Bialowieza National Park is world-renowned, both for its population of European Bison and its famous Strictly Protected Area, where man’s intervention in its pristine nature is virtually nil. Bialowieza is the most celebrated remnant of the vast primeval forest that once covered most of central and eastern Europe. Home to elusive Lynx and Wolf, the Park also boasts Deer, Wild Boar, several species of Woodpecker and Owls and a host of other wonderful birds.
Bialowieza is situated some four hours’ drive east of Warsaw and the park that lies within Poland (152 km2) is part of a much larger forest that is shared with neighbouring Belarus. While the establishment of the park dates back to 1921, it was reopened after WW II in 1947.
The peacefulness of this place is extraordinary and lives long in the memory. On our pre-dawn walk to seek out the iconic Bison, the silence is broken only by cracking sticks underfoot, as we tread lightly along forest pathways in search of this impressive animal. The first time I laid eyes on them was one heck of a moment, one that I will remember forever. Quietly moving through the forest, our walk was disturbed by a family of Wild Boar running past. We then came upon an opening in the woods and there they were, some 7 Bison grazing in the morning mist. A magical experience.
Even back in the village of Bialowieza itself, we wander around taking in the quiet atmosphere and enjoying the lovely homes of these forest people. It’s a beautiful spot.
We are accompanied in Bialowieza by our friendly and superbly knowledgeable member of Poland’s National Parks Service. Indeed, on occasion, we’ve even been demonstrated the Polish method for regenerating their oak forests by a Forest Manager with the Polish Forestry Service.
Visiting Bialowieza makes for a wonderful trip for bird watchers and true lovers of the outdoors. It is a unique place, offering a glimpse of what our own great forests might once have looked like.
Bialowieza National Park
Visit the Park’s official website.