Suomen Vesiputoukset – Waterfalls of Finland
Suomen Vesiputoukset is a fully independent and privately owned website that was opened to the public first in 2013.
Our main purpose is to increase public awareness of the most magnificent natural waterfalls in Finland, and promote nature-based tourism in Finland. We want to do this with high quality photographs and travel stories, combined with new web technology and a little humor. Below we'll tell you more about our site and how everything started.
About the founder
Flowing water has always been an important thing in my life. My first experiences with waterfalls date back to the late 1980s, when I was less than a six years old. My parents took me to see the waterfall of Vanhankaupunginkoski flowing in the Vantaanjoki River in Helsinki, not very far from our home. Although the waterfall wasn't even a natural one, but only a man-made dam wall, it was an unforgettable experience for me.
Actually we visited at Vanhankaupunginkoski several times, and my enthusiasm for waterfalls grew more with every visit. In 1993, our family had a holiday trip in Lapland and Norway, which gave me the possibility to see natural waterfalls and rapids in a completely new way and up close. For an 11-years old child, enthusiastic about waterfalls, it was an unforgettable holiday!
It took almost 20 years, though, before I really got in to the world of Finnish waterfalls, to explore and film them. Before that happened, I graduated from Helsinki University of Technology (in 2010, with honors), after studying 8 years of electrical technology and interactive digital media. Deep in my mind, though, I was still very much into flowing water. For example, my hobby to build small decorative water fountains at my parents' summer cottage reflected my old interest.
Today, the waterfalls of my home country are among the most significant things that bring joy and energy to my life. They have given me many unforgettable memories and new hobbies (like nature photography and hiking), and I have also met many new people when traveling in Finland on photographing tours.
It could be even said that I have found a whole new aspects in my life because of Finnish waterfalls. Today it would be almost impossible for me to even imagine a life without them.
The founder and administrator of the "Suomen Vesiputoukset" -website
The story behind this website
Although I have been interested in waterfalls my whole life, I got the idea for this website in the summer 2008. The idea was originally sparked from the book Suomen luonnon ihmeitä ("Nature wonders of Finland"), written by author and nature photographer Risto Lounema in 2001. I used to read the book at my parents' summer cottage, and my favourite chapter in the book was, of course, "the most magnificent waterfalls in Finland". I kept reading that chapter over and over again, and while reading, my enthusiasm towards the waterfalls of Finland grew to a whole new level. There were so many new sights for me to see!
It didn't then take long, before I was back in my home in Espoo. There I started to search the Internet for more information and images of the waterfalls I had just read about (we didn't have Internet access at our summer cottage at that time). After many unsuccessful search attempts I was a little disappointed: it seemed there wasn't any comprehensive information source of the Finnish waterfalls available on the Internet. The fragments of information I managed to find were mostly inaccurate, and there weren't many photos available, either. I really felt that was not a nice thing.
The subsequent attempts to ask for more information from my friends, were quite unsuccessful, too. Even the people who had hiked in Lapland typically said that "there are waterfalls only in Norway". I really couldn't believe that there were so few waterfalls in Finland as many people seemed to think. After reading the book, I knew there were many of them – and maybe the book didn't even included all of them. During those days I got the idea of a new, digital information source that would concentrate only on the natural waterfalls of Finland. I felt they really deserved more respect and visibility among people.
After that I started developing a plan for a new kind of website that would offer comprehensive, rich and easy-to-read information of Finnish waterfalls for all the people interested in the topic. At the same time, I started to plan photographing tours around Finland, in order to film all the waterfalls presented in the book by Risto Lounema (and maybe even more). At such an early stage I made a big decision that I would only put on my website the waterfalls that I had seen and photographed personally. And that is a decision I stuck with.
I did my first waterfall tour in early summer of 2009. On that trip I traveled to Kainuu and Kuusamo regions in eastern Finland, and photographed some of Finland's most famous waterfalls, such as Jyrävä, Kiutaköngäs and Hepoköngäs. In the following years, I made many new tours to areas such as Kilpisjärvi Lake in Enontekiö and Lemmenjoki River in Inari. All those early tours I made with my reliable car Toyota Yaris (MY 2002), and with the help of my TomTom One -navigator (bought in spring -09). Since 2015, though, my car has been Nissan Almera (MY 2003).
Between the tours I did a lot of research at home in order to find more new possible waterfalls to film to my upcoming site. One useful technique was following rivers on terrain maps and compare their stream lines to the contour lines of the map; the more contours there are on a specific distance, the bigger is the corresponding elevation difference (and the possible waterfall). This way I found several new, interesting places to visit. Some other waterfalls I found in the nature-related photo galleries on the Internet (and contacted their administrators to learn more) and some with just googling. My longest waterfall tour was in summer 2011, when I hiked to the Halti mountain in Käsivarsi Wilderness Area, and photographed the nearby Pihtsusköngäs waterfall (below).
When doing this research, I learned yet more about how little information about the Finnish waterfalls was available. For example, there were no Finnish translations of the waterfall classifications used worldwide. Another big surprise for me was the fact, that many beautiful waterfalls in Finland didn't have official names. There was thus a lot of work to be done to make the site ready.
By autumn 2011 I had gathered so much material that I could start the actual programming of the website. This process took, in the end, more than a year, because I had to do it on my leisure time, and I wanted to make the site work well on all the newest terminal devices, including tablets and smartphones. What helped me was my education as well as my job as a web developer. After several beta-testing rounds, the site was opened to the public on April 24th, 2013.
It's possible that opening the site started a new period in the written history of Finnish waterfalls. Many visitors who have given feedback of the site, have been positively surprised of its existence, and some people have even found a new hobby from Finnish waterfalls. We have also been present several times in nationwide media, including Helsingin Sanomat (Finland's largest print media), the website of Yle (Finland's national public-broadcasting company), Ympäristö-lehti (magazine published by Finnish Environment Institute) and many smaller magazines and publications.
What we have done has likely inspired also many nature-bloggers to add content or images of Finnish waterfalls to their sites and image galleries. I believe that this website has fulfilled its purpose in many ways to bring the natural waterfalls of Finland to the public. For example, in the year 2015 there were more than 52 000 visits to the site by nearly 41 000 different users, and the visitor numbers are still growing.
The latest big update was done in the spring 2016, when we translated the original Finnish site into English. At the same time, we upgraded the technical platform of the site, including layout and images. The project, however, still hasn't ended, and we are going to add new waterfalls and make improvements to the site as long as there are waterfalls to be found, and we stay alive.
And who knows – maybe there will be a day in the future, when nobody who wants to learn about Finnish waterfalls, receives the answer "there are waterfalls only in Norway". At least I hope that this website has helped all of us (even a little) to yet see that day.
Objective of our site
The main objective of Suomen Vesiputoukset -website is to increase public awareness of the natural waterfalls in Finland, by providing as complete and accurate record of them as possible. Our site is targeted for everyone, who is interested in the exciting world of our free falls.
Although there aren't a waterfalls like Niagara or Mollisfossen in Finland, many of our waterfalls are spectacular and very unique nature sights. So whether you are a hiker, an occasional traveler or just interested in the nature – there are waterfalls in Finland for you to see.
Some basic values we try to promote and respect include:
- Nature conservation (especially river systems)
- Reliability of the information we share
- Finnish culture
Currently our site offers people interested in the topic, features such as:
- Alphabetical list of the natural waterfalls of Finland.
- Physical facts of all the waterfalls. They include data such as height, average flow rate, physical category and exact geographical location.
- Description of each waterfall, based both on my personal experience and general background information available.
- A lot of photographs and videos of all the waterfalls.
- Driving instructions to the falls, including the locations of the nearest parking places.
- A possibility to browse waterfalls directly on Finland's map.
- A tool targeted for hikers and tourists to find the nearest waterfalls based on an address or their GPS position.
- In addition to free-flowing waterfalls, a glance at our most important utilized waterfalls that you can still see free, for example, in rapid shows.
- All the information available both in Finnish (original) and in English.
- Compatibility for all kinds of terminal devices, both mobile and desktop.
Many well-known waterfall sites (like World Waterfall Database) seems to have a same basic problem: there are lot of waterfalls in their database, but most of them are missing information and especially photos. We see that this kind of approach to build a nature-related website – a lot of sights but no photos and with empty information – dispels the visitors easily.
On this site we have tried to invest both in the quality of information and especially in the images and illustration. There will never be any waterfalls on this site without photos (and videos), some of which have always been taken with a traditional film camera. Personally I believe that good photos and videos are the best way to pass the atmosphere of a waterfall to the visitors on our site – at least what is possible today...
Although our purpose is to offer information and photos of as many Finnish waterfalls as possible, all the waterfalls must match our predetermined criteria, before we can accept them to this website. The reason for this is that we want to keep the content of the site high quality. This means that only the most important waterfalls – the pearls of our wilderness – deserve to be chosen. Currently, the minimum criteria the waterfalls must match include:
- The waterfall is located within the borders of Finland.
- It flows without intervention by man.
- It flows on a natural bedrock.
In addition we require that:
- Total height of the waterfall is 2–3 metres at a minimum, and the fall has a distinct upper and lower levels, when looked at from straight ahead in direct angle. In addition, the waterfall must flow in a steady watercourse that can be found on official terrain maps.
- The target is a well-known attraction, known specifically as a waterfall (see Äkäslinkka in Muonio, for example).
In practice, our criteria excludes from this site all the waterfalls that are utilized (and lost) for hydropower production, all kinds of artificial waterfalls, shallow rapids, and falls that are formed over dam walls. In addition, they exclude so-called "temporary waterfalls" that exist only when its raining, without a steady watercourse.
But even if the proposed waterfall would match all the criteria, it's not necessarily accepted automatically. What matters most, is the overall picture and the general feeling that the waterfall has to offer its visitors.
Vanhankaupunginkoski waterfall in Helsinki – the first waterfall in my life, filmed again in autumn 2009. The waterfall is, though, only a man-made dam wall, and thus excluded from this site.
Naming the waterfalls
All the waterfalls on our site are presented primarily by their official names, if available. In Finland the waterfalls are officially named by National Land Survey of Finland.
Some of our waterfalls are still missing a name. For those falls we have tried to give a temporary name to be used on this site. Typically those names have the following syntax: name of the watercourse + "Waterfall" or "Falls" (like Bierfejohka Waterfall).
If a waterfall is officially unnamed, we usually state this fact at the start of the waterfall's description. We also encourage you to contact us, if you know a possible missing name for some waterfall.
All the waterfalls on our site are rated between 1–5, where 1 is the "worst" and 5 the "best". This general rating is presented with yellow stars together with the other waterfall-specific data in the articles. The waterfall ratings are exclusively based my own scenic impressions of the falls, and are then completely subjective data. They shouldn't be taken literally, and neither be compared to the waterfalls outside Finland, such as Niagara. Ratings are mainly based on:
- Height of the waterfall
- Amount of the water
- How beautiful or rugged are the surroundings of the fall
- Is there remnants of man-made structures in the fall (like ruins of dam etc.)
- How many days the waterfall lasts during year – that is, what is the reliability of flow
We have tried to relate the ratings to each others by Gaussian distribution. In practice it means that the most of the falls should have a grade 3, whereas only a few falls have 1 or 5. We have to emphasize, though that all the waterfalls presented here are worth seeing as nature sights – even the ones with only one star.
Waterfalls of Finland flow in many kinds of places and terrains. Some of them are situated next to the parking places or near well-maintained hiking trails. Some flow in the middle of wilderness, tens of kilometres away from the nearest roads.
Below we have explained the icons used on this site to provide thumbnail reference of the difficulty and method(s) of accessing each waterfall. Each access difficulty icon (in colors) are accompanied by a method icon (black) to provide an easy reference as to the effort needed to reach any given waterfall.
Accessing the waterfall requires little or no effort. The waterfall is adjacent to the parking place, or there is at least a good trail leading to the fall.
Accessing the waterfall requires walking in terrain outside of the marked trails. The terrain is still rather easy to walk. You need at least basic navigating skills in order to visit the fall.
Accessing the waterfall requires hiking in rough terrain, which may include steep grades, unstable ground or crossing rivers by wading. Recommended only for experienced hikers.
The waterfall can be accessed only through a very rough, possibly dangerous terrain. The terrain may include very steep slopes and thick bushwhacking. Recommended only for very experienced hikers.
Waterfall is adjacent to a parking place or road, or located up to 500 metres from it.
Reaching the waterfall requires a short to moderate hiking trip. The length of the hike can be between 500 metres and 10 kilometres.
Reaching the waterfall requires a lengthy hike and possibly camping. The length of the hike can be between 10 and 50 kilometres.
The easiest way to visit the waterfall is by watercraft. Without the watercraft, it is a lengthy hike to the fall.
The Suomen Vesiputoukset -website is intended to be used as a source of information regarding Finnish waterfalls, and is not intended to be utilized as a field guide for hiking trips. Although we try to provide as truthful and exact information as possible, we can't make guarantees to the accuracy of the information presented. Therefore we encourage our users to contact and report about all the possible incorrect information as soon as possible.
Many waterfalls are potentially dangerous places, and Suomen Vesiputoukset can't guarantee your personal safety when you decide to visit the waterfalls presented here. The people who use this website to search for and hike to waterfalls, are solely and entirely responsible for their actions and personal safety. Therefore Suomen Vesiputoukset assume no responsibility of any personal or property damage resulting from your waterfall trips based on this website. In addition, you are personally responsible for obeying the local acts and regulations related to, for example, nature conservation and private property.
All the photographs and text utilized throughout Suomen Vesiputoukset -website are protected under International Copyright Law. In principle, however, you are still allowed to borrow material for a small-scale, non-commercial use (such as a school project, hobby or thesis). If you want to do that, you are required to cite Suomen Vesiputoukset as your source where you use the material. In unclear cases, or if you need material for commercial use, please contact us.
A small number of the photographs (especially the historical ones) on this site are owned by Geological Survey of Finland, Finnish Environment Institute, Kuusamo home archive, Kuopio Museum of Cultural History, Elina Kontturi, Johanna Mononen, Pauliina Järvelä, Merja Rapeli, Antti Kettunen, Kalervo Niskakoski or Petri Niikko. Besides, there are some photos that are owned by travel companies. All those photographs are property of their respective owners and may not be used in any medium without written consent from the owner.
We never give or sell the names or email-address of the people who have joined our mailing list, for any third parties. It's always possible for you to unsubscribe our mailing list by either contacting us, or using the unsubscribe form on the site. Read more from our register information -statement.
We never save GPS positions of the people using our "Find the nearest waterfalls" -tool, but that data is used only temporarily to calculate the results for the user.
Finally I want to say thanks for the following people, for the great help when building this website:
Hanna-Mari Sorvari, for the great work of translating big part of this site in English, proofreading all the English articles, and being a loving travel companion on our lengthy waterfall photographing tours around Finland.
Esko Kuusisto, hydrologist in Finnish Environment Institute (Freshwater Centre) for gathering the waterfall flow rates for this site.
Jere Lampola, for the help of checking the approximate heights of many Finnish waterfalls from the elevation model (2m) of the National Land Survey of Finland (since 19.9.2014). Link to open data CC 4.0 license.
Antti Hätinen, for the technical help of registering the domain-name, and providing a hosting service for the site (phz.fi).
In addition, I want to say thanks for the following people or institutions for either the help of photographing falls, or allowing me to use photos owned by them: Aare Vaher, Antti Kettunen, Elina Kontturi, Eve Vehmaa, Hannu Repo, Kalervo Niskakoski, Johanna Mononen, Merja Rapeli, Pauliina Järvelä, Petri Niikko, Geological Survey of Finland, Finnish Environment Institute, Kuusamo home archive and Kuopio Museum of Cultural History.
Thanks also to my former colleague Hannu Aarniala (see hannuaarniala.com), for designing the site's main logo and the waterfall icons used on the maps, and helping me with other UX-related issues. Thanks also all of you who volunteered in the beta-testing in 2013 and 2016.
Finally, special thanks for the rock and folk singer Irwin Goodman (14.9.1943 – 14.1.1991) somewhere there above us... for the great travel music on our photographing tours!