Found a sea in South Lithuania, where rare animals live
Have you ever heard that in Dzūkija [dzu:'kia] you can find sea? Until know, I have known that there is only one sea boarding with Lithuania — Baltic sea. But there you go, one of the most beautiful lakes in South Lithuania Dusia is called ''Dzūkai [dzu:'kai] Sea’’ by locals. There you can watch white foamy waves, blown by wind, striking on the shores of coarse sand — just like a real sea.
And Meteliai village itself resembles a seaside resort town. A few survived old wooden buildings are small and modest. From one side the village boards with Meteliai lake; on other side there are a wind-driven sandy fields separating from Dusia lake.
In summer, always inhabited by people
People travel to Dzūkija Sea in summer not for only the landscape but for exclusive entertainments.
Dusia Lake suits the best sailing lovers amongst all Dzūkija region. The size of the lake allows the wind to blow all the time. Sailors begin the season in April and finish in October. Meteliai and Obelija lakes, although big in size, are practically unusable for sailing due to the water vegetation.
Metelys is called as swan cradle — here you can find a few hundred of them.
Every year around 80 thousand people visit Meteliai Regional Park; 12-15 thousand people visit swimming area. There are around 6 thousand people annually visiting tourist centre.
In 1992, the Meteliai Regional Park was established, which preserves the unique landscapes of the largest lakes in the South of Lithuania - Dusia, Meteliai and Obelija and their surroundings, as well as other natural and cultural heritage values.
''There is a great seasonal feel; in winter it's empty —only a few people come here after work on Fridays or weekends. The peak of visitors is from middle of June, when the water warms up and becomes pleasant to swim. Not only local people from Alytus district come here, but also from Vilnius and Kaunas.''— the administrator of Meteliai Regional Park Artūras Pečkys presents the area.
This year they introduced new attraction — a floating raft with swings on it. It will be accessible to anyone using this swimming area. This is a free present for visitors. While enjoying the water, people can walk to the raft with swings and enjoy a light swinging and calm waves in the lake.
Locals' favourite marsh without mosquitoes
Very close, about 1.5 kilometres away from the Visitors centre, there is 15 metres high Observation tower. Those, who prefer active time, a nature cognitive path and two bicycle routes around Dusia and Meteliai lakes start from the observation tower. It takes about 3 hours to cycle around one of the lakes.
There are campsites and rural tourism homesteads where you can spend a night. However, people are less likely to go on weekly holiday here; most often it's a weekend break.
The pedestrian path extends between the forests - the pine forest with the junipers and the old oaks. Most of the locals are especially fond of a small marsh with pontoon bridge until the middle of the swamp. It is very calm in here - there are no mosquitoes even in the summer, and no traffic is heard.
''If you go through the forest, the mosquitoes can bite; however the little marsh is safe. The mosquitoes need to have a shallow point in water to breed. Around the marsh, there is dry pine forest. The water is too deep and cold, therefore the mosquitoes are not able to breed.'' —advises A. Pečkys.
Found Rare Animals
The Regional Park area is rich in hills surrounded by deciduous trees, mixed vegetation and wildlife and distinctive landscape with lakes and marshes. Unique, distinctive fleece of this park is Trakas forest, which is the only place nationally, where you can find Sessile Oaks. Naturalists are fascinated by returning swans staying in lake area and other little water birds. There are very rare European pound turtles inhabiting in the park area.
They are endangered species protected in all European Union area. For older locals living around Seirijai, Veisiejai and Varėna, the pound turtles may not be a great surprise. Often called as ''iron frogs'' due to their dark armour, the reptiles around lake and pound areas used to be found more frequently long time ago. Turtles live the longest of any species in Lithuania — a hundred year old turtle is quite common around the tribes.
At Meteliai Regional Park Visitor Centre, the nature school invites to visit the park's natural values exhibition, to gain knowledge about the values of the park's natural and cultural heritage. Students are invited to nature cognitive lessons.
Remind Ancient Times
While travelling bicycle, car routes, natural pedestrian paths, you will get to know the most interesting places in the park: impressive lakes, chain of hills surrounding them. You can enjoy breath-taking landscapes, visit the ancient hills of Jotvingiai era, street villages.
The western part of the Dusia coast is the impressive Prelomčiškė mound, one of the largest in Meteliai Regional Park. It the heritage from Jotvingians, who lived there in 13th century. This mound is one of the seven hills of Meteliai Regional Park.
Northern side of the hill is surrounded by small unnamed fountain. An ancient mound was surrounded by an abundance of castle settlements. Nowadays there are left remains of Jotvingian cultural finds, combinations of ceramic articles with ornaments characterizing Jotvingiai culture, fragments of tufts.
Translated by Ieva Kirdeikytė