Start at Krakow Airport, where you will be met on arrival by your leader. We then transfer (about 2hrs) by road to the folk town of Zakopane, beneath the peaks of Giewont, Kasprowy Wierch and Swinica, and our hotel. The evening is free to explore.
A short bus ride takes us to Kiry (15min from Zakopane) and the entrance to the Tatra National Park, from here we start walking. A gentle 90min hike along the Koscieliska valley, with many limestone gorges and caves, brings us to the Ornak hostel, our base for the night. Depending on our time of arrival, there should be time to explore further and climb Ornak peak (1854m). Approx 5-6hrs walking.
A harder day as we leave the hut, and start our ascent east alongside the Tomanowy river towards Tomanowa Przetecz, and Ciemniak, our first 2000m peak. From Ciemniak we follow the Kopa Kondracka ridge to the summit of Mt. Giewont (1985m) and a spectacular vista of the whole region. To the north we can see Zakopane, to the east Mt Rysy, and the south Slovakia. We descend down the Dolina Kondratowa to Kalatowki hostel, where we overnight. Approx 7-8 hrs walking.
Our second big day as we head back up to the main ridge above our hostel. We follow the main trail alongside a chairlift, zig zagging in places to the summit of Mt. Kasprowy (1955m). Traversing along the ridge towards Swinica (2050m) we again have dramatic views of the whole area. From the Swinica ridge we descend from the rocky ridge, past small mountain tarns to Gasiencowa hostel (1500m) where we overnight. Approx 6-7 hrs walking.
This morning we rise and prepare for the most challenging two days of the trip. You will have an opportunity to leave excess kit in Gasiencowa hostel to lighten your load for the days ahead. This will be transferred for you, but you will still need to carry your kit for days 6 and 7. We recommend that you try and pack as lightly as possible for the next couple of days as on these days you will be using fixed mountain chains to assist you on the walk. We begin with a steady climb past Czarny Staw (tarn) and away from vegetation to the rocky heights of the High Tatras. We cross the 'Eagles perch' (2159m) around lunchtime before descending back into the 'Valley of the five Polish lakes' with a variety of mountain flowers and grasses, to Roztoki. Approx 7-8 hours walking.
Our final ascent and hardest day! On leaving Roztoki we embark on climbing the highest Polish peak, Mt. Rysy (2499m) on the Polish/Slovakian border. We will attempt the summit from the Southern Slovakian side starting from Popradskie Lake. Approaching from the Slovakian side is easier than the Polish side and allows us to take more time. However, this is still a long day with a steep climb (ascending over 1000m), walking and using the ladders and chains over difficult terrain, but the effort is definitely worth it. On the way up we will take a sheltered breather at 'pod Rysami', the highest hut in the Tatras before heading onto the summit. On a clear day the views from the top of Rysy are simply stunning, we should be able to see over 100 peaks and 12 lakes from our vantage point. We will then return along the same trail. Approx 6 hrs walking.
Our last day's walking as we descend down the Dolina Rybiego Potoku (valley) to the road ahead and our waiting bus. Transfer to the historic city of Krakow, arriving mid afternoon. The rest of the day is free to explore the delights of this beautiful city. Perhaps visiting the Old Market square, Wawel Castle or Mariacki church.
A full free day to explore Krakow. Your leader will be able to advise on optional excursions, perhaps to the UNESCO Salt Mine at Wieliczka, and/or Auschwitz Museum.
End in Krakow.