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Csónakázó-tó, Nagykanizsa, Hungary

I was sure I’d seen all there was to see in Nagykanizsa and had dutifully written it up to share with others who might find themselves in this part of southwest Hungary. But I was wrong. I’d heard rumours that there was a lake. I suspected that this was a slight exaggeration and perhaps ‘large pond’ might be a more apt description. But again, I was wrong.

The simply names Csónakázó-tó (boating lake) is home to the Kanizsa Kajak-Kenu Klub (kayak-canoe club). Rumour has it that you can rent boats and bikes from Friday to Sunday, from 10 am to 8 pm (perhaps in a post-COVID summer?). Note duly made to self to try this when it gets warm enough to hold a paddle.

A 5-km running/walking/cycling track skirts most of the lake, cutting off the top, say, 10%. It’s a great walk. A perfect turn for your daily constitutional – but not on Wednesday evenings at 6 pm – that’s when the local running club meets. There are two gyms – one buried in the forest and another more obvious 176-sqm outdoor gym that has machines to work out that upper body, strengthen those legs, and work the kinks out of any back.

The kid’s playground has lots going on, too. It took a few minutes to figure out what the somewhat evenly spaced wooden shapes were. They weren’t fenced; they were just lying there. And then it hit me – jumps for horses. This place really does cater to everyone. There has to be some sort of gymkhana here in the summer. Another note to self duly made.

They pull some big fish out of this lake. Check their Facebook page for photos. I spotted a picture of a 15.2 kg ponty. It’s mad to think that fish this size live beneath those calm, still waters.

Perhaps most interesting, though, was the discovery that this lake is part of a far longer cross-border bike route that runs through

the regions of Međimurje and Podravina in Croatia, and Zala in Hungary. It connects the regions along the rivers Drava and Mura with the shore of Lake Balaton. It includes the Danube-Drava and Balaton-felvidéki national parks in Hungary, and the Mura-Drava Regional Park in Croatia, which is also part of the international Mura-Drava-Danube biosphere reserve, protected by UNESCO.

It runs for about 265 km all told and here, by Csónakázó-tó, there’s a purpose-built rest-stop for cyclists. The bumf says if you’re an experienced amateur/competitor you could do this run in 10 hours. If you’re a fit cyclotourist, it’d take about two days. A relaxed family tour would take three to four days. I’ve no intention of putting any of this to the test, but I figure I know enough cyclists that might be interested.

From now on, I’ll be tacking on an extra hour when I do the fortnightly grocery run to Kanizsa. I’ll need to make the most of it in the cold weather before the masses make their way back.

If you’re interested in knowing more about cycling in the region, check out https://www.mozgasvilag.hu/kerekpar/hirek/kerekparral-nagy-kanizsa

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