Białowieża National Park

Białowieża National Park - the realm of European bison. A sanctuary of wildlife. A paradise for botanists, nature photographers and all kinds of travellers looking for primeval landscapes. It is also the only natural formation in Poland entered into the UNESCO World Heritage List. Every lover of nature should visit this fascinating place.

Białowieża National ParkPoland

fot. POT Fotopolska

The Białowieża National Park is the best preserved primeval forest in Europe. The biggest attraction are of course the bison. These majestic and only seemingly lazy animals graze in herds on the meadows. They mainly feed on grass and tree shoots (in winter they have to be additionally fed with hey). The European bison weighs nearly a ton, and the height at the withers often is almost two metres. The bison are the biggest animals of European forests and for that reason they have no natural predators. Therefore, they feel quite secure in their environment and they are not skittish. They tread the forests in a dignified manner, nibbling the grass. They are also unafraid of people, thanks to which we can watch them without any problems. Let’s remember, however, not to get too close. These animals are naturally calm, but when a bison feels threatened, it may attack. Despite its large size, an enraged bison may develop the speed of up to 40 km/h, so a human stands no chance in a 100 m race with it. Unfortunately, the story of those good-natured animals is painted in black colours: all bison living in the wild have been eradicated by humans. Those which may be encountered in the park come from animals bred in captivity. The beginnings of the re-established population constituted only 7 animals.

When in Białowieża, you cannot miss out on the European Bison Show Reserve. The vast area allows you to see various species living in semi-wild conditions. Apart from the bison, there are wolves, lynxes, deer, moose, and even such unusual animals as Polish tarpan horses. It is a species that comes originally from Poland and used to inhabit our forests. Sadly, the horses have shared the fate of the bison – all animals in the wild have been eradicated by humans.  At the moment there are attempts to re-establish the tarpan population, also in Białowieża National Park. You can admire all animals living here while walking the broad, forest paths. There are fenced off paddock areas on both sides of the path.

The prevalence of deciduous trees is characteristic for Białowieża. These are primarily oak forests, which are rare in Poland, but there is also a lot of wetland vegetation, so alder swamps and marshy meadows. What is interesting, for the most part they are primeval forests, so areas where the original trees and undergrowth are preserved. These are usually very old forests, almost half of the trees have more than 80 years.  Another characteristic of the Białowieża forest is the large amount of fallen decaying tree trunks, which account for its specific bio-diversity. The dead trees not only fertilise the soil, but also enable the development of many rare fungi and animals. Shrew mice nest in them and it serves as food for the insects.

The Białowieża National Park is also perfect for bike rides. You will find many bike routes here, which are not too exhausting. Most are flat forest paths. The routes may be planed according to your needs - it may be a short excursion or a full-day escapade. One of the more interesting routes go through Hwoźna Protected Area, which is a little bit more open for the tourists than the main reserve. Białowieża is also ideal for hiking day trips. If you choose your route right, you may encounter a bison herd – some routes have special viewpoints set up where you can admire these amazing animals. If you are passionate about photography, do not forget your camera, because the forest will provide you ample photo opportunities.

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http://veturo.pl/article/419/bialowieski-park-narodowy-en/