Kayaking in Lithuanian maze of lakes - Aukštaitija National Park

Connecting the Dots @ctdotsMay 2018 · 9 min read

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How Lithuanians spend their time in nature

For me, there is nothing as rewarding as escaping to nature after 5 days of work on a computer. Even though Lithuania has a very beautiful nature and it is easy to get energized outdoors, but from my personal experience, hiking or trekking is not as rewarding as elsewhere. Lithuania lacks some eureka moments in a form of grandiose natural monuments. It is very hard to get rewarded for your hard walk and everything is so easily accessible by a car in such a small country anyway. Solution to that is usually just to spend your time in a place and chill, or to go fast, which results in high popularity of cycling and kayaking. I don’t know how it is in other countries, but it is very popular to go kayaking and camping for a weekend here in Lithuania.


I think the reason for it is not only the amount of how much you can see in a relatively short amount of time but the change of a perspective as well. To me, rivers never looked the same after I tried kayaking for the first time in my life more than a decade ago. And the kayaking in the lake is a totally different beast on another level. The rapid change of the scenery is something like a movie from which it is hard to take your eyes off.



Aukštaitija National Park

And if you are looking for water, there is no better place to look for it in Lithuania than Aukstaitija National Park, which is hilarious, because the word "Aukštaitija" means the highlands and the place doesn't look like that even by Lithuanian standards. The only reason for it, is probably that the region near it called Žemaitija (eng. The lowlands) is flat as fcuk. Anyway, Aukštaitija National Park is famous for its lakes and stream labyrinths. With a size of Vienna, it contains 126 lakes, 116 villages, a river and 17 streams. Still, somehow, 70% of the park is covered by forests, which entangles you to the beauty of nature wherever you go.






River Buka

Our trip started on a small river in the northern part of the Aukštaitija National Park. River Buka is only 9 km long and we kayaked 8 km of it. Buka connects two lakes: Utenykštis and Baluošas. It is a part of a wood raft transportation route for which due to being a very shallow river several dams were built. On a hotter day when the water level is lower, eroded edges of Buka can be observed holding still growing tall trees above it.


The beauty of it is that river Buka is not somewhat exceptional compared to the others. It could be almost any other river in one of the local parks and results would be the same.


If somebody asked me to give a title for the rest of the journey, I would call it "volunteer unpaid hard labor under harsh conditions in the exotic unknown land".


Volunteer unpaid hard labor under harsh conditions in an exotic unknown land

As you might have guessed it (yes, I'm talking to you - the only reader probably went this far), the journey didn't end with 8 chilly kilometers on a gravity-driven highway called River Buka. What was a pure pleasure turned into 6 km of kayaking on still waters of lakes where the only way to move is to use your own kinetic energy, which you got from the sun after many complex exchanges on the natural food chain.


And it was the same sun which was the killer of this part, unpaid hard labor could be also called an exercise, which changes the perspective and turns it from torture back to pleasure, but no matter how you call hot, it is still fcuking hot. Though, it doesn't mean that I didn't try. I did, oh boy, I did. I called it tanning, but in the end, it was more like torching a pig and I ended up with moderate sunburn.


Anyway, back to the positive side, it was really beautiful and totally worth all the hard work even compared to the kayaking in the river. It includes not only the enormous spaces of beautiful panorama of Aukštaitija National Park, but also many different birds which you encounter after every turn, clean transparent waters of lakes where you can observe variety of underwater flora and fauna, a dinner on an island in the middle of a lake, silence, echoes and many other things which you don't get in the concrete city.



Remember I told that Aukštaitiją National Park was a maze? Yeah, I didn't lie. First day we started on Buka and kayaked until we entered Lake Baluošas, after it we followed a small stream to Lake Baluošytis and did the same to enter Lake Sravinaitis after which we had to take out our kayaks of the water and carry it through the other side of a road as a waterway was blocked by a water mill. On the other side of it was a perfect place to take a swim and a short rest. On summers nearby, you can find a store for resupplies before the campsite, which is reached after kayaking on another stream to another lake called Almajas.



Camping near a lake

I will not go too much into safe camping or how to build a tent etc etc, but what is important to mention, no matter how tired you are, when camping near the lake with kayaks, don’t put down your paddles too soon. A good part of being in a lake is that you are surrounded by enough space to observe a sunset no matter where you are and that is exactly what you should do. Even if you are super lazy and tired, just take those Einstein-damned paddles and kayak yourself into the middle of the lake. For more romantic people, you can do the same during the night and observe the endless universe above your heads, a universe which is always running away from us due to dark energy, leaving just falling stars and unfulfilled wishes.





Day 2

Well, day 2 is a must because you must camp near the lake, that is the fun part of it, even if you hate sleeping in tents or not having a shower or a toilet, whatever, camping is an amazing time to socialize and share your impressions with friends after a good day of kayaking.


Well, where was I? Oh yeah, the maze. I won’t go too much into the details, I’ll let the photography to talk for itself, but on the second day our 15 km route took us from Lake Almajas through the same small stream to Lake Asekas, after which we ended up in another stream leading to Lake Linkmenas where you can visit a hill surrounded by 3 lakes and from which you can see up to 6 lakes.





There is a great oak on the Ladakalnis hill with a high-end pagan message below it:

Don’t put your dreams on my roots and branches as I‘m choking under the layer of stones, cannot carry your dreams to the skies.
Better surround an altar with a circle of your dreams – within him running sands of time will carry it to the heavens.
Yours, Oak


Ladakalnis rises 175 m above sea level (yeah, Lithuanian highlands), it is high enough compared to surrounding landscape to give you a view of six different lakes. It is thought to have been a sacrificial place for a pagan deity Goddess Lada, the primordial Great Mother, wife of supreme God Dievas (These days we still use the same word for Christian God as well). She gave birth to the first-born twins in the shape of horses, who are related to the fire of the sky - the Sun and lightning.


Maze of lakes

After it, we went to another lake called Alksnas to have a dinner near ethnographic island village, then back to Linkmenas which led to Lake Asalnykštis until you enter Lake Asalnai which finally leads to Lake Lūšiai - our final stop in a Baidariuuostas (kayak docks) kayak base. It is in a small village called Palūšė which something like a small resort town, you can find beaches, a bar and plenty of other water entertainment to do including supping, motor ships, water bikes, boats and many more.







Kayak base in Palūšė

To our surprise on our way back we were met by the man behind kayak docks who came riding a motor ship which he built by his own hands. He offered us a ride, but we decided that we want that feeling of accomplishing whole 29 km in two days by ourselves. There are quite a few kayaks renting bases around here, but for many reasons including that this kayak base is near a beautiful lake in small resort village with an old wooden church and relatively many activities, a team which not only gave us all the information we needed, but also a map (first time I got one and I’ve been kayaking for years) and the possibility to camp on their own campsite near Lake Almajas, I would recommend using their services which you can read more about on http://www.baidariuuostas.lt/en




Ok, enough of free advertisements, time to wrap up with a great quote from Martin Luther King Jr:

“The time is always right to do what is right”

So, go out and do something active with your friends, I won’t go into details now, there is plenty of science behind that, but an adventure within a group of people is where we evolved and where we belong. A possible path to happiness lies within it.



Every Thursday something new from my travel adventures

Author: Mantas Ališauskas
Photography: Mantas Ališauskas
Design: Mantas Ališauskas
Website: http://www.ctdots.eu

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Damn, you guys are just across the ocean (you know, kinda almost..) and I didn't even know you had such amazing nature there!

Guess Sweden will get some competition on being favorite destination for canoeing and kayaking :)

Lovely pictures and nice detailed writing, wish there was more like this on steemit


Well it is not a surprise to me that you didn't know much about the Baltic States. We are not entirely good at advertising ourselves. Maybe, Estonia is doing better, hopefully:D But a big part of my motivation writing about these small countries is to send at least some word about it:)

I guess I'll have to try Sweden as well:D Is there a place you would recommend? Never tried kayaking abroad.

And thank you!


Awesome, can find some similarities with us too


I really want to try kayaking in Latvia, almost did so this year in Gauja National Park, but in the end we decided to see as much as we can instead due to a very limited time:)


Congratulations! Your high quality travel content caught our attention and earned you a reward, in form of an upvote and resteem. Your work really stands out. Your article now has a chance to get curated and featured under the appropriate daily topic of our Travelfeed blog. Thank you for using #travelfeed



Good job, I loved the presentation, description and the unbeatable photos, THANKS for sharing!


Thank you for reading and leaving a feedback, it is well appreciated:)


Damn, the quality of the pictures is amazing, Thanks a lot for bringing us into a new journey again! As always great post!


I got a new phone and thank god it is a quite an upgrade, I don't even need to edit the pictures:) Thank you for your kind words!


Yeh i also need a new phone. Wanted a 1+ 6 but low on cash atm ahahah.


Two of my friends use those (not the newest one) and are really impressed by it:)

tze.yl @tzeylJune 2018

I must say that your photos are amazing. May I know what did you shot these photos with?


Huawei p20 pro, this trip was a first real test to it and I'm quite happy with the results:) also I edited only blue photos in the lakes, river and sunset photos looked amazing as it was:) Saves so much time:>

tze.yl @tzeylJune 2018

Wow. Such beautiful photos using only a smartphone camera. I need to brush up my photography skills from you.


Well I started taking pictures only like 1,5 half years ago. Practice, practice and more practice:)


the excellent photography, travel and sunset i love the sunset have a great day


Thank you my friend:) The whole trip was like a perfect storm for taking pictures:D


Nature has taught us to be generous all the time. And this education we see from some great photographer like you are also very satisfied.
As it is seen in your eye-catching eyes.such a amazing clicks...
love @photography


Thank you for your kind words. This was a tough journey because I couldn't stop making shots, yet somehow I had to keep rowing as well:D


wow!! good photography.


Thank you:)


Very interesting trip and nice shots. Really good work of you! Decided to resteem you on my channel :)


Oh, thank you for that:) Have a nice day!