Visitor restrictions in Karula National Park

The assets of Karula National Park are its forests, lakes, the unique rolling terrain and traditional lifestyle. The varied wildlife of Karula offers habitats for very different and rare species. In order to preserve the protected species and their habitats, communities and landscapes, certain restrictions have been imposed on roaming and activities in the area with the protection rules of Karula National Park. The rules are available in Riigi Teataja (the official database of Estonia’s legal acts).

In Karula National Park there are 2 strict nature reserves, where visitor access is prohibited. Pautsjärve reserve was formed to protect the primeval forests, marsh communities, and the habitats of endangered and protected species. Kaadsijärve Nature Reserve was established to protect the habitat of the category 1 protected species and to guarantee the development of the forests in the surrounds of the habitat as a natural process. In strict nature reserves all human activity is prohibited, except for research, monitoring and rescue works.

In the 27 target management zones and 12 limited management zones of the national park, visitors are allowed to pick berries and mushrooms and involve in activities that are not harmful for nature. Temporary restriction on movement is established from 15 March to 31 August in Äestamise marsh, Oikunna, Vanapalu, Palu-Labassaarõ special management zones and on Kaugjärve shore path, and from 1 February to 31 August in Põrgujärve special management zone. Strict nature reserves and special management zones with restrictions of movement are marked with signs.

Camping and campfires are allowed in the national park in prepared and signposted sites, coordinated with the protected area manager. On private land camping and campfires are allowed with the consent of the landowner. Drive motor vehicles and parking outside designated roads and parking areas is prohibited, except during research fieldwork, monitoring and rescue works. In the protected area non-motorised water vehicles and hobby fishing is allowed, except in the strict nature reserve and in the cases specified in the Karula protection rules, in the special management zone. Use of motorised water vehicles is permitted only during monitoring and rescue works, in the course of activities related with the management of the protected area and for research conducted with the consent of the protected area manager.

In Karula National Park organising public events for up to 40 participants in prepared locations is allowed. For organising a public event for more than 40 participants or in a place outside the prepared location, coordination with RMK and the Lõuna region of the Environmental Board is required. The application form for approval for a major event can be found in the menu on the left, in the subdivision ‘Events’.
Events that are held on roads and in other anthropogenic areas do not require coordination. However, it is necessary to obtain the landowner’s consent.

Do not damage the soil, plants, trees while in the wild and do not disturb the inhabitants there – animals and people. Use only the existing paths and roads. After the hike, picnic or event, please see that the place remains clean. Please take away everything that you brought along with you.

For further information please contact Karula information desk, by phone: +372 782 8350, by e-mail:
To apply for consent, please contact  the Environmental Board of Estonia, by e-mail:, by phone: +372 662 5999
To report an environmental offence, please call: 1247