Blog: Road tripping through Latvia


Everybody knows when driving through Holland it takes about three hours to go from one side of the country to the other side. Most of the things you will see along the way is farm land, rural areas, water and depending on your freeway you get the see some nature. It’s kind of a drag. But in Latvia a three hour drive is really something to enjoy. Driving through valleys, dense forest, seeing old structures of almost a century ago.

That were some of the things I encountered on my journey from Jelgava to the nature park “Dvietes paliene”. It was here that I would spend the next two days, to scout out the area as part of my research in Jelgava. That research is a story for another time, now I want to tell you about the first night at the Dvietes paliene. Which in my opinion, was the most impressive. I witnessed, as I personally call it the “Latvia orchestra of birds”. It was around 8 PM that they started, all these different kind of birds singing together, an impressive feat to hear.

Zonsondergang langs de Dviete. Foto: Lex van Drongelen

One of the sounds that I heard was that of the great snipe (in Dutch: de Poelsnip), It’s a bird which is extinct as a breeding bird in the Benelux. Which is unfortunate because it may perhaps not have the most beautiful sound you will ever hear (it sounds as if someone is grinding there teeth’s) but he only makes this sound during courtship in spring. And the most amazing thing of the great snipe in this phase is his behaviour. Seeing two males singing as loud as they can, jumping up and down in the grass just trying to impress the ladies. An amazing and kind of a funny sight to behold, fantastic.

After that night and the next day, the journey back to Jelgava started. Once again I was amazed about the landscape surrounding the roads. The nature and structures you see really show the history of Latvia. The best of it all are the forests and fields you see, are not man made, but really is the work of Mother Nature herself.

Finally, I want to thank Jan van der Veen of ARK to enable this trip to this beautiful area in Latvia.

Lex van Drongelen