Estonia: 5th season

Most of the countries has 4 seasons, but not Estonia. In the middle of the country, in the wet flat part of it lies Soomaa National Park, which is famous to its 5th season. Literary “land of bogs” do look like a wetland in spring. When the snow melts, the area of 390 km² turns into a big lake and covers everything with water. In such a seasonal turn people and animals have to change their way of life.Last year we filmed this phenomenon with Zemia Media. It was the end of March, but the 5th season didn’t hurry up to struck. It is hard to predict the precise dates of this ”fun time”, but normally it takes place on March-April for week-two. We came when snow was lazy laying around, partly melting. But it was obvious that the dirt roads soon will disappear under the water. Also the houses of local inhabitants. Some buildings are spreading around the fields, already empty. When the 5th season starts, inhabitants try to escape to nearby towns. But not the workers of the park. One of them, Algis, is staying in the house in front of the visitor center. He told that normally the water rise so hight, that it’s impossible to stay on the first floor. So local people used to make their living rooms on the second floors, leaving the first for pantry. When the 5th season is on the way, mice react first – by moving to upper floors.For feeling how it is like to be in the epicenter of this mysterious season with a help of Algis we stayed in the local house. The wooden shelter was standing in the middle of a field, surrounded by water and snow. The dirt road leading to it will be partly under water on the next days. If we stayed few days more, most probably we stuck for weeks. The spring flood can raise the water levels by as much as five meters, making Soomaa the biggest regularly flooded area in Estonia and whole Northern Europe.  It is not a catastrophe, it is a way locals exist.Inside the house I noticed a photo album with images from last year flooding. The houses nearby was half under the water. The only way to move in Soomaa during the 5th season is by boats. The traffic signs serve as place indications between trees. But this is what attract tourist to the park. They hire a canoe and spend days in such an unusual environment. We also tried to make a short trip by boat, but it stuck in melting snow. I am sure its a great experience when it is a 5th season! The night in a wooden house was terrible for me. I was thinking what if the water rise and we will stuck here? But my greater concern was about our door. It was impossible to lock it, so everyone could enter in the night. And swarming mice made my fear even stronger. Every time it made a sound I thought it could be some maniac. I know I shouldn’t watch scary movies. I know it sounds funny to you, also for me now, but at that time I was in my horror mood. So, I will reveal my secret. I took a knife from the kitchen and hided it under my pillow. My friend was laughing about this, but later he helped to block the entrance to the second floor with bags and suitcases. And his dream to have own house in isolated place broke after this funny incident. Sorry, my friend!The next day we tried to drive a bit on the National park, but it was partly flooded. After trying less flooded road our car got stuck. Half of the day we tried to move it, but the wheels was deeply into the wet soil and clay. But it was worth a try, cos on the way we met some extraordinary domestic animals.Later Algis took us to the beaver’s nest. A massive collection of branches looks like it was gathered carefully by humans. Under this nest there are dozen of under snow tunnels. Beavers actually afraid of any weird sound, so its not as easy to see them. Algis told that it’s possible to spot animals nearby the visitor center in the sunset or dawn. We took our chance on the evening. An hour spent without any result. We were wondering on the wooden touristic path near visitor center. Suddenly I noticed some brown animal coming out the water. It was a beaver!! I am not sure if I screamed excitedly, but the animal turned and watched into my eyes surprisingly.  I swear, it was watching me! But the next moment it just disappeared under the water. Unfortunately me friend didn’t see it, he was late. But in the visitor center there is a stuffed beaver, so everyone can have a clue about the size and appearance of this wonderful animal. If to be true, for me the National park was more about animals (like elks and foxes, that we saw on the way) than about the 5th season.To be a witness of the 5th season, contact Soomaa National park:  

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2 thoughts on “Estonia: 5th season

  1. Aivar Ruukel says:

    Thank You Natalia!

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