Travel photography: Poland 2020 - Part 2

October 23, 2020

Poland is a fairly large country and even within a few weeks it is hardly possible to see and appreciate the whole of it. For that reason I concentrated my visit solely on the southeastern half of the country. My previous article showed the best parts of the cities and national parks close to the borders of Czech Republic, Slovakia and Ukraine. Continuing north there was a final National Park for me to explore. A place that is of greatest significance in Europe's natural history and one of the most famous national parks of the continent.

Białowieża National Park

Białowieża National Park stretches over an area of 150km² over Polish and Belorussian territory. Its best preserved part is one of the last remaining primeval forests in Europe and provides a glimpse of how large parts of this continent used to look like after the last ice age around 20,000 years ago.

A great variety of trees, bushes and ferns in all stages of life can be encountered in this untouched wilderness. Fallen trees are complex eco systems for insects and rodents, higher up a large variety of bird life can be observed.
A lake in the park within Białowieża town.

The forest is however not only a place to see untouched landscapes, it also a refuge for countless threatened animal species. Apart from countless bird species, deer, brown bear and even four distinct wolf packs it is especially known for being a habitat of the few remaining wild European bison.

European bison on the outskirts of Białowieża town.

This magnificent bull was grazing on the meadows long before sunrise. Observing one of those giants emerge from the mist in an almost completely silent environment, only broken up by the sounds of a very light drizzle and the distant breathing sounds of this imposing animal, is an almost surreal experience.

I stalked the bison for several days and had three different encounters. I always observe from a large distance so not to disturb the animals, but on this occasion we surprised each other due to the low visibility on the edge of the forest and the strong fog.
Even though the extremely low light conditions make it almost impossible to take pictures, the misty meadow creates a unique atmosphere.
The European bison, also known as the wisent is one of the two surviving bison species, the other one being the American bison.
Male and female specimen feeding. Bulls are up to 2m tall, and can weigh up to a ton. Despite their large size they can jump up over 2m high fences and clear 3m wide streams.
Family portrait. Females live in mixed-sex groups of on average 12 individuals. Males, especially older ones, are either solitary or form small groups of 2-3 individuals. They join the mixed groups for a short period during the mating season. In winter, bison can form huge herds of several hundred animals at the locations where they are fed.
Calves preparing for territorial fights in adulthood.
Since I was so lucky to have the opportunity to shoot the American and European bison I wanted to include a visual comparison in this article.
Top: European bison in Poland.
Bottom: American bison in Colorado.
Sunrise over the forest. At this time the bison has usually returned to the safety of the forest.

Without adding many explanations I'd just like to show some of the serene atmospheres of the misty forest in the early morning.

Impressions of Białowieża forest.


Situated in the Polish heartland the capital Warsaw is the most important cultural and commercial hub of the country. Warsaw is the 7th most-populous capital city in the European Union with its 1.8 million inhabitants. Like with so many polish cities and towns the historical Old Town is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Views of Castle Square and the Royal Castle.
Houses on the Old Town Market Square.
The Palace on the Isle in Łazienki Park was originally a baroque Bath-House.
Wilanów Palace is one of Poland's most important monuments.

Moszna Castle

Moszna Castle is a historic castle located in southwestern Poland. The baroque palace with its numerous turrets and spires is one of the most outstanding examples of 17th century architecture and has been often featured in the list of most beautiful castles in the world.
Unfortunately I couldn't be on location at the right time of day and so the colors turned out to be particularly ugly in this back-lit image. That is always a good reason for a monochrome conversion.

This concludes my Poland series. I hope you found some enticing imagery and maybe even some inspiration towards your next holiday.

Thanks for reading!

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