The Curonian Spit is a strange land formation extending on one side from Lithuania to Kaliningrad, and then again as the Vistula Spit from Kaliningrad to Poland. Only 600 meters wide in places and almost completely forested save for the one or two small towns, it opens to the unforgiving cold and beating waves of the Baltic Sea on one side and to the calm waters of the natural, but huge, lagoon that it creates on the other.
Camping and exploring this area was an experience that I will not soon forget.
When first driving on to the spit on a windy and rainy day in late September, you could easily be forgiven for thinking you have made a wrong turn and instead ended up at a run down, out of season Polish seaside resort. However push past the towns to where the spit thins and the denser forests begin and you quickly realise that you’re somewhere special. There are a myriad of tracks on the both the left and the right when driving on the one and only road towards the Russian border any of these leading to through forest to deserted white sand beaches overlooking the Baltic sea.
We took a track early on and in a haze of excitement decided it would be fun to carry on past the track and drive on the beach. Having never taken my Syncro on sand before and this sand being particularly soft we made it all of fifteen feet before grinding to a halt. With the tide approaching and everyone “mildly” panicking it was all hands to deck to dig, drop and deliver. With the tyres finally down to about 12 PSI and tracks dug out the sand we were finally able to hastily reverse back to the relative comfort of the dirt track.
After re-inflating our tyres and with the sun threatening to set we made haste our getaway and carried on north towards Russia. Within four miles of the border and having passed over many a small track we saw another we saw one that looked like it lead to a clearing and decided to give it a go. The spot was perfect, with a wide flat clearing and plenty of evidence of other people having camped there too. We quickly got to work setting up camp, and felling dead trees for the fire. With camp set up we decided to go and enjoy the sunset on the shores of the Baltic.
With the sun now set and the forest pitch black, we lit our fire and amongst beer and laughter made our dinner in the dutch oven.
We woke late the next day with sore heads but in good spirits and decided to take a long walk down the inside of the spit. Reaching the other side we were astounded at the contrast that six hundred metres could make, where the baltic side had crashing waves and desolate beauty the lagoon had tranquil calm waters only interrupted by the gentle brushing of reeds. The walk continued to take our breath away as we were bombarded with rolling sand dunes, eroding edges and seemingly prehistoric tree lines.
Once we had finished our walk and packed up camp we had our final drive up toward the Russian border, but as there is no official border crossing on this part of the spit we were forced to stop early lest we accidentally venture into Russia. We stopped for our final view of the Baltic as it was now sunny and worlds apart from when we arrived the following day.
We left the Vistula spit each of us amazed, in high spirits and looking forward to seeing the Curonian spit once in Lithuania.