The Magic World of Yelnia: 7 facts about the famous swamp
Photos from Yelnia Swamp began to appear more and more often in Instagram and other social networks: Belarusians discover this place and it is impossible not to share the beauty of these landscapes. But Yelnia can impress not only with its beauty.
The tourist infrastructure in Yelnia is actively developing: the ecological path has been repaired and its length has been increased, many trainings and certifications for guides have been provided, two 10-metre high observation towers are about to be installed. All this is part of the project "Together for Community and Nature: Strengthening of Development Process in Miory District through Partnership of Authorities and Civil Society" which is implemented by Miory District Executive Committee in partnership with the NGO "Ahova Ptushak Batsyushchyna" (APB) and the Latvian Rural Forum and is funded by the European Union.
APB has collected 7 interesting facts about the largest raised swamp in Belarus. Get inspired for an unforgettable journey!
1. The area of the swamp is almost the size of Minsk. The bog itself looks like a hill - its centre rises 7 metres above the ground! Several rivers flow out of Yelnia, but there are no rivers flowing into the swamp.
2. There are 118 lakes in Yelnia swamp. Their water is soft and so pure that one can drink it. There are small islands with pine trees scattered around many of the lakes; they are a calling card of Yelnia, and many people know them from photos. But they are much more impressive when you see them with your own eyes.
Photo by Alexander Vinchevski
3. Yelnia is famous for its cranes, which not only nest here, but also gather by the thousands during their autumn migrations to feed in the surrounding fields, but spend the night on Yelnia. Not surprisingly, this marsh has gained the status of an internationally important bird area. The key species for this area is not only the common crane, but also our largest sandpiper, which is as tall as a man's knee: the great spoonbill and the great whimbrel.
Photo by Inna Subbotina
Photo by Tatiana Aleshko
4. Yelnia is also a key botanical area. The area is home to 13 rare plant species, including the dwarf birch and cloudberry. Everyone probably knows that Yelnia is the record bog in terms of the number of cranberries in Belarus. But not many people know that not only common bog cranberry grows here, but also the small-fruited cranberry, which is included in the Red Book of Belarus. The small-fruited cranberry is found only in the oldest bogs of Belarus.
Photo by Alena Bondaruk
5. Many people dream of seeing the carnivorous dewberry plant and, when they come to Yelnia, they are surprised by its small size. Two kinds of drosera grow on Yelnia: Drosera Rotundifolia, which is also called "zagardushka" and "bozhaya rasa" in Belarusian, and long-leaved or Drosera anglica. The association of the name with dew is not coincidental: the dew exudes tiny, sticky "dew" droplets to catch insects.
6. The layer of peat on Yelnia reaches 7-9 metres! Taking into consideration that over the course of a year the layer increases by an average of only 1 mm, we can calculate that the age of the swamp is approximately 9000 years. The main peat formers on Yelnia are sphagnum mosses. They have no roots - if you take a moss out of the water and then put it back in, it will continue to grow. The lower part of the moss gradually dies off and turns into peat.
Photo by Alena Bondaruk
7. There is a comfortable wooden eco-trail on Yelnia, which offers wonderful views, but you can also hike through the bog in bog shoes. Such service is provided by the state environmental institution "Yelnia". Nowhere in Belarus there are so many local guides as in Miory District! They offer excursions with all sorts of tricks: quests and quizzes, yoga and meditation, berry picking, "swamp SPA", fishing.
Photo by Ivan Borok
- Even those who have heard about Yelnia a million times but are there for the first time are always surprised by it," says Sergey Rezov, the APB's tourism development specialist. - Tourists and participants of our marsh volunteer summer camps share with us what impressed them most at Yelnia, and we have selected the top ones. For the first time many of them felt how heady wild rosemary smells and how sphagnum springs under their feet, they saw where and how cranberry grows, what indescribable shades the heather has, how tiny the mossy predator is in reality, and how starry the sky over Yelnia is. I've never met a person who wasn't enthralled by this swamp.
You'll remember that you shouldn't make a fire and smoke cigarettes in the bog - peat is highly inflammable. Do not drive into the bog, leave any litter or pick bunches of bog plants. We recommend taking your camera and binoculars, wearing comfortable waterproof clothes, taking snacks and friends with you. If you appreciate nature - take a bag to pick up litter after your indifferent countrymen.
Is backpack ready? Let's go - go and be surprised at Yelnia!