/ Erasmus

Jägala juga: frozen surprise near Tallinn

Hey everyone, this time I have two part story for you. Both parts will be about winter nature around Tallinn. In the first one, aka today we are going to visit Jägala river and it’s waterfall about 30 km east from Tallinn. Next time we will together go to see the coast of Gulf of Finland to the west of the city. I hope to keep both of these post shorter, so let’s start now.

About two weeks after we arrived we finally got nice sunny weather. Thanks to very cold beginning of February we could expect some spectacular icefalls and frozen river Jägala. Not very far from Tallinn and accessible by public transport[1] we decided to do half day trip there with Juraj. It’s close and busses go there, so we don’t need to plan very much, right? At least that’s what we thought. Two things went wrong with this approach.

First we didn’t remember the name of the stop where we should get off the bus. That resulted in getting off in the middle of highway after we told the driver that we wanted to stop on the one he had just passed. He wasn’t happy but stopped quickly. So for everyone going there, be sure to tell the driver the right name of the stop where you want to go, when you buy the ticket.

Once we finally found the village where we wanted to end up, the second error occured. It was weekend and the only bus coming back to Tallinn was at 7:45 in the evening. That had two consequences. We had much more time than we thought at the place and also we had only one chance to get back. This time we had to be on time there.

From bus stop to the fall
With couple hours to explore the area we went on to find the waterfall. Jägala juga[^n] is the second highest waterfall in Estonia[^n]. It has only 8m of height, which isn’t much if you compare it to Norwegian falls but at least it’s about 60m wide and has quite a lot of water. There are not that many waterfalls in Estonia so it’s understandable that it has parking lot about two minutes walking from itself. If you come by bus you need to walk about 1.5km from the bus stop or more from whatever place where you manage to get off the bus.

Jägala juga

Once we got to the waterfall, wait I should say ice fall, I went into my photography business. I didn’t take my tripod with me this time so I tried to do some hand held panoramas and hoped it will work. I’ll let you be the judge. The gigapan

Climbing the cliff at jagala juga

We spend something between hour and two near by the fall exploring, looking for interesting angles to shoot and generally enjoying the place. Most of the time we were alone there. But once we ventured under the fall to see it from inside some more picture lustfully people came.

Photoshoot by locals

It was quite fun watching them as they struggled quite a bit on the ice surface. When I got satisfied with the pictures I took it was time to find something else to do here before the bus could take us back home. A little bit up the stream was some kind of water reservoir. Upon inspection it looked like upper lake for some hydro power station. Unfortunately no technical info so my electricity self got stuck unsatisfied on that one.

Water reservoir at Jägala

Also it was not that much to do there and with couple more hours before the return bus we decided to find the coast to see the sunset there. Walking through nordic forest and some abandoned village it started to get dark. It was still early, but you know it’s nordic winter. One thing that was strange were the completely different houses that were mixed together around here. Some of them were completely abandoned and left to rust for some time and some were pretty new high end family houses. Sadly it was too dark to shoot there without tripod.

Forest near Jägala river

The only way to cross the river down the stream from the dam was one pedestrian bridge. It looked like it must be under water in spring when the ice melts. Luckily for us the river was frozen now and we could cross. The eastern bank of the river promised path to the sea.

Bridge over frozen Jägala rippsild (Jägala rapids)

Down here near the sea we weren’t the only ones to enjoy the beautiful evening. Couple fishermen were doing their magic through holes in the ice. I must say here, that this was the first day since I arrived when the colours of the sky were this strong and pretty. It reminded me that I don’t mind early evening during the winter, but the weeks long overcast sky with dark greyish clouds with no structure in them. Finally it was over, at least for today. So happy.

Evening fishing session

The banks of the river got more and more overgrown with reeds as we continued towards the sea. All the plants made it difficult to continue and also the ice wasn’t that strong when there were some plants in it. To make the story short we didn’t make it to the coast. I bursted through the ice at one point and despite not ending up in the river it was pretty much the sign to head back. Mainly because it would took us quite long to get to somewhere warm if we would get wet.

Jägala delta

Couple more minutes of observing the sunset and the fishermen and we headed back to the bus stop. We still had about an hour when we came there. To our surprise there was small store right there and to even bigger surprise it was open. We had a place to stay. It was warm inside and we could also buy some snack to feed ourselves and kill some time. The bus arrived on time and that was the end of our trip for this time.

Next time I will take you to the western coast of gulf of Finland with two other friends I meet here. Surprisingly they are both from Czech Republic as well. As it appears a lot of the Erasmus students here are either from Czech or Slovakia. See you next time in the winter nature of Estonia.


  1. Jägala juga ↩︎

Ondra Brem

Ondra Brem

Information technology student above everything enjoying traveling, photography and playing ultimate frisbee. Born and living in Czech Republic, but counting the Earth as home.

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