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Month: September 2016

A Nature Lover’s Paradise in Poland

A Nature Lover’s Paradise in Poland

The Lesser Poland Voivodeship in Southern Poland offers a paradise for all nature lovers with several national parks marked with hiking trails for one to enjoy, ranging from easy for the least trained to the difficult for the more experienced hikers.

During my trip in Poland, with my boyfriend, I had the opportunity to visit three of the national parks. I had spent just a day in each of the national parks but one can easily dedicate more time by choosing longer trails.


Ojców National Park


This is known as one of the smallest of the Polish National Parks. We took a minibus from Krakow to Pieskowa Skala. From the stop at Pieskowa Skala, we took the road through the forest to arrive at the Pieskowa Castle from where we started the red hiking trail to Ojców.

The trail passed through lush forests where the only sound was that of the breeze passing through the trees and the sound of our steps as we walked with a steady pace.

img_1399  Coming from a small island with few countryside areas, I was amazed at the beauty and peace that nature can offer. It was an unforgettable moment to stop for a while and just listen to the birds and the leaves of the trees swaying with the breeze.
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The trail also offered some panoramic views of the Polish countryside.
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We hiked till Ojców village where we waited for the minibus to take us back to Krakow. Just before Ojców village there is a quaint chapel known as the Wooden Chapel on the Water. This was previously used as a spa.

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Tip: Make sure you check the timetable beforehand as transport is not frequent to these areas. Also prepare a packed lunch as most of the time you will not find places to buy food from.


Pieniny National Park


Another beautiful national park with several hiking trails but we decided to visit this park through river rafting. It is not the white water rafting one might imagine but it is a calm trip on a wooden raft driven by two men dressed in traditional costumes.

This trip offers some breathtaking views of the Pieniny Mountains on the border between Poland and Slovakia, with the most beautiful being those in the gorge of the Dunajec river.

It does not seem a popular attraction with foreigners. In fact, few of the rafters speak English and the tour was in Polish. However, a young rafter explained to us the main attractions we were seeing on the river banks.

We had arrived at the beginning of this rafting trip accompanied by a knowledgeable guide from Visit Cracow Tours who took care of all necessary details for us to have an unforgettable day. He picked us up from the end of the rafting trip and then took us to Niedzica Castle, once belonging to the Hungarians, which also offers some panoramic views.

Views from Niedzica Castle

 

Views of the Niedzica Castle


Tatra National Park



Probably the most famous with tourists, Polish and foreign alike, as it is easily reachable from the popular mountain village Zakopane. It offers beautiful panoramas of the Tatra Mountains.




We hiked two hours till Morskie Oko lake which offers a breathtaking view. This was undoubtedly the highlight of this hike, despite the weather not being at its best.

 

 

Ducks floating on Morskie Oko lake

Walking back we had the opportunity to see a couple of deer eating among the trees.

Tip: Ideally you head off early to avoid the crowds. This is easily done if  you spend an overnight stay in Zakopane to start off the day in the National Park. This option also allows you time to admire the wooden architecture in Zakopane as well as the view from Gubalowka mountain.