Belovezhskaya Pushcha forest in one of the last remaining segments of primeval forest left in Europe, and home to over 800 European Bison (the largest grouping of these wild bison left in the world today). Today, the forest, which straddles the Poland-Belarus border, is designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Although the forest can be visited from both sides of the border, the below article focuses on visiting it from the Belarus side.

Travelling to Belovezhskaya Pushcha National Park

Getting to the national park from Brest is surprisingly easy, with the option of either taking a day trip, or staying overnight in one of the nearby hotels.

From Brest, you can either take a marshrutka (minibus) directly to the National Park gate, or a regular bus to the village of Kameniuky, which is a fifteen minute walk from the main gate.

Marshrutka Timetable (Checked in person as of March 2019)

Brest -> National Park ( 8:10, 14:10, 18:20 )

National Park -> Brest ( 6:10, 10:00, 12:10, 16:00, 18:00 )

Bus Timetable (Information from Official Website)

Brest -> Kameniuky ( 8:30, 10:40, 14:00, 16:30 )

Kameniuky -> Brest ( 6:10, 10:00, 12:10, 16:00, 18:00 )

We opted for the marshrutka which dropped us directly at the gate of the national park.

Overnight Options near the National Park

There are several hotels in the vicinity of the national park, however only one at the gate itself. This is Hotel Complex Kamenyuky At approximately €40-50 per night for a double room, this isn’t exactly cheap, but location wise it is perfect for visiting the national park. Additionally, breakfast is included, as is use of the swimming pool and a very nice restaurant is situated within the complex. We stayed here in low season (early March) and were upgraded to a nicer suite free of charge as the hotel was near-empty. However, please be aware that during the summer months all hotels in proximity to the national park will need to be booked well in advance.

Hotel Complex Kamenyuky
Hotel Complex Kamenyuky
“Bielaviežskaja pušča” Restaurant located in the grounds of the hotel

Another alternative, however, is the Belovezhskaya Pushcha Hotel No.2. The cost of a double room here is just €20-30 per night, and it is just a 15 minute walk from the national park entrance. This is located within Kamianiuki village itself, and presents a cheaper option if you don’t mind the extra walk.

Cycling the National Park

With hired vehicles banned within the park, and guided drivers/tours being quite expensive, the best way to experience the park is by bicycle. They can be rented for 13 BYN (converted as approximately €5.50 as of December 2019) for three hours which should be more than enough time to complete the “Big Travel” (the largest of the designated loops at 27 kilometres). Please be aware that the quality of these bicycles is questionable!

This loop will take you along deserted roads through the national park, to see Father Christmas’ residence, the large “Lake Lyadskoe” and past several impressive wooden sculptures. You are unlikely to encounter much wildlife on this loop other than deer or squirrels unfortunately so do not expect to run into any bison, wolves or bears!

A map and description (in Russian) of the national park’s 27 kilometre “Big Travel” loop
Deserted roads within the national park
Elana beginning the 27 kilometre “Big Travel”

One of the many helpful signs guiding the way

Passing through frozen marshes near the end of the loop

Museum and Open Air Cages

Other than cycling through the national park, you can also visit a museum dedicated to the national park and a series of open air cages containing various animals. There is an extra fee for visiting these cages, however if you have stayed in the hotel within the national park, this is included in the price.

Sadly, the animals are kept in poor conditions, the bears especially presenting a sad sight. Unfortunately, however, apart from paying for an expensive, specialised tour to see these animals in the wild, this is your only opportunity to see the bison and wolves of this region up close.

Bizarrely, there are two ostriches kept here… we never found out why!
A close up of the rare European Bison

Overall, although this national park is quite far out of the way (involving a hectic full day trip from Brest, or an overnight stay at a more relaxed pace), we still found the forest worthwhile visiting. Before visiting it is important to be aware that seeing wolves or bison in the wild here is quite rare, and that your trip here will mostly involve a pleasant cycle in some untouched nature. Nonetheless, we still thoroughly enjoyed our journey out here, and if you are looking for a touch of the outdoors in Belarus, we would heartily recommend a visit.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s