Tatra National Park – second post RUW-RSO studytrip to Poland

RUW Foundation and the Rural Sociology Group organized a studytrip to Poland. In a 10 day intensive program different cities and rural areas in Poland were visited, interesting people and organizations met and farm work is done. The theme of the trip is “Glocalise”. Students are asked to prepare themselves well on different themes in groups before leaving and to write a concluding reflexive paper on their impressions and findings, and to write a blog. The is second blog on the Tatra National Park posted by:

Emanuel Sandrini, Kyra Weerts, Ileen Wilke, Meret Windler, Meia van der Zee

Museum Tatra national parkToday our trip took us to Tatra National Park, in the south of Poland. It is one of the 23 national parks in Poland.

First we arrived in Zakopane, a village close to the park. Zakopane is the so called wintersport capital of Poland and in summer many tourists come to hike and do other outdoor activities in the area. Each year in fact more than 2 million visitors come to Zakopane. Here we went to the local museum where we got a tour about the history and natural environment of the area from a very enthusiastic guide.

We learned about the Gorale people, the original inhabitants of the Tatra mountains. Traditionally they lived under harsh conditions with cold and long winters in the mountains and survived mostly from hunting. The Gorale are nowadays still famous for their wood crafts and making music. The Gorale still live in the area and mainly work in the tourism sector, for instance operating ski lifts or selling woodcrafts. Since it is not allowed to enter the national park for other activities than tourism, it is a problem that some of the Gorale people are still hunting e.g. deer. This clashes with the nature conservation purpose of the park and the deer population is decreasing. The second floor of the museum was dedicated to the natural area surrounding Zakopane and there we got to see many mounted animals that live in the area. We immediately noticed the bear and enquired about what to do if we encountered one on the hike we were about to go on. To this our tourguide gave us the insightful advice to not use the flash on our camera if it we found ourselves within 5 meters of the bear. Armed with this potentially life saving information we all took off to see the national park. We were all very excited to get out of the city and into nature for a change.

Tatra national park 2When entering the Tatra national park, you need to pay a small entrance fee. This money is used for nature conservation in the park. The large amount of tourists it gets every year therefor provides a fair financial support for the conversation of the park, but at the same time brings with it challenges. Despite guidelines and provided information, visitors still leave their marks behind. As we got to see for ourselves, trash is left behind by a lot of tourists. We hiked a lot today, even the rain couldn’t stop us from our nice hike and the trash couldn’t stop us from enjoying the beautiful nature. The mountains and woods in the national park are beautiful, we were literally back to nature for one day. At the end of the day, luckily nobody had to use the tourguide’s advice and everybody got back safely to the hostel, very fulfilled from the day’s experiences.