Karula National Park is Estonia’s smallest and it was recognised as a national park in 1993.
- 1 Visitor Information Centre. It lies close to Lake Ähijärv, and provides information about hiking trails, campsites and sights in the national park, a multimedia slide show and exhibitions.
The landscape of the Karula uplands, formed thousands of years ago by continental glacial activity, is noted for its rich diversity; marshes, swamp-forests, small lakes, streams, meadows and floret-covered knolls and hills.
Seventy per cent of the territory of the national park is forest and there are 38 lakes.
The cultural landscape is sparsely inhabited. Narrow fields, plots of forests, mires, meadows and farmsteads all give the landscape an especially intimate feel.
Flora and fauna
The most typical large mammals living in the park are moose, western roe deer, wild boar and lynx. Common small mammals include the red fox, raccoon dog, polecat, brown hare, red squirrel and European beaver.
157 species of birds have been spotted in Karula National Park.
Bus schedules, even to this remote location, are easily available online – read more under Estonia#Get around.
Fees and permits
Entrance free of charge.
Hiking is what you would prefer to do here.
Bird watching and enjoying the forests.
If you don't have a tent, an observation towers might be a good alternative. However, these here do not have regular roofs, so during rain the platforms will probably not be enough to protect against rain.
- 1 Mt. Tornimägi Observation Tower (near Rebasemõisa).
- 2 Mähkli Observation Tower (Mäekonnu) (near Mähkli).
- Nodimäe baar, Lüllemäe, ☏ . Bar
The official Estonian tourism website provides an extensive list of options for accommodation.
- 3 Karula-Lüllemäe Tervisekeskuse hostel, ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Bed €10, tent €3.
- 4 Nakatu Farm, Ringiste, ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. €20.
Fire rings with cooking constructions can be found in marked campsites. Upon leaving the site make sure that the fire is out.
- Sangaste and the nearby Sangaste Castle, just about 30 km north.
- Otepää – A small town set in the hills of south Estonia and best known winter sports centre in the Baltics, and the Winter Capital of Estonia. Surrounded by lakes, hills and ski jump towers. A little further after Sangaste.
- Valga – A town on the border with Latvia, where it literally grows into the Latvian town of Valka. Just to the west.
- Võru – A picturesque town not far from the highest hill in the Baltic states, Suur Munamägi. The birthplace of the writer Kreutzwald and the dialect of the Estonian language. Just to the east.