Only 50 km away from Riga, between Apsuciems and Klapkalnciems is a relatively unknown protected area, Arboretum Lacupite, and the best time to visit it is now, in June!
The beginning of summer turns this place into a rhododendron paradise, the air is filled with sweet and bitter smell of the flowers, and you see bushes of bright yellow, orange, light and dark pink and purple.
Arboretum was established in 1959 by Igors Mednis, who discovered that because of the mild climate of the area, many types of plans that cannot survive elsewhere in Latvia, can grow here. The plants have been brought from 68 different locations in Latvia and abroad. Arboretum is a protected area, so same as elsewhere in the forest, don’t leave any garbage and don’t pick any plants!
You can see many different trees and bushes here, and there are signs with names. In the sunny slopes the rhododendrons are in full bloom already in the beginning of June, other areas are just about to bloom, so if the weather remains not too hot, there should be plenty to see until at least the Midsummer!
The entrance is free, just be cautious when parking – only the side opposite the arboretum is suitable for parking.Once you enter the area, cross the bridge and you will see a pathway straight ahead- that one will lead you to the seaside, for the plants you need to take the road to the left. Shortly after you will see the river making a turn, and here you can either go along the river and see some more plants there, or continue walking on the main road (turn left when the road forks) until 150 m further you will see the bushes.
Plan an hour to walk to and back and spend some time in the area. There are countryside toilets at the seaside pathway and near the rhododendrons. Be sure to pack mosquito spray!
We visited this location twice this spring, as mid May there was not much to see, but now, beginning of June was just wonderful, and also many more people were there. We also saw a big red squirrel, which was a nice surprise, as I don’t remember the last time I saw one in Latvia!
On the way back we went to fish restaurant Bermudas just at the road side, but it was very busy, so we had to wait for more than hour and a half for the meal. You can also stop on the way and buy some smoked fish, a local Latvian specialty, take a look at the pier of Lapmezciems , stop in Kemeri to see the old sanatorium and get some water from the sulfur spring or go to Kemeri for the bird watching tower or the bog pathway!
Be sure to check the gallery at the top of the page! All pictures by Jekabs Andrusaitis.