Augustow Canal

Address: Belarus, Augustow Canal
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There are only three canals like this in the world: Caledonian Canal in the UK, Gota Canal in Sweden, and Augustow Canal, which is located in Poland and Belarus. The waterway with the total length of 102km starts at Lake Serwy near Polish Augustow and stretches virtually to Belarusian Grodno. The artificial canals 45km long have connected 11 rivers (35km) and seven lakes (22km). In 2004-2006 the Belarusian section (22km) of the canal was completely restored. Specialists restored the waterway, which had not been used since the 1950s, fixed washed-out and caved areas, ancient hydraulic engineering installations. Many components – sluices and commemorative tablets bearing names of the designers, wooden columns, and draw bridges – were restored manually and now look authentic. In 2005 the international seasonal Belarusian-Polish border checkpoint Lesnaya-Rudawka was opened for tourists on boats and kayaks.

Motor ship sluicing on Augustow Canal

Nemnovo is the largest sluice of Augustow Canal

In 2017 it is supposed to be opened to hikers and bicyclists. Nowadays the Belarusian part of the ancient canal has five regulator sluices, two dams, and four shipping sluices  Nemnovo, Dombrovka, Volkushek, and Kuzhinets. Augustow Canal’s largest sluice is the four-chamber sluice Nemnovo, which is 9.6m long. The water differential is nearly 10m, while sluicing takes about an hour. Augustow Canal is an excellent place for active recreation, water, hiking and bicycle tourism. The picturesque places attract thousands of visitors. The canal crosses the territory of the Belarusian landscape reserve Grodnenskaya Pushcha. It is one of the most environmentally pristine places of Belarus and the continent and a standard of plains in Central Europe. 

Kayaking along Augustow Canal

A motor ship tour along Augustow Canal

In the center of the reserve is the Augustovskaya Pushcha, which is one of Europe’s largest forests located in Belarus, Poland, and Lithuania and contending for the status of a UNESCO transboundary biosphere reserve. In the Belarusian land (10% of the forest) one can find about 800 varieties of plants, which is comparable to the Belovezhskaya Pushcha and the Berezinsky Biosphere Reserve. Some trees are 250-300 years old. In 2011 a tourism and recreation park Avgustovsky Kanal as large as 5,750ha was created in the area adjacent to the famous waterway and the Neman River. The place offers a lot to fans of active recreation:

  • tours on board of motor ships and on board of boats with and without sluicing;
  • catamaran ships and boats for rent;
  • kayaking (groups are made up in Grodno to go on a captivating tour along the canal);
  • hiking and bicycle tours (an eco-friendly cycling track is available along the canal);
  • well-furnished places for recreation, a caretaker house, and a compact hotel.

Augustow Canal

The cruiser Neman navigates Augustow Canal

The motor ship Neman leaves the wharf near the sluice Dombrovka. Travelling with a group of tourists is more convenient since your travel agent will book the vessel in advance and will choose a route where you will be able to watch sluicing. On weekends tours are available on schedule and last for about an hour. The canal and its tributaries offer over ten water routes. One of the longest ones is the water and bicycle riding route Augustow Canal – Belovezhskaya Pushcha (272.4km). In 2014 after the last sluice on the Polish side was reconstructed a water route for powered yachts was made available Augustow – Grodno – Druskininkai.

A draw bridge of Augustow Canal

The wharf near the sluice Dombrovka

The plan for developing the Avgustovsky Kanal Park envisages many interesting projects. In the near future tourists will be offered wharfs for small vessels, comfortable recreation zones and a GPS navigation map. Navigation pilot services are already available for those wishing to navigate the waterways safely. The tourism complex Rynkovtsy (camping sites and parking lots, a stage and places for recreation) is under construction near the canal as well as the sport and recreation complex Peschany (a hotel, a recreation zone, a shooting range for archery). Apart from that, special zones for recreation and swimming in summer will be made available on the banks of the canal.

Hydraulic engineering installations of the sluice Dombrovka

Tourists from Poland travel along Augustow Canal by yacht

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