Climbing in the Tatras with their craggy peaks and rugged ridges, you get the feeiling of being as close to the sky as possible. Streams and brooks murmur throughout the mountain valleys. The lush nature of the Tatras is protected as a Polish National Park. The park is home to chamois, marmots, and brown bears. Both experienced hikers and first time enthusiasts feel safe in the Tatras with a wonderful choice of trails designed to meet all degrees of difficulty. The picturesque town of Zakopane is located at the mountains’ foot and is the region’s main tourist centre.
The town is capable of receiving thousands of mountain enthusiasts. Comfortable mini-buses take visitors to the staring points of the mountains’ many hiking trails. The top of Mt Kasprowy Wierch (1987m) which offers a breathtaking panorama and majestic view over the Tatras can be reached either by cable car or by foot. Taking advantage of the wide range of accommodations offered in Zakopane and its surroundings tourists can plan for overnight visits at many of the mountain huts with their unique and enjoyable atmosphere. A very special and also very popular overnight stay is at the mountain hut in the Valley of the Five Lakes (1668m). Experienced and adventurous hikers will enjoy the trails leading up and along the ridges of the Czerwone Wierchy as well as ascending the summit of Mt Rysy (2499m). For the real adventure some try the breathtaking route (red markings) of the Orla Perc or Eagles’ Trail, with chains, foot holes and ladders. Very picturesque is the five days’ trail, which starts at the Polana Chocholowska and leads, via the Grzes Pass, Mt Rakon (1878m), Mt Wolowiec (2063m), Iwaniacka Pass (1459m), Hala Ornak, Czerwone Wierchy, and the Polana Kondratowa, to Zakopane. Overnight stays should be booked with the PTTK mountain huts services.
Elderly people and families with small children will certainly enjoy easy and safe trip to the emerald-green Lake Morskie Oko (Eye of the Sea) or from Kiry, via the Koscieliska Valley, to the Polana na Stolach. These attractive routes offer visitors a wonderful collection of lakes, waterfalls, caves, and shepherds’ huts where the whey of ewe’s milk and sheep cheese can be tasted.
The Pod Reglami paths are a mountain bike enthusiasts’ dream. Bike rental centres are located at the entrances to the Koscieliska (Kiry) and Chocholowska Valleys (Siwa Polana). Zakopane is Poland’s winter sports capital. Over a hundred ski lifts operate from Zakopane and its environs. The longest ski run i is from the top of Mt Kasprowy Wierch at 935 metres.
Fans of highlanders’ folklore will enjoy the local colourful I costumes, graceful dances and lively music during the annual "International Festival of Highlanders" Folklore held in August. Their construction skills are well-represented by the spectacular timber architecture of Chocholow village.
Information: 34-500 Zakopane, ul. Kosciuszki 17, tel. +(48-18) 20-122-11, fax 20-660-51, www.zakopane.pl