Baltic Floodplains | True Lithuania
True Lithuania

Nemunas Delta Regional Park

The Delta of the Lithuania's largest river with its many flumes, Nemunas branches and lakes is the prime spot for boat tourism, angling, and birdwatching in Lithuania. It has extensive annually flooded plains, a major bird migration path, a beach full of seashells (Ventė) and a fishermen village where a river serves as a street (Mingė). The Nemunas Delta area is located next to the Šilutė town.

Pleasure boats moored at Mingė anchorage. ©Augustinas Žemaitis.

The floodplains of Nemunas delta are submerged every spring, transforming the small hills crowned by farmsteads into islands (yes, these homes are inhabited despite all the odds). Rusnė island town (pop. 1 600) 11 km west of Šilutė is also annually cut off by high water, the transportation organized by amphibious vehicles and high-clearance tractors in such days. Rusnė is known for its 1809 Lutheran church with a fortress-like tower and Uostadvaris where 1907 polder and 1873 lighthouse (possible to ascend) are located. It is possible to sunbathe and swim in Atmata, a branch of Nemunas, near Rusnė.

The flooded Šilutė-Rusnė road in February with a military all-terrain vehicle which helps move people and cars accross the flooded section. The roads to nearby villages are likewise flooded - however, as no transport is organized there, people have to leave their cars outside the flooded area and walk to their homes. ©Augustinas Žemaitis.

Mingė (also known as Minija) village is known as the "Venice of Lithuania". This place is a far call from the Serenissima, but it shares with it the importance of water passages. In Mingė the river Minija is the "main street" faced by all the building facades. The time-battered boats of Lietuvinink fishermen have been largely displaced by modern yachts moored in its anchorage (Nemunas delta is the prime spot for boat-related tourism in Lithuania). A regular some 4x daily ship connects Mingė to Uostadvaris and Nida in summer. Up to this day, there is no bridge, so a 13 km detour is needed to go from one bank of the village to another by non-water means. The western side has more buildings, although both sides are authentic and devoid of modern buildings.

West of Mingė you may reach the Ventė Horn peninsula (25 km from Šilutė), famous for its bird ringing (ornithology) station with the world's largest bird trap (69m x 113m, 25m pillars). Established by naturalist Tadas Ivanauskas in 1929 it is also among the oldest such institutions. The station is a major bird migration routes convergence spot, as many as 3 000 000 birds passing over it daily during the migration season and some 1 000 - 6 000 ringed. In the breeding season (spring) the area boasts some 200 local bird species. 1863 lighthouse, 11 m tall, is nearby, while the Curonian Lagoon coasts at Ventė are known for thousands of seashells washed away.

Horn of Ventė ornithology station. Lighthouse (left) and one of the bird catchers (right). ©Augustinas Žemaitis.

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