Fantastic choice of daily trips, flexibility, extensive knowledge of guides, small groups and very personal experience.
– Lorna Mikhelson, UK, May 2017
The best time of the year to watch woodpeckers, owls and mammals
This festival is timed for fantastic activity of bird rarities like Pygmy Owl, Hazel Grouse, White-backed, Three-toed or Grey-headed Woodpeckers, as well as excellent Wolf tracking, searching for Lynx and mammal watching for Bison, Elks (Moose) and Beavers.
We will spend this week in the Białowieża Primeval Forest, in the far east of Poland, at the border with Belarus. Early spring all the Woodpeckers, Owls and Hazel Grouse just go mad. Wolves would have just mated and Lynx just start. Bison, Elks, Beavers and other large mammals become very active and easier to watch.
This festival is timed for fantastic activity of many rare species which are a lot more difficult to see later in the year. Did you know it is possible to see 8 species of Woodpeckers here? Seeing Pygmy Owl and Hazel Grouse is almost guaranteed and Tengmalm’s (Boreal) Owl – highly likely. But there is so much more! Larger Owls, Cranes, Eagles, Whooper and Tundra Swans, Otters, Martens or hundreds of amphibians on the move. If the weather is right, we may even witness a rare spectacle of Moor Frogs turning blue for a few days of spawn.
You will get a chance to visit the Strict Protection Area of the Białowieża National Park for a few hours walk. We will have the permission to enter the core area of the forest, the Man and Biosphere Reserve and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The pristine, natural forest of huge, centuries-old trees and home to the rarest Black, White-backed and Three-toed Woodpeckers.
Finally, we will also point out numerous options for self guided walks so you can see the forest at your own pace and have some private time.
Our experienced and enthusiastic nature guides will point out all the wildlife and wildflowers around as well as keep you informed about the region’s history and ethnic diversity. As usual, we will finish with a traditional Polish campfire to add a unique and unforgettable taste to your wildlife holiday.
See real wildlife in a respectful way
How it works
Join us in Warsaw by and transfer to the Białowieża Forest.
Wildlife watching in the Białowieża Forest and other areas – do it yourself or join our guided trips.
Transfer to Warsaw, finish by .
The basic price includes the transfer and half board accommodation
The festival starts and ends in Warsaw. Participants arrive at Warsaw at their own expense. We meet at , downtown Warsaw in front of the Palace of Culture and Science and transfer to our lodge in Białowieża. If you arrive by train or a car – contact us for detailed directions.
The lodge is located right in the centre of the Białowieża village, near the 19th century park that the Russian Tsars laid out around their enormous castle-like shooting lodge. The park is well preserved with beautiful trees, a river and ponds where Beavers live. Behind the park lies the Strict Protection Area of the National Park.
On the last day, we transfer you back to Warsaw. We plan to arrive at Warsaw and finish by . Basic participation costs include the transfer, accommodation, plentiful breakfasts and 3-course dinners. If you feel like watching wildlife on your own – it’s all you pay for. You will even receive a detailed map of the area and suggestions for self guided walks to help your personal exploration.
Wildlife watching trips are optional; charged on the spot
On the grounds of our lodge we will run the Festival Office where you will be able to find out and subscribe to our guided wildlife watching trips on a daily basis. We will offer at least 3–4 different trips each day according to current wildlife situation and weather. These trips include transportation, guiding and all entry fees.
The trips will be priced according to their length and driving distance. A typical trip is 3-5 hrs long and costs PLN 150–250 (ca. €40–60). There is no limit to the number of people taking part in a festival but our guided trips always run in small groups, 3–12 persons, usually max. 7 persons.
This way you compose your own itinerary on the spot and are charged for the trips you choose, separately. Only debit or credit cards are accepted (Visa and MasterCard), so no cash is needed. All trips start and finish at the lodge.
A variety of reasonably priced trips will be offered
Below is a small selection of trips from our previous festivals. The exact trips offered may differ from these. We may also offer additional short trips according to current wildlife situation and your suggestions, even for single species or a historical tour of wooden villages. Many trips will take place at dawn and dusk of course ? for best wildlife activity, leaving enough time in the day to rest.
Bison Safari, 2-3 hrs
A short walk at dusk or dawn in search of wild European Bison. Other likely species include Wild Boar, Red Deer and even some of the Woodpeckers.
UNESCO Site, 4–6 hrs
A visit in the core area of the forest, the Strict Protection Area of the Białowieża NP and a World Heritage Site. Pristine habitat, high chances of the rare Woodpeckers.
A short drive and a few walks in various forest habitats to find White-backed, Black, Three-toed, Middle-spotted, Grey-headed Woodpeckers and more.
Dawn Patrol, 4hrs
A drive and/or a walk at some of our favourite forest patches. This is the trip that each year brings us some Wolf and Lynx sightings. But there is so much more to see!
Pygmy Owl, 4hrs
A thrilling dawn or dusk trip trying to spot Europe’s smallest owl – the Pygmy Owl. This time of day is also best for general wildlife activity and we will visit some unscathed patches of the forest.
Forest at dusk, 4-6 hrs
Experience the true forest during this evening walk. Reconnect with nature and yourself staying out late listening to the sounds of the forest, watching Owls, spotting Bison, Racoon Dogs and more.
Boreal Forest experience, 4hrs
A fantastic early morning walk in a pristine coniferous forest for best chances to see the rare Black and Three-toed Woodpeckers, Hazel Grouse, Pygmy Owl and Nutcracker.
Early Spring Amphibians, 4hrs
A visit at one or more flooded patches of the forest for a spectacle of spawning frogs and toads. It is early in the season but up to five different species can be seen if the conditions are good.
Forest at night, 4 hrs
Join one of our crazy guides for a night walk through the forest to experience the primeval call. Chances of seeing and hearing Tengmalm’s and Tawny Owls, nocturnal mammals and… your heart beat.
Forest off-trails, 4 hrs
Experience the forest from the wild animal’s perspective away from roads, tracks and paths. Learn the basic tracking and orientation skills and deepen your understanding of nature.
Biebrza Marshes, 2 days, incl. hotel & food
Two days trip with an overnight stay at the famous Biebrza Marshes for fantastic bird migration and our flagship Beaver Boat trip and Elk Safari.
Siemianówka Lake, 8–10 hrs
A full day trip to the Siemianówka Reservoir where White-tailed Eagles, other birds of prey and hundreds of waders and waterfowl can be seen.
Reports from previous early spring tours
To give you an idea of previous sightings at this time of the year
Reports from other festivals
To give you an idea of festival organisation
You should bring the following necessary items:
- waterproof trekking boots,
- waterproof outer layer,
- warm hat & gloves,
You may consider bringing the following useful items:
- wellington boots,
- scope on a sturdy tripod,
- thermo flask/cup,
- small torch/headlamp.
I don't know any Polish. Can I easily communicate in English?
Yes, the Festival language is English and all our guides speak it well. What we cannot guarantee, however, is that all the hotel staff are fluent. Therefore our staff will be there to assist you in a rare case that you may require help.
Can I join your trips without booking accommodation? (I will be in Białowieża in these dates and have my own accommodation)
Yes, the Festival is open to other visitors who just ‘come by’ so you can visit our festival office and join any of the trips with enough spaces available.
Can I book some of the trips in advance?
No, unfortunately not. The detailed daily programme strongly depends on the current wildlife situation and weather. Therefore we will only offer trips on the spot and only for 1-2 days in advance.
We don’t have a fixed plan. We will try to repeat any trips which continue gathering interest – so that everyone has a chance to participate.
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.
Lunches are not included but there are enough cafeterias and groceries a few minutes walk from our venue to try a different place each day. Polish cuisine offers a large variety of hearty meals from pierogi (dumplings) to soups and groceries are well supplied. Additionally we will also offer packed lunches (paid extra) to take with you on a trip. These will be prepared by the restaurant of our venue and consist of two sandwiches, a piece of fruit, chocolate bar and a small bottle of water.
Dinners are a substantial 3-course meal of a warm soup, main dish and a dessert 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.
Payments & currency - card or cash?
Poland’s currency is PLN, also abbreviated as ‘zł.’ and generally EUR are not accepted.
At Wild Poland we accept card payments only and charge in PLN – both for booking your place online at this website and for paying for the trips you choose on the spot. Unfortunately, we cannot accept any cash.
Cards are now widely accepted at restaurants, groceries etc. but you may wish to have some PLN in cash to pay for your drinks, souvenirs etc. There is a cash machine in the Białowieża village.
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.
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.