Matsalu National Park
Matsalu National Park includes the shallow Matsalu Bay and its coast, the estuary of the Kasari River and nearly 50 islands and the plateau with the surrounding Väinameri. It is a real paradise for bird lovers, one of the most important waterfowl stops in Europe on the migration route between the Arctic and Western Europe.
In addition to birds, Matsalu National Park also protects the semi-natural communities characteristic of Western Estonia (coastal meadows, alluvial and wooded meadows, reed massifs, small islands) and the cultural heritage of the Väinameri.
Matsalu is home to the 4,000-hectare Kasari Gorge, the largest surviving open-air gorge in Europe, which is an important nesting area for corncrakes (rukkirääk), black grouse(täpikhuik) and grasshoppers (rohunep). More than 2 million waterfowl fly through the national park every year, of which more than 230,000 remain in the national park for short or long stays.
The largest of its kind by the Baltic Sea is the Kasari estuary, which covers almost 3,000 ha, where you can hear rudders, the most famous of which is the jump(hüüp). Matsalu coastal meadows are one of the largest in Europe and important for waders nesting here (eg tilder, woodpecker), because there is low vegetation and a waterless waterline. The cattle help to care for beef cattle. You can also meet sea eagles and meadowsweet. Out of the animals, the most likely to see a deer from the Kloostri lookout tower.
Those interested in plants will find many species between oaks and hawthorns in species-rich wooded meadows. The diversity of the flat landscapes of the west coast is enhanced by the limestone coastal plains formed from Silurian coral reefs. An old thatched hay nail and fisherman’s roof have been restored.
In 2007, the European Commission launched the competition “European Destinations of Excellence” (EDEN), Matsalu was nominated in 2009 in the category “EDEN. Estonia’s undiscovered treasures. Tourism and protected areas “.
Penijõe Manor is home to the Matsalu National Park Visitor Center, whose permanent exhibition features the nature, history and heritage culture of the protected area and the 20-minute slide program “Matsalu Year. Life in Matsalu from ice to ice ”.