Poland; hometown of the inimitable Marie Curie, the sublime Frédéric Chopin and obvs, the legendary pint of Tyskie. Without them, this world would be more sickly, silent and God forbid, sober. Urgh, we barely even want to think about it.
But there remains one (badly kept) secret that completes this formidable set of infatuation-inducing gifts; shared with us by the only wonderful culture, eponymous with Mr Muscle’s popular cleaning product. No, we’re not talking about going gooey-eyed for gangly men in spectacles and a 90’s apron; instead you will be drooling over ‘Dolina Pięciu Stawów’, or ‘The Valley of the Five Lakes’, as it’s known in English for those struggling with their Rosetta Stone classes.
Deep in the Malopolska Region lay the Tatra Mountains; a range that forms a natural border between Poland and its neighbouring Slovakia. A national park and designated UNESCO biosphere reserve, the range’s modest-sounding name belies the breathtaking beauty that it beholds and instead breeds accidental alliteration. Apologies.
Although there are a number of hikes on the mountain trail, ‘The Valley of the Five Lakes’ can be reached by four different routes depending on your experience. For experts and Instagram ‘hashtag loving life’ showoffs, the most difficult are of course less populated. But what they lack in friendly faces, they more than make up for in unspoilt spheres of dense forest and rocky terrain, interspersed with tumbling waterfalls and landscapes so scenic, you’ll be vomiting adjectives when describing them once home.
The two zoologically-themed paths known as ‘Goat Pass’ and ‘Goat Peak’ are arduous, but you’re actually more likely to encounter the Polish equivalent of Yogi and Boo-Boo, than you are to see the Three Billy Goats Gruff; despite all the lovely bridge-crossed streams perfect for hiding trolls. Probably best therefore, to leave the picnic baskets back at base and remember your bear spray / whistle / ‘playing dead’ crash course skills.
We jest. Sort of.
For novice hikers and social media Luddites that have yet to upgrade their Nokia 3310 (haters gonna hate, ya know?), there are two ‘easier’ treks; one following the Zawrat blue route and the other via Krzyżne yellow route. All take between 1.5 and 2.5 hours to reach the summit. Whatever your bravery level, we assure you, you will be rewarded at the top by jaw-dropping panoramic views of the surrounding mountains, valleys and of course, exactly what you were waiting for, the Five Lakes:
- Wielki Staw Polski (The Great Polish Lake);
- Mały Staw Polski (The Little Polish Lake);
- Przedni Staw Polski (The Foremost Polish Lake);
- Czarny Staw Polski (The Black Polish Lake); and
- Zadni Staw Polski (The Rearmost Polish Lake).
We guarantee you’ll fall in love at first sight, and if you don’t, well, perhaps you’re obdurate and / or visually impaired. But at least there’s always therapy. And Specsavers.
The only problem is you’ll need to get down first. Hashtag sorry not sorry.