- Unique and unknown destination in the Polish Carpathians
- Exceptional national park known for its fauna and many protected species of large european mammals
- Exceptional evenings with tasty meals and with highland traditions
- 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 Bieszczady. This range is situated in the east of Poland, on the border with Ukraine and Slovakia. Its geographical situation guarantees good snow cover and at the same time intense cold on the heart of winter.
The highest peak is Tarnica: 1346m. The greater part of our hike is going to take place in National Park of Bieszczady. The mountains are gentle with grassy ridges, they offer wonderful views and are surrounded by vast wild forests. The winter, snow and cold, often harsh, greatly emphasize the isolation and beauty of the landscapes.
The mountain has rich fauna; The national park which we will cross is the richest park in Poland and is inhabited by large European mammals. There one can find a colony of 200 bisons, 30 brown bears, about 50 lynx, about a hundred wolfs and many varieties of game
. With a little luck, we may encounter such animals on our itinerary.
This is a wild region and has the smallest population in the whole country. Bieszczady has only existed in its present form since 1951 when the Ukrainian part was returned to Poland, a process involving the exile of 135,000 people. The process of repopulation by the Polish took some time; which is why this region is today the most wild in Europe; the number of inhabitants is very low; the fauna and forests predominate. There are churches in wooden architecture which have a magical charm when they are under snow. The inhabitants make a living out of the wood industry; their living conditions are very hard. Nevertheless we will savour their legendary hospitality and their joie de vivre, during nocturnal escapades in a horse-drawn sleigh with a glass of vodka!
Day by day:
D1: On the road of European Union’s confines!
Arrival to the airport in Krakow. Transfer to the railway to take a train for Rzeszow, the last big city before Ukrainian’s border. The driver is waiting for us and we go to the village of Wetlina, 171km from Rzeszow. We are going to install in our lodging for 2 nights.
D2: Tramp on the Slovakian border ridge and evening in sleighs pulled by horses.
After a short transfer (7km) to the pass of Przyslup, we begin our day by hike in forest of oaks to the peak Jaslo (1153m); The last 300 meters the hike takes place inside beautiful meadows and offer excellent open views to peaks of Bieszcady. The first time we can see peaks of walks which wait for us next days. Then we hike Slovakian border ridge to the peak of Okraglik. From here we hike the ridge Nad Roztokami, which is the passage point with Slovakia, open in summer for mountaineers. Next we go to the valley of Roztoki to the chalet of the silence valley. This chalet is situated in the bottom of the isolated valley, in the big prairie; we can fell here like on the end of world…! During our itinerary we will certainly have an opportunity to meet artisans who made wooden charcoal using rudimentary measures. They live in the rude accommodations in the forest. In the chalet we will take a hoot drink and we come back to our loadings by minibus (27km). Our hosts take us to the ride in sleighs pulled by horses, and for welcome we are going to prepare sausages in the camp fire.
D3: Meadows of Wetlina and nights without electricity.
After a short transfer, we began our hike through fields; we pass near the chalet of Jaworku and we continue the climbing through the forest. At about 1000m of altitude we reach meadows of Wetlina; Bieszczady are famous by their characteristics meadows, which light up landscapes in the middle of big forests. We are going to reach the peak of Smerek (1222m) ; and we continue our walk on the ridge for 6km, passing by ravines and little peaks; along this itinerary there are beautiful views in the massif of Bieszczady, and if the whether is good, beautiful view on Ukraine and even on Tatras! We reach the hut of Puchatka (1231m); it’s the only one hut in the altitude of Biesczady; it is a chalet without water nor electricity, but with very pleasant climate.
D4: Meadows of Carynska; hut of little Rawka.
That morning, we weak up quite early because of a long day, before us. From the hut, we leave in the direction of northern ridge to the pass of Jawornik and we arrive to the village cold Nasiczne. This village is made up of few houses where leave guards of national park and some forest rangers. From there we reach easily the little pass (706m); the view from this pass to the valley and meadows of Carynska, is splendid. We hike this desert valley to the chalet of Koliba. We stop for eating and keeping forces for next part of a day. So we begin hiking on the Cyranska ridge. This hill is quite rude (500m of positive difference in height), but the view from the peak (1239m) on the whole regional massif is worth. The descent by southern slope is also quite steep; we reach quickly the pass Wyznanska where pass the principal road of Bieszczady. From the road, a house cart comes to bring us 1,5km to the hut under peak of Litle Rawka. We pass one night in this chalet famous in the region by a typical character and a pleasant climate.
D5: The valley of San and wooden churches.
Our hosts bring us by horse cart to the road where our minibus is waiting for us to go to the border of San valley (45km); on the itinerary we stop to visit wooden church called Polana.
We start our hike from village Rajskie and go along right riverside of San which has his spring on the Ukrainian border; With his large river often freeze in winter, with his gentle slop on the left side and steep on the right side, the valley has a lot of charm. In the valley leave a lot of animals; with a little bit of opportunity we will cross in our road some of them. On our itinerary are prairies of Krywe where are two isolated farms; the inhabitants of this farm will offer us a hot drink. The last part of a day is holding on the forest along river and we reach the road of the village Sekowiec. Our bus bring us in the heart of Bieszcady in Ustrzyki; we stay on the night in the hotel with swimming pool and sauna.
D6: The highest peak of Bieszczady! Tarnica. (1345m)
This day is a culminant point of our tour; the principal peak of Bieszcady is a little peak but at this longitude, the winter is severe. Its form is round and very characteristic and from the peak the view is exceptional.
Early in the morning we leave to walk the ridge of Szeroki which leads us progressively to Tarnica. Over 1000m, we leave forest and reach characteristic meadows of the region. From the peak we take a northern direction and go through 2 passes, 2 internals valleys before being on the ridge Bukowe Berdo; this massif overhangs sources of a river San. We go down to the little village called Muczne. Muczne is certainly the most picturesque village; where leave essentially foresters, the village has conserved it wooden architecture and hosts one forester’s lodge and an inn, famous by delicious food; here, we will pass the last night in mountains.
D7: on the search of savage animals.
After our breakfast, we go with a guard of a national park for a promenade in the valley of San. The aim is to see wild animals, but without guarantee! In the worse case, we will learn to recognise tracks on the snow. During our itinerary we are going to visit the wooden church of Smolnik.
In a middle of a day we take the direction to Rzeszow (160km) and by train, we come back to Kralow.
Free evening in the old city
D8: Krakow, pearl of Central Europe.
Visit of 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. The day will be free: shopping, wandering in small streets, or pausing for a coffee in one of the numerous tea salons in the town. During the day there will be the transfer to the airport.