Belarus blue: recreation and excursions

The Blue Lake, the “Lungs of Europe” and the Land of the Bisons: a guide to the nature of Belarus

The Blue Lake, the “Lungs of Europe” and the Land of the Bisons: a guide to the nature of Belarus

The Nature of Belarus

Lakes of Belarus, forests of Belarus, rivers of Belarus, plants of Belarus, nature of Belarus, nature reserves of Belarus, plants of the Republic of Belarus, national parks of Belarus, wildlife preserves of Belarus

Lakes, rivers, forests and plants, wildlife preserves are the calling card of Belarus. Learn about the beauty of the Belarusian nature in our article!

What do you associate Belarus with? Undisturbed and untouched nature, thousands of clear lakes with their blue eyes against the crystal-clear sky, silvery ribbons of rivers meandering across the vast plains, picturesque marshes where hundreds of thousands of rare species of plants and animals have found their refuge. Not for nothing our country is affectionately called “blue sea” and without exaggeration is considered to be “lungs of Europe”. Make yourselves comfortable and set off on a fascinating, albeit virtual, journey together with our guide to the nature of Belarus.

the nature of Belarus

Nature of Belarus

  • Blue lakes of Belarus
  • Belarusian rivers
  • Belarusian swamps
  • Interesting facts about forests in Belarus
  • National parks, protected areas, reserves

“Blue lakes of Belarus

Beautiful lakes in Belarus

Belarus is called the country of lakes for a reason: there are more than 11 thousand of them on its territory! Just imagine this impressive figure. The other surprising fact is that the major part of Belarusian lakes was formed as a result of the melting of the Valdai glacier (this event took place about 12 thousand years ago).

Since then, as they say, a lot of water has flowed away. Nowadays most of water bodies are situated in the north and north-west of the country – this area is called Belarus Poozerie. Among them are the most famous lakes of Belarus – Naroch, Drivyaty, Chervonoye, etc.

Do you know what lake is the deepest in Belarus? Or where the shrimps live? Each body of water has its own peculiarities.

So VETLIVA presents the top 5 of the deepest lakes in Belarus:

The biggest lake is Naroch . We think you already knew about it. Really, the main water body of the national park “Naroch” is not only a place for cool rest and recreation (for example, sanatorium “Priozerny” is located right on its shore, and agritourist complex “Nano-Novoselye” is on the spit, stretching into the lake), but also the biggest lake in our country. Its area is almost 80 sq.km. The king size!

Lake Naroch in Belarus

The deepest lake is Dolgoye. It absolutely justifies its name and moreover, its location (Glubokoe district, Vitebsk region). In some places its depth reaches as much as 53.6 m! For comparison: a dwelling house of 17-18 floors has approximately the same height.

The clearest lake is Glubokoe. And you thought that diving – is only about Sharm el-Sheikh? Well, it is not! Almost 10 meters you can see the bottom of the lake Glubokoe. The Braslav lakes are almost as transparent as the Glubokoe. The rest here is preferred by the real experienced divers, so you can feel free to book a guesthouse near the lake or a cottage in Leoshki – there you will definitely be provided with everything you need for scuba diving.

The most beautiful lakes are Sinka and Zelenka. The last place is not shared by the lakes at all. Sinka and Zelenka are the famous chalk quarries (they are also salt lakes) near Grodno, the very “Belarusian Maldives” about which you’ve probably heard a lot. Due to the amazing azure tint of the water they were included into the top of the most beautiful lakes of Belarus. You can make sure of it!

Just remember: despite the unearthly beauty, the water in the lakes is technical, the slopes are steep and the bottom is uneven, so it is prohibited to swim there.

Maldives in Belarus

The most legendary lake is Svityaz . In fact, Belarus is a very mystical country (we have already written about it), so it is not surprising that there are many legends about lakes. Inspired by the story of Svityaz, the famous poet Adam Mickiewicz even created a poem of the same name.

Belarusian rivers

Many Belarusian cities are situated on the major rivers. For example, Sozh flows through Gomel, Minsk is on Svisloch, and the city of Pinsk was named after its main water artery – the Pina River.

An interesting fact from VETLIVA: although Belarus is called the “blue sea”, the number of lakes in the country is significantly less – there are 20,800 rivers.

Rivers in Belarus

Top of the rivers of Belarus according to VETLIVA:

The longest river is the Dnieper . It is the fourth longest river in Europe, with a total length of 2,145 km (including 690 km of its course in Belarus). As the classic wrote, “A rare bird will fly to the middle of the Dnieper!

The shortest river is Skema . This river is the exact opposite of the Dnieper: its length is only about 200 m. (the opinions differ: someone says about 200 m, someone says that it has only 166 m).

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The biggest river is the Dnieper . This river is worthy at once two places of our top. It is also considered the deepest river in Belarus.

The beauty of Belarusian rivers

The cleanest river is Western Dvina . Unfortunately, the problem of river pollution is very acute for Belarus. The most polluted rivers are Svisloch, Berezina, Neman, Bug, Mukhavets, Vilia, Dnieper, Sozh and Pripyat. But the level of nitrates in the Western Dvina is minimal and almost harmless.

The most beautiful river is the Narochanka. Of course, this indicator is subjective, but you can understand it. This is the only river that originates in the lake of the same name. By the way, everything here disposes to make rafting or go for a water trip on the river.

The most historically important river is the Berezina . Here, of course, you can also argue, but if we talk about the war with Napoleon, then doubts disappear at once. There is a memorial at the crossing place of the French army, which was fatal for the emperor, and festivals of historical reconstruction of those events are often held. Belarus constantly hosts events of that kind, and VETLIVA has collected the coolest of them in this article.

“Lungs of Europe”: the marshes

The nature of Belarus: the swamps

This statement is fully true. Belarus is located exactly in the center of Europe (if you visit the tour in Polotsk, you can even take a photo next to the memorial “Geographical Center of Europe”) and supplies this part of the world with the purest oxygen. One hectare of swamp removes 550-1880 kilograms of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere annually. Our entire 1.7 million hectare “wetland wealth” is as effective at clearing the atmosphere as 20 million hectares of forest.

Interesting fact from VETLIVA: draining wetlands is like a real disaster or a wildfire. A few hectares of drained swamps are equal to cutting down 10-20 hectares of forests.

Interesting facts about forests in Belarus

Forests in Belarus

The forest is a “3-in-1” natural treasure. It purifies the air, gives shelter to animals and birds, and is a natural cure for many diseases. It is not for nothing that the vast majority of sanatoriums are situated right in the vicinity of the biggest forests of Belarus: the climate and the local air itself contribute to recovery of holiday-makers. The air in the forest is enriched with ozone, purified from dust and harmful substances, and in the warmer months the amount of useful substances increases. The air most saturated with phytoncides, and therefore therapeutic, noted in the coniferous forests, especially they are rich in pine, maple, jasmine. In general, mixed forests are more typical for Belarus. However, if you are wondering where the pine forests are in Belarus, the answer is simple: the further north you go, the more coniferous plants prevail.

Natural Treasures of Belarus

VETLIVA has prepared for you a list of the most interesting facts about forests in Belarus :

40% of the country’s territory is covered by forests, and the green color on the Belarusian flag refers to this.

The largest and the oldest forest in Europe – Belovezhskaya Pushcha – is the national pride and property of Belarus. The Europe’s largest mammal, the European bison, lives here, as do the tallest century-old trees. In short, by all accounts, it’s the steepest not only in Belarus, but in all Europe.

After the Chernobyl accident, many territories were contaminated with radioactive substances and the Polessky State Radiation and Ecological Reserve was created. Human intervention is minimal, there is an opportunity to observe the development of wildlife.

In hot weather, the Ministry of Forestry establishes a ban on visiting the forests. You can see the map of bans and restrictions directly online – the information is updated every day.

Forest plants are represented by 28 species of trees and 70 species of shrubs. Birds and animals of the forests of Belarus are much more – 76 species of mammals and 300 species of birds. Many species are protected by law – there is a Red Book for this purpose.

National parks, protected areas, reserves

National Parks of Belarus

National parks and nature reserves are specially protected areas with a special regime that limits human interference with the natural state of nature.

Belovezhskaya Pushcha. Comments are, perhaps, unnecessary. The bisons live here, there is the residence of the Belarusian Santa Claus and there are trees whose life years are counted not in tens but in hundreds years! The tourist part of the park has a developed infrastructure: here you can find Belarusian cuisine restaurants, comfortable hotels and the organization of excursions around the wilderness area.

Berezinsk biosphere reserve. Meadows, forests, reservoirs and bogs are represented on its territory. The variety of scenery is off the scale!

VETLIVA recommends: take a tour here for a few days. To walk a bear trail, to see with your own eyes the Big Five European big mammals, to raft on the Berezina river – everyone will find something for themselves here.

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The National Park “Braslav Lakes”. There are no words to describe the marvelous beauty of Braslav region, but we shall try. Some of the best lakes in Belarus are waiting for the lovers of fishing, diving, water walks and wonderful Belarusian nature. The water here is as transparent as glass, and the species diversity of animals, birds and plants strikes the imagination!

Narochansky National Park. The land of blue lakes of Belarus falls in love at first sight. No one remains indifferent after seeing Naroch in the pre-dawn or sunset rays, bathing in the heat in its cool waters. You can also taste smoked eel and feed swans; it is hardly possible to imagine the most perfect family holiday in Belarus.

VETLIVA recommends: if you are torn between Narochansky region and Braslav lakes, this article will help you to choose.

Pripyatsky National Park. It is a real cranberry paradise on the Polesie – more than 500 hectares are planted with this aromatic berry, which has long ago become the symbol of Belarus. Its “feature” is the safari park through which you can take a fascinating journey with immersion in the atmosphere of wildlife and interesting locations (the tavern, the estate of Santa Claus, etc.).

Pripyatski National Park in Belarus

In Belarus, there are wildlife sanctuaries – a type of territories where hunting is temporarily prohibited or where plants are under special protection. Depending on their importance, they can be of national and local importance.

Also zakazniks can be:

Hydrological . Under protection are the territories “Zaozerye”, “Podvelikiy Mokh”, “Shvakshty” and others;

Landscape . These include unique natural complexes “Yelnia”, “Nalibokskaya Pushcha”, “Vygonoshchanskoe”, “Olman bogs” and others.

Biological . For example, “Sporovsky”, “Luninsky”, “Ruzhanskaya Pushcha”, etc.

Wetlands . These include the reserves of national importance “Drozhbitka-Svina”, “Yanka”, the floodplain of the river Sozh, etc.

There is nothing easier than to see all this with your own eyes. You can go on an excursion, or you can go on your own. The infrastructure is so developed, that you won’t have to worry about such vital problems as accommodation and food (especially if you use our recommendations from this article).

Breathe deep, have fun, and have the best vacation ever!

Travel and enjoy the wonderful nature of Belarus

Even if you’re a city dweller to your bones, sometimes you want a change of scenery and see something other than high-rise buildings. In that case, the nature of Belarus awaits you – beautiful, multifaceted and invigorating. Rivers, lakes, marshes, forests, meadows – no photos can capture their beauty. Travel, get to know Belarus with VETLIVA and keep reading our Blog.

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Holidays in Belarus 2022 -11 reasons to go and what to see

I have already told in this article why and how to get tour insurance online.

Everyone speaks Russian in Belarus.

The Russian language is spoken in Belarus. In my opinion, it is even better than the Belarusian language.

All locals speak Russian and most of them even without an accent, so you won’t have any problems finding a common language with the natives here.

Signs, menus in restaurants, television – all in Russian, at least duplicated. So, for those for whom foreign languages are difficult – in Belarus there will be no problems with the language barrier. But there are peculiarities, too. What are they? Well, as for example in this funny video, advertising language courses of the Belarusian language with Sherlock Holmes in the “leading role”.

Well, the grammar-nazi here you can go crazy with such an abundance of “mistakes” in our Russian words, especially at first.

All these “Chugunachnye vakzaly”, “Kamsamolskaya”, “Byarozavy sok”, etc., etc. at first they strongly attract attention … How you hear and write it – that’s the main rule of the Belarusian language.

Which is certainly convenient, but hardly familiar to the Russian eye.

It is easy and inexpensive to get to Belorussia

Tourists from the European part of Russia go to Belarus with their cars, but it is worth remembering that transport system in the country is well developed and, if you want, you can go to Belarus by train or by plane.

Moscow – Belarus by Car

It’s very easy to get from central Russia to Belorussia by car – 700 km are quite manageable by an ordinary car. The roads are excellent, beautiful scenery, if you have the opportunity and desire, why not take a ride?

Trip will take about 9-10 hours. On the map below there are different automobile routes from Moscow to Minsk.

To Belarus by train

From the Byelorussian Station in Moscow you can go … to Belorussia. Minsk, Brest, Mogilev, Vitebsk … almost any city in the country, large and small can be reached by train.

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Tickets cost from 3.4 thousand rubles in the coach, travel time is about 9 hours.

As an alternative – you can also go to Minsk by BlaBlaCar – there are enough offers in this direction. The trip costs from 1 thousand rubles per person.

In Belarus by plane

But the fastest way to Belarus is by plane. You get 15 direct flights from Moscow to Minsk every day, a little over an hour in the sky and here you are on the Belarusian soil.

The flight there and back from Moscow costs about RUB 5,000 per person. It’s even cheaper than the train.

One way I flew to Minsk from Moscow by Aeroflot, and the other way from Minsk to St. Petersburg by Belarusian airline Belavia (those are the planes with cornflowers).

What was surprising, even on this short flight, was the provision of food on board. It would seem that someone takes a bus from home to work, but no one even thinks

At the Minsk airport, to avoid waiting for a cab after long flights with change-overs, I ordered a transfer from the airport via Qiwi-taxi.

Immediately upon arrival a driver was waiting for us and drove us to the right address. The cost is comparable with the local bambilians, but you do not have to deal with currency exchange on arrival or look for a driver at the airport (which is always more expensive in any city in the world). A driver from Kivitaxi will find you there and take you to the car, and he will also help you carry the bags.

Architecture in Minsk: Back to USSR and futurism

The main thing they talk about when they talk about recreation in Belarus is that it’s a country preserve of the Soviet Union. Stalinist houses are interspersed with futuristic buildings, where you sometimes get the feeling that you are not in Minsk at all, but in Singapore,

The apotheosis of futurism in Minsk is the famous National Library of Belarus, a glass building in the shape of a diamond, built in 2002. The building is one of the symbols of the city – the image of the library can be found on magnets, postcards and other souvenirs.

For me, the library building was the first in the list of attractions of Minsk, from which I began to look at the city.

Besides the fact that this library building is interesting from the outside, so even inside you can take a tour and even ascend to the observation deck to the height of the 23-storey building.

And next to the library is a small and cozy park, where, as elsewhere in Minsk -0 clean, quiet and not crowded. Indeed, as if in Singapore!

For those who are nostalgic of the Soviet Union or for those who are familiar with the Soviet times only through films and books it will be very interesting to plunge into the era of stagnation with its pros and cons, with reservations, of course. (There were no casinos in the Soviet Union, for example, or maybe I do not remember them.)

The iconic building and perhaps the most famous architectural landmark of the Soviet era and another symbol of Minsk can be safely called – “Gates of Minsk. Two symmetrical towers in the Stalin Empire style – with towers and statues of worker, collective farmer, engineer and soldier, the left tower is decorated by a German clock 3.5 meters in diameter.

These towers are located on Privokzalnaya square directly opposite the railway station, and are especially good in the evening with lighting.

But in general the general spirit of the Soviet Union has remained in Belarus – the same Stalinist buildings in the center of Minsk, reporting about the success of agriculture on television and even in the stores with products “those from childhood” about which people are nostalgic and repost memes with photos in “classmates”.

Rest in sanatoriums of Belarus

Health resorts in Belarus is another side especially for people like me “exhausted from the narzanom,” in need of peace, solitude and comfort. You understand, birds are singing and flowers are blooming. For this reason I started my vacation exactly in the sanatorium district of Minsk – in Zhdanovichi. The long way is always rather tiresome and the resorts in Belarus are quite numerous, situated around the largest cities of the country, you just have time to choose.

If you want in the sanatorium in Belarus can come on a tour, where everything is already planned and do not have to bother with the transfers, hotel reservations, besides, it is even more profitable than to organize a spa vacation in Belarus.

Of course, if you buy a trip to my favorite Level-travel 8).

Belarus – the country of 11 thousand lakes

Belarus is a blue country with 11 thousand lakes, big and small: 10% of the country is water!

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Most of the lakes are situated in the north and north-west. It is here that all lovers of outdoor recreation should head.

To look at the lakes is a good incentive to visit different regions of Belarus, not only Minsk.

Well, practically near each lake are those resorts, where the nature itself treats, as they say in such cases.

Let me list the largest and most famous lakes in Belarus and where they are located:

  • The largest natural body of water in Belarus is Lake Naroch (about 70 square kilometers). Lake Naroch is located in the Minsk region, Myadel district. It is also the most famous lake in Belarus on the shores of which there are many resorts, tourist centers and even the famous children’s recreation center “Zubrenok”.
  • Braslav Lakes are 50 lakes in the Braslovsky district of the Vitebsk region. The most popular lake in Belarus among vacationers is the lake Drivyaty, which combines the waters of almost all the lakes of the Braslav group.
  • The Pearl necklace, which stretches for 18 km around Ostrovetschina, is 14 Sarochanskie lakes.
  • Lake Osveiskoe in the Verhnedvinsk district of the Vitebsk region.
  • Lake Obsterno in the Miorsky district of the Vitebsk region.
  • Lake Selyava in the Krupsky district of the Minsk region.
  • The lake Myadel in Myadel district, Minsk region is famous for its unusually clear water.

Storks in Belarus

Perhaps, for residents of the south and central Russia, storks are not so exotic. But for me it is almost like a safari in Africa, and this May these amazing big birds were a real discovery for me here in Belarus, where this bird is one of the recognizable national symbols and is present in souvenirs for tourists – from fridge magnets to soft toys.

You can meet storks in Belarus in the rural part of the country. And a trip to the lakes can facilitate such meeting.

For some reason, birds, despite the fact that they are quite shy and do not depend on humans for food, like to settle next to people, choosing old stove-pipes or generally some high incomprehensible pins which somehow hold quite large nests.

To see the old Belarusian peasant life you can take a excursion to Dudutki.

Belovezhskaya Pushcha

Since my childhood, the song of the Pesnyar band about Belovezhskaya Pushcha has been my main association with Belorussia. A little later, from my history books, I remembered Belovezhskaya Pushcha as the place where an important event in the history of the USSR – signing of a document on the division of the country – took place.

But the main reason why I went here myself and why I advise it is that Belovezhskaya Pushcha is one of the most ancient relict forests of Europe, the earliest records of which can be found dating back to the 10th or 11th centuries.

Even Vladimir Monomakh came to Belovezhskaya Pushcha to hunt. In general, Belovezhskaya Pushcha was a favorite place to come and hunt for different nobility at all times. I do not remember who exactly wrote, but I was deeply impressed by the information that for the amusement of the nobility, one of these organized hunts in the 19th century made Belovezhskaya Pushcha a real bloody mess of killed animals…

The place is certainly not comparable with our Siberian taiga in its wildness, because Belovezhskaya Pushcha in its present format is just some big badly maintained park with asphalted paths, caged animals and attractions for tourists, but it has its own aesthetics. You just have to find it.

A real oak grows in the Belovezhskaya Pushcha and it is more than 600 years old, its height is 300 meters and its girth is 200 meters!

It goes without saying that the bison live here! Giant bulls with fierce temper and shaggy skin are the main symbol of Belovezhskaya Pushcha as well as of Belarus. About bison magnets, I think, it’s not necessary to say? 8)

It’s scary to imagine, but “thanks to” man the bison could disappear as a species at all. Already in 1919 the last free-living female bison was killed. By 1926 all the bison on the planet remained only in some zoos – in Sweden, Poland, Germany, and Great Britain. After the war, they started to restore the population of bison in Byelorussia from the five specimens bought in the zoos. The work was not in vain; at the moment, about 500 bison live in Belovezhskaya Pushcha.

By the way, bears were killed here long ago, too, although they used to live in Belovezhskaya Pushcha. And now there are only two bears here, and they are in cages. It is sad…

Memories of the Great Patriotic War

The Great Patriotic War caused much damage to Belarus, where almost every family has its bitter memories of this tragedy. Unfortunately, there are very many places where the war left its terrible mark.

In memory of this terrible tragedy in Belarus were created memorial complexes, affecting by their scale and concentration of the pain and suffering that the inhabitants of our then common country – the USSR – experienced during the war.

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Khatyn, Trostenets, the Barrow of Glory, the Museum of the Great Patriotic War in Minsk and here – the Brest Fortress, the largest and most famous monuments to these terrible events in Belarus.

The legendary Brest Fortress is the place where the Great Patriotic War officially began. My opinion about this place after the trip was contradictory. Perhaps, I will write a separate post about it someday.

On the one hand, with your head you understand WHAT it was (the movie with the same title can refresh your memory), but on the other hand, when you see what an eclectic tourist attraction it has become now – with a freshly restored church (which, for the sake of historical justice, during the war was actually a cinema), carefully repaired holes in the walls of the fortress, with children merrily crawling around battle tanks with wooden assault rifles, and a cafe located right in the bunker where, according to the plaque, dozens of people were killed… Somehow, all of this does not fit in my head. Maybe I’m that impressionable?

But in any case, I think that for those who don’t see the difference between a soccer match and the war, such places, soaked in war grief, are simply must-sees, so that they finally realize that this shouldn’t be repeated, even in jest…

Castles and Palaces of Belarus

The war in Belarus has affected not only people, but also cities.

The first mention of Minsk dates back to 1067, but now this city does not look its age at all, because after the Great Patriotic War, Minsk was almost razed to the ground.

The city was built anew, and only a small “patch” in the center, the so-called “Upper Town”, can tell at least a little bit about the real old Minsk of the pre-Soviet period.

But even here you can count the old buildings on the fingers. The Minsk city hall was destroyed back in 1857 by order of Nicholas I, and in 2003 it was rebuilt on its original site.

But for a sense of history it is worthwhile to walk around the Upper Town and pay a visit to the Trinity Suburb, as it best represents the historical buildings of Minsk.

You can make an impression of pre-Soviet Belorussia, even more so, of medieval Belorussia, by only some small but very remarkable places! Of course, I’m talking about Belarusian castles, where every tourist should visit.

The most famous and beautiful castles of Belarus:

  • Lidsky Castle or Gedimin Castle – the oldest castle in Belarus, which is more than 7 centuries old, is also notable because, unlike other castles, it is the best preserved after the war. Today, even knightly tournaments are held here for tourists to create the atmosphere.
  • Kossowski Castle – 19th century, located in the small town of Kossovo. The castle had 130 rooms, each of which had its own name and purpose. In the White room balls were held, in the Black room cards were played and in the Pink room musical evenings were held.
  • The Nesvizhsky castle was a residence of the Radziwill family of the 16th century with 365 rooms according to the number of days in the year.
  • Mir Castle – a castle from 1620, had several different owners including the Radziwills, the main pride of the castle, where there was a large-scale reconstruction, as it was severely damaged during the war, is the wall of the 16th century with animal footprints and traces of branches.

Mir and Nesvizh castles are listed by UNESCO and are very popular with tourists, usually combined in excursions in one trip.

Belarusian cuisine and souvenirs

So? Who here likes to eat and is not on a diet? Hurry up to Belarus! For dranniki, zeppelins, machanka, and babka. This is the name of the main dishes of the Belarusian cuisine.

Judging by the various reviews on the Internet and on Foursquare, “Vasilki” is the most popular Belarusian restaurant in Minsk. Judging by the queues in the restaurants of this network, many people like it here.

But in my personal opinion, in the restaurant Draniki everything is much tastier and there are less people, although the restaurant is located right next to City Hall.

I especially liked the salmon draniki with sour cream.

The zeppelins turned out to be a dish remotely resembling Buryat posies. Of course, posies are better – there is more meat in them and the dough is thinner.

Well, since we started talking about personal human interests, I will say a little about the Belarusian souvenirs.

You should definitely go to Belarus to buy wonderful linen products – starting from napkins for 3 rubles and ending with ethnic costumes and dresses for hundreds of Belarusian rubles.

And of course Belarusian sweets and chocolates. Although “Kommunarka” is now sold even in our Siberia.

I’m going to finish my post with a short video which lists 12 more reasons to visit Belarus.

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