Tatras – the power of the mountains!
What do Poles have in their souls?
Mountains – the altars of freedom, with only some located within the Polish borders, belong to the spiritual landscape of Poland and its residents. An evergreen destination, the summer and winter capital of the country. The Tatra Mountains captivate the minds of tourists with their soaring peaks, reflected in the surface of mountain lakes, and the mysteries they hide. We believe that they are home to the knights, who slumber, waiting for the call to defend our independence. These are the last refuges of wild animals – bears, marmots and chamois. They became mythical at the beginning of the 20th century, visited by Poles living in the areas of all partitions, coming there to rest, cure tuberculosis, challenge the unexplored peaks and mountains, create works of art often inspired by local experiences and the culture of Podhale, and to work on plots to liberate the country. Today, 5-6 million people come here every year.
Treasures of humanity
The Tatra Mountains are a world biosphere reserve. The area protected by the Tatra National Park covers only 212 square kilometres, but it is one of the few places, where one can encounter some of the vanishing species of animals and plants. The park is home to the last bears in Poland, as well as marmots and chamois. It houses the nests of golden eagles, as well as the smallest and most colourful birds in Poland, the wallcreepers.. Rocky peaks of the High Tatras and gentle domes of the Belianske Tatras, mountain lakes – with Morskie Oko, which rose to the rank of a symbol of Poland, as well as natural biodiversity are the true treasures of our land. The national park is accessible to visitors, and the most attractive places can also be reached by people with disabilities. One important bit of trivia is that the area of the Polish Tatra Mountains could be protected thanks to Count Władysław Zamoyski, who donated a significant part of the mountains he owned to the Polish nation in 1924.
The holy mountain of the Poles, the Beauty and the Beast. Desired and hated. Famous and infamous. Rising only 1987 metres above sea level. Statistically speaking, it was visited by every Pole in existence. All the people who never waited for five hours in a line to buy a ticket in Kuźnice, who never waited for an hour to get a cup of tea on Kasprowy, who never exposed their pale faces to the Tatra sun do not know life. It is worth your while to visit the place even just once – just to see the sun setting over Czerwone Wierchy.
With Luxtorpeda and balloon into space
Kraków and Zakopane are only 105 kilometres apart, but covering this distance sometimes takes as long as 4-5 hours. In the not-so-distant past, people used to travel from between the cities by carts – after that journey (which sometimes took two days) they had to rest for a week. The railway has been in place only since the late 19th century, with the famous Luxtorpeda (diesel rail bus) being particularly worthy of note. It was used on this route in the 1930s and covered the distance from Kraków to Zakopane in 2 hours and 18 minutes back in 1936. This record still stands to this day! It is worth knowing that the Tatra Mountains witnessed one of the first attempts to get to the frontier of outer space. In October 1938 an attempt was made to launch a stratospheric balloon from Chochołowska Valley, which was to reach an altitude of 30,000 metres. However, just mere moments before the launch, a catastrophe happened…
The heart of the world – the winter and summer capital of Poland
In the winter of 1913-1914, a columnist from the Warsaw press coined the term ‘winter capital of Poland’. Since then, this term became synonymous with Zakopane. Soon after, it was dubbed the summer capital, and then Rafał Malczewski called Zakopane the heart of the world. Back in the day one could encounter the most famous Poles on the streets of the city, the fate of the country was decided here and the plans for great wars were drawn up in the mountains. Do you think that's a thing of the past? Come and see for yourself. A real resort with the unique atmosphere of a homely village, where you can meet a TV star and a top-tier politician. Hundreds of pubs, bars, restaurants with flavours that Gordon Ramsay himself would never have dreamt of – all commingled with the unique atmosphere of crowds in Krupówki.
If anything was missing in Podhale, it was places like these – water parks with hot water, dozens of devices that massage, wave and get you in a great mood. Zakopane Water Park, Podhale Thermal Bath Podhalańskie on the border of Szaflary and Biały Dunajec, Bukowina Thermal Bath in Bukowina Tatrzańska, Bania Thermal Bath in Białka. Indoors and outdoors, different temperatures, partially mineralised waters from the uncontaminated interior of the earth. Believe it or not – there is no more pleasant time to take a dip than on a summer afternoon when the sun is already setting.
Summer weather. #NajważniejszeWrócić
The Tatra Mountains have a peculiar climate – all the weather phenomena are stronger and more prominent. If it rains, it rains for a few days. When the wind blows, it can carry you away. Snow can fall in the middle of summer – a summer which is known for its ever-changing weather. That is why checking the forecast is the most important thing to do before long hikes and summit attempts – this could affect your safety. The one-day forecast is usually accurate. It is a bit worse when it comes to rainfall, temperature drop and wind strength. Rapid weather change, especially temperature drops and sudden rainfall (especially in July and August) caused many deaths in the mountains. Here are some Cliff notes about the weather in the Tatras:
- the Tatras can get cold – the average temperature on Kasprowy Wierch in July is only 7.5 °C. During the hike to the summits the temperature drops by about 0.6 °C for every 100 vertical metres. If the temperature in Kuźnice (1100 metres above sea level) is 20 °C, on Świnica (2301 metres) it drops to 13 degrees, and during the storm can drop even to zero.
- Snow in July and August is nothing out of the ordinary. On top of that, rapid change can happen in just a couple of hours. Sometimes the summer snow can be seen there for up to a week. In June 1962, Kasprowy Wierch was covered in 2 metres of snow.
- Virtually any change in weather can trigger heavy fog. This happens virtually instantly and can be dangerous if it persists for a longer time. It can lead you to getting lost.
- The Tatra Mountains are the most storm-prone region in Poland, and if one were to sum up their total duration, it would turn out that lightning strikes here constantly. The darkening sky, the faster wind, and electrified air – which manifests with your hair standing up on its own and sparks jumping between metal objects – should be a clear warning sign telling you to seek shelter immediately. In the summer of 2019, four people died during a storm over the Tatra Mountains, and as many as 150 were injured.
If something were to happen, you can contact
the Tatra Volunteer Search and Rescue
at 601-100-300 or 985
(save this number on your phone!)