Experiencing “slow triathlon” in North Karelia Biosphere Reserve, Finland

Can you imagine a “slow” triathlon with the goal of enjoying nature and culture, stress free and with no time pressure?

In little more than a week, North Karelia Biosphere Reserve will be hosting learning journey participants in North Karelia Biosphere Reserve. During the learning journey, the guests will experience the Koitajoki Nature Triathlon that has been developed under SHAPE NPA project. It combines the best parts of enjoying and getting acquainted with pristine nature and stress-free physical exercise by use of “muscle power” for outdoor recreation and relaxation, and the activities are multiple; for example, “Hiking- Canoeing- Cycling” or “Hiking- Rafting- Swimming and Sauna”.


The aim differentiates it from a regular triathlon; the idea is slowness and relaxation, enjoying the activities, which include nature and cultural experiences in span of days, with no pressure of time, nor need for extreme physical fitness. The triathlon connects the versatile nature and culture values of the unique area with many-sided visitor services based on moving with muscle power (e.g. hiking, biking, kayaking, canoeing), eating tasty Karelian food, learning the rich cultural heritage of the region, and resting in the local guesthouses or out in the wild.


The “slow” triathlon will add value to the region’s tourism sector and will also be an important nature tourism networking effort. It is focused on non-destructive tourism uses of the river and other nature objects. It also maintains many typical, local cultural features. Ilomantsi tourism association with its members (tens of small tourism enterprises) and local associations are in cooperation with SHAPE partners and North Karelia BR. Most of the participants already belong to North Karelia BR network of sustainability partnerships. These previously existing commitments to sustainability principles are already benefiting the region. They will also be a cornerstone in the new, regional sustainability approach, which is being developed together with the provincial tourism agency.


How can you get insights about the activities during the learning journey, and how to network with other tourism actors?

To follow the discussions and ongoing activities during the learning journey, please sign-up for the SHAPE NPA e-service and follow us in facebook through North Karelia Biosphere Reserve facebook page, and SHAPE NPA facebook page. The e-service also gives you and your organization the opportunity to network and with other tourism service providers, in addition to tourism development and destination governance actors!


Photos from the Biosphere Reserve: Sami Niemeläinen, NKBR partnership network