Tatra Mountains: a weekend retreat with friends

Tatra Mountains: a weekend retreat with friends

It looks like this spring has been a series of weekend retreats. As the writing of my book occupies the major part of my weeks I find a few free days to enjoy the weather. Last weekend I spent in Tatra, the highest Polish mountains, located in the south of the country. This was a great weekend because my Italian friends joined me and we walked together. It was their first time in the Polish highest peaks. Here is a review of our stay so you could plan your visit there.

A view from Świstówka toward Morskie Oko, Tatry, Poland.

A view from Świstówka toward Morskie Oko, Tatry, Poland.

A weekend retreat – the itinerary

This was a classic weekend retreat with two extra days. We met on Saturday in Kraków where my friends arrived by plane. We drove to Zakopane and stayed for the night in a hotel with a breathtaking panorama over the mountain range. We left on Sunday morning and climbed to Wiktorówki for a mass, and continued our walk up to the valley called Dolina Pięciu Stawów Polskich (Five Lakes Valley). We stayed overnight in the refugee there, hoping for the crowds to vanish. On Monday morning, we continued our walk up to Świstówka and walked down to Morskie Oko, one of the most popular places in the mountains with overwhelming crowds. We walked down back to Polanica, from where we took the bus and returned to Zakopane. We stayed for the night in Kraków, from where my friends went back to Italy the next day.

Overall we walked 25 kilometers, with the drop of over 3000 meters: 1500 meters up and 1500 down.

Sunrise at the Five Lakes Valley, Tatry, Poland.

Sunrise at the Five Lakes Valley, Tatry, Poland.

The Tatra Mountains

The High Tatras is a special place for me. Not only I visited these parts of the world with my Dad when I was a child but also I was visiting it regularly as a teenager. I felt always a strong connection to the snowed peaks and rocks, small lakes and cascades. I have many wonderful memories from the trails there, both in spring and winter time.

The Polish Lake in the Five Polish Lakes Valley was still frozen. Tatry, Poland.

The Polish Lake in the Five Polish Lakes Valley was still frozen. Tatry, Poland.

The mountain range is pretty modest and the moment you climb up to 1500-1700 m.a.s.l. you can see almost all peaks at the same time (it’s only about 175 km²). There is a National Park established over fifty years ago and the UNESCO Biosphere Reserve.

A mountain refugee administrated by PTTK, Tatry, Poland.

A mountain refugee administrated by PTTK, Tatry, Poland.

The crowds

The modest surface of our highest mountains results in crowds. In order to avoid people you should probably visit this place in late autumn or early spring but it might be risky due to the difficult weather conditions. It is good to avoid May and June as the school trips tend to visit Morskie Oko making the noise and the mess all over the place. The best way to escape the tourists is to go up, where only a few people go, stay in a refugee overnight and walk even higher the next day.

There was still snow in the highest parts of the northern slopes. Tatry, Poland.

There was still snow in the highest parts of the northern slopes. Tatry, Poland.

The Weekend

We had a great time, no doubts about it! The weather was splendid even though the forecast was very pessimistic. There was not even one drop of rain and two days were full of sun. We were lucky to bring with us summer outfit, hats, and shawls to cover the skin. We had a few snack brakes with an amazing panorama in front of us.

Looking at the map. Tatry, Poland.

Looking at the map. Tatry, Poland.

The Controversy

One of the most famous tracks in the Tatra Mountains is the Eagle Path. There is an ongoing debate whether the path should be closed down due to the recurring deaths of the inexperienced climbers or whether it should be left as it is. I walked the Eagle Path a few years back and it is rather demanding. I would not suggest you to walk it unless you are experienced, have no fear of heights, are able to follow the via ferrata and can handle the extreme fatigue.

The lakes seen from Świstówka. Tatry, Poland.

The lakes seen from Świstówka. Tatry, Poland.

About the author

I get easily fascinated with people and places. I am passionately curious. I get often seduced with the beauty of nature. Blue sky, pure water, white snow and endless horizon seams to be enough to make me happy.

View all articles by Agata Mleczko
  • I visited a friend in Lublin in 2003. He said next time I come he will take me here to these beautiful mountains. I have yet to make it back unfortunately. Hope to soon.

  • I was twice on Eagle Path. First time I walked from Granaty to Krzyżne and second time from Zawrat to Żleb Kulczyńskiego. It was tough for me and I agree that it’s only for experienced tourists, but I changed a little my opinion about this trail after I went to Austrian Alps this year. Comparing to some of via ferratas in Austria it’s not so difficult. I think, in grading A-E, Eagle Path is only B.

    Here you can read about my trips at Eagly Path: http://majatravels.com/orla-perc-most-difficult-trail-in-tatras/