By Viktar Korbut
Last year, 178,000 foreigners chose to stay at 105 Belarusian sanatoriums, with their number expected to rise to 200,000 in 2011. The export of their services will generate about $100m, with guests from Israel, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia and Russia coming to Belarus.
Nikolay Mazur, the Director of the Republican Centre for Recuperation and Sanatorium-Resort Treatment, notes, “Our clients are, on average, 50 years old, needing to treat two or three ailments. Accordingly, our sanatoriums offer multiple services: over 100 in all. People prefer to stay 12-14 days, which costs around $500; this sum includes 3-4 procedures and 4-5 meals each day.”
Mr. Mazur helps us choose the best Belarusian sanatoriums, outlining a ‘guide’ for tourists wishing to come to Belarus for sightseeing as well as medical treatments. In addition, we’ve compiled a list of the top five national parks in the country — sure to delight nature lovers.
Location: Dyatlovo District, pine woodland, along the bank of the Panikva River.
Specialisation: Diseases of the supporting-motor apparatus and nervous system.
Surrounding countryside: Dyatlovo is a typical Belarusian location, with old merchant buildings and a Rococo style Roman Catholic church. The city of Lida is situated 70km away, boasting a restored 14th century palace which hosts knights’ festivals. Neman Glassworks is situated halfway; it was founded in 1883 and is worth visiting to purchase souvenirs.
Location: Myadel District, on Lake Naroch and surrounded by mixed forest and birch woodland.
Specialisation: Diseases relating to blood circulation, and the nervous, digestive, genito-urinary and bone-muscle systems.
Surrounding countryside: Fortifications remain from WWI, as the Russian-German frontline assembled here.
Location: Mogilev District.
Specialisation: Respiratory diseases and those of supporting-motor apparatus.
Surrounding countryside: Mogilev’s Sovetskaya Square houses the building where the Supreme High Command General Headquarters of the Russian army of Emperor Nikolay II was situated during WWI. 17th century Nikolay Church is also situated here, boasting a rare Orthodox Baroque style carved icon stand. On Buinichi Field, in 1941, Red Army soldiers defended the area from fascists. Konstantin Simonov devoted his book — Alive and Dead — to those events.
Location: Kamenets District, pine woodlands, close to the Belovezhskaya Pushcha National Park.
Specialisation: Cardio-vascular and respiratory diseases and those of supporting-motor apparatus.
Surrounding countryside: The Belovezhskaya Pushcha is situated nearby, with the residence of the Belarusian Father Frost and state Viskuli residence; in 1991, the heads of Belarus, Ukraine and Russia signed an agreement there to disband the USSR. A 13th century donjon tower is worth visiting in Kamenets, while Brest Hero-Fortress is 44km away.
Location: Minsk District’s Zhdanovichi, on the bank of Krinitsa water reservoir.
Specialisation: Cardio-vascular, bone-muscle, digestive system and gynaecological illnesses.
Surrounding countryside: Zhdanovichi is the oldest resort in the country, founded a century ago by Minsk doctor Zdanovich and known for its mineral waters.
Location: Minsk District, beside Minsk Sea (Zaslavl water reservoir), amidst pine-foliose forest.
Specialisation: Cardio-vascular diseases and those of supporting-motor apparatus and the nervous system.
Surrounding countryside: Rogneda, wife of Russian baptiser Vladimir, once lived on the site of the historical-archaeological reserve in Zaslavl. Here, a 16th century Protestant church and an 18th century Roman Catholic church are situated. Dudutki and Strochitsy open air museums are nearby, via Minsk ring road, offering Belarusian style amusements.
As the largest forest in Central Europe, it has been part of UNESCO’s World Cultural Heritage List since 1992. Six hundred year old oaks still remember the tsars hunting. Visitors can see wolf, lynx, otter, tarpan and auroch in cages, in the natural environment and at the local nature museum. Cosy guesthouses feature a sauna, bar and restaurant while numerous homesteads are nearby.
The forest occupies 40 percent of the reserve’s territory, embracing 43 lakes, including Lake Naroch — the largest in the Republic and home to eel. Many sanatoriums are situated along its banks.
The second largest island in the country — Chaichin — is situated within Lake Strusto. The island itself also has a reservoir — a very small lake at its centre. Volos Yuzhny (Volos Southern) Lake is, in turn, famous for its amazingly clear water (transparent to 8m — as in the Maldives).
Over 30 tourist sites are situated within the park, including environmental, architectural and archaeological monuments. Many beautiful Roman Catholic churches are found nearby, in addition to villagers of Old Believers, with their own wooden churches. Local villagers often rent their houses to tourists. There are plans to build a spa near a unique source of bromine water in the Braslav District’s Vidzy, known for its sulphurous waters. A couple of centuries ago, a water healing spa operated there, founded by the noble family of Mineiko. About 50 patients could be accommodated, under the strict eye of specialists. The search for mineral waters near Vidzy was re-launched in 2001 and, apart from sulphurous and bromine sources, various healing muds were discovered. “All the necessary conditions have been established in this unique place to found a sanatorium,” Mr. Mazur is convinced. A Latvian investor is soon to start construction works.
The River Pripyat is often compared to the Amazon. Ecological paths are laid through the park, while guests are offered steamboat tours, with fishing picnics and excursions to Turov (a cultural centre of Ancient Russia and Kirill Turovsky’s homeland). This year, a safari park has opened, inhabited by auroch, deer and wild boar.
Berezinsky Biosphere Reserve
Lake Plavno is of great interest here. Its north-eastern part flows into the Baltic Sea, while its south-western travels to the Black Sea. Hunting and eco-holidays are offered.