Finnish Eco-Agrotourism Association – ECEAT Finland

Karelia Cottages


Silence travel in the lake district of Nothern Saimaa
Language(s): Finnish, English, German, Swedish


information about the destination

The values of sustainable development shine through everything we do in our family business, Karelia Cottages Oy.

The Karelian-style Villa Raita is located on Suursaari island in Varpasalo, a wilderness area on the northern reaches of Lake Saimaa.

The modern and accessible Villa Raita can accommodate 6 persons. The kitchen-living area has a convection stove. There are two bedrooms and two toilets downstairs, with a high-ceilinged sleeping loft upstairs. The villa has a sauna with an electric stove and a veranda with glass walls. The deck on the lake shore is accessible for wheelchair users. Two composting toilets.

Most of the trees around the villa are around a hundred years old. Close by there is a shallow beech with natural sand and a campfire site. The distance to the dock is 40 metres. A rowing boat, canoe, adventure board and two kick-sleighs are included in the rent. A small kitchen garden is also at visitors’ disposal.

We value Finnish traditions: the rugs and tablecloths were woven by our grannies, and woolly socks knitted by them are also available for visitors. A stay in Villa Raita promotes your wellbeing: Visit Finland has presented the company with both its” Authentic Finrelax Experience” and ”Authentic Culture Experience” awards.

Catering, party and meeting services: Catering services are available if booked in advance. Our company belongs to the Karelia a la Carte group, and the share of organic and local produce we serve is 70%. In addition to meals, caretaker’s services and instruction in traditional crafts are purchased from a nearby farm.

Our berries and root vegetables come from local organic producers and traditional baked goods from local bakeries, and our fish is also caught locally. Party (max. 12 persons) and meeting services (max 20 persons) can also be provided at the villa when booked in advance.

The company is actively involved in local cooperation and sustainable tourism development: examples are Saimaa Archipelago Development Association, the North Saimaa Archipelago brand, Silence Travel, Restoring trails project, From Inn to Inn, cultural tourism project CultTrips, Archipelago Trail and Karelian Wellbeing ( We are also a partner company of Metsähallitus.


More information about tourism services

  • Learning about forest
  • Forest bathing – spend a night in a hammock in a nature reserve with guidance
  • Honey bee safari on an organic farm located on a neighbouring island
  • cultural heritage – Creating art surrounded by nature
  • guided tours to organic farms and a mini-farm etc.
  • rentals of canoes, bicycles and winter sports equipment
  • signposted nature trails/hiking trails: Suursaari boating routes, Saaristo Trail (around 60 km). For more information, see
  • courses and learning: kantele playing, creating art surrounded by nature
  • fishing (electric outboard engine available to rent)
  • for children a trampoline, treehouse, swings, beach volleyball court
  • kick-sleighs, toboggans, sliders, life jackets and paddles available to borrow.
  • massages can be booked


In the local area:

  • Apajalahti nature trail (2.8 km), which is part of North Saimaa Archipelago Trails of 80 km, leads through our private nature reserve. Works of art and information boards at rest stops.
  • you can book guided excursions to pick wild berries and similar
  • Suursaari boating routes (teaching course, aquatic nature course 4 km and water orienteering course 20 km)
  • cross-country skiing and tour skating
  • Educational courses at Varpasalo village hall
  • working parties: e.g. in January, building artificial snow drifts for seal lairs
  • local speciality: a café and bakery in a hardware store.



Joensuu 64 km, Rääkkylä village 20 km, Varpasalo village 2 km.

  • Bus: nearest stop Oravisalo E (during the school year) 10 km. For timetables visit and For the rest of the journey, visitors are advised to take a taxi.
  • Train: nearest railway station Kitee 51 km, Joensuu 64 km. We will provide visitors with instructions for finding us: we will check bus timetables and explain how to use on-demand taxis. We can also organise a lift from the railway station/airport.
  • Motorists/cyclists: Google Maps will find Karelia Cottages and the address Suursaarentie 95 Rääkkylä. Tips for those arriving from the north: when you drive from Joensuu via Liperi and take Road 482, you get to travel on Finland’s largest inland waterway ferry, Nestori. Optionally you can take the rural route from Ylämylly to Roukalahti: a scenic route for cyclists and a lovely summer café.


  • Open: round the year, advance booking necessary.
  • Prices: ask for our prices/visit the company’s website.
  • Bonus for ECEAT members and those arriving without a motor vehicle: free coffee/tea on arrival



  • Apajalahti private nature reserve
  • 10% of the company’s 70-hectare forest holding is under permanent protection. No chemical pesticides have been used for 50 years.
  • we improve the living conditions of the Saimaa ringed seal by building artificial snow drifts.
  • the shores and islands were protected from felling even before certification.
  • on the nature trail, a Treasure Hunt that promotes environmental education is organised together with the local school in summer
  • cooperation with the village community, hikers are guided to use paths and trails to avoid wear and tear on the terrain
  • cooperation on landscape and soil restoration: Heinälamminoja wetland project and reed mowing project.
  • The forest plan of Erola holding is being updated to favour continuous cover forestry.
  • cooperation relating to feeding whiteback woodpeckers and building of artificial nests for birds of prey etc.


  • UN Sustainable Development commitment “Sustainable tourism services based on Karelian cultural heritage”
  • outer cladding of the villa was made with timber from trees felled on the site, the boards were cut at a local sawmill and painted with home-made red ochre.
  • the villa’s equipment includes a traditional Savo style rowing boat.


  • we will strive to make visible the way carbon sequestration achieved as the forest grows offsets the carbon footprint of tourism.
  • mowing and removal of reeds (potential use of reeds to improve the soil in clay fields).
  • we will continue our close cooperation with the Saimaa Archipelago Development Association.
  • we will strive to find rewarding and renewing modes of tourism for the good of the region.
  • our aim is achieving a Sustainable Travel Finland certificate.