|ĶEMERU National park
Visitor centre: Meža māja, Ķemeri, Jūrmala
|Distance from Riga: 45km
Phone: +371 67146824
The Ķemeri National Park was established in 1997 and mostly involves wetlands – the shallow shores of the Bay of Rīga, an overgrown seaside lake, vast swamps, damp forests and fens, and flood-land meadows. The park is enormously important for protecting plants (25% of those recorded in Latvia’s Red Book are found in the park) and animals, particularly nesting and migrating birds.
The once-famous Ķemeri Spa was based on the availability of these resources. Most of the cultural and historical objects in the Ķemeri National Park relate to the seashore as a place for leisure and recuperation.
- Guided tours in nature trails: walking trail of Lake Sloka with a bird-watching tower (the main circle ~3km, there are alternatives to extend a walk up to 12 km), the Dumbrāji trail (550m), the restored Slampe River and watching the livestock adapted to life in the wild at Dunduri meadows.
- Guided bird watching. In a short period of time it is possible to see about seven species of birds. Ķemeri National Park is one of the best places for woodpecker watching. In the autumn and spring, thousands of migrating geese and cranes use the park to rest and spend the night.
- Ķemeri National Park – the Great Ķemeri Bog Boardwalk (walking distances 2 or 4km).
|The Great Kemeri Bog Boardwalk (day tour)||SEE MORE|
The Great Ķemeri Bog Boardwalk is a popular tourist destination in the Ķemeri national park, offering visitors a chance to explore the bog and its inhabitants. The boardwalk takes visitors to the world of moss, small pine trees, deep pools, tiny dark lakes, and the smell of wild rosemary. The astute visitor will notice the carnivorous plant of sundew, and a variety of birds – wood sandpipers, white wagtails, tree pipits, and also hear cranes further away. Those who prefer shorter strolls can take the small boardwalk arc (~1.4 km), while those who choose the great arc (~3.4 km) will be rewarded with the opportunity to climb an observation platform that offers a magnificent view of the bog from above.
The Great Ķemeri Bog Boardwalk has become a popular place for photographers of nature scenes in Latvia, regardless of the season or weather.
|Enjoy the beauty of the The Great Ķemeri Bog – bog shoe walking in winter or summer (day tour)||SEE MORE|
The Great Ķemeri bog is beautiful, attractive and accessible both, in summer and winter time.
Two young Latvian nature scientists came up with the idea to offer bog tours some years ago. Since then, their bog tours have become extremely popular in Latvia as family fun, team building experience or nature lovers’ escape. The tours are available for small groups, and the participants are given special bog shoes to make walking easier on bog surface in winter and in summer.
The route length in the Great Ķemeri bog is 6 km, and the guided tour takes 2-3 hours. The guide tells about plant and animal life, about nature processes in the bog. The route shows the best landscapes in the bog and takes to its most attractive nature objects. Even in winter time when temperatures are below 0°C, people feel warm as walking takes some physical effort. The Great Ķemeri bog offers and excellent and safe opportunity to spend a day in wild nature just 40 km from Riga.
The route is not marked and cannot be taken without the specialised professional guide. The route is located in the Ķemeri national park.
|Barefoot walking path in “Valguma Pasaule” recreation center (day tour)||SEE MORE|
The Barefoot Path is a 2600m long trail in natural environment where visitors walk barefoot and experience a variety of surfaces like pine cones, glass balls, small stones and shingles of various shapes, moss, fine sand, clay, river water, turf, gravel, reed, chipwood, pinewood log, wooden poles, millstones and many more.
Walking barefoot has a number of positive health effects:
- Strengthens immune system
- Improves blood circulation and stabilises blood pressure
- Strengthens leg and foot muscles, joints, ligaments
- Enhances relaxed feeling, mental and physiological stability
The walk is guided by a professional guide (English speaking). Before the walk visitors receive an instruction. After walking the barefoot path, visitors usually feel energised, strong and happy. The walk is finished with a relaxing herbal foot bath.
|GAUJA National Park
Visitor centre: Sigulda regional tourist information
|Distance from Riga: 54 km
Phone: +371 67971335
The Gauja National Park, established in 1973, was Latvia’s first national park, and it has a wealth of tradition in environmental protection and tourism. The main “artery” of the park is the 95km long ancient Gauja River valley, which was left behind when Ice Age glaciers receded. The territory has a great diversity of species – some 900 plant species in all. The Gauja is Latvia’s most popular river for water tourism. The Gauja National Park is one of the best-appointed protected territories in Latvia in terms of nature trails and tourism routes. Nature trails at Līgatne pass along paddocks of wild animals – the largest and most complete object of its kind in the Baltic States. The park also features cultural monuments of pan-Baltic importance – the Turaida Museum Reserve, the medieval old town of Cēsis with its famous castle ruins and St John’s Church, the lake castle at Āraiši.
|Mushrooming in the Gauja National Park (day tour)||SEE MORE|
Mushrooming is a national passion in Latvia, Estonia and Finland. Trying out a mushrooming experience is part of getting to know the local life and doing things the way locals are doing. Since centuries, wild mushrooms have been part of our cuisine, therefore we know for sure where and how to find edible fungi. Our countries are rich in forests that can be reached as shortly as within an hour’s drive from the city. Fungi love mild and wet weather, which is usually from mid August to mid October. This is when the mushroom “hunting” season rules. Quiet forest roads fill with cars on early weekend mornings and people carrying baskets full of mushrooms is a common site on country roads and trains coming into the city. Social networks are full of photos posted by proud mushroom “hunters” as everybody is competing for the biggest, the most beautiful mushroom or for the largest quantities picked in the shortest time. And it is an exciting experience, indeed, when you spot a brown, yellow or red fungi cup between crusty fallen tree leaves or on the green moss carpet in the forest. And the next, and the next …. It really brings one into positive addiction. Cooking delicious mushroom meals and preserving mushrooms for winter is also a strong and cherished tradition.
|Nature experience in the Gauja National Park (day tour)||SEE MORE|
This is a two day outing to the countryside to experience beautiful natural environment in the Gauja national park with landscapes, nature trails, seeing wild animals in open air enclosures. The area offers a number of marked nature trails for easy walking. In some places wooden boardwalks are installed. The area is slightly hilly that requires a bit of physical effort but rewards a hiker with beautiful landscape views.
Travelling options from Riga: train or bus, with a pick up service from the station in the countryside. Accommodation in a charming country hotel “Kārļamuiža”. Meals in the hotel restaurant. The restaurant also provides takeaway lunch boxes. The country hotel is surrounded by a romantic landscape park and located in the Amata river valley. The location is 8 km from the historic town of Cēsis and 18 km from Sigulda town, in the middle of the Gauja national park. Distance from Riga is 75km.
After arrival to the “Kārļamuiža” country hotel, guests will check in their rooms, receive lunch boxes and printed information packets for getting out in nature trails. After return, dinner is served in the hotel restaurant from 19.00. It is recommended to book the time in advance. After dinner in the hotel, there is an option to take sauna. Sauna is not included in the package price and it has to be booked in advance, at the time of booking all other services. Next morning after breakfast guests can enjoy the nearest nature surroundings of the hotel or use some more hiking options as described in their information packets.
|SLĪTERE National Park
Visitor centre: SIA Kolkasrags, Brigas, Kolka, Kolkas pagasts, Dundagas novads
|Distance from Riga: 192km
The Slītere National Park (established in 2000) is known, with good reason, as an open-air museum which shows the historical development of the Baltic Sea. Nowadays evidence of geological events is seen in the Blue Hills of Slītere, which stand 20 to 30 metres high above what was the shore of the Baltic lake of ice 10,000 years ago. The gentle climate is the reason why so many rare plants are found in the park – some 860 in all including Common Yew (Taxus baccata) and Baltic Ivy (Hedera helix var. baltica). Of certain value in the preservation of these treasures was the Soviet military machine, which has left behind army bases and other military objects in the area. The presence of the military meant that the area of what is now the Slītere National Park remained largely undisturbed for 50 years. The park includes one of the most popular tourist destinations in Latvia – the Cape of Kolka. During the spring migration of birds, more than 60,000 birds cross the cape each hour. Along the shore of the Baltic Sea is the so-called Livonian coast, which stretches from Kolka to Sīkrags and Ovīši. Fishing villages and other cultural objects established by the world’s smallest ethnic minority, the Livonians, can be found here along the beautiful, unpopulated golden sandy beach.
- Guided walks in nature trails: 0.3-3.5km long nature trails presenting the protected nature values and landscapes.
- Hiking routes: 3-7km long hiking routes introducing the local heritage of nature, history and culture.
- Wildlife. The geographic location and diversity of biotopes of the Slītere National Park ensure a wealth of mammals. You have every opportunity to hear hooting owns, rooting bucks and howling wolves. You may smell a racoon dog, run into a doe with her fawns, watch a beaver building a home, or spot a group of stags swimming in a lake during the foggy morning. Most of the more than 40 species of mammals in the Slītere National Park are shy and hard to spot. The afforested nature of the territory ensures diversity of fauna, but it also makes it more difficult to spot animals.
Animal-watching at the Slītere National Park is only possible in the presence of a guide, and only for small groups of one to five people.