Puszcza Niepołomicka, Niepołomice 23 Feb 2023
Located to the south and east of Niepołomice proper, today Niepołomice Forest occupies 110 square kilometres of protected habitat for rare species of owl, fox, boar, spotted eagles and black storks which can still be seen by visitors. At the very heart of the forest is also a special conservation and breeding ground for Polish bison (żubr) where approximately 30 of the endangered animals currently live. Unfortunately for those hoping to get an up-close look at the largest surviving land mammal in Europe, the 70 hectare habitat is strictly off-limits to the public without permission (the kind of permission it's just not worth even trying to get - we speak from experience); however it is possible to hike up the perimeter of the reserve by taking the 8km red trail. Visitors can traverse the original ‘Royal Road’ from Niepołomice to Poszyna by hiking the 14km green trail, while the 12km blue trail leads to the mass graves of Poles and Jews from WWII. There are also cycling and horseback riding trails criss-crossing the forest, a 4km educational trail lined with placards describing the local flora and fauna, and even a nine-hole golf course. You can access most of these trails from the parking next to 'Smak Bar' on route 75 if you have a car; if not it's about a 2km hike south-east down ul. Bocheńska from Niepołomice's Rynek.