Main river of the Bella Dvina region is the legendary Zapadnaya Dvina with its numerous tributes – Usvyacha (Usvjača), Luzhesnyanka (Lužesnjanka), Kasplya (Kasplja), Vitba, Luchosa (Lučosa) etc. Zapadnaya Dvina is a lowland river known for its winding course, numerous sandbars and small islands. Territory of the Bella Dvina region is occupied by the middle reach of the river: Gorodok and Vitebsk uplands, Braslav and North slopes of the Sventsyanskie ridges; a significant part of the region is occupied by the Polotsk and Surazh lowlands.
Within Belarus, the course width ranges from 100 m to 300 m, with frequent rapids and sandbars (for example, up the river near Vitebsk, at the spot where Disna flows into the Zapadnaya Dvina, and near Verhnedvinsk). At certain places the river valley is narrow and canyon-like; the depth of the river may reach 50 m. When reaching the Baltic plain, the river becomes wider (up to 800 m), while its valley spreads for up to 5-6 km.
Within the river basin, you will find numerous nature reserves: Chertova boroda (Devil’s beard, 2 km west from Vitebsk), Mezhozerniy, Kozyanskiy, Elnya, Boloto Moh, Korytenskiy Moh, part of Proshitskie Bolota, Glubokoe-Cherbomyslo, Bolshoe Ostrovito, Dolgoe, Beloe, Krivoe, Sosno, Richi, Yuhovichskiy, Velikoe Boloto, Fomino, Lonno, Zapolskiy, Moshno, Chistik, Zabolotie, unique part of the Yaznenskaya Dubrava forest.
In ancient times, the Zapadnaya Dvina used to be an important international road, part of the legendary trade route From the Varangians to the Greeks.
River Drissa, 183 km long, flows into the Zapadnaya Dvina in Verhnedvinsk. Drissa flows out of the south-western reach of Lake Drissy which lies in the Sinsha Landscape Reserve. Local lakes look like a precious necklace made of gems: Lake Glybo – Lake Drissy – Lake Sinsha – Lake Volobo – Lake Donskoe – Lake Prolobno – Lake Ostrovtcy – Lake Optino… Drissa basin has about ten big lakes. Drissa is a not too wide kind of river with high raising woody shores, rapids in the corners, sand and stone banks down the bed.
River Obol’ flows out of Lake Ezerische within the Nescherdo-Gorodets highland and flows into the Zapadnaya Dvina on the Polotsk lowland. There is a popular water route which offers tourists to go down the Obol’ river. The river winds through impassable bogs, pine and mixed woods, and secret forest lakes until it reaches village Kozyany. After Kozyany, the river is surrounded by high banks and has stone bars; it remains the same until it reaches its estuary.
Luchosa is a left tribute of the Zapadnaya Dvina; it runs in the Vitebsk and Liozno districts of the Vitebsk region and flows into the Zapadnaya Dvina within the territory of the Vitebsk city. The river is 20-30 m wide; in its lower course its width sometimes reaches 60 m. The river freezes in December and is covered with ice until late March. Its banks are steep and bluff.
Left tribute of the Zapadnaya Dvina, river Kasplya, flows out of the lake which bears the same name. Lake Kasplya is located on the territory of the Smolensk region of Russia, on the eastern side of the Vitebsk highland. The river is 136 km long, but only part of it (20 km) runs through Belarus. The river course is not too curvy; the river is 10-30 m wide in its upstream reach and up to 40-50 m wide in its lower reaches.
Disna is another left tribute of the Zapadnaya Dvina. It flows out of Lake Disnaj in Lithuania; major part of its course runs through the Vitebsk region in Belarus. The river is 178 km long, while its basin is about 8180 sq. km. The river begins in Lithuania, not far from its border with Belarus, and flows to the east through the Sharkovschina and Miory districts of the Vitebsk region. It flows into the Zapadnaya Dvina near the Disna town which stands in the very middle of the Zapadnaya Dvina.
River Nischa (Nišča) flows from Lake Nischa in Russia. This rapid “taiga” river with its high banks is very popular with water tourists. One of the most popular water routes starts at Lake Cherepitskoe within the Nescherdo-Gorodets highland. River Cherepitsa runs through the lake and later flows into the Nischa. You can go down the Nischa until its confluence with Drissa which then takes its waters towards the Zapadnaya Dvina.