Tatra National Park
Tatra National Park

Tatra National Park is located in the Tatra Mountains in the Lesser Poland Voivodeship, Małopolska region, in central southern Poland. Extending into Slovakia, the Tatras are the highest range of the Carpathian Mountains and they form a natural border between the two countries.

Poland and Slovakia have cooperated on efforts to protect the mountain range since the early 20th century and in 1992, the Polish and Slovakian national parks in the Tatras were jointly designated a transboundary biosphere reserve by UNESCO, under its Man and the Biosphere Programme.

The Tatra National Park is 211 square metres in size and is headquartered in Zakopane. The Polish Tatras boast two dozen peaks exceeding 2000m, the highest of which is Mt Rysy at 2499m.

The landscape of the Tatras consists of sharp-edged towering peaks and numerous rock formations including narrow gorges, which drop hundreds of metres to icy lakes. There are no glaciers in the Tatras however patches of snow can be found at any time of the year.

Within the Tatra National Park, you will find caves, streams, waterfalls and lakes. There are around 650 caves in the park and some are open to the public. The Wielka Sniezna cave system is the longest at 18 kilometres and also the deepest at 814 metres. The largest lake is Morskie Oko at 349.000 m² reaching depths of just over 50 m.

The park is the most visited of the National parks in Poland and is very popular with hikers who can enjoy 270 kilometres of hiking trails. Within the park, you may see Tatra chamois, marmot, brown bears, lynx, otters, eagles, falcons and wolves.

At the northern foot of the Tatras lies the Podhale region, which is home to the Górales or the Goral (highland) people. Here, old folk traditions still form a part of everyday life and distinctive elements of their culture include the Podhale language, music, cheesemaking, and craft works. The popular salty smoked cheese oscypek is made from sheep milk and is a classic traditional Górale staple and can be purchased from most shops in Zakopane and Krakow.