So you might have heard a thing or two about Latvia and its neighboring Baltic state countries Lithuania, Estonia, and not so neighborly countries like Belarus and Russia but did you know that the Trans Euro Trail Latvia connects not only all the Baltic state countries but now also has a connection with Belarus?
That’s right! Now it’s up to Belarussian linesman Anastasia Lianionva to connect both countries and create an Eastern Europe trail. But enough about that, let’s get back to Latvia and learn more about the trail that leads through it.
Who I am and who’s the Latvian linesman
My name is Rihards Grunte and I’m just a regular joe adventurer living in Latvia and the founder of a motorcycle adventure & camping site called “OUTDURO”, but I’m also a member of a motorcycle club called “apPasaule” (“Around the World”) that was founded by Mārtiņš Sils, a world traveler, businessman, and tutor.
Mārtiņš considers his motorcycle the best companion for long expeditions as well as short, local trips and has traveled around the world twice, organized several long term expeditions, reached mountain tops up to 6300m high, made movies, photo exhibitions and written books about his adventures and experiences on the road.
Quick facts about Latvia
Before we jump in the details about the trail and sights to see let’s first talk about quick facts that are listed in TET official homepage and some other things that you should know about Latvia.
- The official language in Latvia is latvian (no surprise there, huh?) but we also talk in english, russian and some folks might even know german;
- Our currency is Euro and almost all places accept payment cards;
- We drive on the right side of the road;
- One of the countries with fastest internet connection;
- In mid June we celebrate solstice with pagan rituals;
- We have the widest waterfall in Europe, seriously;
- Our national sport is ice hockey;
- Around 54 percent of Latvia is forest.
Details about Latvian TET
So the total length of TET in Latvia is 1802km over 3 sections. The entry points are in the south Blankenfelde connecting with Lithuania, in the north Gaujiena connecting with Estonia and south east Silene connecting with Belarus.
The expected time to travel a section is between 2-4 days per section and the best time to travel is from April to October.
What type of roads to expect?
Most of the roads are gravel countryside roads so if you’re traveling in a group with more than 2 then expect dusty clouds or just increase distance from one and another. Then there’s a lot of forest roads that have a few small parts with a lot of sand, especially near Riga, so be ready for an exercise. Finally there are only a small part of trails that are almost like the Bone Road in Siberia but then again, that’s what this is all about.
Is trail riding legal in Latvia?
Yes! Trail riding is legal in Latvia, just keep in mind that all the same laws on the trails as they do on the highways. Trails vary throughout the year. They might be more slippery and wet in spring and autumn so adjust your speed wisely.
What sightseeing to expect?
The route we’ve chosen, lets TET motorcyclists see all the natural beauty that is there in Latvia. We are very proud of our Baltic sea coastline, therefore a part of our route will take you along the seaside.
Although Latvia is rather small, it has a rich history. You’d think that in order to learn more about that, you should visit some of the museums in our capital Riga, but not necessarily. Just get off the highway and see everything yourself! Our route will let you explore forests, meadows, beaches, lakes, rivers, ponds, ruins of former estates and castles as well as renovated historical places.
People in the little villages and towns are very helpful and interesting to talk to. They have stories about how it all looked many years ago (most often based on what their parents and grandparents have told them) and how that particular place has changed.
You know those stories when someone’s bike breaks down somewhere in Africa and the whole village is there to help? Well, don’t be surprised if it happens here as well. Not that we haven’t seen a motorcycle, we’re just extremely helpful!
What food to try out?
Don’t be afraid of the small eateries along the way, they are all safe, food is tasty and local. Our most common meals consist of pork chop and potatoes. You should also try our more traditional foods like cold beetroot soup, bread soup (dessert), kvass (sugary drink), smoked fish (especially when you’re near the coast line), potato pancakes and expect everything to have dill with it!
What about wild camping?
Wild camping is legal in Latvia. Camping, making campfires (in ready-made places or anywhere else, as long as you prepare the place before making the fire and make sure the fire is completely out by the time you leave the place) and picking berries and mushrooms is allowed.
The campfire has to be at least 2m away from any tree. Pay attention though, that the rule about fires doesn’t apply in seaside and dune areas – it is forbidden there and if you get caught you will be fined!
Camping and making fires in national parks and restricted areas is only allowed in certain, ready-made places.
In every municipality these laws differ, but, in general, if you don’t put your tent up in the middle of the park and don’t make a 5m high bonfire that can burn down the place, you will be fine.
Another thing to keep in mind when you are out there – it’s illegal to drink anything alcoholic or have an open bottle of alcohol on the streets, in parks and, yes, even in forests. Our suggestion – have your beer, but if you are unlucky enough to see a police officer coming your way, don’t wave your drink right in his face – that should do it!
The Latvian TET will be like a breath of fresh air for you, both literally and figuratively. Our nature with its greenery, the beautiful smell of the forests, spectacular sunsets and sunrises – just go and enjoy it!
There are so many trails, they’re like blood vessels. Let’s make motorcyclists the ‘blood’ of these vessels, let’s give life to them! The nature around these trails deserves to be seen and the trails themselves- ridden!