Category: Hiking

Category: Hiking

Rock climbing in Poland

Mid Grade Rock Climbing

Just 2.5 hours away from Krakow with some of the best dentists and dental clinics in Poland, you will find the Tatras; which provide excellent opportunities for climbing in Poland. For those of you coming to Poland for dental treatment who also enjoy the great outdoors and activities such as skiing, climbing & hiking, Tatra is the perfect destination.

Zakopane

One of the most popular locations in Poland to rock climb is Zakopane in the Tatra Moutains. Every year, climbers from all over the world arrive at Zakopane and take on the many climbs available.

Morskie Oko

Many climbers take the 10 km cart ride to Morskie Oko which is a beautiful lake located in the Hight Tatras at around 1395 m. The horse and cart journey is very scenic and follows a beautiful stream called Rybi Potok. On arrival at Morskie Oko, you can choose to be accommodated in a chalet with food and beds for the night.

Czarny Staw

In the winter, the lake freezes and you can walk across it to climb the trail at the other side of the lake to Czarny Staw. This leads to another lake some 200 meters above Morskie Oko. From Czarny Staw one can walk around the lake to begin the accent of Rysy which is the highest mountain in Poland at 2499 m. The average climb time is around 4 hours.

The climbing around here tends to be in the higher grades, and to get the most out of the area you should be comfortably operating at UIAA VI or above.

Challenging Climbs

The most difficult mountain to climb in the area is Mieguszowiecki Szczyt at 2409 m and this climb is described as challenging even for experienced climbers.

Morskie Oko is the starting point for mountaineering climbs. As the mountains are all within view. One follows the trails and then climbs the mountain they choose. It is usually a four to six hour climb up any mountain and the same time descending. Winter climbing is harsh as the wind is strong on top of the mountains. Climbers bring crampons and ice axes. Snow can be two to three feet deep, or up to one meter. You must be watchful of avalanches.

Other climbs include Mnich, 2069 m and Cubryna, 2323 m.

From Zakopane you can see Giewont, the sleeping knight. You can hike to Giewont in about two to three hours. There is a small chalet which serves food about half way to Giewont. The climb is not that difficult and is ideal for beginners.

Weather

Weather can change fast in the mountains and it has been known to snow in June. Lightning can also be a problem in the summer. Most climbers start climbing early in the morning. From the tops of the mountains, you can see most of the High Tatras on a clear day.


Zakopane

The Winter Capital of Poland

Zakopane is a town in southern Poland. The location is informally known as “the Winter Capital of Poland,” and lies in the southern part of the Podhale region at the foot of the Tatra Mountains, the only alpine mountain range in the Carpathian Mountains.

The town is located in southern Poland near the Slovak border. It can be reached by train or bus from Krakow, which is about two and a half hours away.

It lies in a large valley between the Tatra Mountains and Gubałówka Hill. It is the most important Polish center of mountaineering and skiing, and is visited annually by some three million tourists. The most important alpine skiing locations are Kasprowy Wierch, Nosal and Gubałówka Hill.

It also has the highest elevation (800-1,000 m) of any town in Poland. The central point of the town is at the junction of Krupówki and Kościuszko Streets.

Championships

Zakopane hosted the Nordic World Ski Championships in 1929, 1939, and 1962; the winter Universiades in 1956, 1993, and 2001; the biathlon World Championship; several ski jumping world cups; and several Nordic combined, Nordic and Alpine European Cups. It hosted the Alpine World Ski Championships in 1939, the first outside the Alps and the last official world championships prior to World War II.

The town recently made unsuccessful bids to host the 2006 Winter Olympics and the 2011 and 2013 Alpine World Ski Championships.

Climbing, Skiing & Hiking

Climbers from all over Europe travel to Zakopane to climb in the High Tatras and thousands of people arrive in Zakopane to go skiing in the winter, especially around Christmas and in February.

Zakopane has many hiking trails and ski slopes. This makes Zakopane a tourism mecca for all seasons. The downtown bustles with outdoor wear shops and ski rental stores. Tourists come here in large numbers in summer and during the Christmas and New Year Season.


Tatra Mountains

The Tatras

The Tatra Mountains, Tatras or Tatra, constitute a mountain range which forms a natural border between Slovakia and Poland. They occupy an area of 750 km², the major part (600 km²) of which lies in Slovakia. The highest mountain is Gerlach at 2,655 m, located in Slovakia just north of Poprad. The north-western peak of Rysy (2,499 m) is the highest Polish mountain.

Alpine Landscape in Poland

The Tatras are the highest mountain range in the Carpathian Mountains. Although considerably smaller than the Alps, they are classified as having an alpine landscape. Their high mountain character, combined with great accessibility, makes them popular with tourists and scientists.

The area is a well-known winter sports area and includes the resort of Zakopane, the “Winter Capital” of Poland.

Temperatures

Temperatures range from -40 °C in the winter to 33 °C in warmer months. Temperatures also vary depending on altitude and sun exposure of a given slope. Temperatures below 0 °C last for 192 days on the summits. Maximum snow thickness on the summit amounts to around 320 cm (125 in) in March. Peaks are sometimes covered with snow throughout the year. Avalanches are frequent.

Fauna & Flora

The Tatra Mountains are home to many species of animals including Tatra chamois, marmot, snow vole, brown bear, wolf, Eurasian lynx, red deer, roe deer, and wild boar. There is also a diverse variety of plants.

Skiing in the Tatra Mountains

For skiers, the Kasprowy Wierch Peak is serviced by cable-car, and there are chairlifts in the Goryczlowa and Gasienicowa valleys. For hikers, there are 250 kilometres of trails in the park, ranging from leisurely strolls to hair-raising ascents for serious climbers. Entrance to the valleys is possible by bus, but from there you must continue on foot to the heart of the Tatras. Mountain bikes are permitted only on a few paths. Owing to the unpredictability of Mother Nature, there are basic safety precautions which are essential to bear in mind.

Hiking in the Tatra Mountains

With the collapse of the Iron Curtain, border relations are now freer than ever. Thus for dedicated hikers, the opportunity to explore the region in depth is very much an option. Poles are the first to say how wonderful the Slovakian Tatras are, and it’s well worth bearing this in mind if you want to get a full flavour of this wild region.

Probably the easiest way to get to the Polish side of the Tatras is to take a plane to Krakow and then take the train (five hours) to Zakopane. If you want to get to the Slovak side then Bratislava airport is currently rebranding itself as a low-cost hub (Vienna East!). Alternatively, Vienna to Bratislava is only about an hour and-a-half by train. From Bratislava take the train via Poprad to Stary Smokovec. Poprad also has an airport.


Masuria

Eco-tourism

Masuria is an area in northeastern Poland famous today for its many thousands of lakes. Today, the region’s economy relies largely on eco-tourism and agriculture. The lakes offer varieties of water sports such as sailing and holiday activities.

Poland’s Lake District

Masuria and the Masurian Lake District are known in Polish as Kraina Tysiąca Jezior and in German as Land der Tausend Seen, meaning “land of a thousand lakes.” These lakes were ground out of the land by glaciers during the Pleistocene ice age, when ice covered north Eastern Europe. By 10,000 BC this ice started to melt. Great geological changes took place and even in the last 500 years the maps showing the lagoons and peninsulas on the Baltic Sea have greatly altered in appearance.

As in other parts of northern Poland, such as from Pomerania on the Oder River to the Vistula River, this continuous stretch of lakes is popular among tourists.

Size

The Masurian Lake District extends roughly 290 km (180 mi) eastwards from the lower Vistula River to the Poland-Lithuania border and occupies an area of roughly 52,000 km² (20,000 sq mi).

The lakes are well connected by rivers and canals, to form an extensive system of waterways. The whole area has become a prime destination for yachtspeople and canoeists, and is also popular among anglers, hikers, bikers and nature-lovers.

Getting there

The Masurian region can be reached by train, bus, or car from anywhere in Poland or from Lithuania. The nearby international airports are in Warsaw, Gdansk, and Vilnius. The main transport hub in the region is the town of Ełk. There are trains to Masuria from Warsaw, Gdańsk and Vilnius, and buses to there can be found in many Polish cities. A boat service connects some central towns in the region. Biking and boating are popular ways to get around.

Accommodation

Hotels can be found mostly around the Great Masurian Lakes, namely in towns of Giżycko and Mikołajki, as well as in the larger town of Ełk. There are also guesthouses & campsites in villages and countryside areas of Masuria. English is spoken by many educated locals and those who work in tourism professions.

Masuria is famous for its thousands of lakes and nearby forests, offering a wide range of outdoor activities from sailing to kayaking and swimming. The region includes the largest lake in Poland, Śniardwy as well as small lake resort towns of Giżycko, Mikołajki, Ełk, Węgorzewo, Ryn, Pisz, and Iława.

Tourism in Masuria

The most popular tourism centers in Masuria are Mikołajki and Giżycko. Giżycko is located on the shore of Lake Niegocin, and has a historical fortress, and passenger boats to the towns of Węgorzewo, Mikołajki and Ruciane-Nida. The historical town of Mikołajki is also a popular tourism centre with a beautiful historic church and bridges. In addition to lakes, the Masurian region also has many rivers good for fishing and forest areas that offer many trails for trekking and biking.

Fauna & Flora

There is also a nice variety of wildlife, edible berries and mushrooms, and large protected areas, including the Masurian Landscape Park that includes 11 nature reserves such as the Łuknajno Lake that is a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, or the Białowieża Forest with a breeding station for European Bisons.

Climate

Masuria has a temperate climate with cold winters and warm summers. The weather here is cooler than in most parts of Poland, and the area also has some snow during the winter. The Masurian lakes are usually frozen from December to the end of April. Springtime can be wet, while summers are generally drier.

The Lakes

With almost ten thousand closed bodies of water covering more than 1 hectare (2.47 acres) each, Poland has one of the highest number of lakes in the world. In Europe, only Finland has a greater density of lakes. The largest lakes, covering more than 100 square kilometres (39 sq mi), are Lake Śniardwy and Lake Mamry in Masuria, and Lake Łebsko and Lake Drawsko in Pomerania.

In addition to the lake districts in the north (in Masuria, Pomerania, Kashubia, Lubuskie, and Greater Poland), there is also a large number of mountain lakes in the Tatras, of which the Morskie Oko is the largest in area. The lake with the greatest depth—of more than 100 metres (328 ft)—is Lake Hańcza in the Wigry Lake District, east of Masuria in Podlaskie Voivodeship.


Czestochowa

Home of the Black Madonna

Czestochowa is a city in south Poland on the Warta River. It lies among the picturesque Jurassic rocks of Krakow Czestochowa Upland, topped with the ruins of Medieval castles.

The town is known for the famous Pauline monastery of Jasna Góra that is the home of the Black Madonna painting, a shrine to the Virgin Mary. Every year, millions of pilgrims from all over the world come to Częstochowa to see it. There is also a Lusatian culture excavation site and museum in the city and ruins of a medieval castle in Olsztyn, approximately 25 kilometres (ca. 16 mi) from the city centre.

Black Madonna & The Pope

Several Pontiffs have recognised the venerated icon, beginning with Pope Clement XI who issued a Canonical Coronation to the image on 8 September 1717 via the Vatican Chapter. Pope John Paul II, a native son of Poland, prayed before the Madonna during his historic visit in 1979, several months after his election to the Chair of Peter. The Pope made another visit to Our Lady of Czestochowa in 1983 and again in 1991.

The Black Madonna of Częstochowa is a holy icon of the Virgin Mary, that is both Poland’s holiest relic and one of the country’s national symbols.

Because of the Black Madonna, Częstochowa is regarded as the most popular shrine in Poland, with many Polish Catholics making a pilgrimage there every year. Often, people will line up on the side of the road to hand provisions to the pilgrims as those who walk the distance to Częstochowa walk the entire day and have little means to get things for themselves.

Tourism in Czestochowa

Currently the city is one of the main tourist attractions of the area and is sometimes called the little Nuremberg because of the number of souvenir shops and historical monuments. It attracts millions of tourists and pilgrims every year.

Legends about the Madonna’s appearance

The legend concerning the two scars on the Black Madonna’s right cheek is that the Hussites stormed the Pauline monastery in 1430, plundering the sanctuary. Among the items stolen was the icon. After putting it in their wagon, the Hussites tried to get away but their horses refused to move. They threw the portrait down to the ground and one of the plunderers drew his sword upon the image and inflicted two deep strikes. When the robber tried to inflict a third strike, he fell to the ground and writhed in agony until his death. Despite past attempts to repair these scars, they had difficulty in covering up those slashes as the painting was done with tempera infused with diluted wax.

Arrival in Częstochowa

Art historians say that the original painting was a Byzantine icon created around the sixth or ninth century. They agree that Prince Władysław brought it to the monastery in the 14th century.

Location

The closest major cities/towns are Łódź to the North, Wrocław to the West, Katowice to the South, Kielce to the East and Krakow to the South East.


Bieszczady Mountains

The Wild East

The Bieszczady Mountains are not typically a tourist destination as places such as Krakow, Warsaw and Gdansk are usually the first places tourists go when visiting Poland for the first time and only the seasoned Polish tourist will have ventured into the area fondly known as the, ‘Wild East’.

Bieszczady (sometimes called the Bieszczadzkie Mountains) is the Polish name for a mountain range in the extreme south-east of Poland, extending into Ukraine and Slovakia. It forms the western part of what is known in Polish as the Eastern Beskids (Beskidy Wschodnie), and is more generally part of the Outer East Carpathians. The mountain range is situated between the Łupków Pass (640 m) and the Vyshkovskyi Pass (933 m).

In a narrower but very frequent sense, Bieszczady refers only to the Western Bieszczady or even only to the part of the range lying within Poland.

The highest peak of Bieszczady is Mt. Pikuy (1405 m) in Ukraine. The highest peak of the Polish part is Tarnica (1346 m).

A popular tourist attraction in the area is the Church of the Visitation in Lesko, the oldest Roman Catholic church in Bieszczady, founded by count Piotr Kmita in 1539.

History

This area was mentioned for the first time in 981, when Volodymyr the Great of Kievan Rus took the area over on the way into Poland. In 1018 it returned to Poland, 1031 back to Rus, in 1340 Casimir III of Poland recovered it.

Bieszczady was one of the strategically important Carpathian mountains bitterly contested in battles on the Eastern Front of World War I during the winter of 1914/1915.

In 1991, the UNESCO East Carpathian Biosphere Reserve was created that encapsulates a large part of the area and continues into Slovakia and Ukraine. It comprises the Bieszczady National Park (Poland), Poloniny National Park (Slovakia) + Uzhansky National Nature Park (Ukraine). Animals living in this reserve are, amongst others, black storks, brown bears, wolves and bison.

Why go to the Bieszczady Mountains?

The Bieszczady Mountains are pleasantly devoid of the trappings of mass tourism and offer visitors the opportunity to discover the, ‘Wild East’ without venturing into Ukraine or the Soviet Union.

The scenery in the region is wild and rugged and includes flora such as the Dacian Violet, Carpathian Beech and the Hungarian Violet, all species which cannot be seen further West. The wildlife in the area include bears, lynx, beavers, wolves, European bison and red mountain deer.

The area is a bird-watchers paradise and here you will find 9 species of Woodpecker (inc. Syrian, White-backed and Three-toed), Black Stork, Ural and Pygmy Owls, Collared and Red-breasted Flycatcher and both Lesser spotted and Golden Eagles.

How to get there

Sanok, known as the “Gateway to the Bieszczady”, is the most important town in the region. There are bus links with the majority of the cities in the south and east of Poland, including Krakow, Katowice, Warsaw, Gliwice, Przemysl, Krosno and Mielec.

From Sanok, one can easily visit the smaller towns of either Ustrzyki Gorne or Ustrzyki Dolne – both forming popular jumping-off points for trips into the mountains. The Bieszczady is surrounded by two major road systems, known as Mala and Duza Petla Bieszczadzka. The former runs from Ustrzyki to Lesko, the latter passes the Solinski Reservoir from the south and heads to Lesko.

Together they form the main transport artery for Bieszczady, with regular bus services connecting all the communities of the region. The region’s railway junction in Zagorz lies 6 km from the central Sanok. You can get to Zagorze via Sanok by fast train from Warsaw, Krakow, Lodz or Gliwice.