5 things you can do in a Polish forest

30% of Poland is covered by forest. That’s a lot, and there are ways for you to use it.

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Some people coming to live to Poland were not blessed with having such wonderful forests in their countries of origin. Poor souls have no idea about forests, and how it could be a great place to spend free time.

Generally access to public forests (and almost 80% of forests are public) is free. However, sometimes, especially in times of draught, access may be restricted or forbidden.

Forests not only produce timber, but are a treasure for the enviorenment: puryfying the air, and protecting water resources. Providing a home to many species of animals and plants. And a good place to relax. But what else can you do in a forest?

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If you live in Poland, there is probably a forest near you

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1) You can go mushroom picking! Poland is one of those countries where mushroom picking is a hobby and a popular pastime. It’s like a Polish golf… only not snobbish. You spend your time outside, breathe fresh air… You walk, and talk with your friends/family. 
Amateur mushroom-specialists, taught by previous generations, know how to recognise each kind of mushroom – as mushrooms come in many varieties. 
Be warned: don’t pick mushrooms yourself, if you don’t know which are which. Some mushrooms, for instance the amanita phalloides (muchomor sromotnikowy) are highly poisonous (when eaten).

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Amanita phalloides – you want to avoid these

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If you’re too scared of picking up the wrong mushrooms, you can go for berries. Forrests are full of blackberries and wild strawberries. They are delish, healthy, and completely free! Yes, it’s legal to pick them too.

2) You can get birch juice! Birch juice (sok z brzozy) is a refreshing and light drink in taste similar to very lightly sugared water. How do you make it? You don’t. The tree does. When the spring comes, you just make a hole, put a tube in, attach a bottle and voila! It’s natural and very healthy, contains all sorts of microelements and stuff. One of the healthiest drink options.

However when you’re done, fix the hole you made. Glue it with pine resin, or insert a wooden cork and level with the surface of the tree.

If you can’t be bothered with all that, you can still buy bottled birch juice in shops in Poland, but that’s not the same thing. It’s got added sugar and preservatives. But you can try.

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Old fashioned installation for getting birch juice

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3) You can go hunting! To be allowed to hunt, you need to become a member of local hunters’ association (Związek Łowiecki) and pay a special fee (it’s similar with fishing). Hunters’ Associations co-operate with foresters in managing the numbers of animals (like wolf, deer, boar etc.) in forrests. Each year hunters are given quotas of animals they are allowed to shoot. If you enjoy hunting, they will tell you how to arrange everything.

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About to become a fireplace decoration

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4) You can go on a walk or on a bike trip. There are many hiking and biking trails set in the forests and country areas. Usually well marked and with some interesting sights on the way as well as places to refresh yourself. It’s best to enquire about local trails at local tourist information, where most likely special maps and guides will be available for purchase. Ask also about non-marked trails, as Bikers’ Associations and other organisations sometimes make interesting proposals and your local tourist guides may have information about it. PTTK organisation manages many of the official trails, and and provide information and links on their website (in Polish) http://szlaki.pttk.pl/

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Trail marks – should tell you which way to go…

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5) You can learn something! There are many forest stations, with childrens’ facilities and learning centre. Children and tourists can learn there about flora and fauna in the area. There may also be some special events for all sorts of occasions. Ask around, enquite the local tourist information. Many of these institutions have websites.

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Good times at “Forest School” in Barbarka near Toruń

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In a forrest you should never light any fires or smoke cigarettes. And you should always take your trash back with you (if that’s not possible second option is to burry it). If you see that others left their trash, which unfortunately sometimes happens, it doesn’t mean you can do it too.

Otherwise – have fun!

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28 thoughts on “5 things you can do in a Polish forest

  1. pstradomski says:

    Forrest? Double r?

  2. Gabriela says:

    These description sound wonderful! I wasn’t aware there were so many forrests in Poland. One more reason for me to want to visit that beautiful country.
    Regards from Lima!

  3. Malcolm says:

    I loved it! I’m still trying to work out where the tag about animal husbandry fits in though…

    You forgot to mention:
    Jumping in Muddy Puddles
    Stealing Christmas Trees
    Snogging

  4. bob says:

    Nice post. We bike quite a bit and have found great improvements in the trail marking system over the past few years. There are some excellent riding trails that are well marked throughout Poland. In particular surrounding Warsaw.

    We also have stayed a couple of times in the (pardon my spelling) Letnisko Houses – not very high class but comfortable and always managed by the local forester who are very welcoming.

  5. You can also do a bit of Geocaching in the forests. And, with regards to the trash: bring along a trash bag when you’re hiking and pick some up on your way out. Doesn’t hardly take any time and makes you feel good. :)

  6. DC says:

    I’m hoping that if I time my next visit to Poland properly, my cousin will offer to take me mushroom picking. And that birch juice thing sounds like something I have to try. Nice post.

    Brad – excellent idea about the trash.

  7. Scatts says:

    Okay, okay.

    First off, you’ve been watching far too much Ray Mears and Bush Grinds (or whatever his name is) bloody silly survival programmes. They’re really into Birch sap, along with Wichitaw grubs and other pointless things that are far harder work than a McD drive thru!

    The #1 biggest thing to do in a Polish forest (only 1 r) is GET YOUR ARSE EATEN OFF BY SODDING MOSQUITOES. Just like I’ve been doing this weekend.

    Mushroom picking is about as much fun as watching paint dry. Best let the wizzened old generation do the picking and you do the eating.

    Bikes I’m on get bogged down in sand. Must be the weight.

    Walking – see mosquitoes. Tough to enjoy a walk dressed in air-tight defensive apparel.

    Have fun? Look there’s a tree! Oh look, there’s another tree! Wow, look over there, it’s a tree!

    Best thing to do with forests = napalm the mosquitoes and turn the timber into Ikea tables for 19.99 a pop!

    ;)

  8. island1 says:

    1) Fleeing from imaginary wolves and bears.
    2) Playing partisan.
    3) Stripping foliage from trees and selling it in town.
    4) Getting lost, being adopted by a moose herd, losing the ability to speak, emerging five years later as moose-boy.
    5) Playing Little Red Riding Hood with the girlfriend: My! what big teeth you have!

  9. DC says:

    First Truffault, then Jodie Foster, now Island.

  10. kuba says:

    Scatts,

    Well and the blueberry stains are terrible. And those mother in law mushrooms will get to you. And the polluted air is bad.

    Not many speeders and thieves in the forest. City air is great.

  11. island1 says:

    DC: My Truffault–Jodie Foster database is down; please supply simple explanation for idiots.

  12. DC says:

    Item #4 on your to do list. I thought maybe you were working on a screenplay or something.

    “Wild Child” Truffault 1969 -about a feral child. Haven’t seen it.
    “Nell” – 1994 starring Jodie foster. Critically well-received, but the only thing that stuck with me is her grunting noises that a guy in my office recreates remarkably well.

  13. Scatts says:

    Shurley…..

    4) Jungle Book?

  14. island1 says:

    Aha. First Kipling, then Truffault, then Foster.

    By the way, what is that mysterious figure in the first picture? I can’t make out if it’s a tree stump or a person or a sylvan demi-god. I think we should be told. Or rather, I think we should run like hell and then be told.

  15. MaterialGirl says:

    I (as wild women) recommend wild sex in the wild nature (forest)!!!

  16. kuba says:

    Material Girl,

    It that you in the forrest on the way to Elblag?

  17. Scatts says:

    Jamie, I think it’s the “Wizard of Words”, he’s a pal of Messy and Lippy. Essentially that’s 3 people all on large spoonfuls of LSD trying to make a kids TV programme. You have to see it to believe it. Even more mysterious than magic roundabout was – back in the day.

    I can almost hear him saying:

    I know you
    and you know me
    and we all know
    that that’s a tree!

    [repeat ad infinitum]

  18. island1 says:

    It IS the Wizard of Words! Thanks for that, now I’ll be awake all night seeing images of that disturbing de-animated zombie doll the woman drags around with her.

  19. Scatts says:

    Glad to see we have another believer in the fold!

    :-)

  20. Ania says:

    You naughty naughty man! Now I really miss Kolumna… Will cry in the pillow all week. Boooo!
    Forests are also extremely good for playing paintball and interactive games like Flamberg, and camping out on a clearing, setting up a camp fire and getting mightily drunk, then not being able to find your tent, then looking at the sun, upon consideration deciding it is the moon actually because it’s still dark, waking up in water because of selecting the wrong piece of ground to pitch up the tent on before the rain.
    The good thing is that mosquitoes hate alcohol.
    Oh yes, and wild sex in the bushes.

  21. DC says:

    Just make sure you don’t _tell_ anyone what you’ve done in the bushes.

  22. kuba says:

    Just looking for blueberries officer

  23. Ania says:

    Wait a minute, I thought we were modern and pro-choice on this forum? Shake the bushes, shake the bushes! Ta-ra-ra!

  24. PMK says:

    Pstradomski— He might have been referring to Forrest as in “Nathan Bedford Forrest” the Confederate general in the American Civil War, as well as founder of the KKK.

    A violent and vile man, he did indeed spend a lot of time in forests and Mrs. Forrest (presumably his wife.)

  25. sunshine says:

    anu b yng mga bgay n nakukuha x kgubatn????
    tulad ng papel,blackboard at anu p????

  26. Man, this has to be the ONE thing I miss the most about not living in Poland any longer. I loved the forests, from walks, to the shroom picking, and the smell, wow! Those pine trees, it’s like a perma car freshener without the artificial stench.

  27. Kickin77 says:

    A popular polish past time is ”wywiesc do lasu”.
    You need a car with a spacious car boot , few male friends , basball bat and somone who owns you money / disrespected you . Oh and a forest .

  28. coleman tent says:

    Mushroom is reputed to have numerous health benefits. ” it also has a nice, earthy flavor. Mushroom is eaten as a food, and maitake-d fraction is marketed as adietary supplement in the united states and japan. There have been more than 400 animal studies and over a dozen placebo-controlled double-blind human clinical studies published in peer reviewed medical journals.

    Let’s Mushroom Picking!

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