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This Poland walking holiday visits both the Tatra Mountain range in the south and the outer Carpathian Mountains in Babia Gora National Park. Explore the dramatic peaks and valleys, turquoise lakes and highlander folk culture of this stunning country.
Explore Tour Leader
7 nights comfortable hotel
Trip maximum 16 Explore Average 11
Itineraries on some departure dates may differ, please select the itinerary that you wish to explore.
Arrive in Krakow, is a beautiful city which dates back to the 13th Century; it has a wonderfully rich and varied architecture; a well preserved vast medieval square and a fascinating old Jewish quarter.
For those arriving on time our Leader plans to meet you in the hotel reception at 6pm for the welcome meeting and for those that wish, there is the chance to go out for dinner. There are no activities planned today, so you are free to arrive in Krakow at any time. If you would like an airport transfer today, you'll need to arrive at Kraków John Paul II International Airport (KRK) which is around 30 minutes' drive from the hotel. Should you miss the meeting, your leader will inform you of any essential information as soon as you catch up.
If your flight arrives earlier in the day, perhaps you might choose to explore on your own, why not try some traditional Polish dumplings known as pierogi. Found at restaurants throughout the city and filled with anything from sweet sauces to cottage cheese, mushrooms or meat, they are delicious!
Hotel Maximum (or similar)
After breakfast we take a guided walking tour of Krakow beginning with Rynek Glowny, Europe's largest medieval square and the focal point of the city. We discover the distinctive character of the UNESCO World Heritage Old Town with its narrow cobbled streets and majestic architecture. Heading away from the centre we walk to Wawel Castle and Cathedral perched on a hill overlooking the old town. Our final stop today is the Kazimierz, the former Jewish Quarter, now a busy neighborhood crammed with art galleries, traditional restaurants and atmospheric cafes.
In the afternoon we depart towards Babia Gora National Park in the Outer Carpathian Mountains, the drive to our hotel in Zawoja will take approximately 1 hours and 30 minutes. The Babia Gora massif lies within the Western Beskidy Mountains and is the second highest in range in Poland. Depending on travel time, for those who wish to stretch your legs this afternoon there is an optional walk in the Babia Gora range to be rewarded with your first view over the Carpathian Mountains.
Today's optional two kilometre walk is expected to take around 1 hour with an ascent and decent of 200 metres/656 feet.
Hotel Beskidzki Raj (or similar)
A short drive this morning brings us to the edge of Babia Gora National Park and the start of today's hike to the peak of Babia Gora (1,725 meters/5660 feet). Babia Gora which translates to Witches Mountain is named so after a folk legend describing the area as a meeting place for witches and black magicians. The path takes us through alpine meadows, ancient spruce and dwarf pine forests, we'll visit a local shepherds hut for tea along the route . From the peak stretches one of the best panoramas of several Carpathian ranges and across to the Tatra mountains. The Polish-Slovakian border runs over the top of Babia Gora and along the shoulders of the mountain from east to west. We descend via a different route before transferring back to our hotel.
Today's 14 kilometre/8.7 mile walk is expected to take around 6 hours and 30 minutes with 700 metres/2297 feet of ascent and 1,050 metres/4922 feet of descent.
This morning we drive to Zverovka village, crossing the Slovakian border into the West Tatras. Accompanied by an English speaking mountain guide we walk along a wide path climbing gently through the forest to Grzes peak (1,653 meter/5423 feet) and into Slovakia. From this ridge there are fantastic views across forested peaks of the western Tatra. We descend to Polana Chocholowska, a clearing with a number of mountain huts for livestock where we'll stop for lunch in a mountain chalet. Walking down the valley the bus will be waiting to take us to Zakopane, a town lying at the foothills of the Tatras Mountains. Zakopane is a popular Polish ski resort and an excellent base for hiking, the town is characterized by traditional 'Zakopane Style' of timber architecture inspired by the surrounding mountains.
The Tatras region has its own home-grown culinary traditions, this evening tuck into a hearty meat or vegetable stew followed by a small glass of sliwowica lacka (plum brandy).
Today's 15 kilometre/9.3 mile walk is expected to take around 7 hours and 30 minutes with 890 metres/2920 feet of ascent and 960 metres/3150 feet of descent. As we pass into Slovakia you will need to have your passport with you.
Hotel Logos (or similar)
An early start (6:30 am) this morning to avoid the crowds on the trail in the afternoon, its a 40 minutes drive to Palenica Bialczanska the starting point for today's walk to Wielki Staw lake and refuge (1,665 meter/5463 feet). We walk through the beautiful valley of the Five Polish Lakes past the highest waterfall in the Tatras, Siklawa (a 70 meter/230 feet drop). Wielki Staw (known as The Great Polish Lake) is a post-glacial natural lake; you can get a mug of tea in the Dolina Pieciu Stawow refuge and walk around the lake admiring the landscape.
Here you have the choice of either walking back to to Palenica Bialczanska with your leader and taking a public bus to Zakopane or join your mountain guide to make the steep and challenging ascent of Kozi Wierch (2,291 meter/7517 feet) the highest peak lying entirely within Poland. Towards the top there is a small section of scrambling to reach the summit to be rewarded with magnificent views.
Today's 18 kilometre/11.2 mile walk is expected to take around 6 hours with 900 metres/2953 of ascent and descent. The optional extension to Kozi Wierch is graded as Challenging and is an additional 4 kilometres/2.5 mile taking approximately 3 hours with an additional 300 metres/984 feet of ascent and descent.
After a leisurely morning in Zakopane we drive to Dunajec Gorge, listed by UNESCO as a World Natural Heritage Site and one the most stunning gorges in Europe. We follow the Pieniny Way along the gorge with limestone cliffs blanketed in lush forests of fir, beech, larch and spruce rising high above us. The Way runs the entire length of the Dunajec Gorge snaking in and out of Poland through sections of Slovakia. The end point of today's walk and accommodation for the evening is in the spa town of Szczawnica, back on Polish side of the border.
For those who prefer to take a break from walking today it is possible to travel the same route down Dunajec River by traditional wooded raft. This leisurely form of transportation has been used for centuries in this area to move both goods and people between villages.
Today's 14 kilometre/8.7 mile walk is expected to take around 3 hours and 30 minutes along a flat route. As we pass into Slovakia you will need to have your passport with you.
Hotel Nawigator (or similar)
After a good night's rest we start our last ascent of the trip, the peak of Trzy Korony. Departing from the hotel we take a small wooden boat across the Dunajec River to reach the start of the today's walk. The traditional boats seat approximately 8 people at one time and the ferrymen are dressed in local folk attire.
Once across the river we begin our gradual ascent starting at 500 meters/1641 feet through the forest to reach our first peak of the day, Sokolica (747 meter/2451 feet). After taking in the fabulous views we continue to a green meadow before the final ascent to the peak of Trzy Korony (982 meter/3222 feet), the summit of the Three Crowns massif. There is an observation deck on top of the peak with views of the Dunajec River, Gorge and Pieniny National Park. We take a different trail down from the peak looping the massif, enjoying the spectacular views of the limestone peaks, before descending to the bottom of the valley. Today's walk ends in Kroscienko town where our driver will be waiting to take us on to Krakow (2 hours).
Today's 15 kilometre/9.3 mile walk is expected to take around 5 hours and 30 minutes with 480 metres/1575 feet of ascent and 550 metres/1805 feet of descent.
The trip ends after breakfast at our hotel in Krakow.
There are no activities planned today, so you are free to depart from Krakow at any time. If your flight is departing later in the day luggage storage facilities are available at our hotel. If you would like an airport transfer today, you need to depart from Kraków John Paul II International Airport (KRK) which is around 30 minutes' drive from the hotel.
If you have booked a late afternoon or evening flight it is possible to take an optional morning excursion to Oswiecim, the site of the Auschwitz-Birkenau Concentration Camp.
Total distance : 48 miles
Poland has a temperate, changeable climate. September and October are cooler and gradually become damper until late November when temperatures fall below freezing with snowfall, particularly in mountainous areas. Cold temperatures last through to March, but are tolerable. Snow can lie for up to three months in the mountains.
2 Pin Round
Excursion to Auschwitz Memorial Museum by bus including entrance and guiding in English PLN 155.00 (€38.00 per person) Rafting in the Dunajec Gorge on day 6 costs €14 Euros per person.
Bring light and comfortable clothing that can be layered according to the temperature. The weather conditions in the mountains can be changeable, and it can become cool, especially at night, so bring warmer layers. Tops made from wicking materials which keep you drier and warmer are recommended as a base layer, and walking trousers are preferable to trousers of heavier material such as jeans. A waterproof jacket is essential at all times in case of rain and wind. If you choose the rafting option on day six, that day you'll need to take a change of clothes, shoes that you don't mind getting wet and a towel with you. -Breathable wind and waterproof jacket (you may also wish to bring waterproof trousers) -T-shirts -Long sleeved tops -Sunhat -Long trousers -Shorts (if you prefer to walk in them) -Swimwear and towel -Midlayer Fleece/pullover -Socks (liner and thicker pair) -Insulated jacket -Hat -Gloves
We recommend you bring well-worn in walking boots - leather or fabric are both fine. In addition please take comfortable trainershoes or sandals for evenings and walking around Krakow. We suggest that on international flights you either carry your walking boots in your hand luggage or wear them - should your luggage be lost or delayed, your own boots are the one thing that will be irreplaceable.
Bring one main piece of luggage and a 20-30 litre day sack is recommended. You will need to carry what you need for the day which may include a raincoat, jumper, camera, sun-cream, picnic lunch etc. On hot days you will carry fewer clothes but more drinking water.
-Sunglasses -Sun cream -Small Torch (with spare batteries and bulb) -Camera -Walking poles (if you usually use them) -Personal toiletries -Personal first aid kit - On each walk a first aid kit is carried but you should have your own blister kit, supply of plasters, aspirin and other essentials. -Insect repellent -Small waterproof dry bag (for items such as your mobile phone) -Reusable water bottle (minimum 1 litre) - Get 15% discount on a Water-to-Go bottle www.explore.co.uk/about-us/responsible-travel/water-to-go-discount-with-explore -Lunch bag/Tupperware (for packed lunches) Please note that in many of the museums in Poland larger bags will need to be placed in a locker and there may be an additional charge for taking photographs whilst inside.
Our mid-range accommodation throughout this trip offers a good level of service often with other amenities such as a restaurant, bar, garden or swimming pool. Please note that the majority of hotels in Poland don't have air-conditioning. In Zakopane we stay in a traditional wooden mountain chalet-style property.
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Please refer to our COVID-19 entry requirements page for any country-specific conditions of entry. Whilst we strive to update this on a regular basis we recommend you also check the FCDO website for the latest advice on entry requirements in this fast-evolving situation. Information can change at any time.
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Poland: Visas not required by citizens of the UK, Australian, New Zealand, US and Canadian. Other nationalities should consult the relevant consulate.
If you do require assistance in obtaining a visa then you may be able to apply through Explore's recommended visa service in the UK, Travcour. See www.travcour.com to download the relevant visa application for your trip, if applicable (UK citizens only), along with details of how to apply for your visa through Travcour. The Team at Travcour will be happy to answer specific questions relating to visa applications, please call them directly on 0208 5431846.
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Customers booked on the ‘Land Only’ arrangements will receive a Free Transfer, provided you arrive and depart on the tour only itinerary start and end dates. The complimentary transfers will be arranged from the Explore designated airport or train station to your trips joining point, and then back from the ending point to the designated airport or train station. Generally the airport or station that Explore have selected will be the one that is closest to the town or city where the trip starts, or the one nearest to the joining point. It will be either an airport or train station but not both.
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