Weekender: Poland; Nicky Trup; National Geographic Traveller

Poland – Belovezhskaya Pushcha / Bialowieza Forest

An ancient, untamed enclave in the Polish east, Białowieża is a fairytale forest hosting a colourful cast of creatures.

To travel the country roads from Warsaw to Białowieża is to head deep into Poland’s far east. By the roadside, the regimented rows of snow-topped pines are interrupted by dramatically lit-up onion-domed churches — here Orthodox is the main religion, Lithuanian restaurants abound, and those whose ears are attuned to the difference might hear Belarusian being spoken.

Białowieża is Europe’s largest stretch of primeval forest, straddling the border with Belarus. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, it’s billed as the continent’s answer to the Amazon for its age and biodiversity. But while it’s home to plenty of fascinating creatures, the star of the show is undoubtedly the bison.

The European bison died out in the wild in 1921, as a result of over-hunting and poaching.

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