To a Barça fan, Koeman’s goal is not just a memory, it’s a huge relief. From that point on, he is able to stop biting his nails, as they go into the finals.
Whoever has visited the mountain range of Bieszczady, feels that this place is more than just a tourist destination; it is a natural medicine that relieves stress.
Bieszczady, a paradise for hikers
Bieszczady is a mountain range with the heart a valley. On the border that divides Poland from Ukraine and Slovakia, we find this mountain range that does not stand out for his craggy top, but, however for its wide pastures and forests.
You won’t be able to play a football match on its slopes, but when you reach the top, you will think that you are at the best football stadium in the world.
Time goes by slowly in Bieszczady. The rhythm of life is easy. Those who visit the 300 kilometers of paths going across the mountains, get to know how relaxed life is there. These mountains are also known as the Polonini.
The National Park is the most visited area. Avid hikers climb up the Tarnica, go across the Carynska summit, and finally reach the tranquility at the shelters of the mountain.
Here is a 10 day route for you to do.
1. Bieszczady Sea: Lesko-Myczkow
When traveling, a good starting point is crucial. The best option to begin your journey across the Polonini is Lesko.
There is direct public transportation from the historic town of Krakow. Lesko, located by the San River shore, is within the Bieszczady mountain range, but it’s not part of the Natural Park. From Lesko, there is a path taking you along the riverside towards Solina Lake.
This route is about 17 kilometers, and it takes around 5 hours to complete.
Solina Lake © www.dzikie-bieszczady.pl
This first part of the route is easy and does not reach much altitude. It’s best to not wear yourself out too much on the first day.
Bear in mind that Lesko belongs to the European Long Distance Route E8, one of the longest paths in all of Europe, about 4,700 kilometers long. Even if you are a marathon runner, it will take you more than a 100 days to complete it. And if you’re not, it’d be best to just enjoy it at a slow pace and soak in the beautiful scenery along the way.
Halfway through the route, you will get to the village of Zwieryn, located on a curve, right before the Solina dam. You will have to cross the river to continue the journey.
This part of the route finishes at Myszkow, by the manmade lake of Solina, also known as the Bieszczady Sea because of its size.
2. The Beginning of the Climb: Myczkow-Terka
On this part of the route you will enjoy wonderful views of the lake, around the right side of the lake.
This 18 kilometers route goes through little hills and pasture fields. Here you will discover a mosaic of houses scattered among a grove of fir trees. The path is an easy one, continuously going up and down small hills.
San River views
Once you have reached the first stop, the path goes downwards, toward the little town of Wolkowyja, by the lake. Right after that, a breezy climb up takes you to Gorzanka.
From any of these places, you will be able to gaze at some wonderful views of the area that leads to the wild and unknown Bieszczady.
3. Between Forests and Meadows: Terka-Stare Siolo
The following stretch is a bit harder, so it will be best for you to be well rested beforehand.
The real climbing begins in Terka, heading towards Polonini. Halfway through the route, you will enter the National Park.
Once you are there, one last little push will get you to the Mieczyslaw Orłowicz, at 1,099 m, where you will run into three different paths.
It’s a good place to rest after the 16 kilometers route and enjoy the views of the vast meadows and forests that extend out on the horizon.
Beginning of the climb
In case it gets too late to continue, you can take a 4 kilometers detour to get to Stare Siolo, where you can spend the night.
4. `Chatka Puchatka´Shelter: Stare Siolo-Brzegi Gorne
This day’s journey will probably one of the best ones. You will be arriving at the Polish Carpathians, with its amazing mountain prairies.
Before reaching them you will have to climb the 4 kilometers path that takes you to M. Orlowicz. From there, take the main path.
The effort going up is well worth it.
From that point, a curvy path goes across different summits of the National Park. You will go through a mountain range, a little over just 7 kilometers, until you reach your destination.
Four kilometers before the village of Brzegi Gorne you will be arriving to the mountain refuge hut known as Chatka Putchatka where you can rest, take pictures of the beautiful surroundings, and even spend the night.
Chatka Putchatka shelter
This mountain refuge shelter accommodates up to 20 people. It does not have running water, toilets, nor power. Despite that, it’s still worth it to stay just to watch the sunset, or the sunrise from there.
And if these sorts of things don’t appeal to you, then you can always go down to Brzegi or Przetecz Wyznia.
5. At the Heart of the Park: Brzegi Gorne-Ustrzyki Gorne
You have almost finished the first half of the journey, so you deserve a reward.
As a prize, you have a short stretch of about 10 kilometers, where you will enjoy the beautiful landscape along the way.
The route begins with a 3 kilometers climb towards the Carynska summit.
After that, you have a 3 hour easy descent. You will go across the mountain top until you reach Ustrzyky Gorne, where we highly recommend that you stop. From that point, you can admire the surrounding mountain peaks.
Ustrzyki Gorne is one of the major tourists centers of Bieszczady, so you won’t have any problems finding accommodation. The management office of the Bieszczady National Park is located in that town.
You can also find a little mountain tourism museum, a post office, a few stores and a rescue station.
The heart of the National Park
6. Witnesses of the Bellowing: Ustrzyki Gorne-Muczne
Welcome to the most important stage of the journey. During this leg, you will go through the mythical scenery of southern Poland.
Right in the heart of the National Park, and just a few kilometers away from the Ukrainian border, you’ll find the highest peak of the Polonini, the Tarnica, at 1,346 meters.
The path has plenty of warning stakes on the ground, since it is forbidden to leave it. You will be accompanied by thick beech and fir woods to the lower areas of this journey.
Then, all of a sudden, you will see meadows and hills appear.
The Tarnica summit is unmistakable, since it’s crowned by a cross, which is a few meters high and can be perfectly seen from a distance. I suggest to do this route in autumn, because the number of tourists decreases. Also, if you wake up early and are lucky enough, you can witness the bellowing of the Carpathian stack, an unforgettable sight.
Every autumn, numerous male deer reach these mountain fields, from the valleys, to establish their authority and win over the female deers. The echo of their bellows and the crashing of their antlers can be heard from every corner.
Before trying to get there, take a look at the weather forecast, since a sudden wind change or a snow storm can make this peak impossible to climb.
After reaching the Tarnica summit, take the route toward Bukowe Berdo, a lower peak. Once there, take the path to the right until you get to Muczne, an isolated wooden hut village, where you can lodge for the night.
Bukowe Berdo forest
There will be times where you´ll need to get rest in order to be happy and enjoy the journey.
7. Bison Territory: Muczne-Dwernik
Now that you have visited the heart of Bieszczady, you can now begin your way back.
To go back to the path you left on the previous day, you will have to reach the Bukowe Berdo summit again.
Once there, instead of taking the same path, you can take the opposite slope to get to Widelki, after crossing the bridge over the Wolosatka river.
Once there, in addition to the shelters, there is a small reserve of bisons, where 12 of them reside. There’s also a little monument that honors them, and remembers their repopulation in Bieszczady.
Group of female bison with their babies
Throughout your journey, there is a chance that you may be able to spot a few predator birds, like the golden eagle, or the spotted eagle.
Also, it’s possible that you may be able to observe the tawny owl of the Urals, which during springtime, build their nests in tree trunks.
During autumn, the red fruits of the sorb tree cover the lower areas of the Bukowe. Its color is a magnificent contrast with the color of the field.
Thick coniferous forests in Bukowe
Three kilometers away from Widelki, you have the chance of resting in a very unique mountain shelter. The Koliba Przyslup Carynski was built in the same place, where long ago, the village of Carynskie was, but is now nonexistent.
You can stop to eat something, admire the views or rest, on that valley where bears, wolves and deers now live.
After this long day of more than seven hours of walking, you will arrive at Dwernik, which will already be outside the National Park, but still has very admirable landscaping.
Mountain brook in Muczne
8. The Untouchable Hulskie Forest: Dwernik-Polana
Crossing the strong current of the San River, there is a well indicated path, ascending towards Polana. It will take you less than 5 hours. Take the exit and make a pit stop at the Chata Socjologa shelter, a beautiful wooden hut in a forest glade. There, a warm fireplace or a snack will delight you.
At that altitude of 900 m, forests are at its best.
Chata Socjoloja shelter, near Hulskie Reserve
On those paths crossing the highly protected forest of the Hulskie Natural Reserve, it is likely that you will run into either a bear or a bison. You might even find wolf footprints or feces. Those animals do live in those mountains but they are very aloof.
In the Hulskie, wood is not extracted, and fallen trees are not removed, so if the path is blocked, you will have to overcome this obstacle on your own, in order to continue the route.
If you are lucky, you can see another one of the inhabitants of this forest, the hazel grouse. It is a beautiful bird similar to the capercaillie, but smaller. They are very shy, and at the slightest movement, they fly to the tree tops and disappear.
Golden and spotted eagles can also be seen here. Roe deer and stag are, without a doubt, the easiest to spot. In almost every stream of water, you can see the dams that have been made by beavers. If you choose to visit this wildlife area of Poland, autumn and winter are the best seasons to do so.
Roe deer grazing in Hulskie Reserve
The day will end in a beautiful valley of the Bieszczady area, called Otryt Mountains, in Poland. This is a little village founded in the 15th century.
9. The Roselin Grotto: Polana-Telesnica
From Polana, after resting for the night, you can continue the ascending route, which goes along the Czarny River, and flows into the Solina Lake.
Before beginning the route, make sure you stop and take a look at the Roselin area, where there’s a beautiful stream of water going through the ravines and beech forest, which has been made into a wonderful cave. It is a beautiful place to watch white-throated dippers and various types of amphibians in their habitat.
3 kilometers away from Polana, we find the village of Chrewt, located in a bay of the Solina Lake. It is also a good stopping point.
Here, you will be able to practice aquatic sports. In addition, if the water level is low enough, you will be able to look into the depths of the lake and see the foundations of an old mill and farm, which are the remains of the ancient village that used to exist.
Solina Lake views
Leaving Chrewt behind, you will get into the picturesque Paniszow Valley. The cattle in this area migrates during winter.
In about 4 hours you will reach Telesnica Oszwarowa, next to the last stop of the journey.
10. Back to civilization: Oszwarowa-Ustrzyki Dolne
During the last day, you will only have to go up and down a couple hills until you will reach the end of this journey.
In less than 4 hours, you will be leaving behind the Solina Lake before reaching your final destination.
Ustrzyki is a few kilometers away from the Ukraine border. You will notice the influence of its Soviet past.
Chaotic markets with local products, clothing, souvenirs, and a constant bustle of women trying to get extra money, trading alcohol and typical sweets. All this will confirm that you have reached the Eastern part of Bieszczady.
Viewpoint from 5 km away of Ustrzyki Dolne
Your first kiss is the one you’ll always remember, however, the last one is the one you give to your lifelong love.
Perhaps some other tourist destinations might seem more exciting to you, but once you go to Bieszczady, you will never want to leave.