- Unique and unknown destination in Polish Carpathian mountains.
- Unheard of skiing, which is reserved for beautiful descents in the forest and climbing to the highest peaks of the Beskid mountiains.
- Exceptional evenings with tasty meals and with traditional Polish highland atmosphere.
- One day in the Tatras, the most alpine range of the Carpathians and one night in Zakopane
- One evening and one day in Krakow, the most beautiful city in all Poland.
The Carpathian Mountain Range is a long crescent which extends from the Czech Republic to Romania, and passes through Slovakia, Poland and Ukraine.
This mountain range stretches across 450km of the south of Poland. The most well-known, the most alpine and also the most popular with tourists is the Tatras range with its famous ski resort Zakopane. Poland also possesses ranges of lower altitude, and others more off the beaten track and better protected: the Beskids, Gorce, Pieniny or Bieszczady (whose names are unpronounceable!) still unknown to Europeans.
Our hike takes place in the range of Beskides Zywiecki. This range comprises the principal peaks of the Polish Carpathians and guarantees a good coverage of snow. The uppermost point is Babia Gora 1725m. This part of the range is situated in the National Park of Babia. The mountains are gentle with a grassy comb and beautiful views; they are surrounded by large wild forests. The winter, snow and cold, often harshly emphasize the great isolation and beauty of these landscapes. We will finish our hike by spending one day in the west of the Tatras.
Day by day
D1: On the road to the Beskids.
On arrival at the airport in Krakow, the driver will be waiting for us and we will go to a village called Rycerka Gorna in Beskids Zywiecki, 140km from Krakow. Rycerka Gorna is situated in the heart of the valley, surrounded by a circle of afforested mountains. We are going to spend 2 nights in our lodgings and our hosts will take us to the evening entertainment in sleighs pulled by horses and we are all going to prepare our sausages around a camp fire.
D2: Circle of Racza.
We begin our hike by climbing in the oak forest until we reach the hostel of Wielka Racza. (1236m) ; the peak borders with Slovakia. It is also the point where the Baltic and Black Seas meet. After a hot drink in the hostel we will continue our day in the border comb. The path is agreeable, mostly flat alternating with passages in forests and wonderful meadows. The meadows guarantee open views to both sides of the border; we will reach the pass of Przegibek, where we will find some habitations in the middle of the snow and stop at the hostel to eat. Like all Polish hostels, this one is perfectly situated in the beautiful prairie and characterised by itss wooden architecture. It offers us simple but plentiful meals. The afternoon will be dedicated to the descent; this one will be done in 2 stages; first by a path of large comb in the forest and then by a direct slope until we reach the Rycerki valley. From there our minibus will take us to the lodgings (3km).
D3: Hostels of Lipowa and Rysianka and the oldest restaurant in Central Europe.
In the morning our minibus will take us to Ujsoly (15km). We begin our climbing through fields and meadows; This highlanders’ habitat is quite dense and rises to more than 900m of altitude. The highlanders who inhabit those altitudes live in severe conditions with no road access to civilization, and will offer us a cup of tea with pleasure. The climbing will continue in the forest up to the principal comb. The path of the comb alternates with forests and meadows; if the weather is clear, we will see for the first time the Tatras range. Finally we will arrive at the hostel of Lipowska and Rysianka (1322m) where we will stop for a picnic. In the afternoon following a beautiful descent, we will arrive in the village of Sopotnia where we are going to wait for our minibus, which will take us to our hotel in Jelesnia (6km) where we can use the sauna. Our evening meal will take place in the oldest restaurant in Central Europe (est. 1608): wonderful wooden architecture, a traditional meal and highland songs.
After a transfer (8km), we begin our climbing from Korbielow village to the pass Przyslopy. From the pass we continue progressively to the peak of Uszczawny (1115m); the path is crossed by wonderful prairies with some habitations occupied in summer by highlanders; we will also have wonderful views to the peak of Pilsko, our goal for the day. The trail of the comb leads us to the hostel of Miziowa where we are going to eat; this hostel is an important point where the cable railway of the ski station of Korbielow converges. After a break, we will start climbing steeply to the peak (1557m) ; before arriving at the culminant point, we will cross the border into Slovakia. From the peak, the view is wonderful, especially the distant view across the range of the Tatras. The descent is exceptional: 800m of unevenness in the open space, with a good slope to the Glinne pass. Our minibus will be waiting to take us to the village of Zajowa (35km) ; on the way we will visit a beautiful church in the forest of Lachowice. We will stay in comfortable lodgings, when the night begins; we will spend the evening all around camp fire with a sheep roasting on a spit, local cheeses and highland songs.
D5: The highest peak of the Beskids and the National Park of Babia (1725m).
This morning we will leave very early, because we will be climbing the highest peak of the Beskids : Babia Gora (1725m). We will travel from the car park to the entrance of the National Park of Babia, and we will climb wuntil we reach Markowa hostel (1200m); this hostel is under renovation, but one part is open during the works. After a break, we will continue climbing to the pass of Brona and by comb to the peak of Babia. The view in the peak is impressive: on one side the plains of Orava and the range of Tatras; on the other side the whole Beskid range including the peaks we covered in the first 2 days. Babia is an isolated, bare peak, very windy with strange formations sculpted in the snow by wind, and often has a most fantastic atmosphere. We will descend by the northern or southern face depending on snow conditions. Our minibus will take us to Zakopane (40km). On the way we swill top at the open air museum of Zubrzyca to admire some regional architecture. Zakopane is the “Chamonix” of Central Europe: a village where people live well all year. It is very popular with tourists but has plenty of charm. We will spend the evening in a typical restaurant of the town.
D6: National Park of Tatras.
By a short transfer (5km), we will arrive in the Chochowska valley. From a snowy road, we will enter the National Park of the Tatras and to the Chocholowska hostel. The National Park of the Tatras has very rich fauna, as shown by the animal tracks in the snow. After that, we will take in the border pass with Slovakia (Grzes : 1652m) by an alpine path and we will arrive at the peak of Rakon (1876m), the highest peak of the week. From this path, open views to either side of the border are breathtaking. The landscapes will be incomparable to those we will have seen in our last days in Beskids; we will be in an alpine range with landscapes of high mountains: the peak of Banikov in the west and of Starobocianski in the east. The western Tatras are quite « round » and non precipitous contrary to the eastern Tatras. From Rakon, we will continue to go through the Chocholowska valley by a beautiful descent and arrive at our hostel. This is a very good quality hostel, and Poles are proud of it because Pope John Paul II once spent some days there! This will be our last night in the mountains.
D7: Farewell to the National Park and visit to Chocholow village.
After breakfast, we will descend through the Chochowska valley, from which circulate a large number of horse-drawn sleighs transporting tourists to hostels. During our descent we will have an opportunity to admire old hostels in the meadows used by shepherds. In the middle of the path, the valley narrows to the beautiful gates. After 2 hours walk, we will arrive at the road on which our minibus will be waiting to take us to Chocholow (10km). Chocholow is a village where pastoral life is still very well developed and there is exceptional wooden architecture. We are going to visit some habitations and producers of the famous smoked cheeses of the Tatras before going to Krakow (110km). Late afternoon and evening is free in the old town.
D8: Krakow, pearl of Central Europe.
Visit to Krakow. Krakow has survived Poland’s turbulent history virtually undamaged; its old town, registered in the patrimony of UNESCO since 1978, has an exceptional wealth of architecture. In the morning we are going to visit the city with a guide and the rest of the day will be free: shopping, wandering in alleys, or pausing for a coffee in one of the numerous tea salons in the town. During the day there will be a transfer to the airport.