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OULANKA NATIONAL PARK, FINLAND
Basecamp Oulanka is an award-winning Arctic destination and the only place to stay in the vast wilderness of Finland’s Oulanka National. Oulanka’s complex of wooden buildings provides comfortable, sustainably-minded accommodation, overlooking Juuma Lake. Siberian jay and golden eagles soar overhead, black grouse rustle along the forest floor and bears and wolverines roam undisturbed. Oulanka National Park is one of the only places in the EU containing Siberian flora and fauna, including more than 300 threatened species.
Basecamp Oulanka is a ‘positive footprint destination’ and embraces sustainable technology where possible. The heating system relies on biomass, the hot tub is run on excess heat from the sauna and manpower is always used over motors to minimise carbon emissions. The local community is also top of mind — guiding jobs all go to people from the local village of Juuma, which suffers from under-population and unemployment. Building vital infrastructure, like roads, has also had a positive impact on the immediate population.
Locally sourced food and Sami artefacts connect guests at Oulanka’s Wilderness Hotel with the local culture. The camp only sells local products, including woollen socks and reindeer skin drums. At the right time of year, the Northern Lights dance overhead and a summer and winter activity programme guarantee that visitors come year-round; making the basecamp more economically viable for local communities.
Basecamp Oulanka joined The Long Run in 2015 and committed to a holistic balance of the 4Cs – Conservation, Community, Culture and Commerce – as a means to contribute meaningfully to the biodiversity and the people of their local region.
Basecamp Oulanka is a “positive footprint destination”, founded for conservation and wildlife experience purposes. The heating system used throughout the complex relies totally on nature using special wood pellets for fuel. Even the hot tub is run from an ingenious system that uses the excess heat generated from the sauna. When it comes to day to day life at Basecamp a very important feature is that man-power is always used over motors to minimise the carbon emissions. Basecamp also use electric outboard engines for rafting boats resulting in zero fuel consumption. Oulanka National Park is part of the PAN Parks network, a Europe wide organisation, founded by the Worldwide Fund for Nature (WWF), that promotes tourism as a tool for wilderness and nature conservation.
Basecamp Oulanka is situated in a rural area near a village called Juuma. When Basecamp Oulanka began operations, the village was underpopulated and one of the main objectives of creating Basecamp Oulanka was to bring jobs and life back to the local village. All of the guides who work at Basecamp work all year round and are from the local area. Basecamp Oulanka opened access to Oulanka National Park for local communities through creation of a road enabling locals and tourists easier access to famous local attractions. 8000 visitors to the Park benefit from no fee toilets at Basecamp Oulanka. Basecamp Oulanka and its guests donate to local investments in the National Park. The total amount to date is over 60,000 euros.
Working closely with the local community Basecamp is extremely proud to promote the local traditions, from courses on the traditional Lappish drum to quinzee building and optional visits to local reindeer farms during the winter season. They preserve the local Sami culture through artefacts with traditional Sami symbols. All of the tableware is handmade in Finland and all of the food is locally sourced. By serving the local food on their own ceramic tableware, they want all their guests to feel at one with the natural world around.
With the construction of the road there is now a bus route making the once hibernating area accessible to local communities and tourists. In particular, this once hibernating area is now accessible to nature lovers during the winter months. In support of other local businesses, only local products are sold in the camp: meat, fish, berries, woollen socks and lappish drums made of reindeer skin. Currently, only a portion of income comes from visitors; in the future Basecamp Oulanka aims to be fully financially sustainable from guests’ stays. All income is used to benefit the development of the camp, the national park and invest locally.