Bog landscape stretching to the horizon and autumnal colours in the Männikjärve bog of Endla Nature Reserve makes up a scene rarely encountered elsewhere in western Europe or even Estonia.
The Endla Mire System (with a total area of about 25 000 ha) is one of the most important freshwater systems in Estonia, representing a complex of different wetland types – mires, lakes, swamp forests, springs and rivers and supporting rich diversity of species. Endla is listed as internationally important wetland (Ramsar) site. The middle part of the mire system is under protection – its eight bog massifs are separated by rivers with narrow flooded meadows or swamped/bog forests. A brand new boardwalk across Männikjärve bog enables visitors to see drained and natural bog forests, a well developed and picturesque raised bog of the treed-ridge-hollow-pool subtype, bird and plant species. One of my favourites is the sneaky little Round-leaved sundew (Drosera rotundifolia), a carnivorous plant that likes to munch on flying insects that land in its invitingly open “mouth”.
Bogs and mires cover one-fifth of the mainland area of Estonia. We are third in the world after Finland and Canada in our abundance of natural mires. The flora and fauna in mires is unique – many animal and plant species are adapted to live there and there only. Bog walking in Estonia is exciting no matter what the season. It’s something you have to experience when visiting Estonia. The bog areas are massive and uninhabited. There are a lot of boardwalks to take you on a voyage of discovery through mysterious bog landscapes and during winter you can access bogs by ski. In the autumn, Estonians often go to bogs to pick wild cranberries, which are made into jam for the winter. If you long for a truly memorable experience, watch the sun rise…or set over a bog!
Here are some shots of the sunset walk in Männikjärve bog taken couple of days after Christmas. The new boardwalk is very comfortable and safe to walk on in every weather. The new observation tower in the middle offers as breathtaking views as ever. The shimmering water in the pools surrounded by vivid autumn colours is pure magic.