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Little Balaton

Kányavári IslandLittle BalatonBalaton

Little Balaton is located in the southwestern part of Hungary and has been an area listed by the Convention on Wetlands of International Importance (the Ramsar Convention) since 1979. 

The larger part of the almost 150-square-kilometre area of the landscape, rich in natural and cultural value, is nationally protected and is the habitat of important flora and fauna, in particular a sizable bird population. Its best-known dwellers are heron, as well as the heraldic bird of environmental protection, the egret, but many other protected bird species also live there. 

Until the 19th century Little Balaton formed one unit with Hungary’s largest lake, Lake Balaton. At the time, the River Zala laid its sediment here before flowing into Lake Balaton. Today, the water-covered area of Little Balaton, known for its fluctuating water level, has significantly decreased, and farmers in the area have also removed areas suitable for cultivation, further reducing the area of wetlands in the region.


To curb the pollution caused by these processes and the increase in agriculture, the West-Transdanubian Environment and Water Directorate developed a plan in the 1970's for the rehabilitation of the marshlands. As a result of the work carried out in two stages, the marshlands revived rapidly, creating a number of new protected habitats. Little Balaton has been a part of the Upper Balaton National Park since 1997, and is thus only open to the public with professional guides. Individual travellers who do not require a guided tour can explore Kányavári Island, the Buffalo Reserve in Kápolnapuszta and the Folk House in Vörs.