Sometimes, everything just happens around you at once. It starts, always, with a long drive. Today, it ended sitting atop a pier in a remote part of the Polish Masurian Lake district, watching the milky way and being overwhelmed by the cacophony of wild Boar mating calls ignite the still evening.
Arriving at camping Perla Krutyni we were immediately impressed by the relaxed feel and beautiful setting. We had no idea of the collection of pleasures that were in store. The key feature was the pier, built out into the small river that runs around the site. The wilderness here was very little like I had expected, much less eastern Europe in autumn, much more Okavango in wet season.
It was not, however, until the sun fell away, that we were really shown what this place had to offer. At first we were not sure, thinking perhaps forestry equipment or motorbikes heading down the country roads. We soon found however, that the thundering rumble intermittently bellowing from the forest, were the mating calls of wild boar.
We immediately headed back to the river pier, guided by candlelight, and were met with a blanket of steam rising from the river. The steam blanketed the view around the pitch black forest, and forced our eyes to the carpet of stars which lit the night sky. Blinded by the darkness and the fog, we managed to find our way to our seating place on the end of the pier where the show was about to really begin.
At first we silently sat and listened to the distant rumble coming from the forest, but within minutes, a huge male boar was calling out, not 20 meters from where we sat. We were electrified, exchanging brief glances of wonder as we strained to place the cracking of twigs in the forest and track the movement. Our attention was quickly diverted, however, as nearby, the target of our new friends attention replied, echoing her location throughout the forest.
For the next hour, we sat, utterly enthralled as the tapestry of forest life played out for our ears.
It is difficult to describe the noise the word prehistoric certainly comes to mind. There was definitely something about sitting in those surroundings and hearing these noises that made me regress to the primal hunter-gatherer in me.
Bolstered by these primal feelings we decided to go out on foot into the forest in search of a close encounter with a boar. Armed with a hand carved spear and a hunting axe we headed out into the star-lit forest following the calls that we could so readily hear. After only a few minutes of careful tiptoeing we entered a forest clearing from where we could see the stars on this once again clear night. While standing there with our necks craned at the heavens and in a peaceful lull a huge boar echoed its guttural call from the tree line but thirty metres away. We jumped back assuming battle stances with the axe and spear and for a lingering moment both questioned exactly what we were doing standing amongst the wild boars in a pitch black forest in very rural Poland. Without a word needing to be said we had both confirmed that we didn’t actually want to see a boar that badly and that it would perhaps be wise to retreat to the safety of camp before we had been gouged by the tusks of a wild male boar.
The next morning with the aid of daylight and a replenished sense of self-confidence we decided to rent canoes and undertake the first section of the 83km stretch of canoe trails towards the next town. In doing so we entered the Polish Masurian lake lands true wilderness and were intent on gliding by on the canoes whilst we spotted a boar drinking from the river. Unfortunately the weather was not on our side and although we pushed on the cold winds and rain forced us under shelter of nearby trees. We explored this part of the forest until the rains had subsided and upon re-boarding the canoes we had begun to get a feeling of just how untouched this area was. We carried on downstream and after exploring a couple of marshy tributaries we decided it was best to head back to camp before our bodies were too tired to cope with paddling upstream.
We arrived back at camp cold, and wet to the bone. But thrilled that somewhere this beautiful and wild still exists in modern Europe.