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Poland & Slovakia: Krakow, Tatras & Bears

TOUR IN

EUROPE

  • 24 Jun
  • -
  • 02 Jul 2022
  • |
  • 9 days

$2933

per person

Availability: 12 places

    The mountains and forests of central and eastern Slovakia are refuge to a collection of wildlife that evokes in the imagination a Europe of wild and ancient lore. Its ragged peaks and spectacular national parks are home to wolf and lynx, wild boar and rare chamois. And amongst these Carpathian highlands we can find one of the last bastions of Europe’s wild bears.

    Benefiting from the pioneering work of David Guthrie, Peter Lapsansky and the ‘Project Bear’ team, this remarkable journey takes us deep into the heart of the Tatras Mountains, one of the last regions in mainland Europe where we can still see bears in their natural environment in significant numbers. In the company of experienced guides, we will trek through some of the finest alpine scenery on the continent, enjoying a rare opportunity to view magnificent mega fauna against the stirring backdrop of the towering Tatras ranges.

    With a chance to also enjoy the abundant treasures that lie within the historic embraces of Kraków, Levoca and the towns of the Spiš region, this is a rare opportunity to enjoy the cultural and natural bounty of a Europe that is fast disappearing into folklore.

    Day 1

    DAY 1: TOUR STARTS IN KRAKÓW (POLAND)

    This extraordinary journey begins in the historic Polish city of Kraków, one of the country’s oldest and most beautiful cities. We will be staying in the heart of the city’s historic Jewish Quarter. This afternoon we’ll enjoy an organised tour of the old city, along with the medieval setting of Kazimierz and its ancient synagogues.
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    Day 2

    DAY 2: MORNING TOUR OF WIELICKZA SALT MINES

    Architecturally stunning, with a historical pedigree that can trace its origins back to the 13th century, Kraków’s historic centre is a UNESCO World Heritage Site that can lay claim to Europe’s largest market square. This morning we will visit the extraordinary salt mine at Wielickza. Worked since the 13th century, the mine today is an official Polish Historic Monument and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, whose labyrinthine tunnels and passageways are filled with chapels, chandeliers and statues that offer up a fascinating insight into the creativity and cultural traditions of the miners that once worked these subterranean chambers. The afternoon is then free to continue exploring Poland’s former royal capital at your leisure, enjoying its abundant culinary charms and captivating Renaissance style.
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    Day 3

    DAY 3: KRAKÓW - ŽDIAR (SLOVAKIA)

    Departing Kraków after breakfast this morning we drive south, towards the Slovakian border and the mountain strongholds of the Goral people. Staunchly traditional, these mountain people have lived in the shadow of the High Tatras for generations and their villages and architecture still retain a uniquely distinctive style. Taking to the forested trails that run through the mountains, we have some good chances of spotting wild boar and red deer this afternoon, before finishing our 10-kilometre walk in the famous Goral village of Osturna.
    Approx. 3-4 hrs walking, 10kms, maximum altitude 1190m / minimum altitude 690m
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    Day 4

    DAY 4: WALKING IN THE BELIANSKE TATRAS MOUNTAINS

    An early start sees us travelling the short distance to Javorina (1050m), from where we commence a 20-kilometre hike through the beautiful Belianske Tatras Mountains. Part of the Tatras National Park, these trails offer spectacular mountain scenery and some excellent opportunities for seeing some of Slovakia’s fabulous mountain wildlife. Home to endangered Tatra chamois, black woodpeckers and majestic brown bears, we head across the Kopske saddle (1750m) and down to the Plesnivec Mountain Refuge before descending to Kotlina (765m), from where we return to Ždiar.
    Approx 5-6 hrs walking, 20kms, maximum altitude 1750m / minimum altitude 765m
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    Day 5

    DAY 5: ŽDIAR - PIENINY NATIONAL PARK - LIPTOVSKÝ HRÁDOK

    Nominated for inclusion on UNESCO’s World Heritage listing, the Dunajec River and its spectacular 18 kilometre gorge lie within the captivating confines of the Pieniny National Park. This morning affords an opportunity to take to its waters aboard rafts, to enjoy a couple of hours leisurely floating through its serene backdrop. A gentle afternoon drive then takes in the resort towns that lie amongst the High and Western Tatras ranges, ending at Liptovský Hrádok and the beautiful Grand Castle Hotel.
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    Day 6

    DAY 6: SEARCHING FOR BEARS AMONGST THE VALLEYS AND FORESTS OF THE TATRAS MOUNTAINS

    A pre-dawn start sees us heading off into hidden valley landscapes in the company of specialist rangers. Walking up through the pine forests and along animal trails that lead out above the tree-line, we enjoy the breathtaking views of the surrounding peaks as we emerge into a landscape that is amongst the finest anywhere in Europe in which to see bears in their natural environment. After a day of walking we spend this evening overnighting at the stunningly located Tri Studnicky Ranger Pension.
    The walking distance today will depend on local information about bear sightings, approximately we will be walking for 5 - 7 hrs covering an altitude between 1,200m - 2,000m
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    Day 7

    DAY 7: MORNING HIKE THEN ON TO POPRAD AND SPIŠSKÁ SOBOTA

    Continuing this morning much as we ended yesterday, we again set off in the company of an expert ranger to search out the bears and other wildlife that make these mountains their home. Venturing far from more established trails we make a number of stops along the route, in the hope of spotting some of the regions more exotic fauna. Following lunch we then drive the short distance to the historic town of Spišská Sobota, whose beautifully preserved medieval square provides the setting for a leisurely afternoon.
    The walking distance today will depend on local information about bear sightings, approximately we will be walking for 3 - 4 hrs
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    Day 8

    DAY 8: SPIŠSKÁ SOBOTA - SPIŠ - LEVOCA - SPIŠSKÁ SOBOTA

    Slovakia’s Spiš region grew rich on the trade that once plied the routes through the High Tatras during the 14th and 15th centuries. Our day will include visits to the magnificent setting of Spiš Castle, as well as the UNESCO listed town of Levoca, whose historic heart is considered a Renaissance jewel among the Slovak towns of the region. Home to the world’s highest Gothic wooden altar, the town can also boast the patronage of one of the medieval world’s finest woodcarvers, Master Pavol of Levoca.
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    Day 9

    DAY 9: SPIŠSKÁ SOBOTA - KRAKÓW (POLAND)

    Early this morning we will head back to Kraków airport, where our trip ends.
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