- We take a scheduled flight from London to Warsaw and drive to the spectacular Biebrza National Park in north-east Poland. On the way we may catch our first glimpse of roe deer, brown hare and fox in the fields, while rough-legged and common buzzard can often be seen soaring overhead. At this time of year, the trees on the edge of the roads are lined with mistletoe, which attract large flocks of waxwing.
- After a welcome dinner at our comfortable guesthouse, we take an evening spotlighting excursion in search of wolf and other nocturnal wildlife.
- Accommodation: Guesthouse in Biebrza, 3-nights on full board basis.
- We have two full days to explore the wildlife-rich Biebrza Marshes. As we drive through the National Park, we will look for elk and learn about wolf ecology – all the while keeping an eye out for tracks in the snow. Wolf populations in Poland have been protected over the last 15 years, and the population is currently estimated to be around 1,000 wolves in the country.
- Further along the river, we may see white-tailed eagles sitting on the ice or feeding on leftover carcasses which may have been initially killed by wolves. Other notable species in this area include otter, which are often seen playing, hunting and catching fish, as well as polecat and American mink. This area is also known for its population of European beaver; at this time of year, they are particularly active and we hope to see them as they swim along the river collecting branches.
- The marshes also hold many bird species you might expect to encounter in Eastern Europe: cormorant, grey heron, great white egret, whooper, Bewick’s and mute swan, black and red-throated diver, as well as a number of northern duck species including wigeon, pintail, goosander, smew and goldeneye. The contrasting riverine forest is an excellent place to look for white-backed and lesser-spotted woodpecker.
- In the evenings, we will once again go spotlighting for wolves, and if we are lucky, we might also spot eagle owl, which are known to breed in the area.
- After breakfast we drive to Bialowieza Forest, stopping on the way at a Russian fortress, known as one of the largest wintering bat sites in Eastern Europe. We can expect to see around ten species of bat here.
- Travelling further south towards Bialowieza, we stop at the old town of Tykocin to look for red squirrel, stoat, weasel and Syrian woodpecker, before stopping for lunch. The villages we pass have fascinating wooden architecture with painted orthodox churches, and we make a stop at a bridge on the Narew River to look for otter and beaver.
- After dinner, we take an evening drive to look for Eurasian lynx, and the three packs of wolves which are known to live in the forest.
- Accommodation: Guesthouse in Bialowieza, 2-nights on full board basis.
- We spend these days exploring the Bialowieza Forest, the last primeval lowland forest in Europe, consisting of oak, lime, ash and spruce, and one of the largest areas of virgin woodland on the continent. The forest is probably most famous for its reintroduced herd of European bison and we hope to see some of these huge and surprisingly elusive beasts during our stay. A range of other mammals includes red and roe deer, wild boar, pine marten, stoat and weasel.
- After lunch, we return to the forest to look for woodland bird species including hazel grouse, three-toed, white-backed, middle-spotted, lesser-spotted, black and grey-headed woodpecker, spotted nutcracker and hawfinch. Small flocks of yellowhammer, tree sparrow, crossbill, nuthatch, treecreeper and long-tailed, crested, willow and marsh tits are also visible here, closely watched by their elusive predator – the sparrowhawk.
- At dusk each evening, our attention draws to the owl species where we have the chance to see Tengmalm’s and pygmy owl.
- Depending on the time of our return flight, we may have the opportunity for a pre-breakfast walk in the forest before travelling back to Warsaw in time for our flight back to London.
All prices are per person and include:
- Services of the naturalist leader
- All meals
- Guided activities
We spend three nights in Biebrza, and the rest of our stay in the village of Bialowieza, both in comfortable guesthouses. All rooms are en suite and a limited number of single rooms are available.
All meals are included.
Breakfasts and dinners taken at the hotel. Lunches are a mix of picnics and leisurely sit-down meals taken at one of the region’s traditional restaurants.
Visiting north-east Poland in winter provides excellent opportunities to see many large mammals which were formerly widespread in Europe but are now extremely rare, including European bison, wild boar and elk.
- European bison
- Eurasian beaver
- Wild boar
While our primary focus will be the interesting mammals of Poland, we will also look out for a range of birds including nine species of woodpecker, hazel grouse, white-tailed eagle and rough-legged buzzard.
- Pygmy owl
- Eurasian nutcracker
- Eurasian eagle owl
We visit during the winter months, when snow-covered landscapes provide a beautiful setting for spotting mammals.
Price includes return scheduled flights London – Warsaw – London.
Ground transportation is by minibus, with driver.