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However, Tatra Mountains differ from the Alps for sure in respect of their lengthiness. At similar peak heights (circa 2300 metres) the mountain range is very short and narrow. The length of Tatra Mountains as the crow flies amounts to 53 kilometres, whereas the length along the main ridge on almost entire length both along the tourist route as well as the border between Poland and Slovakia, 80 kilometres. The width of the Tatra Mountains is "up to" 30 km. On the territory of Slovakia and Polish Podhale there are many places, from which it is possible to admire their full splendour with no difficulty. The impression of fairy-tale character of the scenery and the vastness of the mountains is enhanced by the peculiar geological landscape construction. Both on the southern and on the northern side there are large tectonic valleys, with gentle 1000 meter hills behind them. Tatra Mountains seen from Podhale and lighted up by the morning sun actually constitutes the most beloved theme for Polish landscape photographers.

On the shores of streams, on the outlet of big Tatra valleys, there are both deciduous riparian-type forests as well as beach wood forests with a dash of pine tree. They quickly give place to spruce and fir forests, transforming into a strip of dwarf mountain pine, alternating with rowanberry and lofty Swiss stone pines, subsequently turning into mountain pastures or large meadows used to pasture the sheep and in winter serving as an exzellent ski area. There are no glaciers in Tatra Mountains. On the height where there is actually cold enough during the whole year the slopes are to steep, so that they could hold any larger amounts of snow. The remaining of the ice age is a group of 200 unusually picturesque mountain lakes.

Because the whole area of the mountains is protected by Poland and Slovakia in national parks it is not possible to cross ridge on other way than on foot or in winter on ski. However, It is possible to round Tatra Mountains on a bicycle. This trip is about 230 km long and due to stunning views belongs among the most beautiful in Europe.
Tatra Mountains have been the most popular destination of wanders for more than 150 years. Both in Polish and Slovak part the chain of tourist shelters and ski slopes is well developed. Below we present some useful websites with the most important Polish shelters, useful on making direct reservations or scheduling the routes.

For skiers the most important thing is the recently modernized cable-car railway from Zakopane to Kasprowy Wierch as well as ski lifts complexes located in Goryczkowa Valley and Gąsienicowa Hala. They facilitate to do the ski slope on the highest world level.

Even though mountain rescue system in Tatra mountains is very well organized, still every year there are many lethal accidents. Due to the protection of nature and numerous threats resulting from the difficult territory, walking is restricted exclusively to the routes designated by the administrative organs of respective National Parks. It needs to bear in mind, that routes in Slovak part of Tatra Mountains are closed for winter.
One glance on the map of Tatra Mountains is enough to tell, that the names of the valleys on both sides of the main ridge of the Tatra Mountains sound almost the same. Despite the fact, that Tatra Mountains have been divided with a political border "since forever", people dwelling Poland, as well as the historical "Upper Hungary" have always been close and related. Until the present day highlanders from Slovakia use similar dialect and usually deal with very similar branches and sectors of economy. Regional, characteristic dairy products from Tatra Mountains are smoked sheep milk cheese "oscypek" – made in the Tatra Mountains and "bunc", and the handicraft products are sheep's fur and hand-made shoes called "kierpce" i.e. shoes with pointed toes traditionally worn by Polish highlanders and elegant vests.

See also:

Hiking in Poland

BieszczadySudetyPieniny - Trzy KoronyTatryPieninyKarkonoszeSudety - KarkonoszePieniny Mountains

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Polish National Tourist Office
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Phone: 1 (551) 344-3057
e-mail: info.na@poland.travel