Warsaw, Poland – The magnificent Bialowieza Forest, split between eastern Poland and western Belarus, has been ranked by Forbes as one of the top five most underrated and lesser-known wildlife destinations in the European Union.
“This verdant preserve contains the remnants of one of Europe’s most mighty forests, a sprawling maze of foliage that was slowly hacked away over the centuries to make room for human expansion,” writes the US magazine.
A UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1979, the Bialowieza Forest constitutes an immense range of primary forest covering an area of over 141,000 hectares.
Citing it as one of the best travel destinations of 2020, National Geographic last year described it as “an oasis of wilderness,” advising adventurous travelers and hikers to take a guided hike through the park’s protected primeval forest.
Located on the watershed of the Baltic and Black seas and on the border between Poland and Belarus, it is home to the largest population of European bison, the heaviest land animal in Europe.
The national park, Poland’s only UNESCO-protected natural area and one of Europe’s last primeval forests, has been the focus of environmental groups’ efforts to preserve this incredible wildlife gem from logging and other types of commercial exploitation.
Meaning “white tower” in Polish, the Bialowieza Forest is named after the village of the same name located at the heart of the national park, believed to have been one of the first human settlements in the area.
Ranked at the top of Forbes’ list of wildlife destinations to discover in the EU, Poland’s Bialowieza stands alongside the Portuguese volcanic archipelago of the Azores, Croatia’s Velebit Mountains, Romania’s Danube Delta and the French overseas department of Guiana, on the northern coast of South America.