“Sahara of the north” is what German Nobel-prize winning author Thomas Mann called the massive dunes close to Nida, a charming fishing village on the narrow spit between the Curonian Lagoon and the Baltic Sea. But when looking at the region as a whole, western Lithuania is anything but a barren desert: Healthy coastal forests, scenic marshlands, and the proud river Nemunas shape the landscape of this coastal area with its rich cultural history.
A bridge of sand
Geologically speaking, the Curonian spit is but one long sand dune, separating the Curonian Lagoon form the open sea and connecting Klaipėda with the Russian Oblast Kaliningrad like a narrow bridge of sand. The way of life in the little villages is characterized by the turning of the seasons and the maritime weather, with numerous local traditions mirroring the never-ending struggle with the elements. UNESCO has thus declared the Curonian Spit a world heritage site. But not only people have built a home here in compliance with the climate, a vast number of birds live along the pristine lagoon or in the Nemunas River Delta, or rest here when migrating in spring or fall. It’s an important habitat for endangered species such as the white-tailed eagle, the dunlin, or the aquatic warbler. Beavers and otters populate the wetlands and even elks can be spotted here regularly. Explore the marvellous delta on a kayak, immerse yourself in the tranquil lifestyle of traditional fishing villages, or take a long, calming walk through the moon-like landscape on the spit to collect amber, which the trade winds wash ashore in copious amounts.
A visit to this stunning region is always worthwhile, but only with a Nature Guide the manifold treasures of this place will reveal themselves to you.