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 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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.