Lakes and rivers of Latvia

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Latvia has over 12,500 rivers that stretch for 38,000 kilometres, as well as 2,256 lakes that are bigger than 1 ha, with a collective area of 1,000 sq. km.

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Eastern Latvia, where many of these lakes are found, is known as "the Land of the Blue Lakes".

Nearly all inland waters are pollution-free and ideally suited for swimming and fishing. Although some of Latvia's rivers have had their courses straightened, most large- and medium-sized rivers retain their natural contours.

As a result, their banks are home to such now rare European wildlife as otter, beaver and common kingfisher.

Latvia is one of the few places in the Baltic Sea region where natural salmon spawning areas still remain. There are plenty of rivers suitable for canoeing and rafting.

Gauja National Park.

The Gauja, Latvia's longest river, is extremely popular with tourists because none of its 452 kilometres has been changed from its original course.

For 85 kilometres the Gauja flows through an old valley that is the heart of the Gauja National Park. Nowhere else in Latvia will you find so many steep banks, ravines, streams, sandstone and dolomite cliffs, and caves as in the old valley of the Gauja River with its tributaries.

Like other national parks in the east of the Baltics, the Gauja National Park includes natural territories relatively untouched by man, as well as historic rural landscapes and important ancient monuments.

The park also offers walking trails, observation points, rest areas, well-established camping facilities, car parks, cafes, various types of tourist cabins, information centres and the services of knowledgeable guides.