Kauno Marios Regional Park was set up seeking to preserve the unique landscape, natural ecosystem and cultural heritage of the environs of Kaunas Reservoir. The park’s main highlight is the reservoir made in 1959 by damming the Nemunas. The water flooded a large part of the valley, or 6,350 ha. Entire villages and separate farmsteads (721 homes in total) were relocated from the site before the undertaking.
Major sites include the great exposures, the flooded mouths of tributaries of the Nemunas, the inlets that resemble real fiords, and the old forests (at Rumšiškės and Dabinta) that come close to the water, with their rich plant and animal life, the population of the edible dormouse, a particularly rare mammal species in Lithuania, and the aquatic birds inhabiting the reed-covered swampy water edges of the reservoir. Nearly all species of aquatic birds registered in Lithuania can be found in the reservoir during nesting and migration periods. From the mound of Pakalniškiai to the Girionys village stretches the Girionys forest park, one of the largest and richest in plant species in Lithuania. Another remarkable site is the Kadagiai valley in Arlaviškės, boasting different forms of common juniper.
The mounds of Pakalniškiai, Lašiniai, Samylai, Vieškūnai and Dovainonys and the burial grounds of Dovainonys-Kapitoniškės and Maisiejūnai-Surgantiškiai date back to the old times.
The Pažaislis Monastery ensemble is the gem of 17th-century Lithuanian Baroque. Its focal point is the church, an original edifice with a hexagonal dome dominating the façade, and with corner towers. The buildings are decorated with 140 frescoes of differing sizes. In addition to the church, the ensemble also includes the sacred gate, a guesthouse, monastery, cottages of eremites, bell tower, houses for attendants, outbuildings, and the grand gate. The site is the most valuable of its kind in East Europe.
The Rumšiškės Open-Air Country Life Museum, established in 1966, features buildings of Lithuanian small towns, villages and farms, as well as elements of their exterior and interior from the second half of the 18th century to the first half of the 20th century. The 175 ha area is divided into sectors according to the ethnographic regions of Lithuania (Dzūkija, Aukštaitija, Žemaitija and Suvalkija), representing specific features of villages and their structures. The buildings house displays showing the life, work and traditions of rural and urban people. The museum organises traditional calendar festivals, concerts of folk groups and exhibitions.
Palemonas has the memorial museum of the famous poetess Salomėja Nėris.
The recreation areas include the lower part of the reservoir and the section south of Rumšiškės, the forest parks of Pažaislis, Amaliai-Palemonas, Jakštoniai, Karčiupis, Grabuciškės, Rumšiškės, Kapitoniškės – Dovainonys and Girionys, and the woodlands of Žiegždriai, Viršužiglis and Arlaviškiai. The shores most suitable for recreation and swimming are in the lower part of the reservoir: on the Pažaislis peninsula, and at Jakštoniai, Grabuciškės and Girionys. Places for tents and bonfires can be found at the camping sites of Duobakalnis and Samylai, and at the holiday centres in Laumėnai, Rumšiškės, Girionys and Gastilioniai.
Stunning views of the reservoir, forests and complicated land surface can be enjoyed from the mounds at Dovainonys and Vieškūnai, and from the viewpoints at Žiegždriai, Mergakalnis, Arlaviškiai and Neveronys. The impressive wall-steep exposures can be best seen from a boat in the reservoir.
The most convenient places for watching migratory birds, which make short stops for resting and feeding, are the high shores of the reservoir.
Tourists who want to find out more about nature should take the Pakalniškiai trail (nearly 3 km), the Žiegždriai educational path (1.6 km), and the walking trails of Girionys – Laumėnai – Žiegždriai, Rumšiškės – Kapitoniškės – Dovainonys, and the Vieškūnai mound – the Lakštingalos (nightingale) valley. Cyclists can go around the Pažaislis forest park. The trails for motorised travellers are Vaišvydava – Girionys – Samylai – Arlaviškės (24 km), and Rumšiškės – Dovainonys – Kruonis Hydroelectric Pumped Storage Power Station (15 km). The Open-Air Country Life Museum offers horse rides, and tours of the whole area in a britzka.
Kaunas Reservoir is one of the best water bodies in Lithuania ideally suited for sailing or motorboating. The passenger boats Nemunas and Algirdas, which can both carry up to 150 at a time, offer trips around the reservoir that allow tourists to enjoy the eroded shores.
Yachtsmen use the services of the Žalgiris Yacht Club, which organises entertaining trips in a yacht or cutter, and training. Each year the club holds different sailing contests and regattas.
The reservoir is extremely rich in fish, and anglers are welcome both in summer and winter. Roach, perch, silvery bream, bream, pikeperch, tench, pike and other valuable fish are found in large quantities here. Fishermen are often overjoyed to catch wild carp or sheatfish. Neither enthusiasts of bait or fly fishing and spinning nor fans of ice fishing will be disappointed with their catch. The surrounding forests are rich in berries and mushrooms.
Miškininkų st. 2, Vaišvydava
53106 Kauno r.
Tel./fax. (8~37) 38 30 70