We stayed in Marcinkonis for a couple of days with friends and in the last day, they told us about “Čepkelių raistas” in Dzūkija National Park, after a quick search we all decided to pay a visit and check out the natural park.
Čepkeliai state nature reserve
Established in 1975 it covers an area of 11,212 hectares in the southern edge of Lithuania. There you can find the largest swamp of Lithuania but also planes, forest lakes and islands, quite an impressive park. You’ll need a car to get there, not sure if there is any public transportation available but I didn’t see any.
The reserve seems to be well protected and the watchtowers are in good state. There is a wooden path, but unfortunately, you can’t go that far inside the swamp, I would really like to be able to venture further inside, at least until we would reach one of the lakes.
You will find the main path that takes you to a watchtower from where you can glance at the reserve. From there you can continue following the path to get to the swamp. It’s well worth the walk because you get to see a sample of what the swamp is like. The entire visit goes by quickly and in a couple of hours you’re back to the start but I believe you can find a guide to explain and show you a little more about the reserve, I read there are bears here, so certainly worth getting a proper visit, unfortunately, we were pressed for time.
The extent of the reserve is surprising and it really feels like it probably acts as a sanctuary for many species.
Where to stay?
We loved Marcinkonis, we were there partying with friends and there were even some festivities by the lake. The town itself is very nice even if quite small and it’s famous for being one of the top places to pick mushrooms. We tried it one morning and I loved it even if the weather this year wasn’t perfect for mushrooms, we didn’t pick a lot of them but still enough to make dinner.
I would go to Marcinkonis for mushrooms picking alone for sure, but also for just how real this place looks, the small wooden traditional houses, the local parties by the lake, there is a strong sense of community here. When we arrived by the lake we were greeted with smiles and a free meal, so you can immediately connect and start a conversation. Super recommended!