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Lake Keitele spans an impressive 122,000 acres in Central Finland's Lakeland District. The lake is connected to Lake Paijanne (271,800 acres) via the Keitele-Paijanne Canal. Completed in 1993, the 25-mile canal has five automated locks that allow boats to navigate the 25-foot difference in elevation with ease. The canal has increased pleasure boating on Lake Keitele considerably. Thirteen 'visitor harbors' on the lake provide berths, activities and essentials for the increasing number of sailors and commercial cruises on the lake. Pleasure boaters and holiday visitors are discovering the joys of this mostly quiet lake for themselves, and they give it a resounding 'thumbs up'!
Commercial cruise boats bring visitors through the canal from the City of Jyvaskyla on Lake Paijanne to the larger cities along Lake Keitele. In addition, private boats can access both Lake Keitele and Lake Kansallisvesi from the Keitele Canal in the north, and through Lake Paijanne to Lake Vesijarvi in the south via the Vaaksy Canal. A total of 1150 miles of marked water routes can be accessed from the waterway, spanning the best and most picturesque areas of Finland's Lake District. Entire summers are spent traveling the waterway, exploring the many visitor harbors and enjoying both the local activities and the continually changing scenery. True lakelubbers swear that the waterway must be experienced through the riotous colors of autumn to truly experience what Finland is all about. The canals have reduced the need for veteran pleasure boaters to avail themselves of the so-called 'rubber canals" - a system of boat transfer by truck from one lake system to another. They can now spend more time enjoying the lakes themselves.
Lake Keitele is much more shallow than its neighboring lake, with an average depth of 23 feet. Emergent reed beds provide cover for such sport fish as pike, making Lake Keitele a highly desirable pike fishery. Anglers have always known Lake Keitele produced a wide variety of extremely large fish with regularity. Sport fishermen have come to the lake for many years to fish for such species as pike, perch, zander, bream, ide, brown trout, grayling and landlocked salmon. The varied depths and water conditions provide excellent opportunities to catch both the cold-water loving salmon and trout and those seeking warmer, more shallow lake bottoms. Connected streams provide excellent trout fishing waters, although some are designated spawning areas and thus are off-limits. Ice fishing at Lake Keitele for perch is particularly productive, as the shallow ridge-tops often produce specimens weighing over 2 pounds.
Swimming at Lake Keitele is a favored sport during the summer months, and a number of sandy beaches are located along the shoreline with excellent swim areas. The uninhabited stretches of the lakefront are dotted with lean-tos and resting areas to serve as picnic spots or overnight shelters for canoeists and kayakers who paddle the many coves and bays. The shallows serve as habitat for the many birds and waterfowl that seek its abundant food sources and nesting environment. Boats, canoes, kayaks, bicycles and other sports gear can be rented along the shoreline. The lake is divided into three regions, Yla-Keitele, Keski-Keitele, and Ala-Keitele, of which Keski-Keitele is the largest.
The towns along Lake Keitele's 900-mile shoreline were historically industrial locations. With the change to mass production and the advent of high-technology industries, the towns are reinventing themselves as tourism centers for lake visitors. Lake Keitele came through the industrial phase with its water quality mostly intact: water testing lists the lake's waters as good to excellent. For their part, local residents have embraced the concepts of sound ecology whole-heartedly, with many small businesses advertising such features as 'eco-eating' (locally-produced foods), nature hikes, and resource conservation and replacement. Cycling trails and wilderness 'safari' guides keep holiday-makers abreast of the best in local natural wonders. In winter, the area is renowned for its excellent cross-country ski trails. Other winter activities include snowmobiling, tobogganing and constructed 'ski-jumps' which likely should be classified as an extreme sport.
Lake Keitele has attractions off the waterway as well. The City of Aanekoski prides itself on its culture of music and art. The Aanekoski Art Museum provides permanent exhibits of several well-known Finnish artists as well as traveling art collections. All musical tastes can be found at the Sumiainen Iron Wire Shake Festival, featuring guitar artists, and the Keitele Jazz Festival. Near Aanekoski, the Martin Kievari conference center fills the summer nights with drama and comedy as Theater Europe Four takes the stage for several productions. At the southern end of Lake Keitele near Suolahti, the Suolahti International Music Camp offers high-quality musical experiences from different parts of the world. Also on display at Suolahti Hall, a diverse program selection includes concerts and theatrical performances. Aanekoski also offers nostalgic steam train rides in the summer on refurbished steam locomotives rescued from the scrap yard after being put out of service by timber and paper mill companies. An association of historical societies meets the needs of genealogists researching their ancestral history in Finland.
Lake Keitele is coming into its own as a holiday destination. A variety of lodgings can be found from fishing cabins to villas, holiday apartments, bed-and-breakfasts, private summer homes, luxury resorts and hotels. Although the lakefront doesn't contain nearly as many cottages and villas as nearby Lake Paijanne, there are real estate opportunities to be found among those that exist. Many of these properties are somewhat secluded, giving the hopeful purchaser the opportunity to find a truly private lakefront home. So if you're looking for the perfect place to celebrate Finland's Lakeland treasures, you couldn't find a better location than Lake Keitele. Bring the boat - or rent one - and travel these lovely waterways for yourself. Lake Keitele and the entire waterway await your visit.
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