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Butterflies of Eastern Poland

8 days in the Biebrza Marshes and Białowieża Forest

Butterflies of Eastern Poland

8 days in the Biebrza Marshes and Białowieża Forest

Butterflies of Eastern Poland

8 days in the Biebrza Marshes
and Białowieża Forest

See a tremendous variety of Eastern European butterflies, dragonflies and a lot more

Let our most experienced local guides take you to the best sites of the Białowieża Forest and Biebrza Marshes in the height of the season for butterflies, dragonflies and wildflowers. Visit places you wouldn’t find on your own and spend plenty of quality time out in the wilderness on slowly paced walks perfectly suitable for photography.

Biebrza Marshes are one of Europe’s last natural lowland river valleys. They cover an area of over 1000 km2 of wetlands, peat bogs and bog forests in the far north-east of Poland. Saved from drainage by the non-intensive local farming, these fragile habitats became home for Elk, Beavers and hundreds of rare species of birds, butterflies, dragonflies and wildflowers that are now difficult to see anywhere else in Europe.

We will stay here for four nights and go for slowly paced daily walks perfectly suitable for photography. The highlights of this area include Clouded Apollo, Scarce Fritillary (June) and Pallas’s or Cranberry Fritillary (July), but there are dozens of rare butterflies to be seen as well as many dragonflies and orchids.

Białowieża Forest is the last remaining primeval forest in the lowland Europe. It covers an area of over 1500 km2 in the tranquil corner of Poland and Belarus. Saved from logging, this forest became home for hundreds of rare species of birds, insects, mushrooms. Most importantly, it became world’s last refuge for European Bison – the largest land mammal on our continent. Centuries old trees grow here together in a tremendous variety of habitats making it recognised by UNESCO as a Biosphere Reserve and a World Heritage Site now visited by thousands from all over the world.

We will spend three nights at a comfortable, family run guesthouse/hotel in a centrally located Białowieża village and go for slowly paced daily walks to see the best preserved patches of the forest and many rare butterflies including Poplar Admiral and Bog Fritillary (June) and Large Tortoiseshell or Camberwell Beauty (July). Białowieża Forest is also home to many uncommon birds like White-backed and Three-toed Woodpeckers or the rare Flycatchers and Warblers.

Our local guides are experienced, have access to the best areas and all the recent sightings. Our customers say they are a wealth of knowledge and even fun but best to check it out yourselves. What is more, the eastern Polish traditional landscape with small, wooden houses and locally grown, gorgeous food will add a unique taste to this tour.

Duration

8 days, 7 nights
Start and end: Warsaw

Board & lodging

7 nights guesthouse/hotel
All meals included

Transport

Minibus

Activities

Walking (flat surfaces)

Small groups

5-11 persons
Minimum age: 15 yrs

Price

5250 PLN per person
Deposit: 500 PLN
Single room: +400 PLN

Go slow and take stunning photographs

What our customers say

Day by day itinerary

click to expand

Day 1: Pickup at Warsaw, transfer to the Biebrza Marshes

13:00 (at the latest) pick up from Warsaw F. Chopin Airport Okecie (WAW) or your hotel in Warsaw and transfer to the Biebrza Marshes. After ca. 3 hrs drive, just before arriving at our guesthouse we will start the tour with a short walk in the Biebrza National Park where plentiful wildflowers attract many rare butterflies such as Clouded Apollo or Checkered Skipper (June) and Pallas’s Fritillary (July)

We will check in at a comfortable guesthouse in the tiny hamlet of Dobarz at the edge of the marsh and after a hearty Polish dinner the guide will introduce you to the area and talk about the plans. For the next three full days (Days 2 to 4) we will be exploring the famous Biebrza Marshes and the surrounding areas.

If time allows, our guide may offer a short evening walk in the back yard of our guesthouse where many Moths and rare amphibians incl. Tree Frogs or Fire-bellied Toads can be found.

Dwór Dobarz guesthouse or similar

Meals included: lunch en route, dinner

Day 2: Butterfly watching in the Biebrza Marshes National Park

After a hearty Polish breakfast we will explore the Biebrza National Park. We will start with a slowly paced walk along the mid-marsh dike to discover the huge variety of Biebrza’s rare Wildflowers, Butterflies and Dragonflies, but also Birds and other vertebrates. Biebrza’s vast fens and peat bogs are mostly inaccessible and off limits but on this walk, you will get a chance to go as deep as 3–4 km into the marsh while staying on a dry dike.

We will see a tremendous variety of habitats like dry grassland, bog alder forest or fen mire with their specific selection of fauna and flora that can’t be seen anywhere else. It is here where Scarce and False Heath Fritillaries can bee seen in addition to Clouded Apollo, Scarce Heath, Checkered and Northern Checkered Skippers in June as well as spectacular Pallas’s Fritillary in July. Many Orchids can also be found, including the magnificent Lady’s Slipper or Small Butterfly Orchid. Marshland birds are plentiful here and it is also one of the best sites to see Europe’s rarest Passerine – the Aquatic Warbler.

In the afternoon we will visit a forest glade where flowering wild thyme attracts numerous Butterflies such as Spotted and Heath Fritillaries, Blue-spot and Ilex Hairstreaks. In June you can additionally see Glanville Fritillaries while in July – Large & Scarce Tortoiseshell and Camberwell Beauty. A nearby trail will lead us into another vast fen mire where Geranium Argus, Large Heath and Large Checkered Skipper can be seen along with Marsh and Montagu’s Harriers or even Lesser and Greater Spotted Eagles.

Dwór Dobarz guesthouse or similar

Meals included: breakfast, packed lunch, dinner

Day 3: Visiting the famous Red Bog Reserve

Today we will set off for a full day trip in the restricted area of the Biebrza National Park, the famous Red Bog Reserve, an important refuge for Elk, Wolves, Lynx and one of the best butterfly sites in Eastern Europe.

We will take a slow walk through the forest and along the post-glacial sand dunes at the edge of the marsh where Orchids, bicoloured Wood Cow-Wheat and plenty of other wildflowers grow along the sides of the path attracting numerous butterflies. We will spend some time on the dunes looking for Lesser Marbled and Weaver’s Fritillaries, Large Heaths, Amanda’s Blue, Large, Purple-shot, Purple-edged, Sooty and Small Coppers. In June you can additionally see Clouded Apollo, Scarce Heath and Poplar Admiral while in July – Large Blue, Large & Scarce Tortoiseshell and Camberwell Beauty.

We will have our packed lunch in the heart of the National Park at a vantage point overviewing the vast marshland where seeing Elk or Eagles in the distance is likely. A pack of Wolves and a few Lynx also occupy this area and it is not rare to see their tracks and signs on our trail. Sand Lizards and Adders like to bask in the sun on the sandy dunes and we will also keep our eyes peeled for Dragonflies such as Scarce Chaser, Yellow-spotted Emerald and many more.

Dwór Dobarz guesthouse or similar

Meals included: breakfast, packed lunch, dinner

Day 4: Butterfly watching in the Biebrza and Narew Marshes

Today we will visit a number of the best sites in the whole Biebrza and Narew Marshes. We will drive through the traditional countryside and fields dotted with White Stork, go up a few vantage points where seeing birds of prey and even Elk is likely, visit a variety of dry as well as wet habitats around the southern basin of the Biebrza Marshes in search of Amanda’s Blue, Pale Clouded Yellow, Large and Purple-shot Coppers. In July we additionally have chances for Meleager’s and Chalk-hill Blues.

You may see Fire-bellied Toads in the puddles, Sand lizards basking in the sun, Hoopoes and Montagu’s Harriers over the fields and even Black Storks or White-winged Terns in the marshes. In addition, quite a few places we will visit today are prominent historical sites from middle ages until WWII so there will be something for everyone.

Dwór Dobarz guesthouse or similar

Meals included: breakfast, packed lunch, dinner

Day 5: Transfer to the Białowieża Forest via Siemianówka Lake

After the usual hearty Polish breakfast, we will set off for a few hours journey to the Białowieża Forest. Driving through the countryside with traditional wooden architecture we will stop at one of the many colourful villages for a short walk and a full Eastern Poland experience.

Just before reaching Białowieża Forest, we will visit the renowned Siemianówka Lake, a birder’s paradise little known for some of the finest dragonfly habitats. We may see the Yellow-spotted and Ruby Whitefaces, Green-eyed Hawkers or Scarce Chaser and many more. The edge of the Forest and the reservoir bank are also great for six species of Coppers: Sooty, Purple-edged, Purple-shot, Large and Small.

There have been well over 300 bird and several amphibian and reptile species recorded here and we may see White-tailed Eagles, Black Storks, Honey Buzzards, Harriers but also Penduline Tit, Citrine Wagtail, Red-backed or Great Grey Shrikes as well as Tree Frogs, Fire-bellied Toads and a lot more.

Driving further towards Białowieża we will visit one of the most remote places in the Forest – the open valley of Narewka river, a very good place for Poplar Admiral (June), Map Butterfly, Niobe, Dark-green and High Brown Fritillaries as well as some fine plants as Thesium ebracteatum or birds: Barred Warbler, Corncrakes, Lesser-spotted Eagles.

We shall arrive at our guesthouse in the Białowieża village on time for a substantial dinner after which we will again have a short talk about the plans for the next days.

Dworek Gawra guesthouse or similar

Meals included: breakfast, packed lunch, dinner

Day 6: Visiting the core area of the UNESCO World Heritage Site

We will start our day with a few hours walk through the only accessible part of the Strict Protection Area of the National Park in Białowieża, the core area of the UNESCO Biosphere Reserve and a World Heritage Site. This trip takes you back in time a few thousand years, when most of Europe was covered with a similar forest – the dense woodstand of huge, centuries-old trees that host thousands of creatures on the verge of extinction: plenty of fungi, lichens, insects and the rare birdlife incl. Collared Flycatcher or White-backed Woodpecker. Our expert guide will share his great knowledge with enthusiasm that will change your view of nature. This excursion will awaken and educate. You will feel as if you have been transported into a BBC wildlife documentary.

In the afternoon we will visit one of the vast glades in the Forest to look for Bog (June), Lesser Marbled and Weaver’s Fritillaries as well as a little gem – the Violet Copper common in this area.

Furthermore, there are over 700 European Bison living in the wild here and although they are shy and crepuscular, we have seen them on many of previous summer tours in the Białowieża Forest.

Dworek Gawra guesthouse or similar

Meals included: breakfast, packed lunch, dinner

Day 7: Butterfly watching in the Białowieża Forest

We will spend this day exploring the little known, western part of the Białowieża Forest visiting a few very fine butterfly habitats.

We will start with a slow walk along the old, unused 19th c. Russian railway bank that cuts straight through the forest and is now full of wildflowers attracting many butterflies such as Pearl-bordered and Small Pearl-bordered, High-brown, Dark-green and Niobe Fritillaries, Ilex Hairstreak, Green-underside and Amanda’s Blue just to mention a few we hope to see there.

The afternoon we will spend around the small Topiło Ponds deep inside the forest with excellent habitats for rare Dragonflies such as the Yellow-spotted, Dark and Lilly-pad Whitefaces along with Brilliant Emeralds and Scarce Chasers. Butterfly life is also very rich here and we hope to see the Woodland Brown (June), Poplar (June), Lesser-purple and Purple Admirals, Black Hairstreak and many more.

Dworek Gawra guesthouse or similar

Meals included: breakfast, packed lunch, dinner

Day 8: Transfer to Warsaw, stopover at Bug River

This morning, after our usual substantial breakfast (don’t worry, you will get used to it by the end of the holiday) we will set off for a ca. 4 hours journey back to Warsaw. We will stop on the way at the picturesque chalk hills of the Bug River valley hoping to find a few more species of butterflies such as Small and Short-tailed Blue, White Admiral, Safflower and Olive Skipper.

The tour ends at ca. 16:00 when we arrive in Warsaw. We will drive you to the WAW airport or drop you off at a hotel, if you stay in Warsaw. Participants book a hotel there and flights home at their own expense.

Hotel: none

Meals included: breakfast, lunch

Key information

Board & lodging

We will spend 7 nights at a comfortable family run guesthouse or a hotel, depending on availability and distance to the best sites at a given time to save on driving. All accommodation is based on twin-share, with private facilities. Additional single room suplement rate applies if you travel alone. We do not offer twin rooms to share for single travellers. Please note that some of our guesthouses host dogs and cats and may not be suitable if you have a severe allergy.

All the venues serve gorgeous traditional Polish food. Breakfasts are a hearty continental treat that can set you up for the day. We will take packed lunches to eat in the field or take a midday break at a local cafe. In the evenings we will once again dine at our guesthouse.

Transport

Our professional driver and tour leader will pick you up at the airport or a hotel in Warsaw with a comfortable minibus that will accompany us for the rest of the tour.

Fitness level - is this tour for me?

This tour is generally easy as the walks are very slow. On average, we will walk between 2–12 km a day, divided between 2–3 walks, at a very slow speed perfectly suitable for photography. NE Poland is basically flat so altitudes are not a problem. Most of the time we will walk on decent tracks but we may occasionally walk short distances off trails on uneven terrain where you are likely to get your boots wet and muddy.

Tour leader - an experienced local guide

You will be accompanied by an English speaking Wild Poland guide, an experienced naturalist throughout this tour. We may take on additional local guides for a visit in the National Park (entrance tickets also included).

Joining & departure

The tour starts and ends in Warsaw. Participants arrive in Warsaw at their own expense. We will pick you up at the WAW airport or your hotel in Warsaw on day 1, no later than 13:00. If you fly into Warszawa Modlin (WMI), you should account for ca. 2 hrs to get to WAW airport.

The tour ends on day 8 when we arrive at Warsaw. Participants book a hotel there and flights home at their own expense. After 16:00 we will drive you to the WAW airport or drop you off at your hotel, if you stay in Warsaw. Your plane home should not leave earlier than 18:00 from WAW, please make sure with us you will be on time for your flight back.

What to bring - essential luggage & clothing

It is particularly important that your outer clothing is in dark colours: green, brown, black etc. Please avoid bright colours like white, yellow, blue but also bright green or pale sand brown. This includes a hat or scarf as well. A pale hat sticks out and can be seen in a long distance.

You should bring the following necessary items:

  • above-ankle waterproof trekking boots,
  • waterproof jacket & trousers,
  • insect repellent,
  • sunhat,
  • binoculars.

You may consider bringing the following useful items:

  • gaiters,
  • walking stick,
  • scope on a sturdy tripod,
  • photo camera with macro lenses

Common questions

Eating & drinking

Polish food is very good, usually made from fresh produce. We are certainly meat eaters, not shunning from the fatty cuts. Pork and poultry are most popular. Soups are also a very Polish dish and while we do like our broth and borsch, many other soups are a full meal in itself.

Breakfasts tend to be hearty and often consist of fried or scrambled eggs, boiled or fried sausage, cold cuts, cheese, tomatoes and bread. A sweet version consisting of cheese/jam filled pancakes or racuchy (pancakes with apples) is also quite common.

For lunches we will take packed sets (two sandwiches, piece of fruit, chocolate bar, water) to eat in the field or stop at a local cafe where possible.

Dinners are a substantial 3-course meal served back at our guesthouse.

Vegetarians & vegans

These days vegetarians are usually well catered for, but please let us know at the time of booking. However, it can be difficult for vegans, as dairy produce and eggs occur in the vast majority of meals. Therefore we recommend that you bring some supplementary items.

Travel & medical insurance

We (Wild Poland) are fully insured tour operator as required by Polish and European law. However, all participants must additionally be covered by personal travel and medical insurance, preferably from the time of booking. This should cover you fully against the cost of cancellation by you, lost baggage, medical care and repatriation.

We do not provide or check personal travel insurance policies. See our booking conditions › for more details.

How is my money protected?

First of all, we are a registered tour operator in Poland. All holidays by Wild Poland are protected by the Mazovian Province and our AXA tour operator insurance. In the unlikely event of our insolvency, the Province executives guarantee to refund any money you have paid to us for any future booking.

Secondly – you get 100% money back guarantee with Wild Poland. By booking, you will be asked to pay a small deposit to confirm your place. It allows us to book the hotels etc. in your name. In a rare case that we have to cancel the departure because of insufficient number of participants, you will be refunded the full deposit amount. Small differences in the refunded amount may occur because of varying exchange rates.

Finally, we use Poland’s leading online payments gateway called PayU ›. Any critical credit card details are only entered at their secure pages and we have no access to, nor do we withhold any credit card details.

Dates, prices & booking

100% Money Back Guarantee with Wild Poland

By booking, you will be asked to pay a small deposit to confirm your place. In a rare case that we have to cancel the departure because of insufficient number of participants, you will be refunded the full deposit amount.

When booking a guaranteed tour within 30 days of departure you will be asked for a full payment instead of just the deposit.

7 – 14 Jun 2020

SPACES
full

PRICE
5250 PLN

SINGLE
+400 PLN

12 – 19 Jul 2020

SPACES
full

PRICE
5250 PLN

SINGLE
+400 PLN

6 – 13 Jun 2021

SPACES
available

PRICE
5250 PLN

SINGLE
+400 PLN

11 – 18 Jul 2021

SPACES
available

PRICE
5250 PLN

SINGLE
+400 PLN

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