The face of knight with a remarkable chin, almost "hugable" from the mysterious sounding Caterpillar Black Pond - especially when frozen in winter - to just simply awesome from a little further afar. The Tatra Mountains are Poland's - and Slovakia's - pride, ski zone and hiking Valhalla.
Hiking or a cable ride up high
As the highest peaks of the Carpathians, the trails through most of Poland's Tatra National Park are relatively easy to do. True, for the diehards there are real challenges ahead if one aims for the higher peaks such as Rysy, Świnica or Gerlach, but at the same time one can take a comfortable cable ride up to Kasprowy Wierch which brings you to more than 1,900 metres ASL and can be good starting point to discover more. Gerlach (2,655) is the highest one, and like many of the other highest peaks of the Western Tatras entirely located in Slovakia. Rysy (2,500) is the highest on the Polish side. Make no mistake, even the lower Gods of the Eastern Tatras, such as the "knight" Giewont (1,894) can be extremely tricky to climb for the untrained adventurer.
Great-food shelters on the way
The great thing about mountain peaks in Poland and Slovakia, they typically come with great places to eat and spend the night (if booked way in advance). These shelters are called "schronisko" in Polish and are often located in the valleys or near the mountain tops. Kasprowy Wierch has the highest located restaurant (no shelter) of Poland.
The Tatra mountains come with their own people: the Gorals (Górale in Polish, Gorali in Slovakian). These highlanders are known to be very straigth-forward and honest in their communication, have their own phrases, sounds, dances and music. They typically enjoy life to its best, and weddings tend to last two to three days in the mountain regions, with the second day the party often in the local firestation - as it is sometimes the only place in the villages with a bigger room to house many guests.
Visiting the Tatras
The Tatras are an adventure in all seasons. Due note that if you'd like to bring your dog, your pawed companion is only allowed to enter the Slovakian side of the National Park.
As I just start processing the photos of my many visits to the Tatras, do come back more often. The small collection below is just the beginning. Underneath the quartet of photos below, special series of my "expeditions" into the Tatras will show.
Dolina Chochołowska is the longest valley in the Polish part of the Tatra mountains. In total it covers 35 square kilometres. Especially in March-April the easy hike up is very popular, as Poles are eager to spot the fields of crocuses. Timing of this visit is of the essence, as during my only hike up so far, back in 2021, I was just a bit too early. Searching the whole day for them, and with the flower fields expecting them higher up still underneath snow, I finally spot them at the end of the hike. When I left the parking lot to go.