The Gauja river – the most popular one in Latvia
Undoubtedly, the most popular river offering water tourism in Latvia is Gauja. It is famous for its banks, for the beautiful and rich sandstone outcrops, for its steady flow and landscapes entertaining friends of nature. Usually, people boat from Cesis to Sigulda (a 2-3 day journey) down the Gauja. This part of the river includes the territory of Gauja National Park. Those, who will boat in the other parts of the Gauja, also will not be disappointed.
You should be aware that it is allowed to stay overnight only in the settlements within the territory of the Gauja National Park, which are established especially for this purpose. The Park offers you a lot of comfortable settlements for water tourists. You should also bear in mind that it is dangerous to swim in the Gauja and walk on the riverbed, here the shallowness can change the depth very rapidly. You can also go by any boat in a trip down the Gauja, but it is also possible to enjoy something unusual – a true raft! For example, the camping companies – the boat base "Žagarkals" and "Gaujas krasts” and other tourist service providers their visitors with comfortable rafts with a veneer deck. More than 10 holidaymakers can sit freely on it; they can even grill a lunch. There is another exciting river on the right bank of the Gauja that you should definitely try. It is the Brasla River, a confluent of the Gauja, a real dessert for the lovers of nature. The Brasla is a small river of Latvia considered as the most beautiful and richest with the rocks, there are a lot of sandstone outcrops on its banks, even caves with underground lakes are near it – Vejinu caves. You should take into account that in summer, in a low water period, Brasla can be quite shallow in some places, and it turns boating more difficult.
Salaca, Abava and Venta
From the water tourism point of view, Salaca is an exciting river, a river in Northern Vidzeme, interesting and rich with landscape features, especially the part between Mazsalaca and the Red Cliffs. Salaca really is a true pearl of the North Vidzeme, a favorite destination for the lovers of nature as well as the most important Salmon River in the region of the Baltic Sea, where it is allowed to fish these kingly fishes during the season of salmon trapping. You should note that the tour includes Salaca Valley Nature Park and Biosphere Reserve of North Vidzeme and in Salaca, so the accommodations can be installed only in places meant especially for this purpose.
The popularity of Abava in Kurzeme, for its turn, is proved by the fact that its Valley is included in the list of the 100 most unique and protected cultural heritage sites of the UNESCO World Cultural Heritage Foundation. The most popular tour on this river runs from Kandava to Renda, where you will be able to see the devil’s stone of Abava (Abavas Velnakmens), an ancient cult place called “Swedish Hat”, two unusual towns Kandava and Sabile, the Pedvale outdoor art museum on its bank, waterfall called “Abava hub” and sandstone caves called “Mara’s Chambers”.
Also Venta, the largest river of Kurzeme can be interesting for water tourists and fishermen. A multi-day tour from Nigrande to Skrunda is very popular; you must pass through some rapids there. In this tour, where you can see a number of dolomite and sandstone outcrops, and you can learn about the unusual Alsu lime kiln... Also the tour from Kuldiga to Zleku bridge will leave on you good impression.
Loneliness and savageness on riversides of the Irbe river
If the heart desires uninhabited and wild areas, then feel free to choose such rivers as Iecava, Irbe, Pededze, Rezekne, Ruja, Tebra, Vitrupe, Svetupe, Ciecere and others, which are nearly intact by the civilization in some spans. Irbe in Northen Kurzeme is particularly of such kind of river – you will find only few houses on the banks of Irbe. Irbe is a very beautiful, peaceful and quiet river intended for indolent rest, since it has neither dangerous rapids nor obstacles. You will be able to see impressive sand dunes along the riverside. The most popular tour runs from the Rinda River down to the sea. It is good to know that Irbe flows through the Slitere National Park, along the several ancient Livonian fishing villages and one of the most unique ex-military facility – the impressive Irbene radio-locator.
Along the curves of the Daugava and lakes of Latgale
Daugava, the largest Latvian river, is known also as the Latvian river of destiny. You should definitely try so-called curves of the Daugava – it is a part of the river from Kraslava to Daugavpils. On the scenic banks of the river, you will be able to have a look at the oldest wooden church of Latgale – Indrica Catholic Church, to visit a typical old-believers village in Slutiski, Makrova castle mound, the high and impressive precipices in Ververi and Slutiski, from which you can see a great view of the river valley and Vecpils castle mound, where the former Dinaburg castle was located. You should take into account that, in the case of strong wind, the Daugava River can raise pretty high waves that will make boating more difficult.
Also some very unusual tours are possible in Latgale. Not without reason, Latgale is called the Land of Blue Lakes. There are hundreds of beautiful larger and smaller lakes in this region. It is interesting that small rivers and channels are joining into many lakes. Therefore, you can spend several unforgettable days enjoying the nature and cultural historical identity of Latgale region from waterside. We really recommend you to enjoy it! You should ask more about the tours in the regional tourist information offices, in the boat rentals of Latgale (for example: www.laivaslatgale.lv), or see the „Celvedis udensturistam” ("Guide for Water Tourists”) prepared by "Lauku celotajs”.
Before you step your feet on boat and enjoy really exciting pastime on the water, you should keep in mind some useful piece of advice. First of all, you should plan your tour properly by choosing a boat for your travel. Usually, boat rentals and travel agencies can help in these cases, the instructors and water tourism professionals can assist you not only by the supply of equipment, but also in the choice of the journey by giving give some other practical advice. When boating, you should take care of proper clothing (e.g. clothes for rain), and the winners will be those who will not forget about cream against sunburn and mosquito repellents. Hermetically packaged spare clothes and the life jacket will be always useful – one, who protects himself, the God will protect. And, the most important thing – don’t forget to find out the major sights on the river banks in advance, so nothing will be looked over!