Rāzna National Park

Rāzna National Park



Location: Latgale region  Map

Area: 532 km2


Rāzna National Park situated in the Latgale region of Latvia. It is the newest nature reserve in the country. It is a natural reserve that covers an area of 532 km2 around Lake Rāzna and adjusting wetlands as well as forests that surround it. The lake itself contains about 36 different isles that are inhabited by numerous species of birds. One of the most famous sites within borders of the natural park is a medieval Volkenberg’s Stone Castle that was constructed by the Livonian Order in the 13th century.


The park contains numerous lakes, ponds, streams and wetlands.

Rāzna Lake
The second largest lake in Latvia with 5,756 ha, Lake Rāzna is also called the Latgale Sea because of its sandy beaches. It is rich in fish which are professionally caught with nets as well as by tourist fishermen, including in winter with ice fishing.

Ežezers lake
Lake Ežezers is unique in that it contains around 70 elevations, half of which are water-level expanses covered with reeds and other aquaphile plants - only around 35 form islands per se.

A camp for tourists regularly received 800 visitors there during the day of the time of the Soviet Union.

Mākoņkalns Hill (248 m above sea level) southwest of Lake Rāzna, also called Padebešu Hill, is topped by the ruins of Volkenberg Castle built in the 13th century (1252) by the Livonian Order (autonomous branch of the Order of the Teutonic Knights) of which it was one of the first fortified places in the region of Latgale. Right at the foot of the hill is the small lake Ubagova, called "the clear eye of Latgale".

Environment, conservation
It is home to 15 specially protected bird species and 14 specially protected habitats.

27 species of fish inhabit Lake Rāzna, almost 90% of the fish species found in Latvian lakes. Lake Rāzna provides good conditions for species that reproduce on aquatic plants; however, it is not very good for species that breed on sand or gravel. This is due to the increasing eutrophication of the lake: the sand and gravel by the lake, traditional spawning grounds for European smelt and white whitefish, are covered with mud and aquatic plants. The reproduction of these two species has greatly diminished, which is concomitant with the decrease in their populations.
For more details on the fish of this lake and their fishing, see the article on Lake Rāzna.

The Fire-bellied Toad (Bombina bombina) was found in four locations in 2004, with approximately 90 adult males counted in 2006. To restore the species, a LIFE project (LIFE04 NAT / LV / 000199) on the protection of habitats and species in the park has included measures for the reintroduction of the species. Latgale Zoo has started a breeding program from 5 adults. As a result, some 870 individuals were reintroduced in the protected wetlands of the park between 2006 and 2008. Four ponds were also restored as part of this project, in the municipality of Makoņkalns. A more recent project (LIFE09 NAT / LV / 000239) aims for long-term survival by building on previous achievements. The main points are the creation of a new Natura 2000 site in the Daugavpils region, where one of the largest populations of Bombina bombina is found in the country; and the creation of a reproduction center for rare reptiles and amphibians (“Rare Reptile and Amphibian Breeding Center”) to increase the populations of fire-bellied ring toads and European pond turtles (Emys orbicularis, also endangered species) . Approximately 3,000 young B. bombina fire-bellied ring toads are expected to be born in this center and released at the end of this project.

Human environment
The park is located on the territory of eight rural municipalities:
Rēzekne region: Kaunata, Mākoņkalns, Lūznava and Čornaja;
Dagda region: Andrupene, Andzeļi and Ezernieki;
Ludza region: Rundēni.
About 8,000 people live within the perimeter of the park. Unemployment is very high, ranging from 20% to 25% depending on the municipality.

On the territory of the park there are dairy farms; however farming activity declined significantly in the 10 years around the year 2000. Now only a few farms have industrial agricultural production, most farmers produce only for their own consumption.


Rāzna Lake supports industrial fishing, the rights to which in Rāzna Lake are issued by Ekopunkts Ltd. Although this lake represents only 5% of the total surface of Latvian lakes, its fishing represents 10% of that of all these lakes. The quantities fished there vary from 124 tonnes (21.6 kg / ha) in 1954 to 9.6 tonnes (1.7 kg / ha) in 1991. The average quantity fished during this period was 60 tonnes per year, or 10.4 kg. / ha. After 1967 the quantity of fish caught decreased a lot, with a minimum point in 1991, consequently to a lower intensity of fishing and a significant drop in the number of fishermen: before 1967 there were at least 3 teams of fishermen on the lake or even 4 teams; after 1967 there were only two.

Recreational fishing is very popular at Lake Razna, both by locals and holidaymakers especially coming from Rēzekne but also those coming from further afield. Almost every household near the lake has fishing equipment whose use is prohibited by fishing rules. Every day there are at least 100 fishermen, and on weekends there are many more. Each fisherman catches on average 2 kg of fish, the total fishing by individuals reaches at least 80 to 100 tonnes per year. The types of fish caught in this way are difficult to assess and probably reach or exceed the maximum authorized.

A number of hunting companies are present on the territory of the park.

At the lakes (mainly Rāzna and Ežezers lakes): boat trips, fishing, water sports, relaxation on the beaches, picnics, traditional saunas.
In the rivers: canoeing, fishing, traditional sauna.
Forests: hiking (some marked paths)
Meadows: horse-drawn sleigh rides.
5 routes for cyclists
Tourist accommodation in the park has a capacity of 578 beds.