Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Zakopane sightseeing: Gubalowka – the best view of Tatras

Gubalowka - one of the most interesting view points of the Tatras, easily accessible and therefore, unfortunately, often very crowded. Many tourists ascend the peak using the funicular and go for souvenir shopping or to find restaurant to satisfy hunger. However, I would to write about different Gubalowka - interesting objects in the vicinity of the summit and what you can see from the top because the panorama is one of the best views of the Tatras.

The Gubalowka mountain ridge is full of housing buildings - this is the highest settlement (1122 m a. s. l.) in Poland and it belongs administratively to Zakopane. The largest oject visible from afar is the Radio and TV Tower, nowadays also providing mobile phone coverage and satellite television. The funicular is the most often visited attraction. It was built in 1938 and modernized fifteen years ago. The summit can also be reached by numerous hiking trails leading to Gubalowka from different directions.

You have to go down a few dozen meters from the upper funicular station to see the full panorama of the Tatras. The view covers most of the Tatra Mountains - from the Belianske Tatras to the distant peaks of the Western Tatras. The most conspicuous is Giewont Mountain with its silhouette of sleeping knight. You can also recognize almost every building in Zakopane, the complex of ski jumps and many other objects. Unfortunately it is impossible to see Rysy (the highest mountain of Poland) and Gerlach (the highest peak in the Tatras) from Gubalowka.

One of the worth seeing objects is the monument called Polonia Restituta located near the upper station of the funicular. Two-meter bronze figure shows the resurgent Poland. On the left hand of the woman there is sitting an eagle with spread wings ready to fly. The sculpture was made by Stanislaw Kaniak for world exhibition Art and technology in contemporary life in Paris in 1937.

Another interesting object is a metal cross standing near the Radio and TV Tower. It was commissioned in 1873 by Titus Chałubiński in Kuznice (local ironworks). The cross was founder's public confession of faith and it also commemorates his reconciliation with the family.

Gubalowka is worth visiting at any time of the year because of the spectacular views. I recommend to explore the area in the morning hours to do it in peace and quiet.

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Macrophotography: round-leaved sundew

Photographing the round-leaved sundew is not a quite easy thing. But don't be afraid, you do not have to be a professional with years of experience and very expensive equipment for macrophotography. The difficulties lie in the fact the majority of people simply do not notice it ;)

So firstly, you need to locate the sundew – its tiny leaves are almost whole green and it is hard to spot them among the bogs. I have spent more than an hour during a photographic tour on the wetlands before I found the first specimen and took a photograph of it. I must add that it wasn't my first search.

As for the shooting, should you choose the morning time when the light is not too sharp and there are still morning dew drops on the hairy leaves. Under a cloudy sky, you can make use of an artificial light source - a flash or headlamp. A plain white sheet of paper reflecting daylight may also be useful. Of course, interesting pictures can also be taken in the rain - the best is drizzle with tiny water droplets which gather on the leaves. Almost each leaf contains undigested remains of insects - sundew is real carnivorous plant!

You can tak macro photos by almost any type of camera - from small compact devices with often very good macro mode to SLR cameras with special lenses for macrophotography. Most of the following images were taken with SLR Pentax K-3 with the Soviet lens Helios 58mm type M42 attached to the camera with the appropriate adapters and rings for macrophotography.

Where to find the sundew? It can be often found in bogsmarshes and fens. The pictures where taken on the peat bog near Nowy Targ (Lesser Poland). Sundews grow there next to the observation platform, half a meter from the railings.

If you want to learn more about macrophotography and see those amazing plants – you are warmly welcome to our photo-tours and workshops.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Nature reserve - Bór na Czerwonem

Recently we have been discovering the charms of picturesque place which is the Nature Reserve Bór na Czerwonem. It is located in Podhale, Lesser Poland. The place has the true recreational potential - Nordic walking and cross country trails are led here, it can also be the target of a bicycle tour or a stroll. Some come here at odd hours and roam around with a camera ;) However, the nature reserve is primarily the place where extremely interesting species of plants are protected.

The area has been protected since 1925 but it was given the status of a nature reserve in 1956. Bór na Czerwonem is peatbog reserve, in which the raised bogs ecosystem (supplied with rainwater) and surrounding it humid forest communities are protected. This is an example of peatlands typical for Orava-Nowy Targ region. 

The name (czerwone = red) the reserve owes to algae, which in autumn assume a red color. But we can see here many more interesting species typical for the wetlands such as sphagnum moss, Cranberry, cotton-grass, different types of pine or fascinating common sundew. If these names do not say anything to you - just come here and see for yourself what a beautiful landscape they form :)

Friday, February 13, 2015

Kumoterki - traditional sleigh race

Kumoterki - traditional sleigh race
Kumoterki is the name of the sport discipline popular in Podhale region in Poland. The team (a couple and a horse) tries to get the highest score in a sleigh race. Usually a man is teaming and a woman acts as a ballast ;) But sometimes the roles are switched. The oval-shaped track is approx. 400 meters long and the audience is standing around it. 

Another contest is skiring where skiers teaming horses compete. In the second version called ski-skiring one person is riding a horse and a second one - the skier is only trailed. Everything is very spectacular and exciting. 

The competition is preluded by Parada Gazdowska (can be translated as Farmers Parade). It is also some kinde of contest but a bit more static ;) Farmers dressed in the regional costumes ride in the decorated sleigh pulled by bedecked horses. During the parade they are scored by the jury. The referees mark horses, harnesses, sleigh and the owners. It is a great chance to see the traditional highlanders outfit and hear the regional music.

When and where can we watch the contests?

The competitions are held in Podhale region during the carnival. You can watch them every sunday in a different village: Kościelisko, Poronin, Biały Dunajec, Bukowina Tatrzańska, Ludźmierz and others. The best idea is to ask in the visitors centers in Podhale - they will inform you about the dates of the contests. Some information you can also find on the official website: (only in Polish). 

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Tatry Ice Master - ice sculpturing championships

Every winter since 2013 a very interesting and spectacular competition takes place in the Tatras - the ice sculpturing championships called the TATRY ICE MASTER. Top artists from several countries of the world come to Slovakia to take part in the contest. During three days they have to complete the tasks - create ice sculptures in 3 different categories:

1. Bears
2. The country I come from
3. Abstract - free choice

That is amazing! You can watch the artist working, using different technics and tools, transforming ice blocks into fantastic shapes

The championship is accompanied by singers performances, daily contests, ice-shops and other amusements.

Everything takes place in the beautiful area of the High Tatras. There are splendid waterfalls 20 minutes walk from Hrebienok.

Directions: Hrebienok, The High Tatras, Slovakia. Take a funicular (or go on foot :) from Stary Smokovec to Hrebienok. On the way back you can enjoy 3 km long sledge track :)