There are 11 churches in Sastamala. The most famous of them, St. Olaf’s Church in Tyrvää is also one of the most beautiful buildings of Sastamala. St Olaf’s Church in Tyrvää is a late medieval stone church that was recently rebuilt after a fire in 1997. The church stands in a beautiful surrounding of Lake Rautavesi in the middle of the Finnish countryside, just a few kilometres from the city centre of Sastamala (Kallialan kirkkotie 50, Sastamala). Artists Kuutti Lavonen and Osmo Rauhala were selected to create the new artwork of the church, and the final result is just astonishing. The congregation of Sastamala is applying for UNESCO World Heritage Site status for St Olaf’s Church in Tyrvää.

Sastamala is also know as the city of books. The national Finnish book museum Pukstaavi is in Sastamala (Marttilankatu 12, Sastamala), and every summer the city is filled with book enthusiasts for two days when the Vammala historic literature days take place. For the young readers and players there is the House of Mr. Clutterbuck, which stands next to Pukstaavi (Marttilankatu 10, Sastamala). The House of Mr. Clutterbuck got its inspiration from characters in the children’s books by Mauri Kunnas. There is also a wonderful gift shop Ihanien tavaroiden kauppa, and there or in Pukstaavi’s gift shop you can find something special to bring back home.

The picturesque river scenery of Kokemäenjoki River boasts Finland’s longest wooden suspension bridge in Keikyä.

The picturesque river scenery of Kokemäenjoki River boasts Finland’s longest wooden suspension bridge in Keikyä.

Sastamala consists of several areas, from which especially Keikyä is and has been specialised in leather handicrafts. Nowadays there are still many workshops that produce wallets, bags and other small or big leather items, e.g. Okay Style Oy and Eliisa Marjaana Oy. Keikyä is situated by the Kokemäenjoki River. The picturesque river scenery also boasts Finland’s longest wooden suspension bridge.

In the northern parts of Sastamala there is Mouhijärvi, one of the fastest growing and developing parts of Sastamala. Visitors to Mouhijärvi can experience the peace and quiet of nature e.g. by hiking or canoeing at the Otamussilta recreational area. Mouhijärvi is also home to the multi award-winning cheesemakers of Herkkujuustola, where Swiss cheesemaking tradition meets with the finest Finnish ingredients. The Kiviniitty petting farm (Iirolantie 108, Sastamala) provides a great summer day out for the whole family in a peaceful rural setting. There live over 30 species of farm animals from near and far. You can stroke the lambs, admire the mini pig, try the activity course or buzz around the track in an electric car.