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WINGS Birding Tours – Information

Belarus

Tour Information

Note: The information presented below has been extracted from our formal General Information for this tour.  It covers topics we feel potential registrants may wish to consider before booking space.  The complete General Information for this tour will be sent to all tour registrants and of course supplemental information, if needed, is available from the WINGS office.

ENTERING BELARUS: 

US citizens will need a passport, valid for at least three months beyond your intended departure date and with at least two blank pages for visa and entry stamps. US passport holders traveling to Belarus via Minsk International Airport may enter visa-free for up to 30 days for tourism. Visitors to Belarus must show evidence of a medical insurance policy with at least 10,000 Euros of coverage valid throughout Belarus. Such a policy may be purchased at the airport on arrival. Visit the Belarusian Embassy web site for the latest information regarding entry requirements: http://usa.mfa.gov.by/en/consular_issues/visas/

COUNTRY INFORMATION: You can review the U.S. Department of State Country Specific Travel Information at https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/international-travel/International-Travel-Country-Information-Pages/Belarus.html, and the CIA World Factbook background notes on Belarus at https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/bo.html

PACE OF TOUR AND DAILY ROUTINE:  Daybreak is at around 05.30 so we’ll offer a few optional pre-breakfast local walks. On most days we’ll stay out for the entire day taking a packed lunch with us. Most of the time we’ll walk slowly, occasionally over moderately rough terrain. Some longer walks may be necessary for a chance at Great Grey Owl and other specific species; however the vehicle is never far away if anyone wants to return early or sit out any particular walk. On a few days we’ll have an early evening meal and return to the field to look for owls or visit a lek. 

Our first day is a long travel day (with a fe stop) to get to our hotel in time to check-in and have dinner. We’ll have another long travel day mid-tour, birding en route, to reach our hotel close to Sporovo Reserve. After discovering the best parts of the reserve the next day we’ll continue to our base in the primeval forest close to the Polish border. 

HEALTH:  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that all travelers be up to date on routine vaccinations. These include measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine, diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis vaccine, varicella (chickenpox) vaccine, polio vaccine, and your yearly flu shot. 

They further recommend that most travelers have protection against Hepatitis A.

The most current information about travelers’ health recommendations can be found on the CDC’s  Travel Health website at https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/destinations/traveler/none/belarus

Water:  Water is safe to drink at all the places we stay. Bottled water is widely available. 

Insects:   We may have problems with mosquitoes in marshy and forest areas, where they can reach plague proportions –especially if we go into the forest at dawn to look for woodpeckers or at dusk to look for owls. Careful application of  repellents ontaining at least 35% of the active ingredient, diethyltoluamide (DEET) provides good protection. 

Smoking:  Smoking is prohibited in the vehicles or when the group is gathered for meals, checklists, etc. If you are sharing a room with a nonsmoker, please do not smoke in the room. If you smoke in the field, do so well away and downwind from the group. If any location where the group is gathered has a stricter policy than the WINGS policy, that stricter policy will prevail. 

CLIMATE: We can expect almost any kind of weather during this trip. Mornings can be cold but it can be warm by midday, so relatively high daily temperature fluctuations can happen. If we get sunny days it can get very hot 86°F (30°C) but we expect those to be tempered with a pleasant breeze. A good waterproof jacket is needed as is a warm sweater but it is advisable to bring a sun hat as well. 

ACCOMMODATION: Throughout the tour we will stay in good quality accommodation with comfortable rooms, close to birding sites. All rooms will have private facilities and hot water. Towels are provided. 

Internet Access:  Wifi is only widely available at our hotel in Beloozersk and Belovashkaya Pushcha. Both require a scratch-card which contains both the username and password. Wi-Fi is also available on request at the restaurant we use while staying at our hotel in Turov. Wi-Fi is very cheap in Belarus with a 30 minute scratch-card costing the equivalent of about $0.40. 

FOOD:  In recent years the standard of food in Belarus has improved with a wide variety of dishes now available.  There will be many local dishes including lots of varieties of wholesome soups.  Breakfasts typically consist of a selection of cold cheeses and meats, and most hotels provide something cooked as well, typically boiled sausages or eggs.  Toast is rarely offered. We will have packed lunches or provide a picnic at a suitable birding site.  These consist of a variety of meats, cheese, vegetables, and fruit. Picnics also include tea, coffee, or water.  Dinners is likely to consist of soup, followed by meat or cured fish, rissoles, vegetables and various salads. 

Food Allergies / Requirements: We cannot guarantee that all food allergies can be accommodated at every destination. Participants with significant food allergies or special dietary requirements should bring appropriate foods with them for those times when their needs cannot be met. Announced meal times are always approximate depending on how the day unfolds. Participants who need to eat according to a fixed schedule should bring supplemental food. Please contact the WINGS office if you have any questions.

Drinks: Bottled water and/or a soft drink or a beer is provided at dinner, as is coffee or tea. Bottled of water will be provided with picnic lunches and in the vehicle. All other drinks or ‘personal’ drinking water for use in your room etc. is the responsibility of the individual. 

TRANSPORTATION: We’ll use a small coach, or large minibus, throughout the tour. The main road infrastructure is good, with several expressways that take you over flat countryside. Although some local roads are in bad shape we will, wherever possible, use the main highways, but it will be necessary to travel on dirt roads to get to some of the birding sites. Participants should be willing and able to ride in any seat in tour vehicles.

Updated: 09 May 2019