Towards joint management of the transboundary Gauja/Koiva river basin district

Nature friends

The Gauja River basin is characterized by a wide range of possibilities to explore nature, to see the typical landscape of Northern Latvia and Southern Estonia, to observe plants and animals in their natural habitats, as well as learn more about nature protection aspects – there are national parks, nature parks, a biosphere reserve, and protected landscape areas in the territory of the Gauja/Koiva river basin.

The Gauja National Park is probably the most famous tourism area in the basin with its beautiful Gauja River valley. Nevertheless, many interesting sites could be found on the both sides of Latvian-Estonian border, therefore we encourage to visit them.

For 24 km the Gauja is not only a river but also the border between Latvia and Estonia. This river stretch is placed in the Ziemeļgauja (Northern Gauja) Protected Landscape Area. It was established only in 2004 to protect the meandering Gauja, its valley and the habitat complexes of meadows, forests and waters. River in this border area is wide, fast and available also for boating. Many of human built objects are under the state protection as valuable historical objects and serve as evidences of the lifestyle and economical activities of people living here ages ago.

On the Estonian side the Karula National Park is located.  The national park was established to preserve, protect, restore, investigate and introduce landscapes full of forests and lakes, landforms, nature and culture heritage, as well as facilitate balanced use of the environment characteristic for the Southern Estonia.

Afterwards it is possible to visit the Haanja Nature Park (Haanja upland) – located not far, in the Võru county. The aim of the nature park is to protect, preserve and introduce the highest Estonian accumulative insular heights, old valleys, nature and traditional landscapes, facilitate the development of sustainable recreation and protect the habitats of protected species.

But on the Latvian side not far from the border, in the districts of Ape and Alūksne, the Veclaicene Protected Landscape Area is located. The territory was established to protect the typical cultural landscape and nature values of North-Vidzeme region. Veclaicene Protected Landscape Area hosts such protected habitats as forests on slopes and ravines, wet forests, swamps and natural meadows. The landscape is notable for its steep hills, deep valleys, and big trees. The River Vaidava is especially characteristic with dolomite and sandstone outcrops. In the Ape parish the famous light pink and light yellow sandstone Raganu cliffs are located at the banks of Vaidava River.

During boating and resting in nature it is important to remember a few simple but very significant rules:

  • There are special rules in protected nature areas for the visitors because of special nature values. For example, it is not allowed to park the car off-road, fire place can be set only in specially marked places, it is not allowed to walk with an unleashed dog etc.
  • A camp site can be set up only in the existing/marked places, for fire it is suggested to use fallen trees, for dish washing it is recommended to use a bigger vessel and afterwards pour dirty water on the ground (not back in the river or lake).
  • Lichen, moss and vascular plants shall be protected in their habitats; it is allowed to walk only along paths and trails to not damage the soil cover; it is recommended to behave silently; from the attended place please take with you only your impressions and photos.
  • The litter (including food remains) must be taken away. It is suggested to avoid the use of disposable tableware.