Taste Sardinian wine in Sinis peninsular: enjoy cross border berry wine in Lithuania: see trees in Tervete: sip stout in Irish Sheeps Head
Nemunas River Delta Regional Park (Lithuania)
In this vast region, covering nearly 2,000-square kilometers, water activities reign supreme. Guided canoe tours through the Curonian Lagoon are very popular amongst visitors. For anglers, the lagoon is the ultimate paradise. Many gather in the area in the summer seasons, but also in the winter, when the lagoon freezes over and ice-fishing takes precedent.
For history explorers, Rusne is the place to see. It is one of the oldest settlements in the delta and is marked by a church tower from 1419. Outside the delta in the surrounding towns, there are many old-fashioned homesteads that offer places to stay. There, tourists can visit many crafts shops and get a tasting of the fine local cuisine.
The Route of Lighthouses is another choice tourist destination. The 14-kilomter tour through the Atmata River and Curonian Lagoon is a great way to see the many old lighthouses known to the region.
The Nemunas is also home to 55 rare species of birds that use the wetlands for their breeding grounds. Over 40 types of mammals also live in the park, making it one of the few thriving ecosystems unharmed by man. With such unmatched beauty and plentiful wildlife, the rationale as to why countries have battled over the Nemunas is obvious.
Environmental conservation is a major foresight amongst the local municipalities. In 2004, the entire territory in the regional park was included in the "Natura 2000" network of the European Union.
The wetland complex is shared by Lithuania and the Kaliningrad Region of the Russian Federation. As of now, only the Lithuanian part of the delta is protected nationally. Efforts are under way to include the entire region. Recently, an establishment of cross-border cooperation to protect the region's rare species was a step in the right direction.
Tervete Nature Park (Latvia)
When it comes to things to do in Tervete, visiting the beautiful Swans Lake is a must. At the lake, boats are available for hire and are an ideal means to enjoy the water. The Lake is known for its plentiful fishing and it is also a great place for bird watching.
For a glimpse into Tervete's past, a visit to the Tervete History Museum is strongly recommended. There revelers can see weapons, ornaments and household objects from centuries ago. Another plus (if you happen to be at the museum on the second Saturday in August each year) is the majestic Zemgalians Festival and Craftsmen Fair that takes place there.
When it comes to nature, Tervete is famous for its old and especially tall pine trees. The trees for years have been used to make ornate wooden sculptures, some of which have been placed in the park to reflect the fairytale characters of the famous Latvian writer Anna Brigadere's work. The characters in the park, which consist of the King of the Forest, a witch, dwarfs and others, are popular attractions to visit amongst younger people
Even today, you can visit Brigadere's actual house "Spridisi", which contains many original furniture pieces and her literary works.
For nature lovers, Tervete is home to 72 endangered plants that grow wildly throughout the park. The region is also a haven for many other forms of wildlife such as birds, reptiles and amphibious creatures.
Protected Marine Area Penisola del Sinis - Isola di Mal di Ventre (Italy)
With year round favorable weather conditions, the peninsula's heterogeneous landscape provides an abundance of opportunities. On the western shores, one can walk along long uncontaminated coastlines of white quartz sand or bike along the jagged cliff walls.
There are boat excursions to two untouched islands nearby- Isola Mal di Ventre and the basaltic Scoglio del Catalano- where one can snorkel in the lagoons and catch a glimpse of unique Sardinian fish and reef formations.
For those interested in the making of Vernaccia and Nieddera wines, two notable Sardinian wines from the region, there are tours available. Alternatively, visitors can explore the art of fish processing and storing of top quality mullet Bottarga.
When exploring the Sinis, sightseers can start with a leisurely stroll along the spectacular beaches, at the ruins of the ancient City of Tharros. From there, one can go bird watching in the adjacent wetlands. It is precisely this sort of contrasting landscapes that unites the sea and the earth in the Peninsula.
Fishing is the region's top industry and measures have been taken to protect local habitats and species from overfishing. Farming is also major industry; selective waste collection and energy saving measures such as exploring solar energy are highly utilized.
The local community is dedicated to finding environmentally sustainable means to protect coastal dunes and coastal bluffs from eroding. A big initiative is to promote the greater use of bicycles as a means of transportation. Thus far, widespread support to purchase bicycles for rent and create naturalistic routes suitable for cycling has been well embraced.
Sheep's head Peninsula (Ireland)
Taking a walk on the recently created Sheep's Head Way is an ideal means to see the incredible ancient lands. The route combines low, rugged hills and a splendid cliff coastline with paths that completely surround the peninsula. The entire circuit is 88km long and takes approximately four days to complete. There are also shorter loops that focus on specific regions on the route.
For archeology buffs, there are sites and monuments to visit such as Lord Bandon's Folly, Glanlough, Baunta and Brahalish forts. All of these are easily accessible from the loop with guided tours offered for most of them.
There is also an 18-hole golf course located in Bantry town, while road bowling, a traditional West Cork sport, takes place at various spots around the peninsula.
On the first Friday of each month (summertime every Friday), there's the Bantry Fair Day, a lively market catering to locals and visitors alike.
No trip to Sheep's Head would be complete without stepping foot in the numerous pubs and restaurants. Ireland is known for its quality brews and to not indulge in a pint or two at the many establishments is an opportunity missed.
In 2006 Sheep's Head was also designated as a Special Area of Protection due to the presence of rare birds such as the chough and peregrine. It is measures such as this that make the region an exceptional example of wildlife conservation.
With the region growing in popularity over the past 20 years, community development projects have emphasized sustainable development that respects the environment, its people, culture and history.
The idea is to showcase the peninsula in a fashion that increases visitor numbers while also appreciating the environment.
Valere is editor of the Sustainable Tourism Report Suite 2011 Special Offers HERE
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Monday, July 18, 2011