Slowinski National Park

The route leads along the Baltic Coast and the Vistula Lagoon as well as through the northern part of the Masurian Lake District. The most interesting places en route are Slowinski National Park (a Biosphere Reserve), Druzno Lake (a large ornithological reserve ) and Karas Lake (a Ramsar Site). The route is about 500 kilometres long.



Arrive in Gdansk and transfer by coach to Smoldzino village (150km) which is situated close to the border of Slowinski National Park.

A full day walk in Slowinski National Park (18247 ha) which was established to protect a unique habitat of moving dunes, coastal lakes and natural forests. In Slowinski National Park 255 bird species have been recorded, over 140 of which nest there. Amongst them are: Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo, Bittern Botaurus stellaris, Grey Heron Ardea cinerea, White Stork Ciconia ciconia, Red Kite Milvus milvus, White-tailed Eagle Haliaetus albicilla, Lesser Spotted Eagle Aquila pomarina, Corncrake Crex crex, Crane Grus grus Ringed Plover Charadrius hiaticula, Black-tailed Godwit Limosa limosa, Dunlin Calidris alpina, Black Tern Chlidonias niger Eagle Owl Bubo bubo, Tengmalm’s Owl Aegolius funereus, Bearded Tit Panurus biarmicus and Black Woodpecker Dryocopus martius. The coastal lakes in the Park are good places to find birds on passage. Overnight stay in Smoldzino.

In the morning we will visit the southern part of Slowinski Park, then in the afternoon transfer to Wladyslawowo (70 km). If time allows we will take a short excursion on the Hel Peninsula, where every year passage birds are counted. Overnight stay in Jastrzebia Gora resort, close to Wladyslawowo.

An early morning visit to the vast peatbogs close to Jastrzebia Gora, where Cranes are very common. Later we travel along Pucka Bay and Gdansk Bay to Krynica Morska resort which lies at the Vistula Sandbar. On the way two stops will be made at important sites for birds:
a/ Salt meadows at the estuary of the Reda river. Amongst nesting birds are: Dunlin Calidris alpina, Red-breasted Merganser Mergus serrator, Oystercatcher Haematopus ostralegus, Ringed Plover Charadrius hiaticula, Lapwing Vanellus vanellus, Redshank Tringa totanus and Little Tern Sterna albifrons. During the autumn passage thousands of birds stop here.
b/ The mouth of the Vistula. This whole area, with its numerous sandy islets and sandbanks, attracts huge numbers of birds especially in the non-breeding season. Some species are counted in tens of thousands. Overnight stay at Krynica Morska.

After a morning’s birdwatching on the Vistula Sandbar we tour round the Vistula Lagoon with stops at important sites for birds at Elblaska Bay and the estuary of the Pasleka river. The Vistula Lagoon is an important sanctuary for waterbirds. Amongst nesting birds are: Great Crested Grebe Podiceps cristatus, Bittern Botaurus stellaris, Little Bittern Ixobrychus minutus, many species of duck, Marsh Harrier Circus aeruginosus, Montagu’s Harrier C. pygargus, Spotted Crake Porzana porzana, Corncrake Crex crex, Black-tailed Godwit Limosa limosa, Redshank Tringa totanus, Black Tern Chlidonias niger and Bearded Tit Panurus biarmicus. At the end of the Vistula Sandbar there are large colonies of Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo and Grey Heron Ardea cinerea. The Lagoon is also a place where many bird species winter or pause during spring and autumn passages. In the vicinity of the Lagoon are hills covered by old beech forest, where again there is a rich bird fauna. Overnight stay in Elblag.

In the morning we visit the ornithological reserve at Druzno Lake (3020 ha). The lake is shallow and partly covered by vegetation. The reserve is a place where 60 species of bird nest, amongst them: Grebes (four species), Bittern Botaurus stellaris, Little bittern Ixobrychus minutus, Greylag Goose Anser anser, Wigeon Anas penelope, Montagu’s Harrier Circus pygargus, Marsh Harrier C. aeruginosus, Mute Swan Cygnus olor, Penduline Tit Remiz pendulinus, Water Rail Rallus aquaticus, Spotted Crake Porzana porzana, Grasshopper Warbler Locustella naevia, Sedge Warbler Acrocephalus schoenobaenus and Common Rosefinch Carpodacus erythrinus. In the afternoon we transfer to Pojezierze Ilawskie Landscape Park (Ilawa Lake District). There are extensive forests and numerous lakes of differentiated trophic conditions. 120 species of breeding birds have been recorded there e.g.: Black Stork Ciconia nigra, Black and Red Kite Milvus migrans and M. milvus White-tailed Eagle Haliaetus albicilla, Honey Buzzard Pernis apivorus, Marsh Harrier Circus aeruginosus, Lesser Spotted Eagle Aquila pomarina, Osprey Pandion haliaetus, Crane Grus grus and Black Tern Chlidonias nigra. Overnight stay in Ilawa.

A visit to the partially vegetated Karas Lake (Ramsar Site) where over 80 species of birds nest. Later, transfer to the Drweca river valley (close to Brodnica) which is of high ornithological value. Birds nesting there include: Grebes (three species), Bittern Botaurus stellaris, White Stork Ciconia ciconia, Mute Swan Cygnus olor, Greylag Goose Anser anser, Gadwall Anas strepera, Garganey A. querquedula Shoveler A. clypeata, Goldeneye Bucephala clangula, Goosander Mergus merganser, Red Kite Milvus milvus, Marsh Harrier Circus aeruginosus, Lesser Spotted Eagle Aquila pomarina, Water Rail Rallus aquaticus, Spotted Crake Porzana porzana, Corncrake Crex crex, Moorhen Gallinula chloropus, Lapwing Vanellus vanellus, Common Snipe Gallinago gallinago, Redshank Tringa totanus and Black Tern Chlidonias niger. In the evening we travel to Torun for an overnight stay.

Transfer to Gdansk or Warsaw and depart for home.


During this tour optional visits can also be made to the following interesting historical monuments:
  • Gdansk - the town which is 1000 years old. Gdansk is full of historic buildings, including the famous St. Mary's Church. Restoration of the old city after the Second World War destruction was a distinguished success of Polish conservators
  • Westerplatte - the place where the Second World War began.
  • Frombork - a splendid gothic cathedral from the 14th century, with adjacent buildings, and the place where Copernicus lived and wrote his work.
  • Malbork - the biggest gothic castle in Europe, built by the Teutonic Knights and now a World Heritage Site
  • The Ostroda-Elblag Canal - a masterpiece of 19th century engineering
  • Golub-Dobrzyn - the castle built in the 14th century by the Teutonic Knights
  • Torun - an old town on the Vistula river. Its medieval centre is very well preserved