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22 maja 2018

Hillsides kindly adorned with clumps of trees, Long grass rustling on alpine meadows, wooden Eastern Orthodox churches and ubiquitous peace make the Bieszczady Mountains one of the most beautiful regions in Poland. The incredible scenery, whiffs of fresh air and the taste of local cuisine are only a few reasons to have a longer break in this idyllic area. And what else makes this place so special?

The scenery around the Bieszczady Mountains is simply breathtaking and it changes intensively at different seasons what makes it a perfect place to visit all year round. A variety of shades of green in the Bieszczady Mountains, accompanied by owl hooting in the spring, Fields of swinging long grass and evening concerts of corncrakes in the summer , red leaves of beeches, falcons flying over the autumn meadows and finally trees blanketed with layers of frost and fog in the winter, are all still waiting to be explored and are definitely worth the visit.

Bad and good spirits hidden in ‘Bieszczady’

The literal meaning of the name ‘Bieszczady’ is a blend of two words: ‘Biesy’ (translated as demons) and ’Czady’ (representing angelic beings). According to folk tales, the habitants who lived in the mountain borderlands, believed that they were influenced either by devil powers, which were making their lives difficult, or protected by good spirits living in the undeveloped and unsettled areas.

An unforgettable mountain experience

If you plan to go hiking in the Bieszczady Mountains, you can spend a night in a small cosy wooden cottage called ‘Bacówka Pod Małą Rawką’ and located 30 minutes away from the Wyżniańska Pass. The journey to the cottage can be taken by car or bus. From here you can explore nearby mountain trails, e.g. those leading up to Wielka Rawka and Kremenaros. The most attractive walk leads up to Połonina Caryńska, where you will be rewarded by the spectacular views of Mt. Tarnica and Mt. Halicz, the highest peaks of the Polish Bieszczady Mountains. Those who enjoy exploring nature in winter, will be delighted with the remote, 100 km away from the trails, dramatic scenery of Tatry peaks rising high above the billows of clouds. This amazing phenomenon is the result of temperature inversion between mountains and valley locations during which cold air underlies warmer air.

Paradise for animal observers

Wildlife encounters are common incidents for hikers. When exploring trails, you can come across Esulapa- the rarest and the biggest snake living in Poland. Although its impressive size, it is nonvenomous. You can also spot wild animal tracks, including those left by wolves or martens. As an alternative, you may take a day trip to the Bieszczadzki National Park and, together with a local guide, spend time on observing deer and bison herds at their natural area as well as following footprints of lynxes or wildcats, which are best seen during winter trips. (For more information visit the Bieszczadzki National Park website at https://bdpn.pl/).

‘Fuczki’, ‘proziaki’ and other local specialities that will certainly make your mouth water

Tasting regional dishes is a great way to explore a piece of local culture, so grab a spoon and get ready to dig in… Rural cuisine has been influenced by ethnic groups living in the Bieszczady Mountains, mainly by the Lemkos and the Boykos. The dishes are simple but tasty, for example ‘fuczki’ (pancakes coupled with sauerkraut), ‘hreczanyki’ (minced meatballs mixed with buckwheat groats and mushroom sauce poured over them), ‘stolniki’ (smashed potato stuffed cabbage sprinkled with fried chopped onion) or ‘proziaki’, also known as‘prozy’, (wheat Rolls mixed with soda and kefir served with Garlic butter).

From delicious cuisine to a forest railway, local galleries and museums... there is something for everyone to discover

  • Rural Architecture Museum of Sanok (known as ‘Skansen in Sanok’) This is one of the most beautiful and interesting open-air museums in Europe. It displays the culture of the Polish and Ukrainian borderland and features various ethnical groups who inhabited Bieszczady area. The open-air museum contains over 100 wooden buildings dating back to 17th - 20th centuries, located in a 38 ha area.
  • The Bieszczadzka Forest Railway This is one of the most well-known narrow-gauge railways in Poland. It leads from the main station in Majdan (located near Cisna ) to Przysłup or Balnica train stations and is very popular for the beautiful landscapes trains pass through.
  • Lake Solina Lake Solina is the best known tourist attraction in the Bieszczady Mountains. Canoeing, sailing or fishing are the usual activities that people do in this idyllic area. You can also visit an adjacent hydro power station.
  • The village of Szczawne The wild landscapes are not the only attraction of the Bieszczady Mountains. This region has also rich history and an impressive architecture, including numerous wooden tserkovs scattered throughout the whole area, e.g. a Greek Catholic (currently an Eastern Orthodox) church in the village of Szczawne. Visiting them is a truly enjoyable alternative to relax after a hike along scenic trails.

    Alicja Daszkiewicz
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