Orlovskoye Polesye National Park

National Park in Western European Russia

Orlovskoye Polesye, 85km northwest of Oryol, is a placid slice of taiga, with over 360 sq km of thick forest, lakes and wildflower-dotted grasslands. It's a fantastic spot for fishing, camping and walking, but this is more than your average nature getaway. The park is home to over 500 European bison, which roam free under a special protection and breeding program. The well-managed park runs bison tours (R2000 per group, winter only), allowing visitors to observe the grand beasts feeding and playing.

Orlovskoye Polesye also houses an open-air zoo, a sacred spring and an ostrich farm. Outdoorsy types can trek along signposted ecotrails or take off on a rented bike, boat or horse. The website has full details of activities and accommodation options.

In theory it's possible to get here via public transport by catching a train to Bryansk and alighting at Khotynets, then catching a bus on to Zhudre village. You can also get a bus to Khotynets from Oryol. However, in reality having your own transport is the only real option.