I consider myself quite an outdoorsy person. I love hiking and exploring nature; it’s the thing I most look forward to when I travel. Although I also love to explore cities, I’d go hiking in the mountains over a city break given the choice. This is one reason why Zakopane in Poland was the perfect place for me and my travel buddy, Atlanta, to visit. The surrounding scenery in the village was stunning and there were so many potential hikes waiting for us in the Tatras Mountains. I just wish we had more time!
With our only full day in Zakopane, it was a struggle to choose which hike to do. In the end we were tempted by pictures of the lake Morskie Oko and off we went (I think we made the best decision!). The entrance to the Morskie Oko is about a half hour drive from Zakopane. As we didn’t have a car, we took a taxi there for 120zl (£24). On the way back we took a bus for 10zl (£2) each.
We paid 5zl (£1) to get into the national park where we started our hike. We noticed horses and carriages carrying tourists towards the end of the trail. Just seeing the foams of sweat around their saddles made us glad we were walking. There were regular porter loos along the way which seemed to get pretty smelly in the heat but beggars can’t be choosers!
The trail to the lake takes around 2 hours to walk but it took us much longer as we regularly stopped to take photos and appreciate the view. I was in my element.
Around 20 minutes into our hike we walked over a small but powerful waterfall. There was rock at the bottom of fall which made the water spray upwards at the bottom.
The whole way along the trail we could see the mighty mountains awaiting us. We were getting closer step by step. They reminded me of the scenery I love so much in Switzerland.
We stopped for our first round of lunch in this beautiful spot where we had some pastries we’d previously purchased from the cafe we’d had breakfast in. I can’t imagine a spot for lunch more beautiful and peaceful (even though there were a number of people walking past).
As we began walking again, Atlanta spotted a turquoise lake below us where some other hikers had gone to take a closer look. We followed in suit and soon we were the only ones there. The water was crystal clear. We could even see fish jumping out the water.
The sunlight made some of the water appear like it was a glittering diamond.
Our taxi driver informed us we could meet a bear in the national park and I’m pretty sure this is a bears footprint I noticed (though I’m no expert!). Although it would be pretty incredible to see a bear in the wild from a distance, I’m not quite sure I’d like to come face to face with one! We quickly made our way back to the path.
And then the finale. As we turned the corner, neither of us were prepared for what was awaiting us. Ahead of us laid one of the most breathtaking landscapes I have ever seen. The emerald-green mountain lake immediately made us gasp in amazement. I couldn’t believe something so magnificent was right in front of us. It didn’t feel real.
You can walk down to the edge of the water where there are rocks and sand.
Even looking back at the pictures now I find it hard to believe we were somewhere so stunning.
We had our second, bigger round of lunch at the restaurant overlooking the lake. I had a fried polish sausage with bread and Atlanta had fried potato (very similar to hash browns).
It was hard to tear ourselves away from the glorious lake. It is nature at its finest but regrettably, we eventually had to say goodbye.
On our way down we had another surprise awaiting us. Behind a horse and carriage I noticed a smaller light brown animal making its way to a circle of grass. Could it be a bear? No, too small. We soon realised it was a lean, majestic deer. We watched it grazing near the spot we’d had our first lunch. It was so oblivious to all the people walking passed and taking photos.
Overall the hike to Morskie Oko was a moderately easy hike as there was a path the whole way. I couldn’t be happier that we chose to go to Morskie Oko on our one full day in Zakopane. It was one of the most impressive places I have ever seen. I really hope I can return to Zakopane one day in the future to further explore the Tatra Mountains.