1. What is rural or eco-tourism?
Eco- or rural tourism is a specific kind of tourism in a rural area where holiday-makers have an opportunity to get to know better the nature, culture and history of the country they are in. Green tourism also is a great way to rest from the bustle of big cities, forget about every day cares and enjoy pure nature of rural areas.
Eco-tourism has a long history. There is an opinion that the first eco-tourists are the primitive people that were traveling along the river banks, finding new paths and following mammoths. But today's system is much more complicated. The thing is, today we need to protect the nature from the humans' negative influence. That is why the term "eco-tourism" was made up, which implies a respect for nature. Apart from that, there is such term as agro tourism, or rural tourism, which are the kinds of eco-tourism. An agro-tourist is not only interested in eco-friendly holiday far away from modern civilization, but also willing to know more about history, traditions and unexplored places of countryside.
2. When did it come to Belarus?
The trend of eco-friendly and rural tourism came to Belarus much more later than in the countries of Europe, though Belarus is, undoubtedly, perfect for such kind of holidays, with its rich, untouched nature and interesting culture and traditions. All that was needed to make the idea become the reality is some organization that would unite people. So, in November 2002, Agro- and Eco-Tourism Public Organization was established, and this date can be considered the official start of eco-tourism development in Belarus.
3. Why Belarus?
The idea of rural tourism development in Belarus was, so to say, in the air, while the greatest Belarusian attraction is, certainly, the beauty and virginity of nature. Despite of the fact, that Belarus is lacking deep clean seas or high mountains, there is a huge potential for eco-tourism - 20 thousand of rivers, 10 thousands of lakes, forests and national parks that take 40% of the territory. And do not forget about hospitality and tolerance of the Belarusian people and numerous villages preserved from the very 19th century... Sheer idyll!
4. Where in Belarus?
More than 150 agro farmsteads located in the most picturesque and wonderful places present the agro and eco-tourism in Belarus. The hosts of the farmsteads are the people that adore the nature of their homeland, and this adoration they willingly share with the guests.
Kayaking in Narochansky Park
The greatest centers of eco-tourism in Belarus are the most popular natural attraction and reserves, such as Belovezhskaya Pushcha, Braslav lakes, lake Naroch, lake Svityaz, Sorochanskiye lakes, Neman river, Berezinsky Biosphere Reserve, Pripyatsky National Park and so on.
5. What to do?
Eco-holidays provide a great opportunity to enjoy various activities in nature's lap - boating and kayaking, hunting, swimming in rivers and lakes, bathing, horse-riding and many, many others.
You can go fishing. Belarus is often called a "blue-eyed" country due to numerous lakes and rivers. There are about 10,000 lakes and nearly 20,000 rivers teeming with tenches, pikes, catfish, eels, pike-perches, and eel-pots.
The Belarusian countryside is an ideal place for wildlife photography. All farmsteads are located in most picturesque places. There you can find shady groves, bondless meadows full of blue cornflowers, riverbanks covered with reed, transparent springs running through the woods, green hills with pasturing horses, etc.
You may also go picking berries and mushrooms, which are in abundance in Belarus. Here you can find boletuses, chanterelles, russules, milk mushrooms, and orange-cup boletuses. Crispy and salty milk mushrooms with onion and oil is a real finger-licking goodness.
You can also practice horse-riding at certain farmsteads. A ride on a horse is an unforgettable experience. You can take a couple of horse-riding lessons and surprise your friends afterwards.
Olizarov Stav Farmstead
In winter skiing is, of course, the most popular pastime. You can also imagine that you are a landowner and enjoy a drive in a sleigh. The ride will undoubtedly give you wonderful moments of sparkling joy.
On returning back to the farmstead you can take a steam bath and try the herbal tea made by the hostess. The Belarusian cuisine is another reason to come to a village.
Urban residents may entertain themselves in other ways. One can milk a cow, feed chickens or shear sheep. You may go even further and become a shepherd spending a whole day in a field with a herd.
You can grow flowers or vegetables. The life in a village will make you feel you origins and inspirit yours. You will undoubtedly have wondering reminiscences about the time you spent in the Belarusian countryside.
6. Celebrate the holidays!
Belarus is agrarian country with rich traditions, where pagan rituals entwined with Christian ones. And this national peculiarity is in the picture at the Belarusian farmsteads. The hosts often organize for the guests ceremonial festivals, such as Kolyady for Christmas (going from house to house singing Christmas carols), of Kupalle (celebrated over the entire night of 6 July, this holiday is accompanied by songs, dances and traditions such as fire-jumping and night swims), Maslenitsa (welcoming of spring with pancakes and folk festivals) and so on.
That is why it is a great idea to rent a farmstead on some holidays, to see the Belarusian culture in action.
7. All in all
Rural and eco-tourism in Belarus is one of the most attractive tourism destinations of the country. The real Belarus with its beautiful nature, good traditions of hospitality, delicious national cuisine and incredibly welcoming locals can be seen only when you are in the countryside.
Welcome to Belarus - country of splendid nature and heart-warming hospitality!