Estonia is a child of the last ice age. 10,000 years ago the land was buried under massive glaciers. Once the ice retreated it left behind a flat landscape that barely climbs above 300 meters of altitude.
But it is this flatness that makes Estonia so fascinating. There are no mountains or rugged peaks, the beauty happens on ground level. Between the shallow Baltic Sea and the picturesque bog landscapes, a roadtrip through Estonia is an extraordinary adventure.
During summer the nights are short. Getting up at dawn means rising at 3 am. Nonetheless, the struggle is worth it. As the sun peaks over the trees, it illuminates an enchanting landscape. Everywhere around us, mystical wafts of mist dance across a plethora of bog lakes. Estonians long believed bog witches to be responsible for this natural phenomenon, and feared to go anywhere near a bog. Today, we know that temperature differences between air and water are the cause for this magical play.
The mornings in an Estonian bog are quiet, and perfect for a moment of reflection. Nowhere else have we felt a silence so intense. Neither wind nor insects make a noise, the landscape is completely frozen in stillness. Only the call of the common crane pierces the tranquility of dawn.
On our roadtrip through Estonia we drive 4,000 km across the country. We marvel at the impressive ruins of medieval castles, watch brown bears roam through dark forests, and swim in Europe’s fifth largest lake, Lake Peipus. Despite its small size, Estonia is full of wonders.
Woodlands are a defining part of Estonia‘s soul. Around 50% of the sparsely populated country is covered with trees. There is no chance to escape their spell. The forests beckon us to wander around, nourishing us with their gifts of berries and mushrooms.
Estonians also have a close relationship with water. The Baltic Sea hugs their country in the west and north. Countless lakes and streams are scattered around the country, springs gush forth clean water from the ground, and in the east Lake Peipus forms the border with Russia. It is therefore no wonder that we take to the water to explore the country. In Soomaa National Park we silently paddle into the sunset looking out for beavers. In Keava bog we balance on a stand-up paddle board while navigating the intricate waterways. And on the island of Saaremaa we embark on an unusual hiking trail that leads directly through the Baltic Sea. Walking from one little island to the next, we traverse water that reaches up to our navels.
But to fully gain an appreciation for the landscape, a little height is needed after all. Climbing up one of the many lookout towers, we experience the land with a newfound admiration. Flying our drone leaves us spellbound as the intricacy of our surroundings unfold. At least until the drone crashes into a tree.
Putting up our tent under large pine trees, we set up camp for the night. The waves lap gently against the shore, and the wind rustles in the reed grass. Our campfire crackles with fervour as we feed it another log. We are alone in this world, surrounded only by the moon and stars. And the serenity of Estonia‘s nature.
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