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It's the place to go

This is the place to go: skiing, sleighing, bike riding, or on a family holiday. This is also the mother of mountain walks, professional expeditions and soft hail Whether you're looking for steep slopes, ideally suited for extreme sport fans,, a typical mountain meadow to ski with your kid, or just a place to improve your tan in the middle of winter, there is only one place that has it all - Zakopane. And that's been so for over a hundred years - not without a reason...

How to survive in the mountains?
Before leaving, check the weather forecast for the next day. Beware of the foehn wind. It can turn whatever is in its way into ruin - your mood including - many report tiredness and headaches Always leave an information where you're going and at what time you're planning to return - in case of emergency, the assistance will reach you more quickly
A scarf or a swimming suit?
Zakopane is a town located nearly 1 100 meters above the sea level so a scarf and a hat or cap are essentials on your backpack list. The temperatures in January sometimes fall to a freezing -20 degrees Celsius and appear even lower with wind gusts. Don't get mistaken however - around March, the winter sports can be practiced even in summer shorts and a T-shirt!

For variety lovers
Zakopane is ready to pander to your every whim. If you get bored with skiing and get allergic to the sheer thought of a long walk, you can indulge in a shopping spree at Krupówki, the most popular street of Zakopane. You are bound to fall in love with the local cuisine and rollicking parties with beer, sheep roast and lively beat of the local music. The climate here allows parties till the morning comes and helps to enjoy the morning without a headache, so you can wake up early and take a walk to an enchanting Morskie Oko Lake, located in the Valley of Five Lakes. This will take you about 4 hours and 30 minutes. The task for the toughest is climbing to Mount Rysy - the highest peak of Poland. To prove a winner in the 2.5 kilometre uphill struggle does not require particular technical skills, but determination is a must. The effort is rewarded by breathtaking views and the satisfaction of a rather difficult trekking route. A trip to Rysy is an all-day endeavour and you must prepare yourself carefully for that in advance. It is particularly worthwhile to check the weather forecast.

  • TOPR information: Phone: (018) 20 634 44; 603 100 100
  • EMERGENCY CALLS: 601 100 300
  • Tatra Guides Centre: phone: (0-18) 20 637 99
  • Avalanche Information: phone: (0-18) 20 637 99
  • Weather information: tel. (0-18) 20 630 19
Skis, sleighs, and skating boots - a little bit about sliding and more
The Zakopane area is a dream location for winter sports. Within a walking distance there is a number of smaller hills. If you're looking for more - the lift to Butorowy Wierch (1640 meters long) and Gubałówka (1330 meters long) are ready to take you up in the mountains. Kasprowy Wierch is a challenge for the demanding. Perfectly made runs, instructors, restaurants. It is also the longest run in Poland, stretching along 6000 meters. The list of excellent ski runs includes a lot of other places. Some of them, for various reasons, are even more interesting than the ones mentioned above.

Higher ranges of the Tatra Mountains are the place for freeriding, that is a ride down a brand new ski run. It is a real challenge and, for safety reasons, requires the presence of a qualified instructor. The best way to have a try at it is to contact "ALPIO" - a Mountain Tourism Agency, which ensures professional guidance of internationally recognized instructors (www.alpio.pl).
Another winter sport is ski touring, that is journeys on skis. Irrespective of whether it's your first time with skiing or you're an experienced skier, you are bound to find something that suits your taste. The difficulty level of the routes spans along a 7 grade scale, with S1 (roads and some easier tourist routes and gentle slopes) as the easiest and S7 (downhills requiring jumping through stone or ice faults on extremely steep slopes). High and Western Tatra offers perfect conditions for skiing and ski tours of several days can be organized there. The Zakopane area is also a paradise for experienced bike riders. High hills, slippery surfaces and sharp downhills make you feel the chills down your spine even if you're a bike riding professional.

Break your skis not your legs
The most common causes of accidents according to the Tatra Volunteer Emergency Service (TOPR):
  • Improper equipment, loose bindings
  • Bravado
  • Fitness deficiency, don't go to the slope straight from the train station
How to behave properly on the ski run
  • Don't take the runs that are beyond your skills - you are a danger to others
  • Take a rest next to the run, not directly on it
  • Don't unfasten your skis on the run
  • If you witness an accident, stop, provide first aid and call the specialists
If you're on friendly terms with climbing or just want to learn that skill, you may be interested in winter Tatra climbing courses. During a 14 or 16-day course, professional climbers will teach you how to behave in severe winter conditions high in the mountains. You will learn how to use an alpenstocks and spurs, experience camping in a snow cave, have a chance to search for the victims of a simulated avalanche.

Who will look after you in the mountains?
TOPR - The Tatra Volunteer Emergency Service is a group of professionals who are always there, whenever people need their help. Remember however, that even the best of the best might not make it on time, so the primary protection in the mountains will be your common sense.
Wildlife and bears
Wildlife is on an up in the Tatra National Park. Despite a significant number of tourists, it can still be found to exist in the original state. Meeting a bear crossing your trail is not uncommon; the area is also a home for the lynx, wolf, marmot, chamois. Due to exceptional natural conditions and a high number of visiting tourists, a small fee is collected for entering the National Park. The adventure is however definitely worth the money!

New Year's Eve in the mountains? Why not!
Employ your imagination for a royal-like New Year's Eve in the mountains. First, a crazy horse-driven sleigh ride on a road lighted with torches the snow crackling under the runners, laughter and a drink, whose strength matches the frosty weather. After this unusual ride, a bonfire is waiting for the guests, with a sheep roast and lively local music. Long before the bell strikes midnight, the guests are invited to a cosy pavilion, where the beautifully embellished ball is waiting. Here, they spend the night and from here they will be leaving to their comfortable rooms in the morning. Such nights are unforgettable and it's worth to experience how the Poland's rich noblemen used to party.

It is indeed difficult to find another place where you can take a walk in the mountains in the morning, visit one of the numerous museums in the afternoon, enjoy a theatre performance in evening and party in the night. Therefore, Zakopane has been drawing increasing number of visitors for almost one hundred years. They come here to have fun, save lives, enjoy the views and for physical activities.

If you don't know what to do with the coming winter, back your bags, take something warm to dress and come here - Zakopane is waiting!

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