The Kányavár Island
The arched wooden bridge built of wooden beams in the eighties has now become a symbol of Kis-Balaton. We can enjoy a wonderful view of the groves from the bridge. We can admire special waterfowl such as the great egret, the gray heron, or the cormorant, which is less popular with anglers. On the 1.5-kilometer-long "Búbosvöcsök" educational trail, 15 boards show the fish, birds and mammals living in the Kis-Balaton region. You can also go fishing on the island and look at the water and the hills of Zala from two lookout towers.
If you would rather go inside...
The Kis-Balaton Visitor Center is the latest exhibition in the Balaton Uplands National Park. An excellent choice for the whole family all year round, with the interactive exhibition even the little ones won't get bored! On the green roof structure of the building, which resembles game passages, you can walk on an interactive educational trail. From here you can clearly see the winter bird feeders and hear birds chirping. There is a gift shop and restaurant in the building as well, and children can enjoy the fresh air in the playground in the courtyard, while parents can refresh themselves with coffee. The cinema is part of the exhibition, where we can get to know the winter-summer, autumn-spring wildlife of Kis-Balaton through touching quotes from the novels of István Fekete Tüskevár and Téli berek during a half-hour film, all in the interpretive interpretation of Gábor Reviczky.
In the interactive part of the exhibition, we can find out what invasive species are and why do they mean danger to the flora and fauna of the region. It turns out what the role of Kis-Balaton is in the protection of the water quality of Lake Balaton, and we can even examine water samples ourselves.
If you want to see even more of this magical world, you can take part in a canoe tour organized by the Balaton Uplands National Park from early spring to late autumn. It is only possible to paddle on the Hévíz stream until the mid-March, but on the Gyöngyös stream, which carries the water of the Hévíz stream towards Lake Balaton, the regular tours are available during the year as well. The end point of the rowing tour is Diás Island, where the hut of Matula evokes the atmosphere of the groves. At the István Fekete Memorial next to the small wooden hut, you could also delve into the hidden wonders of Kis-Balaton during a very interesting exhibition.
Secret sights off the beaten path
Most places in Kis-Balaton like the Diás Island can only be visited with a guide, but there are quite a few romantic and protected areas that can be explored freely without a guide. Next to the river Zala, you can find the 'Madárvárta' at the dam of Lake Hídvégi, which was built by students from Zurich. The building was made of thousands of acacia logs without any nails or screws. Next to the parking lot, about 100 meters away, you can find the 'fish ladder', where you can marvel at the cavalcade of fish in the spring. The fish ladder between the river Zala and Lake Hidvégi slows down the flow of water, so fish can easily swim in the opposite direction.
Buffaloes and other animal species
In the buffalo reserve in Kápolnapuszta, you can not only see buffalos but you can also spot susliks lurking in the grass! Even in the early 20th century, the ground squirrel was considered harmful and therefore water was into their passages, so they would be forced to move away. Other spectacular animals are the goats and donkeys in the petting zoo. In the colonies carved into the loess wall, the bee-eaters stand out with their brightly colored feathers.
But what about buffaloes? The Balaton Uplands National Park started breeding water buffaloes in 1992 in an area purchased for gene conservation. The reserve is home to the largest herd of buffalo in the country, living in great peace with the gray cattles. During the winter, the animals spend most of their time in the barn near the entrance, where we can see the traditional stock-farming in a cozy old photo next to the buffaloes. In better weather, the animals are on pasture, which is most easily reached by horse-drawn carriage ordered in the centre building. The so called black giants are also “buffalo-strong” and don’t necessarily always approach people with friendly intentions. Driving through in the pastures with a horse-drawn carriage is like being on safari. A novelty in the area of the reserve is the lookout tower, which was handed over on January 28, 2022, where we can now observe the animals from up above.
The Kis-Balaton House: a cultural travel
Next to the foundation walls of the former church of St. Adorjan and the Cyril and Methodius Memorial Column, you could enjoy the photos of the wonders of Zala County in a Millennium Monument designed by Imre Makovecz. In the letters hanging from the top of the special-shaped dome, you can read the names of the settlements of the county. At the exhibition of the Kis-Balaton House you can find out about the wildlife, and the children can have fun on the playground. Next to the Kis-Balaton House, you can reach the island of Kanyavár on an asphalted bike path on the bank of the river Zala. You can also rent a bike at the Kis-Balaton House. (Opening: March 12. Address: Zalavár, Vársziget utca 2.)
For more information on sights and programs:
8380 Hévíz, Rákóczi str. 2.
+36 83 540 131