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Krustkalni Nature Reserve
Krustkalnu Nature Reserve, established in 1977, is acknowledged as a “Natura 2000” territory since 2004. It is distinguished for the diversity of its forests and numerous orchid varieties. This reserve may be visited by tourists and there is even a sightseeing platform built for their needs.
The area of Krustkalnu Nature Reserve is 2915 ha and it is located in the Madona district. The reserve’s territory is very hilly. The Svētupe River and its tributary the Niedruška flow across the reserve. There are 13 lakes in the reserve, the largest of which are the Dreimaņu or Svētes Lake, the Lielais and Mazais Plencis.
Freshwater limestone sediments have formed on the banks of some lakes and there are many springs, the most famous of them being Krākas springs on the bank of Svētes Lake.
It has very clean water, enriched with carbonates, and a stone located next to the spring has very strong energy. It is so strong that trees around the stone grow in such a way that their tops are directed towards it, but there is clear sky exactly above the stone – no trees.
Freshwater limestone sediments are formed at many locations of freshwater springs in Krustkalni, and this influenced the appearance of the peculiar flora with many rarely found plants. The reserve has almost all types of forest growth conditions available in Latvia, but the most popular types found here are pine-spruce and moist spruce forests.
The reserve has more than 1550 species of invertebrates, 1170 registered species of butterflies, 152 species of birds, 760 varieties and sub-varieties of non-seed and seed plants, as well as about 150 varieties of moss. Among the protected varieties of plants, one can find here Ligularia sibirica, Cladium mariscus, Pulmonaria angustifolia, Thesium ebracteatum, etc.
With regard to birds, such protected species nest in Krustkalni as black stork (Ciconia nigra), little eagle (Aquilapomarina), pygmy owl (Glaucidium passerinum), a rare species of woodpecker (Picoides tridactylus), etc.
Visits to Krustkalnu Nature Reserve are allowed only when accompanied by an employee of the reserve and only at specially appointed places. The visits must be applied for to the administration at least three weekdays in advance. Maximum number of persons in the visiting group is 15.