22 December 2016
Ranua Wildlife Park in Finnish Lapland
On my second day in Finland I decided to go to Ranua Wildlife park, which was about an hour out of Rovaniemi. This is a zoo of sorts, although I would classify it as a wildlife park with only Finnish animals (with the exception of the one polar bear) and I was super excited to go so that I could see all the northern snow animals that you only ever see in documentaries.
The first step was getting there, not a simple task actually. They only have a handful of buses that depart every day (mini buses) and then only 2 buses returing to town later in the afternoon, so I was actually a little worried to be honest. What if I miss the return bus? Because it was quite literally in the middle of nowhere! But the drive down was beautiful, it was on what they classify as a highway in the north of Finland - a snow covered little road through the forest. It was quite magaical and I was already getting excited! They then dropped us off on the side of the road bascially in a forest and I set off to buy my ticket and start exploring the park.
There were hardly ANY tourists there and half the time I felt like I was wandering around alone on the path through the snow covered forest. It was lightly snowing and sub-zero tempreatures but I was loving it, there was no sound to be heard. I spent a solid few hours just wandering through the park, looking at all the beautiful northern animals in their encolsures (which were bascially just patches of forests which is perfect for them). It actually gave me more appreciation for wildlife photograpers because half the time I was struggling to see the white animals in the snow and they are in encolsures, how do people spot them in the wild!?
It really did love this zoo, I mean there werre a couple of animals that I did feel sorry for, like the polar bear, he didn't look like he was in the right place and the wolves who were running around in circles in their encolsure... I felt really bad for them! But a lot of the other animals are actually rescue animals and they are living the life! It was just nice to see a little zoo that wasn't over comercialised, it just being about the animals and us walking through their natural habitat and not being placed in the middle of the city.
After a couple of hours of walking around in the snow I did start to get a little chilly so I headed back to the main building for a wam Finnish buffet lunch to defrost and then try and make it in time for one of the only buses that left that afternoon with my (free) take away hot chocolate in hand. Have a look at the last pictures and you'll see what I mean when I say that their idea of a 'highway' is not the same as most of ours... and that is also my bus stop. Pretty cool in my books, and yep, I managed to get on the right bus and not be stranded in the middle of nowhere.
So there you have it. A little summary of an amazing day at a Finnish wildlife park with lots and lots of photos for you to enjoy!