Built for economic purposes, the Augustow Canal became a tourist attraction after the settlement of trade issues with Prussia, losing its main significance. It connected the exits to the Baltic and Black Seas, and in passing united 7 lakes and 11 rivers in a single water network. There are hiking trails along the canal, passing through the protected areas of Augustow Forest.
History of the Augustow Canal
One of the largest European canals appeared in the 19th century, and at that time represented the triumph of advanced technology. It connected the Neman and the Vistula, starting from Augustow and almost reaching Grodno. Forty-five kilometers were laid out for him. artificial channel. The full length is 102 km. The average depth of the channel is 2 m. Most of the locks and the waterway itself pass through Poland.
The Augustów Canal on the map of Belarus goes in the direction of Grodno, its length does not exceed 22 km. In a few years there will be an anniversary, in 2024 it will be exactly 200 years since construction began. It lasted 15 years, the authorship of the project belonged to Ignatius Protzinsky. After the highest approval of the Emperor Alexander I, 7 thousand workers were involved in the construction. The uniqueness of the canal is in its man-made channel.
The system includes:
- 25 dams;
- 14 bridges;
- 18 gateways;
- 24 technical stations.
The cost of the construction exceeded 1.5 million. It was used to float timber and goods for export. The August Canal in Grodno quickly lost its transport value after the development of the railroad. It became much more profitable and safer to transport goods overland in roomy wagons. After that began the development of tourism.
The amazing in its pristine beauty places, the abundance of birds and animals, including rare species, has created a sustained interest in traveling along the canal, hiking trails along its shores.
The beginning of tourism
The first routes opened in 1909, later replaced by more comfortable horseback riding. World War I spared the Augustow Canal; the damage was minor. After the restoration of structures tourism began to develop with redoubled force. Walks on the shore were supplemented by cruises on paddle steamers, yacht clubs opened, kayaks began to explore the channel. The description of the Augustów Canal in Belarus was included in the tourist guide.
World War II brought great destruction, along the coast was the line of resistance, and fragments of pillboxes and trenches remained from that time. Most of the hydraulic structures had to be rebuilt from the ruins. In 2004, the Augustow Canal was added to the UNESCO heritage list.
By decision of the Belarusian government, a large-scale restoration was begun. As part of the work cleared the channel, removed or strengthened the collapsed sections of the bank, restored some of the bridges, re-equipped the locks. The drawbridges and information signs have been renewed, retaining their original appearance. They opened a seasonal checkpoint for kayaks and hiking trails.
Cruises on the August Canal
The beginning of water trips was in the early 20th century, when two paddle steamers began to ply the canal. The baton was taken by the vessels “Olga Solomonova”, taking on board up to 100 people, and “Neman”, the capacity of which is half as much. The trip on the big ship is designed for one day, during this time it’s about 20 km, the trip starts from Grodno. During the trip you can see in detail the bridges, locks, caretaker’s houses, service stations.
“Neman” is rented for hour-long walks, it is often used for excursions along the canal, accompanied by vivid and imaginative stories of guides about species of animals and birds, the delicate balance on which the balance of the ecosystem of the reserve “Grodno Forest” is kept. The cost of an hour walk is about 70-80 rubles.
The most interesting incident becomes the locking. At the large Nemnova it takes an hour, at the smaller nodes of Volokushek and Dombrovka it takes 15-20 minutes.
Tourists can also rent a catamaran, water bikes, hiking trails and relax in the mini-hotel.
The most popular water routes for kayaks, yachts and pleasure boats are:
- August Ring;
- Unknown Europe;
- August Canal – Belovezhskaya Pushcha.
They vary in length, complexity and cost, but each of them provides a unique opportunity to see the pristine nature, carefully preserved for posterity.
Excursions in the water area of the Augustów Canal
Often a trip along the canal is combined with a visit to the sights of Grodno. The choice is great, it depends on personal preferences and the availability of free time.
Those who come to the city for the first time should pay attention to:
- cathedrals, temples and synagogues, which are architectural monuments;
- an old pharmacy museum;
- the palace and park ensemble of the Voloviches;
- defensive structures of the First and Second World Wars;
- the 19th-century caretaker’s house in the Empire style;
- Augustow Canal Museum.
Comprehensive tours are conducted in the form of bus tours along the waterway. They include a water walk or consecutive visits to the sights of Grodno, seamlessly transitioning into a trip through the reserve, inspection of bridges, locks and service stations.
Places of residence
Long trips require comfortable rest. It will be provided by the agro-farms Anneta, Hata u Staha, Augustowski zakatok. Hotel Sopotskin offers comfortable rooms with picturesque views and good food. You can combine recreation with undergoing recreational procedures in the sanatorium complexes Neman and Zdorovye.
The houses of the forestry and caretaker, converted for accommodation of the former school canteen easily accommodate all comers.
Cabins and gazebos
A wonderful option for outdoor recreation and birdwatching in this region was to rent sheds, gazebos and cabins. There are more than 20 of them along the route. They differ only in the degree of closure of the sides. You can rent a gazebo for 8 rubles, the house will cost 2 rubles cheaper. Nearby rentals and barbecues are installed.
The rich nature of the reserve opens up a lot of interesting opportunities to explore it. So, you can take a ride on two water routes. Cycling tours are dedicated to history, offered themed trips Augustowskie Shliach and Way of the magnate Wolowicz. The Fox Mountain Trail tells about the nature and the amazing ecosystem. The military theme is touched upon by the Molotov Line. You can go fishing, picking berries, medicinal herbs, go on a horseback ride or view the exposition of the mini-museum.
Augustow Canal Park has become a habitat for many animals and birds. Some are considered rare and are protected. It is inhabited by:
This is the nesting area of the black stork. The canal and surrounding rivers, in addition to common fish species are grayling and trout.
Many of them have become an annual event, which brings together athletes, fans and spectators from Poland, Lithuania and Belarus.
- The Cultural Festival of the Three Nations is traditionally held in August. It presents the creations of masters in the national style, conducts master classes and concerts.
- The May Festival of Folk Art is dedicated to supporting Belarusian culture. Organized exhibitions, tasting folk dishes, thematic classes to get acquainted with folk crafts.
- Competitions in water sports, including kayaking and catamaraning, are held in April.
- The bicycle marathon gathers its participants and spectators in July.
August Canal – how to get there?
The tourist map shows how to get to the Augustow Canal. The easiest way is to join a tour group. It is comfortable to get by rented car or by cab from Grodno.
Map-scheme of the Augustow Canal
It is best to plan a trip to the Augustow Canal for a few days, then you really can see most of the sights, take a boat ride on the waterway and relax in a hotel or guest house, meeting the dawn in the piercing silence of the Augustow Forest.