Małopolska Region has the most significant number of national parks in Poland and two world-known biosphere reserves. All within a radius of 100 km. The last habitats of endangered animal and plant species are found in Małopolska. It is where you can be closest to nature and where you can feel its breath.
There are also more than 200 nature-protected areas, and when you count them up, it turns out that they cover almost 800,000 square kilometres, which is more than half the region’s area. Six national parks and two world-known biosphere reserves. It is not only a great heritage but also an excellent opportunity to look deep into wild nature. Most of them are in mountainous areas, and these most precious areas are accessible to relatively advanced tourists. Nevertheless, it is worth the effort to come face to face with nature.
The one and only – the Tatras
The Tatra Mountains, protected by the Tatra National Park, are also a cultural phenomenon. For the last 200 years, they have been an inspiration for the most outstanding Polish artists and a place where the idea of regaining independence after 100 years of slavery was born. They have always been a significant concern for Poles as well. The first law on the protection of animal species in the world was established to protect chamois and marmots living in the Tatras. They only live here, and no more than a few hundred of them exist. However, you. can still see them. And here, in the Tatras – the only alpine-type mountains in this part of Europe – Europe’s largest predator, namely the brown bear, lives. You can meet him along the tourist trails. We also have one of Europe’s smallest birds here – the wallcreeper, an inhabitant of steep, several hundred metres high rocks. No more than a few dozen of them left. There are only a few pairs of eagle owls and golden eagles.
6 parks, 6 worlds
Each national park has its distinct character, but each protects the most precious and non-renewable resources of nature. The Tatra National Park features alpine peaks rising 2,000 metres above sea level with some of the most beautiful mountain lakes. One of them, Morskie Oko, is supposed to be connected to the sea. The Babia Góra National Park is a prominent mountain peak resembling a volcanic cone. The Pieniny National Park is home to about 7,000 animal species and an even richer plant world. Finally, it is the Dunajec River gorge, almost symbolic for Poland, when the river flowing out of the Tatra Mountains breaks through several hundred metres high rock walls. Also, a unique attraction is rafting down the wild river in wooden rafts. The Magura National Park is a region covering the roughest parts of Małopolska. The least populated, with the smallest road network and a sophisticated tourist offer. The park encompasses the Niski Beskids, known as the Mona Lisa of Polish mountains, areas for those craving to move away from civilisation, and, for example, ride through uninhabited areas on small Hucul horses, which live here almost as if in the wild. The Gorce National Park is also a mountainous region – a land of gentleness, beech and pine forests and large floral pastures with sweeping views of other mountains. The Ojców National Park is a unique complex of forests, limestone rocks, streams carving deep gorges, medieval castles and a significant cultural tradition. Interestingly, the park is only 20 km from the centre of Krakow.
Małopolska is also a land of forests, including two remnants of ancient primeval forests. They lie on the borders of Krakow – the Dulowska Forest (to the west) and the Niepołomice Forest (to the east). The first one is nearly 2 600 ha in size and is the last fragment of a large forest stretching here in the Middle Ages. Interspersed with forest streams, it is a habitat for wild animals and vanishing plants. The Niepołomice Forest is the former hunting ground of Polish kings, belonging to them as early as the 13th century. Today, this large complex, overgrown mainly with pine trees, whose most valuable parts are protected by nature reserves, is primarily a vast recreational area where you can wander on foot or by bicycle.
Małopolska Region is a place for contemplation and active leisure among nature. It is still wild and thrives independently of man. Here you can breathe in nature.