While we really enjoyed every activity we participated in during our road trip through Estonia, the our time at Mooska Farm Smoke Sauna was definitely the most memorable. Forget everything you know about saunas, this is a far cry from the steam room at your local gym. In Estonia, people take saunas very seriously. Perhaps no one more than our gracious host, Eda Veeroja. After all, she spent a 10 years working to get the Estonia smoke sauna added to the UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage list.
We did half a day in the traditional black smoke sauna, which get its name from the lack of chimney causing the smoke to circulate through the room, and the experience is not for the faint hearted. Firstly, you strip down to your birthday suit, jump into a 100+ degree room and get whisked with dried bundles of leaves. There are salt and honey scrubs, chanting and lots more!
If you’re really adventurous you can jump into a freezing cold lake in the middle of the property to jumpstart your system. The whole experience was one of a kind and gave us a much deeper understanding of the local history and culture. Estonian black saunas have been central to local life for centuries, used to mark special occasions like weddings, deaths and the end of the year. At the end of the ceremony we gave thanks to our bodies, to the sauna and let go of something negative we’ve been holding onto. We left feeling lighter, possibly because we just sweated a few kilos, and much more connected to Estonian culture.