Overseas Walks: Walk­ing in the Ta­tra Moun­tains

Walking New Zealand - - Contents - By Robyne Sel­bie

We ar­rived into the moun­tain town of Zakopane, sev­eral hours drive from Krakow where we started our tour.

Zakopane is a lively Pol­ish re­sort sit­u­ated in the foothills of the Ta­tra Moun­tains: the win­ter play­ground for Poles if the mas­sive ski jump lead­ing down the moun­tain into the town had any sig­nif­i­cance.

The moun­tain­ous back­ground prom- ised a walk with al­ti­tude.

We left Krakow early that morn­ing and as we got closer to our des­ti­na­tion the Ta­tra Moun­tains came into sight, we fi­nally ap­pre­ci­ated the ad­ven­ture we had signed up to.

It is one thing to view the ter­rain on Google Maps from New Zealand but an­other to see the moun­tain peaks tow­er­ing over the town, we could only hope our climb­ing days would be a little less daunt­ing.

Our guide gave us a brief­ing on the Na­tional Park pro­to­cols, out­lined our walk­ing routes with maps for the next week be­fore he de­parted back to Krakow with a prom­ise to col­lect us at the end of our walk.

The first three days of our walk­ing tour were to be spent in Zakapone with daily walks to dif­fer­ent re­gions in the lo­cal area.

Our first day started badly. We were mo­ti­vated to be­gin walk­ing after lunch the day we ar­rived so we con­sulted our maps and brief­ing notes and set off for the first day of walk­ing in the Na­tional Park.

The track lead out of the town from be­low the im­pos­ing ski jump, skirted Left: Great sig­nage to help the tram­pers. Above right: A typ­i­cal moun­tain chalet stopover. Be­low left: A wel­come rest at the sad­dle. around the base of the hill­side along a fence line above the town be­fore en­ter­ing the con­fines of the na­tional park. The sun was shin­ing and the scenery rem­i­nis­cent of New Zealand moun­tain scenery, so we felt very com­fort­able and ex­cited to be un­der­way on our adventures.

“Over con­fi­dent,” my friends would say!

Our map read­ing skills were a little rusty it turned out. We were distracted by a tram­per of­fer­ing us his tick­ets to en­ter the Na­tional Park at the first en-

trance we came to.

You pay an en­trance fee to go into the na­tional parks so we were happy to ac­cept his of­fer We did not ap­pre­ci­ate that there might be more than one en­try point into the park which is why we ended up head­ing up a dif­fer­ent val­ley to the one we had been di­rected to by our in­struc­tions.

There were a lot of lo­cal walk­ers in our vicin­ity as we set off along a for­est track lead­ing up a val­ley, with a small creek to one side and fir trees on the other. The route was well marked with coloured sym­bols and plenty of sig­nage in­di­cat­ing the des­ti­na­tions in Pol­ish. The tracks are well formed from rocks and scree which re­quire care­ful scru­tiny to avoid in­jury.

The day was warm and sunny and we were en­joy­ing the trek. We had plenty of com­pany as Pol­ish fam­i­lies en­joy out­door ac­tiv­i­ties and the park was a pop­u­lar hol­i­day des­ti­na­tion for fam­i­lies.

The track led up­wards and re­quired a bit more stamina than I ex­pected for our first day but it was beau­ti­ful coun­try­side and we were ad­mir­ing the moun­tain views and sight­ing un­fa­mil­iar birds and plants along the way.

We were well along the route be­fore I re­alised we had not seen the red sym­bols mark­ing our route as ex­pected but plenty of yel­low ones. Maps out and a closer read­ing of the in­struc­tions showed we were head­ing up the Dol Bialego val­ley, not the Dolina Strazyska or the Malej Laki Val­ley trail, our orig­i­nal des­ti­na­tion.

By the time we re­alised our mistake we de­cided it was too far to go back so we would sol­dier on. The map in­di­cated

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