Gauja National Park
The Gauja National Park is the largest and most famous national park in Latvia and it is one of the most popular travel destinations in the country. The reserve was established as early as 1973. It covers an area of more than 90,000 hectares. Note: Latvia is one of countries that begins with L defined by Countryaah.
The park is divided into different, biologically particularly valuable protection zones. These are the Nurmizi gorge reserve, the Inciems old bank reserve, the Roci forest reserve and the Suda moor reserve.
Sandstone deposits from the Devonian era form the geological foundation of the region. The river Gauja, the glacial valley of a glacier, has eaten its way through the rock in the course of the earth’s history. This resulted in a river course, which is picturesquely framed by sandstone cliffs, sandbanks, grottos and caves. Those who sail across the Gauja by canoe or boat can enjoy a wonderful panorama. The eagle rock (Erglu klintis) is particularly worth seeing, the sandstone formation extends over a length of 700 meters and reaches a height of 22 meters. Sandbanks and beaches allow a stop here.
Those who want to be otherwise active can go on extensive hikes or walks. The Ligatne nature trails, for example, lead visitors through the various landscapes of the Gauja Valley and provide an insight into the local flora and fauna. Guided tours are possible.
You can also discover the Gauja National Park by bike. However, you need a bit of stamina for the inclines and partly sandy paths and ideally an all-terrain bike.
For holidaymakers who are not afraid of heights, a ride on the cable car near Sigulda is highly recommended. The view is terrific! You can take the train from Sigulda to the other side of the Gauja. The castles Krimulda and Turaida as well as the famous Gutmanns Cave with inscriptions by visitors, some of whom have been here in earlier centuries, can be visited on a walk. If you follow the path further, you will reach the new visitor center of the national park.
The breathtaking nature of the Gauja National Park is complemented by countless cultural assets that can be visited. The old cities of Cesis and Sigulda, the medieval castles of Turaida and Cesis, many other castles, palaces, churches and country estates – the overall package makes the charm of the Gauja National Park.
Slitere National Park
Sea, sandy beaches, dunes and pine forests are the typical landscape elements in Slitere National Park. During the Soviet era, the area was a restricted zone, so that nature could flourish here quite undisturbed.
The park is important for bird migration, so countless migratory birds can be observed from here, especially in spring. The world of reptiles is represented by natterjack toads, pond turtles and smooth snakes.
The best way to explore the Slitere National Park is on foot or by bike. In some places there are nature trails, for example at Cape Kolka or at Enazi, where the interesting cliffs can be visited.
The Baltic Sea and the Riga Bay meet at Cape Kolka, the sea is very turbulent and restless here – swimming is prohibited at this point. Some shipwrecks are said to be aground here. The information center of the national park is located in the Slitere lighthouse, built in 1850. There is also a visitor center at Cape Kolka.
The area of the national park used to be the settlement area of the Livs, today there are probably only a few hundred members of the Finnish people living here. They maintain their own tradition and speak their own, almost extinct language. The live coast has been under cultural and historical protection since 1991. The “House of the Livonian People” is located in Mazirbe. Events take place here, an exhibition informs about the Livian culture.
Kemeri National Park
Kemeri National Park is the second largest in the country and was established in 1997. It is only about 50 kilometers from Riga. The typical moorland is home to many animal and plant species and, above all, birds. The bird world includes eagle owls, sea eagles, black storks and cranes. Those interested in nature can discover swamp milkweed, lady’s slipper, wild garlic and various types of orchid. 202 moss, 119 lichen and, believe it or not, more than 500 mushroom species are found in the park. And: 25 percent of all red list species that thrive in Latvia grow in the Kemeri National Park. Moose, deer, roe deer, wild boar and wolves also live in the moors and forests. A visit to the Kemeri National Park is therefore worthwhile. Nature trails guide the visitor through the ecosystem, Birds can be spotted from observation towers or you can simply enjoy the magnificent view of the colorful landscape. In the visitor center there is further information, maps and brochures, and guided tours can also be booked here.