The Ladoga Skerries Reserve occupies the entire northern shore of Lake Ladoga in the Landepohsky and Pitkyarantsky districts. The word "skerries" comes from the Old Norse word "sker", which means "rock in the sea". The entire coast in the north of Ladoga is cut by numerous rocky islands, bays and channels.
The archipelago of 650 islands that makes up the Ladoga Skerries Nature Reserve begins near the village of Berezovo, on the border of the Leningradsky region and Karelia. Then it stretches for 170 kilometers north to Pitkyaranta. The total area of the reserve is 120 thousand hectares.
The Ladoga Skerries Nature Reserve was established in 2017 to protect the unique ecosystem of Lake Ladoga. The rocky landscape of the Ladoga skerries was formed during the Great Glaciation. The last Cenozoic era of glaciation began about 30 million years ago. The glaciers reached the Voronezh steppes, but then retreated. On the territory of Karelia, these glaciers left numerous granite rocks. When you drive through Karelia by car, in many places, you see these rocky formations in the ground, but in the skerries of Lake Ladoga, the water has completely washed out the ground and only granite rocks remain.
Tourists come to the Ladoga Skerries Nature Reserve to relax with a tent in nature. To get around among the main attractions of the reserve, you need a motor boat. At the coastal tourist bases, you can rent kayaks or rowing boats to go by boat independently among the islands and skerries of the reserve. There are numerous places on the islands where you can put up a tent and light a fire, go fishing and just relax from the city bustle. On the islands, you can pick berries and mushrooms.
The rocky islands of the Ladoga Skerries Nature Reserve are mostly covered with coniferous forests. Pine trees predominate here, but there are also spruce trees. The stone surfaces are covered with a dense carpet of multicolored moss. There are many berry plants that grow more often in wetlands. The fauna on the islands is very diverse.
The most beautiful places in the Ladoga Skerries Nature Reserve are located on the northern shore of the lake. Therefore, the starting point for most routes is the city of Sortavala. In addition, almost all ships that carry tourists and pilgrims to the island of Valaam depart from Sortavala. Thus, the easiest way to find a captain with a boat is in Sortavala.
The main purpose of the tour will be the southern shore of the island of Khankosalo, as well as the island of Kaarnetsaari. Starting from Sortavala, you have to take a course to the island of Havus. On the way, you will see a local attraction – Winter`s cottage. On the island of Havus, you can see the rocky shores several tens of meters high, descending into the waters of Ladoga. Just south of Havus Island is Markatsimansaari Island. Inside this island, there is a huge Quiet Bay. This is a very popular place for fishing and camping.
After Quiet Bay, you need to sail to the southern part of the island of Hankosalo. You will see the most beautiful Ladoga skerries. They cut deep into the island here, and the rocks are very picturesque. From the island of Khankosalo, you need to sail a little to the east and see one of the main attractions of the Ladoga Skerries Reserve, Kaarnetsaari Island, where the cracked Crow`s Gate rock and Mount Aino are located. Nearby there is a small but very picturesque island of Lehtosaari with granite terraces.
After that, you need to sail to the northern part of the island of Hankosalo to see the narrow channels between the islands of Hankosalo and Laukka. Here, the nature is very different from the typical Ladoga ecosystem. Instead of granite rocks and pine trees, here you will see deciduous forests and reeds. After that, along the coast of the large island of Riekalonsaari, return to Sortavala.
If you go on a tour of the Ladoga skerries from the village of Berezovsky, then you can see nature near the islands of Montossaari and Kilpola. The main goal is a guided tour of the Rullahdenvuori Mountain. Very picturesque cliffs can be seen along the coast on the islands of Montossaari and Kilpola.