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The Venta is the fourth longest Latvian river. It flows out of Vene Lake at the Zemaitija plateau in Lithuania, and the total span of the river is 346 km; the drop is 166 m, while in Latvia – respectively 173 km and 40 m.
At the upper reaches from Lithuanian border until Alsi the Venta flows through a wide valley– the Vadakste plain, further on through a narrow valley between the Western Kursa and Eastern Kursa highlands. The most popular paddling section is from the Vadakste estuary by the Latvian – Lithuanian border or from Nigrande till Skrunda Next to Kuldiga the river it is not so popular but manageable, while after Zlekas up till Ventspils, paddling is not recommended since the spacious turns, the long straight sections and often the slow stream exposes the waters of the Venta to high winds. Rafting downstream often turns into a desperate battle with a side wind or a headwind.
After the Vadakste estuary for 3km the Venta forms the Latvian - Lithuanian border. Around 30m wide, a shallow stream with a good fall; during the summer at places it is overgrown with water-weeds, with beautifully grown in trees here and there along the banks. The first islets appear in the river, although their numbers are reducing. Both sides of the river are farmland; frequent shrubs grow along the river.
600 m behind the Losis the tributary of the right bank – the Zana - is located, and after less than 2km Nigrande appears , and this is where the nicest section of Venta starts. The next 13,2km till the Letiza estuary is a string of islets, fords and quick-streams. Behind the outlet of the Skervelis the Venta still flows quite rapidly and beautiful forests appear on the banks. After a wide curve the Venta carves into a dolomite detrition about 13m in height. These are the Gobdzini rocks. Here is an overflow in the river; the place is beautiful and it is definitely worth stopping and climbing the rocks to view the landscape.
Behind Gobdzini rocks thee forest withdraws from the river, it throws a few large arcs until paddlers spot the church towers of Leni Catholic church. Right at the foot of the Church is a good place to finish paddling. The next 8.8 km to Skrunda the Venta flows through farmed fields. There is nothing special to see here - everything depends on your companions and the motivation to reach Skrunda - another possible finish station for paddling.
Describing the next 43,8km to Ventas Rumba in Kuldiga, the small tributaries of the Venta must be mentioned as landmarks.14,6km after Skrunda the estuary of the right bank tributary Ponakste is located; after 600m it is followed by the Enava from the left bank; 10km further on is the estuary of the Lejejupe , but 4,6km after this is the estuary of tributary Eda. The Venta is simply a wide, shallow and slow river here. Novadnieki is a finish place for Skede and Eda paddling.
On approaching Kuldiga, a high radio tower and allotments perched on the left bank of the Venta. Then follows the detour bridge of Kuldiga and Ventas Rumba (Venta waterfall) 2km behind it .One must certainly stop here and fully enjoy the pleasures of the wide waterfall and do some sightseeing in Kuldiga. It must be remembered that the Rumba cannot be paddled. Canoes can be easily carried on both sides of the waterfall. Between Rumba and the Ancient brick bridge is a lively overfall, at which, for unknown reasons, a number of large concrete blocks with sharp edges have been thrown in. Guard your canoes!
Behind the bridge a rapid and curved stage will begin, the river comes to life. Many islands and islets arrange at a section 2km long and rapid. At the end of the section there is a sharp curve to the right, at the left bank a coastal cliff – the Black Kolka, around 15m high, emerges. After 3,2km appears the tributary of the Venta’s right bank – the Riezupe estuary - a good place to stop.
Routes can be extended by paddling further up to the Naba Lake (21km) or till Zlekas Bridge (26,4km). At this section the estuary of the Abava 123 km further serves as a good landmark.
Places of interest
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