Belovezhskaya Pushcha is a huge forest area located on the territory of two countries – Poland and Belarus, where the natural environment preserves many varieties of plants and animals, the most famous and famous of which is considered a bison.
In recent years, the development of eco-tourism is becoming increasingly popular, and travel lovers are rushing to the protected corners of nature to relax in the fresh air. Fans of healthy recreation, as well as tourists interested in history can carry out their plans on a trip to the reserve, which is a symbol of the Republic of Belarus.
General information about Belovezhskaya Pushcha
In the old days, relict forests spread all over Europe, but the changing climate, development of agriculture, construction of cities have destroyed most of them, leaving only small areas untouched. The Belovezhskaya Pushcha Reserve is located on the border between Poland and Belarus, and on both sides of it the territory of more than 150 thousand hectares is protected, which does not prevent tourists and explorers from visiting it.
The administrative center of the reserve is located 60 km from Brest and 20 km from the district center of Kamenetz in the village Kamenyuki, which has all the necessary infrastructure for the comfort of tourists: hotels, cafes and sightseeing services. On the territory of the reserve there are hotels of different service levels and price categories, the eponymous brand restaurant and private cafes, famous for the national Belarusian cuisine and hunting delicacies.
Group bus tours, accompanied by guides, as well as individual hiking, biking and horseback riding tours are carried out in the wonderful corners of nature on the laid routes of varying difficulty.
To preserve the relic forests and their unique inhabitants, Belovezhskaya Pushcha is divided into protection zones. Only employees and researchers are allowed into the protected area in order to preserve the pristine ecosystem intact. In the areas of regulated use allowed tourist access only if accompanied by a guide.
In the recreational areas you can freely walk and organize mass events, but the entrance must be paid, at the ticket office you can buy tickets of several types. Household plots are designed for the accommodation and convenience of travelers and vacationers, there you can stay overnight and eat.
History of Belovezhskaya Pushcha
Belovezhskaya Pushcha Reserve in the Republic of Belarus is one of the oldest in the world. The Ipatiev Chronicle mentions the existence of virgin forests in these places in 983. In those days, the spring floods flooded all the neighborhoods, turning them into a huge sea, in the middle of which stood a forest, which served as a refuge for animals from the flood. The abundance of natural resources, creating favorable conditions for life, brought hunters and fishermen to these places. The tribes that lived here in ancient times are now reminded of the ancient tombs and the remnants of ancient legends.
The territory of the reserve has changed its citizenship many times, passing from one power to another, but it has always served as a hunting ground for the rulers of the states. In the 12th century, Vladimir Monomakh harvested bison, aurochs and red deer here, later Lithuanian princes hunted, and Jagiello managed to stock the forest with provisions for the army of a hundred thousand men that took part in the Battle of Grunwald. The Polish kings turned hunting in the reserve into luxurious amusements and court festivals.
At the same time, they began to exploit the natural treasures of the region, and from the end of the 16th century they cut down the forest. However, they soon issued a law to protect the royal hunting grounds and protect the bison, and at the same time established a list of individuals who are allowed to hunt in the reserve. Under Catherine II, Belovezhskaya Pushcha became part of Russia, and she allowed there the shooting of any animals except bison, which caused a decrease in the number of individuals and the complete extermination of bears and beavers. In addition, Catherine, who was a trustee of science, allowed bison to be shot for all European museums.
Russian emperors gave away part of the reserved lands to their favorites. The fire on the eve of the Patriotic War and Napoleon’s invasion caused great damage to Belovezhskaya Pushcha. At the end of the 19th century, the territory of the reserve became the property of the tsarist family as a result of an exchange for the Orlov and Simbirsk lands, which should have helped to preserve the bison population, and in fact improved the tsarist hunting.
During World War I, when the reserve was overrun by German troops, it suffered irreparable damage as valuable centuries-old trees were cut down. However, the European bison, exterminated everywhere, survived as a species only in Belovezhskaya Pushcha. It passed to the Soviet Union in 1939 and received the status of a nature reserve, and in 1992 it was included in the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
What to do in Belovezhskaya Pushcha?
For lovers of nature, fauna and flora, there is always something to do. We suggest that you get acquainted with the main places and activities in the reserve, which are definitely worth visiting and seeing.
A visit to the Museum of Ancient Life and Technology is taken by comfortable buses throughout the colossal forest complex, preserved for centuries in pristine condition and included in the World Heritage catalog. The buses make stops during the tour to get a closer look at some of the sites.
The tour guide tells:
- about the peculiarities of the age-old forest and its inhabitants;
- about the remarkable history of the reserve;
- about adventures and curiosities in hunting;
- about animal precedents;
- about episodes from the life of nature.
- unique landscapes and bodies of water;
- a six-century-old oak tree and a 350-year-old pine tree;
- an overhang on the bark of an oak tree in the form of a bison head;
- beaver dams;
- historical landmarks;
- the only evergreen liana in Europe that climbs up tree trunks.
In the Museum of Folk Life everyone is interested in the lifestyle and things that played a huge role in the lives of villagers in the century before last, their daily life, customs and heritage. During the master classes vacationers learn the professional subtleties of various folk crafts. In the nearby cafe “Hutorok” tourists are attracted by the special meal of Pushcha, as well as a demonstration of the process of making moonshine, for which Belovezhskaya Pushcha has been famous for a long time, with a tasting.
The Manor of Santa Claus
The residence of Santa Claus is the most famous brand in Belarus, annually visited by thousands of holidaymakers. There by hand craftsmen – woodcarvers – created a unique fairy atmosphere, which became an extension of the magic of the forest, naturally blended into its style. The estate was opened on New Year’s Eve 2004 – in two weeks. A team of skilled designers led by the famous carver A.L.. Maslo executed this extraordinary project – many wooden sculptures, structures and hedges decorated with whimsical original carvings.
The residences of Santa Claus nowadays in the world there are enough, but this is one of the most delightful and spectacular. It is located on almost 15 hectares. Sculptures of fairy tale characters and a beautifully decorated Christmas tree with garlands of colored lights delight young travelers, while the smoke billowing over the roof of the house and the abundance of flowers and greenery in summer shade its realism.
Santa Claus himself receives visitors year-round in his fiefdom, reads and writes responses to messages from the kids, and keeps order in his domain. And for each season he has a special set of clothes, completely different from what we are used to: the Belarusian grandfather is dressed in a snow-white old jupan embroidered with silver patterns. His granddaughter, Snegurochka, comes to celebrate the New Year, but leaves for the north in the spring. Our Baba-Yaga’s own sister, Kargota, also takes part in the show.
Tourists who visit the Snow Maiden’s Towers, the Miracle Mill that turns nasty pranks into ashes, each with its own legend or lore, can conceive dreams and beg Santa Claus to fulfill them.
In the cozy “Hata Dzeda Maroza”, equipped under the trees and canopies, treat pancakes and dishes of national cuisine.
The main purpose of the reserve is not to entertain vacationers, but to maintain the ecological system. The flora of Belovezhskaya Pushcha is amazingly diverse, here in the natural environment you can observe about 25 species of trees, most of which are included in the Red Book: white fir, rock oak, and others.
Their average age is close to a century, but it is possible to meet:
- giant trees, measuring one and a half meters in girth;
- oaks that have been growing for six centuries;
- ash trees planted more than three centuries ago;
- The sprawling bicentennial spruces.
The sites with our little brothers are located on 20 hectares near the Museum of Nature, the tour takes 1-2 hours.
Visitors to the National Park have the opportunity to consider:
- of bison filled with majesty and dignity;
- stately deer and roe deer;
- cautious bobcats;
- distrustful and calculating wolves and bears;
- birds of prey, including long-eared owls.
In addition to the native inhabitants, the sites house individual animals brought in from other countries.
Before the excursion through the centuries-old forest, it is useful to first visit the most popular nature museum in the Brest region to get an idea of the protected species of animals and plants. It began its work in 1963, and its exposition was composed for 70 years.
On the first floor of the modern ecological-educational center, which is one of the prestigious institutions of this profile, you can see stuffed animals living in Belovezhskaya Pushcha. The exposition on the second floor presents plants, birds, butterflies and mushrooms, which make up the wealth of the reserve. The museum halls reproduce the initial moments of the formation of the Belovezhskaya forests and extinct animal species, as well as the seasonal characteristics of nature.
The exhibitions are based on reality, reflecting all the diversity of the forest riches of Belovezhskaya Pushcha. The exhibits give the impression of being in a primeval forest, the effect is enhanced by the sounds of nature – the noise of the forest, rain, birds chirping, echoes of animal roars. The diorama of the forest landscape in the background serves to expand the boundaries of the image. Stuffed animals are very artistically included in the compositions made by real designers. The wolf figure is placed near a real den, a roe deer is shown together with a cub in a pasture.
Cost of Tours in Belovezhskaya Pushcha
The best place to start the journey to the reserve is from Brest, from where express buses run twice a day. By your own transport you should follow the signs in the direction of Kamenets, and then to the village Kamenyuki. There are direct flights from Minsk, where you can book a special tour to the National Park, but the distance of 340 km makes the trip much more expensive due to the cost of gasoline.
At the ticket office the entrance to the reserve costs 1 Belarusian ruble (only local currency is accepted). Together with the ticket they give you a map with marked hiking trails. In order not to accidentally get into the territory of Poland or Polish border guards, it is recommended not to stray from the paved routes. For the equivalent of 100 Russian rubles per hour, you can use a rental bike. Separate payment is necessary for visiting the Museum of Nature, the aviaries with animals and the residence of Santa Claus, for a sightseeing bus tour in Belovezhskaya Pushcha, which will cost 210 rubles.
The local climatic conditions are about the same as in Russia, and the nature in the reserve is wonderful at any time of the year. In summer and spring with long daylight hours, you can have time to see more. In the winter season will remain in memory for a lifetime excursions with children to the residence of Santa Claus. A ticket for adults costs about 300 rubles, and the price of the show and a surprise from Santa Claus for the child are included.
The cost of admission to the Museum of Nature – 2.5 Belarusian rubles (90 Russian rubles), and the children’s – two times less. The price of an adult ticket to the animal enclosure is 2 Belarusian rubles, while for children – 1.
Accommodation and meals at the reserve
Tourists during their visit to the reserve can find shelter in the “Kamenyuki” hotel, located in the village, and in the new hotel building near the entrance to the Museum of Nature. Three hotel buildings have rooms of different categories. The cost of living in the village is much lower than in the reserve. Tourists who come in their own car, prefer to stay in Kamenetz, where prices are much lower. But renting a cottage for a few people will cost a pretty penny.
On the territory of Belovezhskaya Pushcha you can perfectly satisfy your hunger in the restaurant with the same name and several specialty cafes, offering travelers dishes of the Belarusian national cuisine.
Reviews of tourists about visiting Belovezhskaya Pushcha
Travelers usually enjoy visiting Belovezhskaya Pushcha. But they note minor inconveniences regarding infrastructure development and distances. Excursion bus delivers holidaymakers with comfort, but it is difficult to get on your own from the entrance to the residence of Santa Claus because the car must be left at the parking lot, and walk on foot on the path in winter with children is long. Experienced travelers recommend taking food with you and combining an excursion to the reserve with a visit to other noteworthy places in the neighborhood: the tower of the 14th century in Kamenets and the fortress-hero Brest.
The National Park Belovezhskaya Pushcha is one of the most colorful sights in Belarus, where you can get acquainted with pristine nature and relict forests with their inhabitants. For tourists, the reserve provides an opportunity for an unforgettable vacation in the fresh air with health benefits. On the territory of Belovezhskaya Pushcha there are comfortable accommodation for visitors, excursions, a lot of recreational and educational activities.