There are two Engure Rivers, in fact. One makes its way to Engure, a small village on the shores of the Riga Bay, while the other stretches deeper inside of Kurzeme Region. It starts from Usma Lake and flows into the direction of Puze Lake. It's only 27 km long and is great for a leisurely downstream boating. Engure is a calm river without any rapids, only wind-broken trees that have fallen across it make boating more eventful. Occasionally they create serious obstacles that a boat simply wouldn't pass through. There are two options then - either you have to pull it ashore and carry around the unwelcome barriers or to use a saw or ax to remove trees and branches, lying in your way.
Engure is a small and picturesque river, but not as impressive as popular Vidzeme Region rivers. It doesn't boast any ravishing sandstone cliffs that boaters usually look for. It has its own charm, however, proving that peace and tranquility of nature can be equally exciting. Sliding down the stream, you realize that it's actually possible to listen to silence, and it can tell a lot. Birds are chirping in the bushes, a wild duck soars low across the river and a gentle splash of water hints where a fish has just dipped into the depth. A keen observer perhaps may catch a glimpse of a bigger fish devouring a smaller one - swiftly and with a great appetite. A sight to see, especially for those who are not so fond of fishing!
Ugāle hydroelectric power station, built in 2002, of course, has left its negative impact. The once small river is now overflowing in the length of several kilometers, yet then again it resumes its lovely, meandering shape. Passing by Ugāle, wind-fallen trees across the river become more common, although it doesn't affect boating much. The only real obstacle is the power station itself, and boats have to be carried along the shore to pass it by.
From my own experience, it's better to start a trip on a Friday evening, making your weekend feel longer and more fulfilled. An extra night spent in the midst of nature can become an unforgettable experience, adding enthusiasm and inspiration to return to boating again and again. Yet you can start on a Saturday morning as well.
A boat trip along Engure river can start at its outlet, at Usma Lake, or from Gaiļu bridge. The nearby Ozoldangas campsite (www.viesunamiem.lv/ozoldangas) is very well equipped and has sports grounds, picnic spots and tent places. Those who absolutely need more comfort than a tent can offer can sleep indoors. You can reach Ozoldangas by car, driving along Riga-Ventspils highway and turning off through Usma village. Local people know how to reach it by dirt roads and going through Renda village. It's a question of individual preference, of course. Cars can be left at the campsite for the duration of an entire trip for a small additional parking fee. There is transportation available on the next day for the drivers to get back to their cars.
Generally, Engure River is perfect for a one-day trip, yet you can extend it as a relaxation trip and cover the route in two days. The river is very suitable for fishing as well, yet in that case you definitely have to opt for a two-day trip. A good catch is almost guaranteed! I've been lucky to get some gorgeous pikes there.
The next perfect place to stay after Ugāle down the stream is "Strazdi" guesthouse, and it's easily recognizable even from the river. The riverbank is gently sloping there, making it easy to pull the boats ashore, and the guesthouse offers everything for a pleasant stop-over - a clear meadow for tents, a grill for cooking, drinking water and sauna. You can get a bed inside, too - in the guesthouse or in rooms above the sauna. Sauna feels very pleasant after a day of boating and owners are very friendly and welcoming. If you still feel like exploring the neighborhood, Ugāle village is just 3-4 km walking distance from the guesthouse. It's worth visiting Ugāle Lutheran church and an organ building workshop there (prior arrangements have to be made). Experience shows, however, that after boating people are more inclined to spend a relaxing evening by the fire or soothe their muscles in sauna. A pleasant evening chore is cooking a meal, especially if you have managed to catch some fish during the day. Those who still have plenty of energy can play some ball games - be sure to grab a ball with you, it may become very handy.
On the next day, you will find less fallen trees obstructing your way, while the small river continues to make its cheerful twists and meanders. Yet you have to be careful not to get your boat caught on some sharp branches or debris, especially around the bends. It can dangerously rock the boat or even topple it over.
You can finish your trip at Puze Lake, but if pick-up arrangements are made in advance, it can very well be done some distance earlier - near the bridge at the road that connects Ventspils highway and Puzenieki village. Riverbank is not so steep there, and it's easier to carry up all your stuff and pull the boats ashore.
The entire length of the route is approximately 25 km, and it takes 3 to 4 hours per day to cover it (depending of skills, experience and the nature of the trip).
Expenses of the given trip for 30 people participating and using 14 boats (13 rental and 1 private boat), including sauna at "Strazdi" guesthouse, car parking and all the shared meals is 25 LVL per person or 50 LVL per crew in a two-seat boat and 21 LVL per person or 63 LVL per crew in a three-seat boat. Additional expenses - gas for cars, some snacks, etc.
Speaking of packing for a boating trip, the legendary Norwegian traveler and scientist Thor Heyerdahl in his book "The Ra Expedition" that tells about his voyages in papyrus boats across the ocean, shares his main principles. Step by step, they are as follows:
1) Place all your stuff next to your boat;
2) Take the first aid kit, a knife, water and food supplies and put them into the boat;
3) Without any sorting, divide the remaining stuff into two parts and give up one of them;
4) Again without any further sorting, divide the remaining stuff into two parts and give up one of them;
5) Load the remaining part into your boat, and during the trip you will realize that you have taken twice as much things as you actually need.
Heyerdahl was absolutely right in this. Before setting off for a trip, follow through it in your mind. Think about what you will do and what you will definitely need to make it a perfect trip, and what things you can easily live without during those two days. My only suggestion (to be on the safe side) - grab a mosquito repellant with you.
The company "Jūras laivas" is paddling gear renter and waterway tourist route servicer in Latvia. They offer for rent canoes, sea kayaks, Sit-on-Top kayaks, wetsuits, dry bags and other gear necessary for your canoeing and sea kayaking adventure: www.juraslaivas.lvShare it:
Keywords: Latvia, Engure river, boating