Historically a forest country, Lithuania has much to offer travellers looking for sustainable, low-key, outdoor experiences. In these hectic times, extreme sports may not be your first choice. Both native Lithuanians and visitors can enjoy foraging for herbs, dragonfly watching or forest bathing.
“We are a forest country,” explained Indrė Trakimaitė-Šeškuvienė, Head of Marketing at Lithuania Travel. According to Indrė, the forest is an important symbol of Lithuanian history and culture. Despite industrial development in the 19th and 20th centuries, Lithuania has preserved large tracts of natural forest. With the rise of eco-tourism these locations are becoming more popular for meditation, natural health practices and the search for a deeper sense of being one with nature. Camping tours are being offered to explore several sites, or you can develop a route on your own. What do Lithuanians do?
Foraging for herbs to use for herbal teas and infusions is an established tradition in Lithuania. Most Lithuanians know the basics of herbal medicine: herbs that help digestion, ease coughing or other symptoms of cold and flu. But some go much deeper than that. In North-Eastern Lithuania, in the legendary forest-surrounded town of Anykščiai, professional herbalist Ramūnas Daugelavičius combines traditional Lithuanian experience with knowledge of other cultures and scientific methods to provide a unique experience. From gathering herbs as spices to special tea ceremonies, fire rituals and coffee made of plant roots, he offers visitors new ways to enjoy the original gifts of nature.
We’ve all heard of bird-watching, but Lithuanians go (one or two) better with butterfly and dragonfly watching. This can be as interesting and rewarding as looking for feathered friends. Lithuania is the only place in the world where dragonflies are professionally monitored and marked. Scientists have found that these small creatures travel thousands of kilometres. At the ornithology station in Ventė, the secrets of dragonfly migration are only now being uncovered. Not far from the station, in the Western part of Lithuania, ecotourism enthusiast Daiva Stanislovaitienė offers butterfly, dragonfly and bird-watching trips combined with a cozy stay in a comfortable cottage.
The Japanese practice of shinrin-yoku or forest bathing is a way to heal and restore the human spirit, fatigued by work and the pace of our technology-driven world. Slow immersion into the forest through sight, sound, smell and even taste helps to relax, refocus and enhance your health. A certified guide of shinrin-yoku Mila Monk gives private and group tours in various Lithuanian forests.
The largest dreamcatcher in the world – in Lithuania? Dreamcatchers are said to protect from bad dreams. Those with serious nightmares should visit the pine forest in Asveja regional park in Eastern Lithuania. The largest dreamcatcher in the world is almost 13 metres high and 10 metres of diameter. It is made of more than 1 kilometre of rope, 700 hundred wooden parts, 319 beads and weighs 156 kilograms. The dreamcatcher is located in the territory of the eco resort Golden Forest. The resort also features a forest labyrinth which can be navigated using only intuition. The annual Masters of Calm festival is also held here.
A forest sound catcher may be experienced in the Curonian Spit (Kuršių nerija) – the natural seaside reserve in Western Lithuania. A 3-metre high gramophone-like structure enhances the natural sounds of forest. Visitors should spend about half an hour inside it to experience the peaceful flow of the forest symphony.
Forest dunes? Sand dunes are a common sight at the Baltic seaside. But some of them are located far from the sea, and deep in the forests. In the pine forests of South-Eastern Lithuania the dunes totally transform the landscape and provide a unique experience of untouched nature.
And… a meteorite crater! 165 million years ago a huge meteorite landed near Vepriai in Central Lithuania. The explosion and fire extinguished all life in that area of Lithuania and left a crater of 50 square kilometres. The best way to explore the site is to take one of the many bicycle routes across the crater.
Info from Tourism Lituania/Lithuania Travel