Bialowieza National Park is generally regarded as one of the best wildlife parks in continental Europe outside of Russia. Relatively small, it adjoins a sister park in neighboring Belarus, and together these incorporate most of the Bialowieza Forest. This area, one of the last surviving remnants of Europe’s primeval forest, is home to excellent animal viewing, especially its rare, prized herds of European Bison.
The Bialowieza Forest is part of an ancient woodland that once sprawled across much of Europe. It was known as a royal hunting reserve as far back as the 16th century. It was variously protected and exploited by a series of rulers, including the Tsars, Nazis and Communists. The forest sheltered partisans during World War II, at which time much of the local animal population was devastated. Both Poland and Belarus revived the area as national parks after the war. The forest became a world heritage site in 1992.
The forest is not larger, less than 2,000 square km, with only part of that area in Poland. However, it packs in the wildlife, with species of Wild Boar, Wild Horse and Moose, the latter an imported newcomer. The big draw is the forest’s population of eight hundred free roaming European Bison, Europe’s largest native mammal.
Bialowieza National Park is located on the border area between Poland and Belarus, approximately fort miles southeast of Bialystok and 140 miles east of Warsaw. There is good road access to the area. It is open year round. As of this writing no visitor information was available. Web: http://powiat.hajnowka.pl/ctrpb/bialowieza_national_park_eng (official website).
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