Rokua Unesco Globala Geopark i Finland har blivit nominerad som Årets utfärdsmål i Finland 2018. Vesa Krökki, som är chef för geoparken, berättar mer:

Rokua Geopark has been nominated as the Finnish outdoor destination of the year 2018, congratulations! What makes Rokua Geopark a great destination for outdoor life?

The Geopark offers possibilities for outdoor adventures in both summer and winter seasons. We have an extensive network of hiking, biking, skiing and kayaking trails. The region also offers loads of services that are are easy to find for the visitors: accommodation, food and guiding services. The Geoparks unique northern environment is a perfect place for a relaxed holiday or for a bit more adventurous one.

How do you think geology and outdoor activities are connected?

Geology forms the base for the activities. Our ice age landscape with eskers, dunes and kettle-holes makes the outdoors experience more challenging and interesting for the hikers, mountain bikers and skiiers. Oulu region in Finland is otherwise flat, but the Geopark with its unique landforms is a much more diversified place. The rolling hills of Rokua area is a beautiful landscape. Also the way we open and explain the birth of the area gives added value for the visitors.

Rokua Geopark has been a Geopark since 2010, and a UNESCO Global Geopark since 2015. As the manager of the geopark, what possibilities do you think this international status has brought to the region?

The Geopark status is a way to distinguish ourselves form other Finnish outdoor destinations. Finland has 40 national parks, but only one UNESCO Global Geopark. We also have a national park inside the Geopark but it has been relatively unknown. In Finland, like in Sweden too I guess, the big well known national parks gather most of the attention and these smaller ones not so much.

The status is also important for us as we are working with people coming from abroad. The UNESCO status is seen as a promise of good quality and of something that is not ordinary. It has helped us to get more developing money to the area, as it is now recognized as a nationally and regionally important site.

So the status works in many ways by enhancing the livelihood of the area. One important thing is that it gives the local people a sense of pride of their area, we can see this already now especially working with the schools.

If I come to Rokua Geopark as a visitor – what are your top three tips to best enjoy the outdoor life?

You should start your trip to Rokua Geopark from our Visitor Centre Suppa, from where you’ll get the maps and advice to your holiday. The visitor centre has a permanent exhibition, a small café and it also rents outdoor gear such as mountain bikes and snowshoes. Before heading out you should also upload our free Rokua Geopark 3D mobile app from which you can get a lot of information of the regions sights and services.

Next I’d recommend you to go and explore the Rokua Esker and Dune area where you can see the traces of the last ice age but also enjoy a very special part of Finlands nature. Rokua is special with its lichen heaths, pine forests and small kettle hole ponds. In Rokua we also have the well maintained Rokua national park with its routes for skiing, hiking and mountain biking.

Canoeing and kayaking is also a popular way to explore the region. You can do these activities either in the rivers or the numerous lakes of the area. Canoes and kayaks can be rented from our companies to the Lake Oulujärvi and to the River Oulujoki. On lake Oulujärvi you can kayak to the small islands that form the Oulujärvi hiking area. In the hiking area we have several lean to shelters and fire places. You can also stay over in a tent and experience a bit of wilderness.