We had an exciting and rewarding experience in the beautiful Naliboki Forest of Belarus. My husband and I stayed with the family of Vadim Sidorovich, researcher/professor and outdoorsman, as well as five other photographers. It was the beginning of March and very cold and rainy at times. However, that doesn’t stop the life in the forest. For a total of four days and three nights, we spent time trekking through the forest searching for animal footprints, markings, and habitats.
The forest itself is breathtaking, with many hidden treasures and stories of hardship underneath the surface. Vadim taught us about the animals of the forest, the human acts of courage throughout the ages, and the huge amount of deaths in the forest during World War II. Thankfully, we were prepared emotionally and physically for our trip. We brought plenty of warm and waterproof clothing for our long treks through the marshy forest, and we had extra layers especially for the periods of sitting and waiting.
The animals are shy, so it required much patience for us to see any. Still, we saw roe and red deer, elk, foxes, rare birds, bison, and a mink. On our last day, while driving around searching for animals, we were rewarded with the sighting of a lifetime. There, in the middle of the road just to the right, sat the ghost of the forest—a lynx—staring at us. It waited there, allowing us to take a few hurried pictures, for about 20 seconds. Vadim let us know that the large male lynx was probably waiting for a mate to come along. After seeing our vehicles, he seemingly changed his mind. We were delighted by the sighting, as it is so rare to actually see one of these animals in their natural habitat!
We highly recommend this experience for anyone who has a love for outdoors and learning about nature and animals. It is also a great place for nature photographers and anyone looking to escape the city grind. You will be well taken care of by Vadim and his family, with wonderful home-cooked meals and a warm room to sleep at night. We became especially fond of the sauna next to our bedroom. It was a delightful experience to warm up so thoroughly after walking around or sitting in the cold all day. Overall, our trip was one we will never forget, and we hope to visit again soon. Perhaps we could get lucky and come and see wolf pups in May or June!