FAQ – About the waterfalls of Finland
How do you define a "waterfall"?
The question is what makes a waterfall a waterfall? Actually, it's difficult to find an official definition of a waterfall in literature, or even among waterfall hunters. Some people only count the completely free-falling rapids as "waterfalls". Other people may count even shallow rapids as "waterfalls", when there is enough water in the river.
I have defined waterfalls in the following way: If you look at a cascade or rapid at a nearly direct angle, and you still think it looks like a waterfall from this perspective, then it counts. More info about the waterfall definitions you can find in the article "About the waterfalls of Finland".
On this website we have also defined minimum criteria for all the Finnish waterfalls to be added to the site. Those criteria include, for example, natural state, a minimum height of 2–3 metres and a steady watercourse marked on official terrain maps. We can still, sometimes, make exceptions to the criteria, if we feel that some waterfall is aesthetically beautiful or maybe a culturally important sight, despite of not matching the criteria completely. More info about our criteria you can find here.
What is the tallest waterfall in Finland?
The answer depends on what kind of waterfall you are looking for.
According to my knowledge, the highest series of waterfalls (multi-step waterfall) in Finland are Kitsiputous Falls in Enontekiö. They have a total drop height of about 100 metres, but the height is divided between several different steps.
If you are looking for the highest individual waterfall, Korkeakoski (36 m) in Maaninka is officially the highest in Finland – although it's not free-falling one, but a cascade. On the other hand, Auttinoja Falls in Posio and Kevolinkka Falls in Utsjoki are in the same height-scale as Korkeakoski, according to the contours on terrain maps. Both of them are cascades, too.
The highest free-falling waterfall in Finland is Pihtsusköngäs in Enontekiö, with a total drop height of 17 metres.
What is the largest waterfall in Finland?
Again, the answer depends on what do you mean by "largest".
The largest natural Finnish waterfall measured by flow rate is Kiutaköngäs in Kuusamo (mean annual flow rate 24 m3/s). Kiutaköngäs is not, however, a single waterfall, but a series of cascades with a total drop height of 14 metres over a distance of 325 metres.
If you also want to take into account the height and width of the waterfall, the question becomes more subjective. In my opinion, the largest waterfalls in Finland are Pihtsusköngäs in Enontekiö (height 17 m, mean flow rate 1.7 m3/s) and Jyrävä in Kuusamo (height 9 m, mean flow rate 20.4 m3/s).
It's also possible to define the largest waterfall by the power available from falling water. The power (P) can be calculated from the flow rate Q (m3/s), density of water (ρ = 1000 kg/m3), the height of fall (h), and the local acceleration due to gravity (g = 9.81 m/s2), with the following equation: P = Qρgh. In this way, the theoretical power of Kiutaköngäs is 3.3 MW and Jyrävä 1.8 MW. On a large scale, these are still small values when compared, for example, with Imatrankoski Rapids (192 MW), which is utilized for hydroelectric production. On the other hand, the famous Niagara Falls in North America have a total hydroelectric production capacity of about 4900 MW.
What is the most beautiful waterfall in Finland?
There is not a single "right" answer to this question, because it's completely subjective and related to one's personal experiences with waterfalls. Many people may think that waterfalls with high flow rate and large drop height are among the most beautiful ones. In my opinion, however, that's not so straightforward, because small waterfalls can be very beautiful, too. What matters most, is the general aesthetic experience that a waterfall has to offer.
Personally I think the most beautiful waterfalls in Finland are the famous Kitsiputous Falls, Fiellu Waterfall and Jyrävä. Very beautiful ones are also a couple of less-known falls, such as Putaanköngäs, Kullaoja Waterfall and Vähänojanköngäs.
The winner of our poll "The most beautiful waterfall in Finland" in 2014 was Hepoköngäs with 61 of total 500 votes.
What are the most famous waterfalls in Finland?
This is not an easy question to answer because there aren't official visitor statistics available of all the Finnish waterfalls. We can thus only say, which ones we think have the most visitors, based on the public data we have found.
Generally the waterfalls with the easiest access are probably among the most visited ones, especially when they are located in national parks or other well-known nature reserves or hiking areas. For example, Kiutaköngäs and Jyrävä, which flow in the Oulanka National Park, are probably among the most visited ones. According to Metsähallitus, there were almost 180 000 annual visitors in the Oulanka National Park (2014), of which about 40 000 visited Kiutaköngäs and about 29 000 Jyrävä (from June to August).
Hepoköngäs in Puolanka is also one of the most famous waterfalls in Finland, as according to Metsähallitus, its annual visitor amount was 15 000 in 2015. Auttiköngäs in Rovaniemi had an even larger number (22 000) during the same year. Among hikers, Fiellu Waterfall and Pihtsusköngäs are probably also very popular, although they aren't very easy to be accessed.
When is the best time to photograph waterfalls?
Practically all our waterfalls are at their best when they have a maximum amount of water. Normally this is during spring floods, which usually take place (but not necessarily every year) in April–May (Southern Finland) and May–June (Northern Finland). Also after heavy rains the flow rates of many waterfalls can grow significantly.
The waterfalls with a large natural flow rate (such as Jyrävä in Kuusamo) are worth seeing practically around the year. Then there are waterfalls such as Velhonvuori Falls in Lavia and Tarhapuro Waterfall in Koli that usually don't flow around the year, but are dry during at least the driest of summer days.
On this website our subjective waterfall ratings (1–5) are often affected by the predictability of the flow: if it's not likely that you stand a reasonable chance of seeing the waterfall flow when visiting there, it's rating can't be very good, either.
Normally we try to say it in our descriptions, if there is something worth mentioning about when the fall should to be visited.
What kind of cameras have you used?
I have taken the photographs for this website mainly with four different cameras. The most recent one (that I bought in the spring 2015) is a high-quality Nikon D3200 -system camera. Before that I took most of the photos with older Panasonic DMC-FS3 and Panasonic DMC-FZ30 -compact cameras.
In addition to the digital cameras, I have taken many pictures with Olympus Multi AF All-Weather 35mm -film camera, using ASA 400 film. Personally I love film photographs, because of their unique color scheme and nostalgic atmosphere. Film photographs will thus always be one of the specialties and even cornerstones of this website.
The video clips (2009–2014) I have shot with my old and reliable Panasonic NV-DS65 video camera. Since 2015, I have shot the clips with Nikon D3200.
Can you give some waterfall photography tips?
Both in literature and on the Internet you can find many comprehensive guides on how to take professional waterfall photographs. While I'm not going to repeat them here in detail, there are some general practices I have found useful when going to shoot falls:
- During cloudy or overcast weather it's often easier to take successful photos of waterfalls, when compared with a bright day. Direct sunlight from the horizon (or reflected from the river) can make the photos overexposed. When that happens, the subjects in the shadows are barely visible. If the weather isn't cloudy, you can try to time your visit to mid-day, when the sun is high and casts the smallest shadows possible. There are also neutral density filters that can possibly help you fight against overexposing (I don't have filters yet, though).
- One of the most annoying problems related exclusively to waterfall photography, is the risk of water spots from the waterfall's mist spraying your camera lens. The problem arises especially in situations, where you want to take photographs very close to the fall. Typically the water spots aren't very well visible in your camera's view finder or your LCD at the time you take the photos, but are exposed at home when looking at the photos on the computer. There is no single catch-all solution to this problem. The amount of water spots can, however, be minimized by wiping the water mist from the lens between shots. I also recommend you to track opportunities (based on wind, maybe) when less mist is blown your way, and then taking the pictures in quick shots.
- A good telephoto lens for your camera is a very useful piece of equipment. Several waterfalls flow on steep slopes and other places that are difficult and even dangerous to reach on foot. When you have a powerful telephoto lens, taking the photos from far away can spare a lot of your time, and can make the filming also safer.
- When you go to film waterfalls in wilderness, remember to protect your camera equipment from the rain. This is especially important in Käsivarsi Wilderness Area in Enontekiö, where powerful and frequent showers may surprise you.
- If you want to make the waterfall look "smooth and silky", you need to use long exposure (slow shutter speed) in your camera. Then the water looks like a series of lines added together, instead of the "frozen" look. In practice, you need a separate tripod to support your camera, as even small shake can ruin the photo when filming with long exposure. Personally I'm not a big fan of the long exposure -photos, since carrying a tripod can be cumbersome in long hikes.
More comprehensive information about waterfall photography you can read for example from World of Waterfalls -site.
Why don't you have waterfall x on the site?
There are three possible reasons why the waterfall is not on our site. The first possible explanation is, that the waterfall doesn't match our minimum criteria that we have set for the falls to be accepted to the site (see criteria here). The other possible explanation is, that we simply don't know about the waterfall yet.
If it's the latter, you should read the article behind the link above and check, if the waterfall matches our criteria. For example, is the waterfall located within Finnish borders and flowing in its natural state? If the fall matches all the criteria, you can suggest it to be added to our site, by contacting us.
The third possible explanation is, that we already know the waterfall, but haven't filmed it yet. Our prevailing practice is, that we add to our site only waterfalls that we have seen, photographed and documented ourselves. At this time, we know at least the following waterfalls, that still wait to be photographed:
- Unnamed waterfall in the Maalpurinoja River in Urho Kekkonen National Park
- Unnamed waterfall in the Paratiisikuru Gorge in Urho Kekkonen National Park
- Unnamed in waterfall in the southern end of Routasenkuru Canyon in Vätsäri Wilderness Area
- Waterfall in the Valtijoki River in the Käsivarsi Wilderness Area
- Unnamed falls in the Uutuanjoki River near the Tuulijärvi Lake in Vätsäri
- Waterfall near Adolf's Kammi in Kaldoaivi Wilderness Area
- Waterfall in the Akujoki River (in Utsjoki)
- Waterfall in the Myllypuro Creek in the city of Tampere
- Ruskeavirta Waterfall in the Korouoma Canyon in Posio
Can I use or borrow the material on your site?
All the photographs and text on the 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 school projects, hobbies or a 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 amount 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, Hannu Repo, 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 these photographs are the property of their respective owners and may not be used in any medium without written consent from the owner.
How can I make my travel company be visible on your site?
Since the spring 2018 we have offered online visibility for travel companies that are near our waterfalls, in order to support sustainable nature-related tourism in Finland. Read more in our info-packet for travel companies.
Why is there incorrect information on waterfall x?
All the data and text content on our website is based on the latest information that we have had available, when we were writing our articles. If you find an apparent informational error anywhere in our articles, we'd be very thankful, if you would contact us about it. Our main objective is to keep the waterfall-information on this site as up-to-date and accurate as possible. You can also contact us, if you find a dead link in an article.
Maps, videos or "Find the nearest waterfalls" -tool doesn't work. Why?
"Find nearest waterfalls" -tool uses HTML5 Geolocation API that doesn't always work in old browsers (especially with Internet Explorer). We have also occasionally seen map-related problems with some old Apple devices (iPads and iPhones), e.g. a situation where the markers won't be uploaded. Often this can be solved just by reloading the page.