If unspoiled nature and low water levels are essential for your perfect river location, look no further, as these are precisely what Estonian waterways and waterfalls are famous for.
Granted, not every river is the Mekong. But neither is every movie “Apocalypse Now.” Unless you need a location for dropping a load of napalm, there are more cost-effective alternatives than taking your production to Vietnam.
So consider Estonia, a country of barely 17,504 square miles, but having an abundance of natural, spring-fed rivers, each more bewitching than the other. There’s little reason to transport your cast and crew to Asia (well, there are tons of reasons, but they all come with a hefty price tag) when you can easily access the most mesmerizing natural sets to be found just about anywhere in the world.
There are too many creeks and rivers in Estonia to list them all here, but some merit a detailed introduction. Ask an Estonian the river you should not miss while driving around the country, and most will suggest Piusa, in Southeastern Estonia, and, for the last 9 miles before draining into Lake Pihkva, in Pskov Oblast, Russia. In addition to being one of the most scenic places in the country, it has the sharpest drop of all Estonian rivers–a spectacular 700 feet.
Another river you might want to look up (especially if you need some local movie history attached to it) is Ahja, more than 64 miles of untamed and untouched beauty. It begins at Lake Erastvere, empties into the River Emajõgi, and was featured in “Viimne reliikvia” (“The Last Relic”), an Estonian cult movie many locals believe to be the defining moment in Estonian filmmaking. Estonia also has countless unique waterfalls, the highest being Jägala, at about 26 feet. Jägala looks eeriest in winter (Attention, directors of fantasy and horror.), when it morphs into a huge glistening wall of colossal icicles. Another one worth inspecting is the Keila, close to the city of the same name and an easy 20-minute drive from the Tallinn Airport. Keila Waterfall is known for the path that runs along the riverbed–a perfect spot to shoot the next “Isla, get–on-the-plane” scene.
If unspoiled nature and low water levels are essential for your perfect river location, look no further, as these are precisely what Estonian waterways and waterfalls are famous for. And should we mention how flexible this lovely country is in terms of regulations? Getting a permit to film is as easy as picking up the phone and completing a few forms. Just one of the many ways Estonia will welcome you.