Kayaking Lithuania

I was lucky enough to go kayaking through a beautiful Dzukija national park in the South of Lithuania. I couldn’t have done it without the excellent help of Vilma who organised all the transport, kayak hire and accommodation – not an easy task, even for a Lithuanian!

lithuania kayaking
The Dzukija national park has a limit of 100 visitors a day to protect this fragile environment. It is necessary to get a special permit from the park authorities, not expensive, but difficult to get hold of in peak periods.

lithuania kayaking
The lovely Ula river cuts through glacial moraines and sandy eskers. Conifers cling tenaciously to the precarious slopes.

lithuania kayaking
But they don’t always manage to hang on. Fallen trees were a constant source of ‘entertainment’ and required a certain amount of paddling skills. Apparently, the majority of people fall in at some stage. We were lucky and/or more cautious.

lithuania kayaking
There was just one place on the river where the kayak had to be carried around the fallen trees. Not recommended as a loaded fibreglass kayak is pretty heavy.

lithuania kayaking
This is a picture of Ula’s eye, a spring situated about fifty metres away from, and two metres above the height of the Ula river. The water which bubbles out is rich in iron and is said to have medicinal qualities.

lithuania kayaking
The ‘landing stage’ at Ula’s eye. I wore boots for the trip but sandals would have been better. Next time…

lithuania kayaking
‘Look out for the orange umbrellas,’ said the man who rented the canoes. ‘That’s Angela’s place.’ As you can see, there were no orange umbrella’s but this is Angela’s lovely house – popular with canoeists, including the President of Lithuania. Angela’s husband was very generous with the moonshine vodka and after six tumblers of it, I had to have a little lie down…

lithuania kayaking
Here is one of many storks in the area – what superb birds they are.

lithuania kayaking
Day two and equally good weather. The Ula River became wider and later joined up with a larger river, making the canoeing much easier, but less exciting.

lithuania kayaking
These dragonflies were buzzing around for most of the journey.

lithuania kayaking
This little butterfly refused to hold its wings open but still looks great. You can clearly see its proboscis.

lithuania kayaking
Marcinkonys Station. Marcinkonys is the main village in the national park area. The railway liine used to extend from Warsaw to St Petersburg but now trains only run between Marcinkonys and Vilnius. Could this be the chance for Lithuania to put in a long distance cycle path? Or get the trains running again? Or will they ‘choose’ to build super 6-lane highways – with over-generous EU grants?

lithuania kayaking
Right next to Marcinkonys station, an architectural gem – the public toilets. It even has a chimney; how thoughtful.

lithuania kayaking
After canoeing, we visited another part of the national park, a vast area of wetlands, home of a variety of animals including elk and boar. Unfortunately I saw neither elk nor boar but did become very closely acquainted with the park’s population of flies, midges, mosquitoes and horseflies.

Practical Information

For information on Lithuania’s National Parks

For information on cycling in Lithuania

Want to see more of Lithuania?

Lithuanian places

Lithuanian food

Jeremy’s work in Lithuania

Kayaking in Lithuania

Gruta Park

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