Forest is a magical place. It calms thoughts, relaxes and sometimes arouses curiosity. Each time, it reveals its new faces to us: vegetation, which we haven’t seen before, animals hidden somewhere in the bushes, singing birds. Since I was a child, I loved walking in the woods. A lot has changed in my life over the years, many memories faded away. However, I still remember playing in the forest, playing truant with a book on a trunk, my first night in the forest… Many things have changed in my life, but my love for the forest remained deeply rooted.
Bialowieza Forest is one of the largest and oldest forests in Europe. It is best known for the largest population of European bison, which inhabit this area. However, in these forests live about 21 thousand animal species including wolves and lynxes. Since 1976 Bialowieza Forest is on the UNESCO World Heritage List.
Very Old Forest
When walking in this forest, keep in mind that there are many very old trees untouched by man. This can sometimes pose a danger to humans. We often saw signs saying that you should not enter an area because of old rotten trees that can fall over at any time. In fact, nowhere before had we seen such an amount of old and fallen trees. The ground, on the other hand, seemed soft, like walking on a sponge.
Colourful mushrooms everywhere
Although we are not mushroom pickers, it was the mushrooms that caught our attention the most. There were lots of them everywhere. Each of different color and shape. Some were very peculiar and we had never seen them before. Of course, the vast majority of what we found was inedible, but so pretty!
When we reached Bialowieza, of course, we decided to try the local cuisine. We ordered Solianka – a sweet and sour thick soup, and babka ziemniaczana. Solianka is an obvious influence from the Russian and Ukrainian regions. The taste reminded me of a mixture of polish sour cucumber soup and cabbage soup. Very tasty and refreshing. Babka ziemniaczana and kiszka ziemniaczana are classics brought from Belarus. These are grated potatoes with pork crackling baked in the oven. It is often served with sour cream or natural yogurt. Yum!
Bialowieza Palace Park
In Białowieża, we stopped at the parking lot near the Palace Park. We paid only 10 PLN for parking for the whole day. We were even told that if we leave and come back the same day, we can simply show previously bought ticket and we won’t have to pay again. In the Palace Park there are many information boards about flora and fauna of Bialowieza Forest. Of course we knew that seeing most of those rare animals with our own eyes would be a miracle. However the flora can be admired anytime without any problems. After reading all the boards we were looking more attentively at the surrounding nature in the forest.
To see the animals, however, we decided to go to a bison reserve. This is a semi-natural reserve located a few kilometres from Bialowieza. There, you can see there not only bison, but also deer, moose, wild boars, wolves and lynx. The enclosures are quite large and animals can easily hide among trees and bushes. Some of the animals, we did not manage to see because of that. Others even posed for pictures.
This was an exceptional trip in every way. Very relaxing. Our walks resulted in hundreds of photos that we will definitely be returning to when we feel tired of the concrete jungle.