Bison watching travel guide

BISON WATCHING HOLIDAYS GUIDE


2 MINUTE SUMMARY

You might be surprised at just how well hidden these ever so handsome heavyweights can be, particularly in Poland’s ancient Białowieża Forest – the last remaining wild habitat for European bison. The reintroduction of bison to this part of Europe is a real antidote to zoos. Finally seeing a herd appear between sunbeams in a glade, or a lone bison snorting steam from both barrels on a crisp winter’s morning, throws a heck of a lot of weight behind watching wildlife in gorgeous natural habitats, rather than behind bars. Cross over the pond to Yellowstone National Park in the USA, meanwhile, and sightings are virtually assured, with winter tours promise far fewer crowds than summer. Our bison watching travel guide reveals these silent, snow-covered scenes that stand in contrast to steaming geothermal pools and cosy log cabins.
Bison watching holidays are...

best in the winter when white-cloaked wilderness adds to the thrill of seeing a snow-encrusted, steaming snout.
Bison watching holidays aren’t...

carried out with binoculars from the side of a safari vehicle – get ready to walk, especially in Poland.
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If you'd like to chat about Bison watching holidays or need help finding a holiday to suit you we're very happy to help.
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WHAT DO BISON WATCHING HOLIDAYS ENTAIL?


SPOTTING EUROPE’S & NORTH AMERICA’S LARGEST LAND MAMMAL

Our bison watching holidays are wild, really wild. In Poland’s Białowieża National Park, the reintroduced European bison are in their natural environment, coexisting alongside other animals, without coming into contact with an inordinate amount of humans or traffic or buildings. They’re free to roam without restrictions, which is why learning how to interact with bison, from a safe distance, is integral to having an incredibly memorable experience, for all the right reasons.
Yellowstone National Park, too, is all about watching bison in the wilderness, although there maybe a few ‘bison jams’ causing traffic to back up around the Lamar Valley during the summer. Visit in winter, however, and you’ll have the roads, and the snow dusted bison, practically all to yourself.

Bison watching holidays in Yellowstone will require several short drives followed by short walks whereas trips into Białowieża feature longer walks – up to 12km per day – although pace will be slow and gradients flat. In winter, expect to get around the frozen forest on snow shoes or cross country skis.

Small group tours


Joining a small group (sometimes with as few as seven travellers) with a specialist wildlife guide and tour leader is the best way to dedicate time to watching these bulky beasts without encroaching on their space or interfering with their natural routine. Watching bison with an expert guide is the only way to gain firsthand experience of these amazing animals without worrying that you’ve strayed too close to a herd, or too far away from the track. Specialist wildlife guides will ensure you watch bison from the safest place possible, sometimes at incredibly close proximity to a herd. They are on hand to answer questions on the natural and social history of the areas.

What else will I see?


Not only will you be tracking bison on these holidays but you'll also be keeping an eye out for smaller beasties, too. Wild boar, pine martens, wolves, lynx and lesser-spotted eagles are all known to inhabit Białowieża National Park, whilst bears, coyotes and bald eagles, with huge talons, call Yellowstone home.
Although you won't necessarily come into direct contact with wolves, lynx and bears, for instance, guides will be able to point out the telltale signs of their existence. Winter is the best time to spot paw prints in the snow or keep ears open for howls and hoots echoing into the night. Tour groups will bond as they explore these wild environments together, before returning to a family run guesthouse or cosy spa retreat to recount the day’s events.

BEST TIME TO WATCH BISON


TEMPERATURE & RAINFALL

The best time to go on a bison watching holiday is Jan-Mar. Not only is there less foliage, making sightings easier, but you might also see bison burying their heads in thick snow, in search of grass, as well as having a better chance to track other animals such as wolves. You can still track them outside of these months, with warm weather opening up walking and cycling paths in Białowieża Forest as herds appear in open glades for mating season in Jul-Aug. Yellowstone gets busy in summer as all roads are open through the park; just be prepared for the odd ‘bison jam’ in Lamar Valley.
Photo credits: [Topbox: Devin Stein] [Entail intro: Pat (Cletch) Williams] [What else will I see?: vlod007] [Temp chart: Francesco Carrani]

Written by: Chris Owen
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