Why are tourists attracted to Belovezhskaya Pushcha?

Why are tourists attracted to Belovezhskaya Pushcha?

Belarus is often called the lungs of Europe due to its territory which is by a third covered by forests. For instance, the Belovezhskaya Pushcha National Park is probably the only existing old-growth forest in Europe. It is exotics for tourists from France or Germany. Besides being famous for its old-growing trees, Belovezhskaya Pushcha is known to tourists for the diversity of wild animals.

From autumn and throughout the year the animals of the forest are in need of extra food and what is more, all the animals have their own menu.

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Forest ranger Yuri Gordeyuk has been working here for more than 40 years now and like nobody else he knows why tourists are attracted by this primeval forest.

Yuri Gordeyuk, forest ranger:
Tourists admire the place. For them it is not so interesting to see the animals or to do some hunting, they are more interested in the nature.

Hunting is what brings the Belovezhskaya Pusha National Park a rather reasonable profit. A special platform serves for determining the weak animals, deer for instance. At the moment there are 2000 deer in the forest, nevertheless, their optimal population is 300 heads less than it should be. 

SEE: Belovezhskaya Pushcha documentary shot by Animal Planet presented in Minsk

By the way, the population of bisons in Belaovezhskaya Pushcha is 200 heads more than the norm. Hunting on these animals is the main source of income. The hunting tourism alone, besides the hooved and fur animals, can bring up to 1.5 million dollars of profit. However, it can be so only during the best of the seasons and when the right approach is chosen.

Probably another reason why many tourists are attracted to the place is that they can cook themselves what they have killed during the hunting. All in all, about of 150 foreign tourists hunt in the Belovezhskaya Pushcha National Park every year. Nevertheless, tourists come to the place not only to do some hunting; they are interested in the cultural aspect of Belarus as well.

Svetlana Kobylkevich, culture expert:
People come here to rest with their heart and soul. Besides hearing wild birds singing, they can also hear the loud singing of our cockerel. In a way it is our attention grabber, it gives some traditional color to the place.

The Belovezhskaya Pushcha Reserve also offers bicycle routes, photo safari and if you wish, you can visit the residence of Dzed Maroz (Father Frost), a zoo and you can stay in one of the hotels. The number of tourists increases with every year.

Andrzej Penkos from Poland came to the Belarusian part of the reserve to have a rest from busy and nisy Warsaw.

Andrzej Penkos, tourist:
Walks, quietness, nature-everything you can’t find in a city, I can see and feel it all here. It is the main reason to come here I already had time to try out draniki (traditional Belarusian potato pancakes) and Belarusian herbal tea.

Nevertheless, the Belarusian and Polish sides of the reserves have one mutual problem - the timber beetle. However, the approaches towards fighting with the pests are different. Belarusian foresters avoid cutting down trees, they only do it when it is vitally necessary.

SEE: Poland to continue cutting down Belovezhskaya Pushcha trees despite EU court position