The outskirts of Ráckeve are bursting with activity and outing possibilities
Go Horseback Riding in Apajpuszta!
In the setting of the rich shepherding traditions of Hungary’s plains, APAJPUSZTA welcomes visitors with new, attractive and authentic Hungarian flavors not 20 km (12 miles) outside of Ráckeve. It is an excellent activity opportunity for anyone who wish to experience a few hours, or even a full day, of relaxation in an authentic plains setting. Riding in a coach, horse shows, horseback riding tours… everyone can find an equestrian activity to their liking, whether old or young, small or big.
Sample the Tasty Wines of Szigetcsép!
Biking along the easement roads of the nearby villages, Szigetcsép, Szigetszentmárton and Szigetújfalu, is a pleasant pastime in almost every season. Here a 275-acre vineyard provides the grapes to be raw material for the products of Gál Vineyards and Winery, available for sampling in its wine tasting room that was built in 2004. Throughout most of its history the island was part of the royal demesne, with its recorded winemaking tradition dating back to 1569 as attested to by the wine tax records of that year.
When it comes to Szigetcsép, it would confound all but the most die-hard wine experts to place the village on the map of wine-growing regions. Szigetcsép is situated at the southern tip of Csepel Island and it takes a bit of sleuthing to figure out that it is really the northwestern tip of the Kunság wine region.
This is where a wine grower and vintner couple, Csaba Gál and Éva Dignisz, Mrs. Gál, pursue their chosen trade. In their vineyard extending over approximately 236 acres, they grow mostly white grapes such as Italian Riesling or Welschriesling, Rhine Riesling, Ezerjó (Biella, its Hungarian name meaning “a thousand times good”), Szürkebarát or Grey Monk (Pinot gris), and Cserszeg Spicy wine (a Gewürztraminer variety), though they also have some red varieties such as Pinot noir, Kékfrankos (Blue Frankish) and Cabernet sauvignon. As wine growers and vintners they are in the fortuitous position of being able to follow and control the path of their wines from its very beginnings, cultivating the grape vines, to the art of ripening their ready wines.
Their winery produces about 120 thousand bottles a year, 80% of which they sell themselves via direct retailing. As a big surprise this year, they took home 2 of the 6 Champion titles that went to Hungarian wineries as best in their categories at the Vinagora Wine Competition, despite their status as a small winery from a less “noble” wine growing region: their 2008 Szigetújfalu Grey Monk won in the category of white wines, while their 2008 Szigetszentmárton Blue Frankish took the highest prize in the rosé category.
You, too, should taste their award-winning wines at the Gál Winery!
Seek Adventure in the Medieval Ambiance of Park Emese in Szigethalom!
Situated at Szigethalom, in the vicinity of Ráckeve, Park Emese brings to life an early medieval village from the time of Saint Stephen, Hungary’s first Christian king who was crowned in the year 1000. The medieval Royal County Hall showcases archeological and cultural objects attesting to the legacy of the age of Árpád, the chieftain who united the nomadic Hungarian tribes and led them to settle, at the turn of the tenth century, the land that would one day become Hungary, and of the Hungarians of his time, as well as the contemporary peoples of Europe.
In this theme village extending over 30 acres, “people of the Royal County” go about their daily tasks wearing period clothing and pursuing trades of craft, animal husbandry, farming and fishing, all the way to armed battling. All visitors are invited to take an active part in all events and in the life of the park. And what’s more…
Hike the Snowflake (Tőzike) Educational Trail in Szigetbecse!
The Snowflake (Tőzike) Educational Trail starts at the Becse (a village with a name that means “Isle Treasure”) side of the oxbow, where Kereszt (or “Cross”) Street reaches the Danube. This 1 km (0.6 mile) trail was inaugurated in 2007. It was named after one of the loveliest flowers of the flood plain, the indigenous spring and summer snowflake (Leucojum vernum and L. aestivum). Along the educational trail, five information display boards have been erected in spots easily reached by families pushing strollers or by the elderly.
The island-side landscape is a mosaic of cultivated fields and patches of forest edged by a narrow strip of aspen trees by the riverbank, a grove whose soft denizens admire their white reflections in the icy mirrors of the Danube on a winter’s day…
The 5 information display boards placed along the short Snowflake (Tőzike) Educational Trail survey the flora and fauna of this area. The first board serves introductory purposes, while the second one is directly by the bank of the oxbow. Its topic matches its location: aquatic habitats.
A playground and an overlook have been established in the meadow between the second and third information display boards. Here visitors can learn how far a frog, a deer or a flea can jump starting from a stationary position, and children can test their knowledge. The outlook tower also serves as an excellent bird watching station.
The third information station explores the traits of local hunting.
After a short walk, the path leads into a forest. The tree trunks here no longer sport the customary aspen white but are rather dark brown, and their bark shows up novel patterns. Deeper grooves on the tree trunks signal our entry into the oak grove. As display board number 4 announces, we have now arrived at the hardwood grove of Becse Island. Ulmus laevis, the European white elm, Quercus robur, the English oak, and Populus nigra, the black poplar are identified by small wooden plaques placed at their feet.
The fifth, and last, information board awaiting visitors at the heart of the grove of oak, ash, and elm tells the tale of the reedy marshes. As the Danube’s Ráckeve branch is regulated by the Kvassay Dam, no more floods are visited upon this territory. Periodic flooding for these forests, necessary for their survival, is furnished by snow melt and torrential rains.
Take a pleasant walk here, enjoy the rejuvenating fresh air and the cavalcade of plants, and get to know the denizens of this island world in the course of a pleasant, easy outing along the Snowflake (Tőzike) Educational Trail!
Go fishing on the Angel Isle!
A few minutes out of Ráckeve a gorgeous sight greets travelers.
There is a small island here, 2 kilometers (1.2 miles) long and overgrown with sedges and reeds, and the only marks of civilization around it are a few small piers. This magical, tiny island can only be approached by boat. According to legend, this island once belonged to the hunting grounds of King Matthias. When the king passed by in his barge, he is said to have exclaimed delightedly: “This is an angelic place!” According to the legend, this is where the island got its name.
A few hours fishing on this beautiful little island, far away from the noise of the world, is the definition of recreation and meditation.
Information about acquiring a fishing day pass can be requested at the reception.
Discover the Kiskunság National Park!
It was established as the second national park of Hungary in 1975 in the land between the rivers Danube and Tisza. The National Park, which consisted of 6 units at the time of founding, today has 9 units. It covers 50,523 km2 (19,507.04 square miles). The aim of the Kiskunság National Park was the preservation of the characteristic appearance of the land between the rivers Danube and Tisza, the natural values of this landscape, its geological formations and waters, as well as scientific research of these values and their presentation for education and information.
As a recognition of its outstanding natural values, two-third of the area of the KNP was declared a Biosphere Reservation by the UNESCO Program Man and Biosphere (MAB) in 1979. The following areas belong under the effect of the Ramsar Convention: the lakes and heaths of Upper Kiskunság, Lake Kolon of Izsák, the Nature Reserves of Pusztaszer and Mártély, and the Salt Lake of Csongrád-Bokros.
Three further nature reserve districts and 18 landscape protection areas are under nature protection. The areas of Natura 2000, which cover 1,800 km2 (695 square miles), partially overlap with the regions of the National Park and other nature reserves, but they are roughly three times their size, serving the objective of preserving the habitats and species of animals and plants of all-European significance.
The plains landscape of the area between the rivers Danube and Tisza is characterized by the multitude of diverse habitats. The backwaters along the river Tisza, its flood-basin forests, the digs and the flood breach points managed in former times, the open sandy grasses with juniper and poplar among the wind-blown sand dunes of Homokhátság and the flood-swept grasses of Turjándikék, the forest steppes with pedunculate oaks, the salt-marshes and heaths, or the still populated world of farmsteads will only reveal their real secrets to people of patience.
The Landscape Regions of Kiskunság National Park
The Heaths of Upper Kiskunság
At first sight, this area resembles Hortobágy. Following the regulation of the river, salt marshes began to spread upon the former flood-basins of the Danube, with the flora primarily switching to salt-loving or salt-tolerant species like tall fescue, marsh rosemary, chamomile and santonica. Valuable animal species are bustards, red-rooted falcon and Eurasian stone-curlew. Watery habitats were formed on the traces of the habitat reconstruction, attracting waterfowl.
The Lakes of Upper Kiskunság
Saline lakes and marshes formed in the depressions of the region. This rare habitat type accommodates valuable flora and fauna. Its characteristic plants are white bentgrass and false sheep’s fescue. Pied avocets, black-winged stilts and common terns have formed nesting communities. Eurasian stone-curlews nest in the higher parts.
Lake Kolon of Izsák
Reeds, swamps, willow marshes and tussocky areas formed in the place of the lake areas spread out in former times. They serve as permanent nesting and feeding areas for the birds. Purple and grey herons, great and little egrets can be all found in these areas. Mud-minnows and weather-fish are the most valuable fish species of this region.
The Sandy Mounds of Fülöpháza
The drifts of sand of the region were formed by winds blowing from the northwest to the southeast. The landscape of sandhills still changing their appearance to this very day. The winds carry the sand on, building dunes out of it elsewhere. Plants can grow on the side protected from the wind. Fumana, Dianthus, blue-flowered globe-thistle and Onosma arenarium adapt well to the dry climate. Most of the animal species are insects, serving as food for the sand lizards. Firebirds, bee-eaters and European rollers are valuable bird species.
The Grasslands around Orgovány
Carses periodically covered with water characterize the Eastern part of the area. Orchids are among its values to protect. Many types of waterfowl live here in the nesting season. The butterfly Rhyparoides flavidus metelkana is its most valuable species. Sandhill habitats are found on its western side, which, in contrast to those of Fülöpháza, do not wander around. The characteristic flora is open sandy grassland with junipers, its highly protected plant species is Ephedra. Eurasian stone-curlews and European rollers also nest here.
The Sandhill Habitats and Heaths of Bócsa-Bugac
This is the largest and most complex region of the National Park. Its region has a variety of sandy heaths, sandhills, salty lakes and swamps. Valuable plant species of the sandy surface are sand iris, Colchicum arenarium and Astragalus dasyenthus. This is the only place on the Great Plains where the saw-legged grasshopper: Saga Pedo is found, while the snake species Vipera ursinii rakosiensis enjoys international protection. The Hungarian grey cattle, the Ratska sheep and the Mangalitsa pig raised here comprise a gene bank for animal husbandry.
Szikra and the Grasslands of Alpár
The value of the region is provided by the Dead Tisza with its backwater woods and swamps. Many hydrophytes find the conditions to live here, for example water soldiers and forget-me-not. Its most valuable plants are feather-foil and the chrysanthemum of the Tisza banks. You can see Chlidonia terns here as well as pond bats (Myotis dasycneme).
This is where the largest continuous calcareous-sodic salty marsh area of Hungary can be found. When the region is under water, waterfowl appear and predators follow them, among them snake eagles, imperial eagles and white-tailed eagles. Plovers, collared pratincoles, bustards and Eurasian stone-curlews all nest here.
The Grasslands of Peszéradacs
Among the variable habitats here, you can see marshes, swampy grasslands, sand hills and sand forests. You can find woodcock orchids, fly orchids and spider orchids, swamp iris and pyramidal orchids among the special plants. Natural phytocenoses (plant ecologies – for example, closed sandy oak woods/oaks with lilies of the valley) can be found here together with man-made plant ecology units. Its most characteristic plants are pedunculate oaks and white poplars.