Naliboki Wilderness & Wildlife / Wit Rusland
The Nature is wild, vast and deserted and history is there for the taking. The landscape is flat and consists largely of swamp forests. It is home to elk, wisent, wolf, red deer, raccoon dog, lynx. Capercaillie, black stork and screaming eagle. And beavers, lots of beavers!
After arriving at Minsk airport, we drive directly to the Naust Fieldstation, in the middle of the Naliboki Forest. This field station will be our home base. It is a beautiful wooden farmhouse / log cabin with a few outbuildings. We sleep and eat there the rest of the time. It is simple, but has a very nice atmosphere. A small stream flows within walking distance.
During the entire expedition we will head out into the woods every day. That can be in a kayak to descend a small stream with a real chance of encountering otter and beaver. You have the option to sit in one of the wildlife observation huts (possibly with overnight stay). We go out early in the morning and in the twilight with the chance of seeing big game such as moose, wisent and -who- wolf- or lynx. During the day we stroll through the woods. The landscape changes continuously and quickly. We have never experienced that anywhere else. You walk a swamp forest with alder and suddenly you enter a mixed forest with lime trees and oak and a few hundred meters further a scots pine and peat moss. Special!
You also have the opportunity to experience the balts of capercaillie and black grouse.
There is a lot of history to be found. WW 1, but certainly WW 2 has left its mark. The film "Defiance" (a truth-based story of a large group of Jews who, under the leadership of the Bielski brothers in WW2, survive the war by fleeing into the Naliboki forest) took place here. The traces of the "village" built by them can still be seen. We're going to that place.
More than 10,000 partisans lived in these woods during the war. An impressive achievement if you only consider that everyone had to be fed...
After the war the Russians came with their vision on agriculture: draining the swamps. The created canals were an easy way in for beavers which, with all their gnaws and built dams, formed Naliboki to what it is today. A total of more than 7000 (!) "Beaver pounds" have arisen.
Also in Belarus the countryside is also running empty. Everywhere you come across abandoned houses, sometimes everything is still inside. We will undoubtedly visit such houses.
To participate in this expedition you do not need basic knowledge of bushcraft. You sleep inside (and / or a single night in an observation hut). All food is taken care of. Breakfast and dinner we will eat at the field station, lunches en route in the forest.
In terms of physical fitness you must be absolutely fit. We make long days in the woods, you walk on rubber boots and the terrain is rough; water, mud, fallen trees, peat and swamp, and the forest is sometimes overgrown. If there are paths, we do not walk them much!
After an intensive day outside you come back to the field station. We light the wood stove while dinner is being cooked. In the evening Vadim gives short lectures about the area and (behavior of) the large carnivores. To end the day, we heat the sauna and finish the day in style.
We are going to Belarus in the spring because the reed fields are still low. The forests are not yet full in the leaves (so more view of wildlife), and both wolf and lynx are more active. And - not unimportantly - the mosquitoes are not yet very present.
Duration: 10 days (start and end time depending on flights)
Group size: min 8 - max 10
Prerequisites: not required
Level of fitness: this is a physically demanding experience. We will be covering many miles each day, most of them off trail. Physical fitness is a must!
Catering: fully catered
Location: Naliboki Forest - Belarus / Wit Rusland
Accommodation: traditional woodcabins
Included: accomodation, all meals and transport in Belarus
Not included: flight from and to Minsk, your Visa (± 60,- pp) and personal equipment
- observing big game (wolf. eland. lynx, bison)
- tracking wolf, lynx, wisent, moose and more
- trailing big game
- mating of capercaillie and grouse
- short trip with kayaks with chances of seeing otter and bever
- visiting one the primeval forests
- visiting remainders of WW (1 and) 2
- history of the area itself, including visits to abandoned houses
- short evening lectures on big carnivores (wolf and lynx)