This is a journey about nature! Following the first part of our trip in Northern Poland in the Warmia and Masuria Region we moved to Eastern Poland travelling south along the Belarus and Ukranian border. Our main objective during this trip was visiting the natural parks in Poland and their surroundings; walks in the forests, looking for wildlife, observing flowers and mushrooms and just listening to the flow of the water in streams were our daily activities. We also visited a couple of small towns but avoided visiting big cities. Below are our stops in Eastern Poland:
After we departed from Giżycko we drove for 2h30mins south east and arrived in Narwiansky Park Narodowy. This park is made of marshlands and there are wooden paths over the marshes where you can take some walks to observe the landscape and the wildlife here. We were impressed by the beautiful butterflies in the area surrounding the marshlands, but there are also other animals to observe like birds and also beavers.
This was one of the main reasons we visited Poland! I really wanted to visit Białowieża and I wasn’t ready to travel to Poland unless I was able to make it to this place. But what makes Białowieża so special? This is the oldest primeval forest in Europe; that means forest land that has been untouched by humans. Most of the forests in Europe have been logged down for wood and other trees were replanted, but this is not the case. Moreover Białowieża is home to the largest land mammal in Europe; the European Bison! I couldn’t miss the opportunity to view this beast in the wild.
Unfortunately travelling to Białowieża proved to be more complicated than ever. Białowieża forest is located on the Polish and Belarus border. Just a couple of days before our arrival (while we were in northern Poland) tensions sparked between the two countries following illegal immigrants crossing the border. Consequently the Polish authorities decided to close all the roads leading to the area and evicted all the town where we were meant to stay. Luckily we had a safari booked and we have been informed beforehand. Our accommodation did not inform us of what was happening and reaching them was impossible. Thanks to booking.com we were able to find an alternative accommodation in another nearby town and got refunded. Our local guide was of immense help and our safari still took place as he knew secondary routes to reach the forest that were not blocked by police.
Waking up at 3am to observe bisons reminded us of our safari in South Africa; the thrills of not knowing what to expect, the drives on unpaved roads and watching the sunrise on the plains as we were observing a group of deer. We got a glimpse of a couple of bisons in the mist as well, who were on their morning feed. As soon as the sun starts to rise they move back in the deep forests so the best time to observe them is right before sunrise. This is surely an unforgettable experience for anyone who loves animals and nature!
Further south of Białowieża Forest it was time to visit Poleski Park. This park is relatively small and we used it as a stop before we reached our next destination. We walked in the forest following the wooden paths and observed wildlife again; different species of mushrooms and frogs were the highlight of this park. There is a small lake in the park as well where we met a group of school children doing fieldwork and studying the abundant life in this park.
Roztocze National Park
This was our final stop in Eastern Poland as we were travelling further south ending our trip in Krakow. This area is not very popular with foreign tourists and we can easily understand why; very little English is spoken here and sometimes we had issues to communicate. Moreover this area is overshadowed by other more famous regions in Poland, namely Lesser Poland, where there is Krakow and the Tatras mountains. However I highly recommend this region if you wish to travel to a less touristic area, or if you would like to return to Poland and visit a different place. It lies 3hrs east of Krakow and is perfect for a holiday in nature. Below are some of the places we visited in and around Roztocze Park.
Where to stay
Accommodation options also include a new growing trend in Poland; staying in an Agroturystyka. These farm stays are ideal for anyone looking for accommodation which has outdoor space, animals and local specialities. We stayed in Prorok Agroturystyka in Lipowiec; a place we highly recommend to anyone visiting the region. The agroturystyka has recently opened its doors and is owned by a German/Polish couple who really put their heart in what they do. The rooms are exquisitely designed and offer all the comforts. Most of all we loved spending our time in the garden, where our daughter would run free enjoying the company of rabbits and chickens. Make sure to check it out!
My next blog post will be about our last part of this trip in Southern Poland featuring Krakow and the Tatras Mountains national park. Keep following this space.