As a child, a trip to the river in the summer has always been fraught with adventure, joy, and friends. We carry these memories throughout our lives, so rivers often have a special place in our hearts. Indeed, rivers and water bodies give us a wide range of positive emotions and impressions: from thrill and excitement to relaxation and inner harmony. They provide many different opportunities for active or relaxing holidays for all tastes. Let’s mention some of them with you.
Water tourism, which is now rapidly gaining momentum, means overcoming the itinerary traveling by any water surface – river, sea, lake – on any type of vessel. Although the vast majority of vessels we use are modern, the idea is not new. Even the ancient Egyptians sailed on rivers, and among the first water tourists we can name the Argonauts, who rowed with the Golden Fleece on the ship “Argo” on the Danube.
Water tourism can offer you very different options for active recreation, depending on your preferences: the fight against the elements alone or the teamwork, slow rafting or overcoming obstacles, a romantic trip or an event for the whole family, and more. So, choose a vessel (among which the most popular are an inflatable boat, raft, kayak, yacht, catamaran), look for a river that meets your expectations, and let the trip begin! By the way, there are many online resources to help the lovers of river travels, such as this selection of 55 rivers of Ukraine for water tourism.
If you do not have much time, or you prefer a quieter holiday, the water bodies are also at your service. Gather family and friends and go with tents to the river or lake! Kids will appreciate the fun of swimming and jumping with a tarzanka, you can sunbathe and sing songs by the fire, mosquitoes will also be happy 😊 We can specially mention fishing, which for some is just one amongst the other kinds of a quiet holiday, and for others – a real life passion! It is worth remembering that only healthy and living rivers can delight fishing enthusiasts with a variety of fish, which then tastes so good in nature or at home.
In addition, there are opportunities for more comfortable recreation on the river – these are river cruises, which are very popular in Europe and the United States, especially as an option for family recreation and easy travel for the elderly. Now, due to quarantine restrictions, cruises have temporarily lost their appeal. But after the situation stabilizes, we can expect a revival of this kind of tourism. Not only tourism but also other vessels use rivers as transport corridors. Freight and passenger river transport occupy an important share of the transport market. For example, the Danube is a transport artery for many European countries. We will only emphasize that it is necessary to adapt vessels to the rivers and not vice versa. Dredging and other large-scale works on river infrastructure development have an extremely negative impact on river ecosystems and are unprofitable in the long run.
Considering the river in a broader sense as a complex natural system, we can talk about valuable natural areas, which include the riverbed and floodplains, as well as adjacent land areas. Usually, these ecosystems, if preserved in their natural state, are home to a rich variety of life. You will be able to see here a large number of plants, birds, insects, and other animals, as well as a variety of picturesque landscapes worthy of being captured in photographs, canvases, or just in your heart.
To preserve these valuable areas, reserves, sanctuaries or other areas of the conservation status of local, national, or international importance are being created, such as the Ramsar Wetlands Network or the Natura 2000 Network.
Previously, large mammals and birds could also be seen in our nature. Now, unfortunately, it is almost impossible to meet them in our country. Poaching and overhunting, as well as habitat loss, are the main causes of the extinction of large animals from our landscapes. But they can still be back! Rewilding Ukraine and its partners are reintroducing large herbivores, including water buffalo, red deer, European fallow deer, kulan, wild horses, to preserved natural areas in the Danube Delta region. The eagle owl reintroduction program is also being effectively implemented in the region.
If you want to combine professional sports with being in nature, rivers can help you here too. Choose kayaking and canoeing, river slalom, rowing, sailing or other water sports. By the way, at the last Summer Olympics, which took place in Tokyo in 2021, Ukrainian athletes won six medals in these sports.
Harmony and mental balance
Why is the recreation on the river so attractive to people? We have already mentioned the hardness, thrill, pride in overcoming obstacles, a healthy lifestyle, and other benefits of active water tourism. But in addition, rivers at all times, in different cultures, countries and beliefs, were considered places of concentration of power and energy, which people can “feed from” and let in, which will support us and give strength to our daily lives, full of stress and negative emotions. Observations of water flow, diversity of animals and plants on the river restore our mental balance and harmony, give us the opportunity to effectively relax and open up to the world. So, let’s together preserve the living rivers that give us so many opportunities to maintain a healthy body and spirit!
The article is part of a joint awareness campaign of Rewilding Ukraine and WWF-Ukraine “Living rivers are more than just water” which aims to draw the attention of Ukrainians to the value of rivers and wetlands. Read also other thematic articles: Living rivers mean clean drinking water, Living rivers mean food and commodities.