River Būka – Lūšių ež. (to the Super Canoe base)
The winding Buka flows exclusively through forested areas all the way to Lake Balchaus. On its left bank is the Ažvinčiai Forest, on the right – the Vyžiai Forest. The surrounding forests and woods feed the river with their waters, making the Būka one of the cleanest rivers in Lithuania. The Buka once served as a route for transporting souls. In the river, you’ll see the remains of wooden dams, which were designed to raise the water level to allow the souls to pass freely.
You will start the route at the Ineiga campsite. It is a convenient place to prepare for a hike and to launch kayaks into the shallow riverbank.
The Buka is a bit narrower than the usual big rivers, with fewer bends, so you never know what’s around the bend. As the river flows through wet forests, there is a greater variety of riparian vegetation and fewer convenient stopping places.
Soon you will be greeted by the lindens of the Vaišnoriškės village inhabitants, with their old folk-style buildings. The village is divided by the old Tauragnai-Braslavas road, which was an important part of the Vilnius – Riga trade route. Where the road crosses the Buka River, an old tavern, mentioned as early as 1765, used to stand on the right bank. The first manor house in the village was established in 1830, and later four more manors were established. The most mysterious building here was said to be the granary, where the sounds of the little houseboys living there are said to be heard.
From the village of Vaišnoriškės, the river’s course becomes more meandering and the water flow stronger. Deeper potholes occur in the meanders. As you sail along, you will come across some spectacular tree collapses, the result of old trees falling from steep sandy cliffs into the river. In a few places, the kayaks may have to be moved over tree gates or towed ashore. Remember that when lifting a kayak over a tree fence, both team members must work in unison! Otherwise, unplanned bathing in the river waters may occur. It is, of course, an extreme adventure with good emotions. In some places, the river’s course forks in two. One of them is a false trajectory, ending in dead ends and cemeteries. When you arrive at such a fork, use the movement of the aquatic plants to determine which branch of the river the water flows freely. Swim there. After admiring the views of Buka and overcoming all its obstacles, you will enter Lake Balchous. It offers a stunning landscape: the lake is home to 7 islands and a shoreline covered with pine forests. As you enter Balchusa, you will find Adomragi on your right. It’s a nice place to stay and have a meal. If you’re not sailing alone, you can wait here until your whole team is gathered. In Adomragi you will also find a great place for swimming. The atabrades are particularly clear at the very tip of the horn.
We strongly urge everyone – please do not leave rubbish behind. They can be disposed of at the overnight stay or at the finish line.
Continue southeastwards on Lake Balchous until you reach a concrete bridge connecting Lakes Balchous and Balchusykštys. It will be about 1.5 km or 15-20 minutes’ swim. You need to aim for the opposite shore of the lake. To the left should remain Linden Island, to the right the promontory known as the Biržāragis. From the Beržāragis headland you will see a concrete bridge – you will have to swim under it.
A 150 m long stream flows out of Lake Baluošas. Its strong current will take your kayak to the small lake Baluošykštis. After leaving the villages of Simoniškis on your left and Vaidžiuškių on your right, follow the lake to the other end of the lake. There, on the left, you will see the source of the Skriogžlje stream among the spruce trees. The length of the Skriogžle is about 0.9 km. Its initially shallow channel gradually narrows and deepens. The stream has several sharp bends framed by steep, old tree-covered slopes. You may encounter a tree barrier, which can be overcome by “jumping” over it in a kayak propelled at high speed.
A few more bends and you will enter Lake Srovinaitis. In Lake Srovinaitis, follow the right shoreline until you reach a promontory-shaped island, which you will pass on your left to reach the famous Ginučiai Watermill (declared a state-protected 19th century technical monument). It has a museum where you can see authentic old-style mill equipment that not only milled grain for a long time, but even generated electricity. After landing on the right side of the watermill dam, take the kayaks over the dam (across the paved road to the other side, along the stream). Don’t miss the perfect opportunity to take a dip under the water jet coming out of the dam’s trough!
From the mill, continue along the River Srovė until the streams fork – you will need to turn left. Next, one of the most interesting parts of the journey is the village of Ginučiai. You’ll see beautifully landscaped farmhouses, lindens and pass under two bridges. After the village of Ginučiai, you will reach Lake Asėkas by following a stream. Keep to the right side of the lake until you reach the Asėka stream. It will feel like a jungle, and if you stop for a moment, even though the current will be very calm, you will hear many wonderful bird sounds.
After crossing the Asėka River, you will enter Lake Linkmen, on the western shore of which you will see the famous Ladakalnis, a hill rising 176 metres above sea level. From its summit, the views are magnificent: vast expanses of forests and lakes drowning in forests. After enjoying the beautiful views created by nature, turn left and keep to the left side of the shore and after about half a kilometre you will reach the Unksties Strait, connecting the lakes Linkmen and Asalnykscis.
Once in the Unksties Strait, you will sail through it for just over 1 kilometre, passing through a wooden piling bridge halfway along the strait. This bridge connects the peninsula of the Islands, visible on your right, with the centuries-old Linkmen Forest on your left.
The peninsula of the islands is special because it is home to two villages, Salos I and Salos II. Both are located on a peninsula of sorts, washed by the lakes Asalnykščiai, Linkmen, Alksnas and Alksnaitis. The only way for the inhabitants of the peninsula’s villages to travel overland is from the village of Antalksne. The island villages have a unique architecture and layout, which is why they have been designated an island cultural reserve. Unfortunately, since the 19th century. only the shop and the barn remain. The other buildings date from the 20th century. at the beginning.
The peninsula we are talking about is to the right of where you are sailing. On the left is also a very interesting historical site – the Puziniškis Mound, covered with pine and birch trees and supported by the above-mentioned wooden bridge. The steep slopes of the mound, up to 20 metres high, are surrounded by the remains of a defensive rampart on the west side. Perhaps you would like to visit here too?
Before you decide whether to swim further or climb the mound, take a look at the water lapping against the shores of the strait: you’ll see greenish organisms like coral clinging to various places. These are freshwater sponges – Lake Damselfish (Latin: Spongilla Lacustris). Lake daggers and corals are related animals that belong to the group of simple invertebrates.
The strait is only one kilometre long, but it is full of natural wonders and ethnographic sites. After crossing the Unksties Strait, you will enter Lake Asalnykščiai.
When you enter Asalnykščiai, don’t get lost – keep to the left shoreline and when you are heading in the right direction, Gimžiškės Island will stay on your right side. As you swim in the distance, you will see a narrowing which leads to Lake Asalnai. On the left hand side of the narrowing you will see the village of Puziniškis. The village of Puziniškis is situated on a hill overlooking the beautiful Asalnai Landscape Reserve.
In Lake Asalnai, keep straight on, keeping to the right shoreline. As you sail in this direction, you will notice that this part of the lake starts to narrow. When you get to the narrow part of the lake (like a sleeve), you will see the Dringykšća River (also known as the Meira) on your left. The river comes from Lake Dringykštis, and just across the river the sun is warming the rooftops of the farming village of Meironiai, which will accompany you until you enter Lake Lūšių.
There is an interesting tradition in the village of Meironiai: on Pentecost, farmers decorate their cows with flower wreaths and float them to the shore of the opposite promontory, which the locals call Pabiris. There, the cows are set free to graze until autumn and transported through Mykolines. Milkmaids take a boat out every morning and evening to milk the cows and take the warm milk home.
Thus, after passing the village of Meironiai on the left and the Pabiris Horn on the right, you will enter Lake Lūšių.
From here, follow the right shoreline for about 3 km until you see the footbridges, which is our base – your finishing point for the Super Canoe.