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The big flood: Ptipyat, Goryn, and Lva rivers

Author: by Sergei Plytkevich and Andrei Borodin
Photo: by Sergei Plytkevich


We have started to evaluate the tourist opportunities of certain regions of the Pripyat Polesie in order to create optimal routes for travelers and to take photos for the future photo album. In the previous article, we narrated about the Yaselda River; now we decided to check the Pripyat itself and its right tributaries in the Stolinsky district.


Pripyat crosses the border of the Pinsky district together with the state border between Belarus and Ukraine 3 km southwest of the village of Khoino. Just look at the map to see how sparsely populated this area is.

It is here, in the interfluve of Pripyat and Prostyr rivers, a huge fen is located. Fortunately it managed to avoid reclamation and preserve its original appearance being a significant place for wildlife preservation. This became possible due to the absence of bridges and roads. As a result, the only means of transportation here is a boat.

The inaccessibility of the region contributes to the fact that many species of birds with international protected status nest here: the Great Spotted Eagle (Clanga clanga), Aquatic Warbler (Acrocephalus paludicola), Great Snipe (Gallinago media), etc. In addition, the vast territory, which is a mosaic of old trees, floodplain oak forests and flood meadows, serves as a summer habitat for female moose with their young hiding in this remote area. 

It is especially beautiful here in the summer, when white water lilies and Siberian iris (Iris sibirica) bloom forming real thickets sometimes. That’s why this unique area has the status of a Republican landscape reserve, which is part of the cross-border "Stokhod-Pripyat-Prostyr" wildlife area. 

To the north a more developed area begins, which is extensive polders. They were formed after a part of the floodplain had been drained. There are already more roads here, but it can still be very difficult to get to the main riverbed, especially in the spring. The first bridge on the Pripyat River is located near the village of Stytychevo. The P6 highway passes through it connecting Pinsk with Stolin.


The Pripyat is interesting because unlike most major European rivers, it flows not in the meridian, but in the latitudinal direction. This feature becomes clearly visible after it merges with the Pina River.


It was here that one of the oldest Belarusian cities was founded in 1097, which managed to preserve many architectural monuments that remind of its rich history.

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The unofficial symbol of Pinsk is the building of the former Jesuit College, which was built in the first half of the XVII century.

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The Franciscan monastery, which is only slightly younger, is perfectly preserved. It includes the Church of the Ascension of the Virgin Mary, the bell tower and the residential building.


The main attractions of the city, which is considered the capital of Polesie, also include the Butrimovich Palace, St. Barbara monastery, etc.

Many routes in Pripyat start from Pinsk. Moreover, you can choose a variety of options: from a comfortable motor ship "Belaya Rus" to a kayak. Near the city, the Dnieper-Bug Canal (which the old days used to be known as the Royal Canal) flows into the Pripyat River. At the end of the XVIII century, this outstanding construction connected the basins of the Baltic and Black Seas. Today it is a popular route among water tourists.

We drove up to Pripyat from the village of Kachanovichi.


It is home to the “Polessky Bortnik“ eco-barn, whose owner Nikolai Kachanovsky has been engaged in beekeeping for many years. Later he created a museum, and opened a specialized honey store in the city of Pinsk.

On the "Polessky Bortnik" eco-barn interesting ethnographic events are held for tourists.


Kachanovichi hydroelectric complex is located next to it on the Pripyat River.


We managed to record the beginning of shipping on the Pripyat River: it was at this moment that the ship which was sent downstream to install buoys had been locked. Curiously, the water level in Pripyat was very low in this place.


But in the floodplain of the Styr River, the water level was much higher.


As well as the situation on the Goryn River near the town of Stolin turned out to be completely different.


Here you could see a real flood.


On the way, we were caught in a thunderstorm, there was no way to shoot panoramas, we had to picture the church against the background of a stormy sky from the ground.

But we had to wear raincoats to take pictures from the bridge over the Lva River.


The length of this river is 172 km (107 miles), slightly less than half of that passes through the territory of Belarus. There are no settlements on the Belarusian side near the place where it crosses the state border. The few farms that used to exist here in the first half of the twentieth century, were relocated after it had been decided to turn Olmansky marshes into a huge military training area (by the way, it remains active to this day).


Thanks largely to this decision, the unique natural complex has been preserved in a close to natural state. It includes various types of forests growing on the mineral islands. Even in the summer, when the so-called low water begins, i.e. the water is at the lowest level, it is not easy to travel to these places.

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The Olmansky marshes, declared a National Landscape Reserve in 1998, are home to many protected species. First of all, we are talking about one of the rarest birds of prey in Europe – the great spotted eagle. The areas where the sedge grows are home to the Aquatic Warbler and the Great Snipe, species that are red-listed internationally.

This is the only place on the territory of Belarus where the Greater Noctule (Nyctalus lasiopterus), the largest of the European bats, is found. But to see these animals (unfortunately or fortunately) is very, very problematic.

From the above, it is easy to guess that there are no large settlements on Lva. The only exception is the village of Olmany with its wooden Church of the Resurrection of Christ.


But tourists are attracted to these places not only by the wild nature, but also by the "Villa of the Lion" eco-barn located in the village of Koshara.


In fact, this is a good-quality hotel with stylish rooms, a sauna, a swimming pool, and good cooking, which provides services not only in accommodation and food, but also in organizing local excursions.

The farmstead has a permit for the use of boats during spawning, which allows tourists to make unforgettable canoeing trips on the Lva River.

This is an amazing river of Belarus, which dissolves in the wilds of Polesie.


Formally speaking, it has an estuary located near the village of Korotkevichi. However, those who have canoed on the Lva will confirm that it begins to overgrow more and more downstream, until it disappears completely. And even locals can get lost in these diverging branches. 

Along the banks of the Lva River there are typical landscapes of Polesie: flooded alders, willows, floodplain meadows, swamps, etc. That is why it is considered not only one of the most unusual, but also very beautiful rivers in Belarus. 


The red-listed Eurasian oystercatcher (Haematopus ostralegus) has already returned home to Polesie.

On the way back, we took photos of the Goryn River again.


The famous Mankovichi Park. Once there was a palace of landlords called Radziwills…

We drop in at David-Gorodok town.


We can see a remarkable “postmodern” combination of sculptures:  the leader of the Socialist Revolution (1917)  Vladimir Lenin and  Prince David...


Sunset on the Pripyat River.


And the reflection of red clouds in the glass wall of the museum on the ancient settlement in the town of Turov.

The water is very high here. The Turov meadow is completely flooded.

This means that our tourists will be able to see the real high water.

We recommend not to miss this amazing sight – it is not known when there will be such a water level in Pripyat the next time!


Translated by M. Shaturin

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