False modesty aside, Belarusian nature is unique. Pristine natural oases of the national parks are definitely an experience to live through.
Just imagine, over 93% of the country’s territory is covered by different kind of plants and one-third of the country is covered by forests. Belarus doesn’t have access to the sea but has more than 10,000 breathtaking lakes and 20,000 pure rivers on its territory.
Belarusian nature looks its best on summertime and as summers in Belarus are short and rather changeable, don’t miss an opportunity to see the most beautiful national parks and reserves protected by UNESCO.
1. Hugest relic forest in Europe
Where else can you watch European bison in its natural habitat?
The territory of Belovezhskaya Pushcha National Park is located in Białowieża Forest between Poland and Belarus on the territory of about 150 square kilometers. This park is probably the most visited by travelers to Belarus, as it is part of the most ancient and one of the hugest relic forests in Europe.
Tip: The territories of the parks are huge and one day is not enough for all the activities and proper rest. Think about renting a summer house or homestead, or just stay in hotels of the tourist’s complexes.
The first thing that comes to mind when one speaks of Belovezhskaya Pushcha is a bison – the park is the habitat of one of the largest European populations of the bison.
There is also a place for magic. Dzed Maroz, Belarusian Santa Claus, lives in pushcha. You can visit his estate in Kamenyuki village for a chat and a wish. And yes, Dzed Maroz is there even in summer, only wearing a straw hat instead of a fur hat.
2. The largest lake in Belarus
If you are tired active rest, come here for zen.
Narachanski National Park is based Belarusian largest lake Narach, surrounded by more than 40 lakes and 60 rivers. Together with rich flora and fauna, it can definitely make you feel the charm of Belarusian nature.
A good option for camping in Narachanski is auto camping Naroch; fishing fans can check the “fishing map” on the park’s website. After a long walk along the shores of Naroch relax your tired limbs in one of the many local sanatoriums (recreation centers).
3. Beach vacation in Belarusian style
Belarusians say that if you behave, you will go to Turkey for holidays; if you don’t – you will go to the Braslav lakes. Jokes aside, the lakes are so cool that the booking for summer season starts in winter.
Braslaw Lakes National Park is certainly one of the most beautiful areas in Belarus. The ancient glacier left behind amazing landscapes and a group of more than 300 lakes differing in size and depth. Also, the area has more than 100 small islands.
It is one of the most popular Belarusian resort for beach holiday in summer.
4. Rare birds, wildlife and ethno festival in the south of Belarus
Pripyatsky National Park is 190,000 hectares, more than a third of which is occupied by wildlife.
The territory of the park stands on Europe’s largest marshland and has a large variety of bird species being the largest channel of migratory birds in Europe.
This region is called Palessie and the people who live there are called paleshuki. They speak the famous “palessie” dialect of the Belarusian language and keep unique cultural and historical features of the region alive.
5. Horror and night tours for fans of extreme
Fancy a horror walk through a dark forest at night?
Berezinsky Biosphere Reserve is the only nature reserve in Belarus with protection of the highest rank.
It is a real model of the natural environment, one of the very few undisturbed corners of the European part of southern taiga.
This reserve offers the greatest variety of activities. Some of them are absolutely unique, such as a night tour “Myth trail” involving characters from Belarusian mythology, or an extreme night tour in deep forests to watch black grouse dances during mating season.
6. Back to the roots on the outskirts Minsk
Feel like an ancient human: pick berries, mushrooms and medicinal herbs!
The Republican landscape reserve Naliboksky is located on the territory of Nalibokskaya Puscha, one of the largest forests in Belarus and Eastern Europe.
The rich flora of the reserve includes medicinal herbs, many of which are listed in the Red Book of Belarus and are under the Belarusian state protection. There are berry bushes and a variety of mushroom species in the reserve so that it is a good area to pick fresh wild berries and mushrooms.
Text by Alina Dmitrovich, the organizer of Free Walking Tours Minsk.