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Belovezhskaya Pushcha National Park

Father Frost’s Residence. Belovezhskaya Pushcha
Father Frost’s Residence. Belovezhskaya Pushcha

The primeval forest of this National Park is home to over 900 plants and 250 animals and birds, including several rare species

History of Belovezhskaya Pushcha National Park

A key tourist attraction of Belarus, Belovezhskaya Pushcha National Park is what’s left of the primeval forest which used to stretch from the Baltic Sea to the Buh River and from Odder to the Dnieper River.

The park is located 340km to the south-west of Minsk in the Brest region of Belarus  It is one of 4 National Parks in Belarus  and the largest forest in the lowlands of central Europe.

Read more about the natural history of Belarus.

The first records of the Belovezhskaya Pushcha National Park date back to the year 983. The name comes from a white tower in the vicinity (Belaya Vezha) erected 700 years ago, and the name Pushcha is mentioned in both Lithuanian and Polish historical documents dating back to the 15th century.

Belovezhskaya Pushcha National Park has been a battleground throughout the ages. The Napoleonic War and world wars have all taken their toll on the forest.

In 1939 the land was declared a state reserve and in 1944 part of the reserve was given to neighbouring Poland.

Belovezhskaya Pushcha National Park was made a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1992. In 1993 it was granted UNESCO Biosphere Reserve status.

Belovezhskaya Pushcha National Park today

Today Belovezhskaya Pushcha National Park is one of the most famous places in Belarus and plays a very important role in the ecology of Belarus.

The park is famous for its ancient named oak trees dating back more than 500 years. In all there are almost 900 species of trees and flowers here including:

  • old ash
  • pine
  • silver fir
  • rare grass plants

Belovezhskaya Pushcha National Park is also home to more than 250 animal and bird species, including:

  • the largest population of the rare European bison
  • wolf
  • lynx
  • otter
  • tarpan European wild horse
  • greater spotted eagle
  • crane
  • woodpecker
  • long tailed tawny owl

As well as the forest, Belovezhskaya Pushcha National Park also boats a zoo, library and a museum, and supports wood processing, handicrafts and various local industries.  

Getting to Belovezhskaya Pushcha National Park and where to stay

The national park Belovezhskaya Pushcha is about 60km to the north of Brest and 20km from the nearest town of Kamenets.

Going to Belovezhskaya Pushcha as part of an organized tour is the best idea because vehicles are not allowed to enter the park without a special permit.

Every day five buses shuttle between Brest and the village of Kamenyuki where the park’s administrative center is located. The timetable is available here.

You can also get there by car after consulting the map from:

  • Minsk along the M1/E30 motorway in the direction of Brest to the intersection with the road going to Zhabinka. After that go to Kamenets along the R7 road and to Kamenyuki along R83;
  • Brest along the R83 motorway towards Kamenyuki (55km).

Visitors willing to see the national park are invited to stay at the Kamenyuki Hotel that has three wings, a hotel next to the Nature Museum, and small guest cottages in forestry administrations. On the outskirts of the park you can find farm tourism estates that offer cozy rooms styled after the local fashion.

Many tourists prefer staying in Brest hotels and buying a tour to the national park Belovezhskaya Pushcha.

Seeing Belovezhskaya Pushcha without visas

Foreign citizens can see the national park Belovezhskaya Pushcha without Belarusian visas.

The option is available for up to three days if the tourists cross the border via the border checkpoint Pererov–Belovezha, which is located in the center of the ancient forest at the Belarusian-Polish border.

Pedestrians and cyclists are eligible for the simplified border crossing procedure. By the way, it is at this border checkpoint where, following the established tradition, Belarusian border servicemen carry out an original ritual of letting New Year into the country without delays at the end of December.

In accordance with the regulations on foreign citizens’ access to the national park Belovezhskaya Pushcha tourists are supposed to have:

  • a passport or an equivalent document valid for foreign travels as well as a migration card and an insurance policy;
  • a pass for visiting the national park. The document can be obtained via a travel agency or on your own by filling in an application on the official website of Belovezhskaya Pushcha and printing the confirmation that specifies the expected time of arrival at the international border checkpoint.

For 72 hours foreign guests do not need visas to travel inside the park along the approved tourist routes (routes for bicycles, pedestrians, and other ones).

Things to see near Belovezhskaya Pushcha National Park

There is plenty to keep you busy in the Belovezhskaya Pushcha National Park, but if you are in the region for a while other local attractions include:

Great Patriotic War monuments in Belarus
Souvenirs from Belarus
Belarusian sanatoria and health resorts