Gaizinkalns' summit tower
Gaizinkalns' elevation is only 311.6 meters, but its prominence (valley-altitude) is even much less impressive - it is just a 50-60 m high hill. However, it is our highpoint :)
Gaizinkalns is situated in the highest area of Latvia, which is called Vidzemes Highlands, surrounded by many of 200 m hills. Well, not too high... Anyway, it's a very nice area for hiking with beautiful and spectacular landscapes, especially during the "golden fall" - period, when leaves on trees are colored in scales of yellow and red. In the winter it works as a ski-resort.
Surroundings of Gaizinkalns are usually quiet crowded during weekends, so if You would like to hike with not too many people around, You better choose work days.
On the top of the hill there is an artifact from Soviet time - an old nonfunctional watchtower. It is quiet high, but it is strongly not suggested
to climb up, as its condition is really bad. There is a plan to build a new civil watchtower for tourists. By the information from www.gaizinkalns.lv
, project competition have recently taken place.
Interesting historical fact:
"In the end of the 1950es it was the restricted area - Soviet Government had decided to build nuclear rocket launch sites round there (Latvia was a part of former Soviet Union). In 1957 building had actually started. But, as it sometimes happens, in 1961 one USA spy have found information about these works, so confidentiality was compromised and project was closed" - Information from the Latvian Military Museum
P.S.: The pictures of the tower are historical now. It was demolished on 14th of December, 2012.
13 km to go...
The nearest big town is Madona
, which has regular bus connections with Riga, the capital of Latvia. The summit is situated about 16 km West from there. There are also two small towns on the way to Madona - Berzaune
(about 9 km NW to the summit) and Sauleskalns
(about 11 km NW to the summit), but You should carefully check the traffic, as only some of buses stop there.
So, You are in Berzaune!...
You can always check the traffic at www.1188.lv
- Latvian global information service. Check the bus schedule
. I sugest using buses for this destination, as bus connections are much more extensive there, then railways. Ticket price from Riga is about 5 EUR one-way, can be purchased at the bus station or right on board. Bus-trip takes about 3 hours one-way.
The map of Gaizinkalns' surroundings, 1:100000
You can buy maps of Latvia in the shop of our biggest map publisher - Jana Seta
. Shop's address is: "Jana Seta karsu veikals", Elizabetes str. 83/85, 2. korp., Riga. Telephone: +371 7240892
. It is located right in the center of Riga, 5 min by foot from the Central Station. It is quiet easy to find. Just ask anybody where Elizabetes str is located.
There are very good 1:50000 topo/satellite maps of Latvia, where the country is divided in 131 parts. One sheet's price is about 2 EUR. Of course, You can also purchase road maps of bigger areas or of the whole Latvia. Plus one very interesting option - You can buy Soviet Genshtab (headquarters) military topo maps
there. They are very useful sometimes, but all the texts are only in Russian.
There is an online version of the map of Latvia
. I wouldn't say it is too good, but it can be usefull to get an overview. There is a possibility to search for locations.
No red tape, but Gaizinkals and its surroundings have status of the Nature Park, so take care.
It is a popular area for local tourists, so there are many accommodation possibilities. Check out the Madona Municipality
portal - there is very much useful information about accomodation and activities. For example, You can order horse riding, rent a bicycle or a boat and do many other things.
Online map of Latvia
Jana Seta Maps
By the way...
You are always welcome to contact me if You are planning a trip to Latvia. I will be glad to provide You an assistance and information.