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Jebel Toubkal is the highest mountain in North Africa, situated in the Atlas Mountains of Morocco. Standing at an impressive 4,167 meters above sea level, it attracts hikers from all over the world. Let me share with you my experience of going to the summit!

When to go?

The best time to hike Jebel Toubkal is typically during the late spring to early fall, so from late May to early October. During this period, the weather is usually mild, and the trails are not covered in snow. Winter requires more experience and equipment (crampons, winter clothing). I did my hike at the end of October and it was perfect. Sunny days with a temperature of about 20 – 25C and very cool at night.

How to get to Imlil?

Imlil is located only 60 km south of Marrakech and can be easily reached by grand taxi.聽You will need to pay about 300 DH for the private trip or 50 DH per seat and share the car with other passengers. Taxis are located close to Sidi Mimoun Garden. The trip will take about 1.5 – 2 hours but the views are very scenic!

Alternatively, you may take a local minibus to Asni and from there get a grand taxi to Imlil but it will take more time and you won’t save much.

If you want to have everything organized for you, including transportation, look for a reputable travel agent with a lot of positive reviews on Google Maps or check the offer of GetYourGuide.

Route

The distance from Imlil to the summit of Jebel Toubkal is about 15 km, starting at an altitude of about 1659 m a.s.l. and ending at 4167 m a.s.l. (2508 meters up).

It’s quite a lot and most people decide to conclude the first day with an overnight stay at Refugio du Toubkal, covering a distance of about 11,5 km (1501 meters up). On the second day, they continue to the summit and back to Imlil (18,5 km, 985 meters up, 1659 meters down). If you follow this scenario, there is no need to start in Imlil very early in the morning as you will have plenty of time to arrive at the shelter.

Jebel Toubkal, Morocco
Jebel Toubkal

Alternatively, you may do what I did, so go from Imlil to the summit and back to Refugio du Toubkal on the first day (18,5 km, 2493 meters up, 993 meters down), and then walk back to Imlil on the second day (11,5 km, 1501 meters down). If you decide to go for this option, keep in mind that an early start from Imlil is necessary and it will be a very difficult day, especially because of altitude difference.

The trail is well-marked and easy to follow but you can always get the Mapy.cz app on your phone to double-check your position. Of course, I’m talking about hiking season and not winter 馃檪

What to take?

When hiking Jebel Toubkal, essentials include hiking boots or trail runners, weather-appropriate clothing (shorts, long pants, jumper, gloves, hat, spare T-shirt and underwear), a sleeping bag, suncream and a backpack with snacks and water. It gets really cold at night so don’t underestimate it. Hiking poles will be extremely useful too so if you don’t have ones, you may rent them in Imlil village. I regretted that I hadn’t done so!

Jebel Toubkal, Morocco
At the summit of Jebel Toubkal

Do you need a guide?

If you decide to start the hike from Imlil, then it is necessary to have a guide. There is a police checkpoint after Aroumd village where your passport as well as the ID of the guide will be checked. The requirement of having a guide was imposed in 2018 after the murder of two Scandinavian tourists. So it’s not that much related to trail difficulty but rather overall safety. I found the trail well-marked and easy to follow, especially with Mapy.CZ app on your phone where you can control your position.

I have seen some hikers walking without a guide but they were all coming from the direction of Ifni Lake, possibly doing longer traverses of this section of Atlas Mountains. I believe there is no police checkpoint in Imhilene village but getting there from Marrakech is much more difficult (over 4 hours by car).

Jebel Toubkal, Morocco

Anyway, remember that hiring a guide supports the local community and for them, it’s an important source of income. I paid 800 MAD for the overnight trip and I think it was a fair price.

Here is the contact number for my guide (Kamal): +212 659-076-717. He can be contacted on WhatsApp.

Where to stay?

Staying for the night in Imlil before the hike would be a good idea. It allows you to rest and get ready. Moreover, there are plenty of other shorter routes in the area which you could do as a warm-up. I recommend basing yourself in Dar Adouss in nearby Ait Souka village, but easily accessible on foot from Imlil (about 20-25 minutes). Aziz welcomed me with traditional mint tea, cooked a delicious tajine for dinner, recommended nearby hikes and organized a guide for the hike to Toubkal. It was also possible to do the laundry. The room was a bit cold in October but it’s normal in this region that houses don’t have heating. There were plenty of blankets to keep me warm at night.

Most people climb Toubkal as an overnight trip, spending the night in Refuge du Toubkal. It’s a typical mountain shelter, with dormitories and bunk beds. I was positively surprised by the possibility of taking a hot shower. The food wasn’t that good but it hardly ever is in places like that. It was still decent and no one was hungry! The price for the half board was slightly under 300 MAD. In high season, you may want to make a reservation by texting them at refugiotoubkal@gmail.com.

Jebel Toubkal, Morocco
Refugio du Toubkal

The hike

Day 1

My guide Kamal met me in Dar Adouss just after breakfast at around 8:30 AM. He seemed to be a nice guy, 33 years old so at my age but already with 3 kids. Well, different life priorities 馃檪 His English was not too good but we were able to have some basic conversation. First, we went through Aroumd village and then continued towards the police checkpoint where my passport and Kamal’s ID were checked.

Jebel Toubkal, Morocco
The trail leading to Refugio du Toubkal

The weather was perfect. Sunny but still quite cool in the morning hours. We were progressing quite fast, passing by some places offering cold drinks and snacks. We made a break in one of them and Kamal came up with the idea of going all the way to the summit today. It seemed reasonable taking into consideration that it was still very early and we weren’t that far from the Refugio du Toubkal.

At the shelter, the break was longer so I had my improvised lunch with tuna and bread. Of course, I couldn’t miss some warm tea! It was about 2 PM when we made the final decision to continue to the summit. That was the moment when the hard part started. The terrain was significantly steeper and I guess I started having some issues with altitude as there were moments when I was really struggling to catch my breath and even got a bit dizzy. The path was going up and up and I was fighting my rising, being on the edge of giving up. Luckily, the presence of Kamal and his good attitude gave me more courage and motivation to slowly but slowly progress further.

Jebel Toubkal, Morocco
Frozen water, the proof of low temperatures at night

We reached the high point, from where we could clearly see the summit. It still seemed to be far away but in fact, we reached it much sooner than I expected. It’s a wide and flat area, with some ugly metal construction. The views were incredibly nice and we were the only hikers there.

Jebel Toubkal, Morocco
The summit is closer and closer…

We took a few selfies and started descending back to the shelter. It was obviously much easier but still took some time as my legs weren’t fresh at all. The shelter was really big and looked exactly like those kinds of places look like in Europe. There was a separate room for boots and several dormitories with bunk beds. When we arrived, it was packed with people planning to climb Toubkal early in the morning to catch the sunrise. I’m sure it’s a nice experience, but taking into consideration lower temperatures and the need for a really early wake-up, I felt really happy that we did it in the afternoon instead.

Jebel Toubkal, Morocco
At the summit with Kamal
Jebel Toubkal, Morocco
At the summit of Jebel Toubkal
Jebel Toubkal, Morocco
At the summit of Jebel Toubkal

At the dinner, I shared the table with a nice couple from Belgium, and I was surprised to hear that there was even a hot shower in the shelter! It was really great to refresh after the whole day outside. Unfortunately, because of altitude difference and tiredness, I got quite a strong headache so I took some painkillers and went to sleep very early.

Day 2

Most of the people disappeared from the dormitory in the very early morning and I was glad that I had a few extra hours of sleep in silence. We had breakfast at about 7:30 AM and then we set off for the way down to Imlil. Kamal was walking a good few hundred meters ahead of me, and I had the impression that he really wanted to get back home as soon as possible. Well, three kids were waiting 馃檪 Once we arrived at Dar Adouss, Aziz prepared for us some mint tea and shortly after, it was time to say goodbye!

Jebel Toubkal, Morocco
The way down to Imlil

Other hikes around Imlil

I arrived at Imlil with one spare day before the start of the Jebel Toubkal hike, and I wanted to warm up my muscles before the big adventure. Therefore, I decided to make the following loop, which was an excellent choice:

Imlil – Tinerhourhine – Ikkiss Amssokrou – Aguersioual – Imlil (6.5h, 16 km, 863 meters up, 890 meters down)

Alternatively, you may also want to discover another area on a slightly more challenging route:

Imlil – Tizi n’ Mzik – Tizi Oussem – Imlil (8h, 18 km, 1480 meters up, 1480 meters down)

If you don’t have the whole day, it’s about a one-hour return walk to Cascade Imlil.

Phong Nha used to be just another sleepy village on the banks of the Son River in the countryside of Vietnam, but it all changed with the discovery of one of the world’s largest caves. Guesthouses, tour agencies and restaurants popped up feeling an opportunity and they were right. Today this area is considered to be an adventure tourism hotspot.

I had been looking forward to the visit to Phong Nha for quite some time, as I heard a lot of positive reviews claiming it to be one of the most beautiful nature places in Vietnam. As an enthusiast of multiday hiking trips, I was strongly tempted by the wide offer of tours including camping in the jungle or even inside the caves. In the end, I decided to go for it and selected Hang Tien Cave Exploration, one of the tours offered by Oxalis Adventure.

This is not a paid review. I simply decided to write it as I truly enjoyed the experience.

How to get to Phong Nha?

Phong Nha is one of the top tourist areas so it can be easily reached by bus from all the major cities around. There is an airport in Dong Hoi in case you want to save some time and energy when coming from Hanoi. The capital of Vietnam can be also reached by bus or by train but the travel time will be significantly longer (about 12 hours).

If you ride on a motorbike, the best would be to start at Dong Ha (~ 140 km) or Dong Hoi (~ 40 km) when approaching from the south or Vinh (~ 200 km) when coming from the north.

Where to stay before the tour?

I booked 2 nights at Phong Nha Friendly Home and also left my luggage and motorbike there for the duration of the tour. The room was spacious and clean and there was a nice view from the terrace. The only negative point was the hot water in the shower that didn’t last too long so I had to be quick 馃檪

The owners are very friendly and breakfast is included in the price (about 400.000 VND per night).

Price and booking

The cost of the Hang Tien Exploration Tour is 9,900,000 VND (426 USD) per person and the tour has a limited annual number of visitors. Yeah, I know. It isn’t cheap. But let’s just think that for each group of 10 tourists, there are 1 tour guide, 2 safety assistants, 1 chef, 2 camp guards, and 4 porters. Oxalis provides all the meals, and camping and safety equipment such as helmets, harnesses, headlights, gloves and a waterproof box for your valuables. The final night is spent at Tu Lan Lodge which is of extremely good quality, much better than the hotels or guesthouses that I usually book. It’s a lifetime experience and I think it is worth the money.

When to go?

The tours are operated from November to September and the best would be to go around April – May. The days are getting warmer and dipping in the water is certainly more fun. I made a trip in late January and it was pretty cold, especially at night or when crossing rivers with icy water. Tours depart on a fixed schedule, on Tuesdays and Saturdays (as of January 2023).

There are no tours from September to October due to the rainy season and increased water levels.

How long to stay in the area?

Besides the amazing trip with Oxalis, it is still worth spending some time for further exploration of the region. It has so much to offer: Phong Nha Cave, Paradise Cave, Duck Stop and Botanic Garden, just to mention a few interesting places!

I spent there two extra days but I could easily imagine an additional one or two in summer when it’s warmer you can do more water activities.

The trip plan

Day 1

The big day has come! I was thinking for a long time about which tour to choose and nearly booked another one (Tu Lan Explorer) but luckily Oxalis consultant advised me to pick Hang Tien Exploration Tour which doesn’t involve too much swimming, which isn’t that nice in January. So, there I was, waiting at my guesthouse for minivan pickup.

They came right on time and about one hour later, we arrived at the Oxalis base camp in the countryside. We were given the equipment (protective helmet, gloves, backpack, bottle with water, and waterproof box for electronics). Then, we met our guide (Dai), who explained all the details of the tour and we had to repack: some things were taken by the porters, and some we carried ourselves. Unfortunately, I chose a backpack that was quite small and only later on I noticed that there were a few bigger ones but they were already taken by other. Well, too bad. Remember to pay attention and choose wisely! As always, my backpack was full to the limits.

We hit the trail walking first through the countryside and saw the daily activities of local people. Many of them were riding bikes with some plants attached to them. Looked quite funny as sometimes you couldn’t really even see the rider, just a motorbike and moving leaves. The road was getting muddier and muddier. In general, the first day was definitely the muddiest of all. We crossed a fast-flowing river with a strong current, some people did it with hiking shoes but it meant that they had to spend the rest of the day with completely wet feet. Luckily, I had my trekking sandals, which were excellent for that purpose so I quickly changed.

Then we continued through muddy terrain to the Secret Cave. The interior was small but really beautiful. Then we had lunch, mostly bread, rice paper and all the ingredients to prepare a sandwich or a spring roll by ourselves. Then we went to Hung Ton Cave which involved going down the steep ladder while wearing a safety harness. It was quite easy, even though it looked scary as I had never used that kind of equipment before. I felt perfectly safe as I was convinced that the guides were experienced and knew what they were doing. Then, as the water level was high and no one was interested in swimming in cold water, we took a short boat ride out of the cave.

From there, we hiked through more and more muddy terrain, but luckily there were barely any leeches. We crossed some more streams, one of them with a pretty strong current and water level up to the waist. I think it was the most dangerous section of the trip. If someone had fallen down, they would have gone with the river flow and for sure got hurt.

Finally, we reached our campsite. Some people took a swim in the river and jumped into the herbal steam bath. I didn’t do so as the water was way too cold for me. Instead, I drank a few cups of delicious ginger tea and warmed myself up next to the fireplace.

We started drying our clothes next to the fireplace, including shoes, which didn’t end up well for me. I left them there for the night and in the morning the right one was seriously burnt.

The dinner was very delicious and it felt really great to eat at the camp in the middle of the jungle. After dinner we were sitting around the fire, having a nice chat and at some point, roasted peanuts were served, which was a nice surprise.

The camp was nicely organized with tents under some kind of roof and on an elevated platform. There was also a thermal steam bath, a bathroom with water in the bucket and a properly-looking toilet.

In the end, everyone went to sleep quite early. The night was quiet and I slept well even though I was a bit cold. Everyone was given two sleeping bags but they were extremely thin, so it was necessary to use extra layers of clothes.

Day 2

We woke up at about 8 AM, got breakfast and then had some time to pack the things and get ready. On that day, the trail was supposed to be less muddy and without many river crossings. The total distance to go was about 8 km with roughly 350m of ascent. Unfortunately, I noticed that one of my shoes got burnt while lying too close to the fireplace. What can I say, I am a jungle genius.

I set off in my Keen sandals as there were small river crossings at the very beginning of the hike and I preferred to have dry feet.  I was glad to see that the trail was indeed less muddy than the day before. There were no caves en route today, just pure jungle. We had our first picnic at the beautiful spot at the lake. The meal was really delicious. Rice with papaya and some other veggies, peanuts and sauce. The weather was also much better than the day before, with the occasional sunny period but still cold, especially while resting. Luckily, there were still no leeches as well as no mosquitos.

After the lunch break, we had to cross the small lake walking on the fallen tree and the over the wooden mini-bridge but it was submerging under the weight of the person walking on it, so I again decided to change shoes to sandals and keep sports shoes dry.

Then we walked and walked until we reached our second campsite set in an amazingly scenic location at the riverbank. There was a kind of small beach and Oxalis guys even organized a stand-up paddleboard. This time I decided to take a short dip in the water but it was really so goddamn cold. Immediately after, I jumped inside the herbal steam bath. It was really cool experience.

Phong Nha, Vietnam
Phong Nha, Vietnam
Phong Nha, Vietnam

The evening was pleasant. I learned how to play a Vietnamese card game and we had delicious dinner again, followed by chitchat at the fireplace. The chef also prepared some hot sweet potatoes and corn. Awesome. The sky was clear so we could admire hundreds of stars.

There was another Oxalis camp for a different tour, on the other side of the lake, but we couldn’t hear them at all.

Day 3

The third day of the trip was the most exciting one as we visited the two biggest caves: Hang Tien 1 and Hang Tien 2. The morning on the campsite was cold but there was nice scenery with a morning mist over the river. Breakfast was delicious too, with nice banana pancakes and chocolate sauce.

We were also asked to decide if we want to take the longer route through the jungle which includes going up the mountains or rather a shortcut and coming back the same way through Hang Tien 1. We voted for the longer hike, which was also my preference.

It was a short trek to the entrance of Hang Tien 1, where we made a stop for a photo session. Then we went inside and it was really, really nice. Very big cave, exciting to walk through with some climbing and narrow passages but allowing to keep the feet dry. Inside, we could see calcite terraces and the circular ceiling dome. Further in we were given a safety harness and instructed to climb a 10 m ladder to reach the cave exit, opening out to a lush forest.

Phong Nha, Vietnam
Phong Nha, Vietnam
Phong Nha, Vietnam

From there we continued to Hang Tien 2, which was smaller but probably even more beautiful inside with crystal-like rock formations. We could leave our backpacks at the entrance because it was a one-way cave with the exit the same way. We took some cool group photos here, with shadows reflected on the rocks and also individual ones while standing between stalagmites and stalactites. The guides were equipped with special lights, which made the photos look really professional.

Phong Nha, Vietnam
Phong Nha, Vietnam
Phong Nha, Vietnam

After leaving the cave, we had a nice lunch and then continued the hike through the jungle. The weather was perfect and the hike was really pleasant, even though it was quite steep at some points. We rested for a while at the top and then started descent until we reached the road, where the minibus was already waiting for us.

It took about 1 hour to reach the Oxalis office and Tu Lan Lodge. We received keys to the rooms and had some time for taking a shower or riding a bike before going for dinner. The room was so amazing! Big panoramic window with a view of all the area and the mountains, even from the bathroom! Definitely the best room during my Vietnamese trip. But well, it wasn’t cheap 馃檪 I did a short bike ride around the village but was definitely planning to wake up early the next day and explore some more.

Tu Lan Lodge, Vietnam
Tu Lan Lodge, Vietnam

The dinner at the house of the local guide was delicious. A real feast with plenty of dishes but everyone was quite hungry! We also had some happy water (a local alcoholic beverage), obviously for better digestion 馃檪

Day 4

The last day shouldn’t really be counted as an active one unless you grab a bike and go explore the village. That was exactly what I did! We had free time until 12:00 and the area is way too beautiful to just sit on the terrace. Bikes are available for free for anyone staying at Tu Lan Lodge.

Phong Nha, Vietnam
Phong Nha, Vietnam

It’s a real rural area with extremely friendly people always greeting you and smiling. Lots of great photo opportunities too, especially of people working in the ricefields.

Finally, it was time to set off back to Phong Nha and say goodbye to the group. What an amazing 4 days it was!

Other tours

Hang Tien Exploration is not the only tour in Oxalis Adventure offer. They have both longer and shorter hikes so simply visit their website and find the one that fits you best. It isn’t a sponsored recommendation as I truly liked my days in the Phong Nha area 馃檪

Summary

All in all, it was an excellent trip. Logistics, guides, food, accommodation as well as communication with the consultant prior to the trip – everything was on a high level. It’s definitely not a cheap tour, but on the other hand, it’s an experience that you don’t have the chance to get very often. I wholeheartedly recommend Oxalis Adventure for all nature enthusiasts visiting Phong Nha.

Finally, the moment has come. The last day on the Main Sudetes Trail. I left G艂ucho艂azy in the early morning and started ascent first to Przednia Kopa (495 m a.s.l.) and then to 艢rednia Kopa (543 m a.s.l.). Even though I already had over 400 km in my legs, I felt surprisingly well.

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Next 7 kilometres through Podlesie to Jarno艂t贸wek passed quickly due to easy and flat terrain. In the distance, I could already see the highest peak of Opawskie Mountains and the last mountain to tick off on the Main Sudetes Trail – Biskupia Kopa (890 m a.s.l.). It was also the last serious ascent, therefore I took a break for a second breakfast and to play with my drone.

G艂贸wny Szlak Sudecki
Landscape around Jarno艂t贸wek
Biskupia Kopa seen from the distance

It’s about 4 kilometres from Jarno艂t贸wek to the top of Biskupia Kopa with over 500m of elevation difference. That’s just enough to warm up for real! Unfortunately, I had to make another stop and put the rain cover on my backpack as the weather was getting worse. There is a mountain hut “Pod Biskupi膮 Kop膮” just 15-20 minutes from the summit, in case you are in a need of a hot drink or a meal.

Once on top, I was on the border between two countries – Poland and the Czech Republic. Views are limited by the trees but there is an option to climb an observation tower that stands on the Czech side. I skipped it that time due to clouds rolling in and continued descent towards Srebrna Kopa instead.

Biskupia Kopa, G艂贸wny Szlak Sudecki
Aerial view on Biskupia Kopa
G艂贸wny Szlak Sudecki
On top of Srebrna Kopa

Soon, I reached Pass Under the Castle Mountain (Prze艂臋cz pod Zamkow膮 G贸r膮) and then Castle Mountain (Zamkowa G贸ra – 571m a.s.l.) itself. Pokrzywna village, which is famous for its fishery, was only half an hour away.

From there to Prudnik it was less than 15 km left. My plan was to catch the last train of the day heading to Wroc艂aw and spend the night in a hostel there, before continuing back to 艢wierad贸w Zdr贸j to pick up my car. Ambitious plan and no time to waste!

The trail goes along Polish and Czech border
G艂贸wny Szlak Sudecki
Fallen trees around the trail
G艂贸wny Szlak Sudecki
Castle Mountain (Zamkowa G贸ra)
Spooky truck in the middle of nowhere

The trail continues through Wieszczyna and D臋bowiec to Prudnicki Forest (Las Prudnicki) and a monastery where Cardinal Stefan Wyszy艅ski was imprisoned, an important figure in Polish history. The Prudnik’s buildings are already visible on the horizon and I make the last stop to climb the observation tower on the Goat’s Mountain (Kozia G贸ra).

Monastery in Prudnicki Forest
View to Prudnik from the observation tower

If you have some time in Prudnik, you may want to see the market square with a nice fountain, local museum and the church of St. Michael the Archangel.

I walked quickly through the streets of the city towards the train station, where there is also a plate marking the end (or beginning) of the Main Sudetes Trail. It shows 112 hours to 艢wierad贸w Zdr贸j from where I started. How long did it take me? No clue. I wasn’t that ambitious to count hours 馃檪

I finished walking the trail that most probably I would never walk if there wasn’t lockdown due to COVID-19. Was it worth doing? In such circumstances, for sure yes. I was really happy, satisfied and proud of myself that when most of the people locked themselves at homes, I could go out and spend several days close to nature.

Prudnik PKP – the end of the Main Sudetes Trail

Would I do it again if the borders are open and I can travel elsewhere? Probably not.

When I finished Tour du Mont Blanc a few months later, I couldn’t resist the feeling that I could walk it once again, even tomorrow. Because it was absolutely amazing. The Main Sudetes Trail, on the other hand, is just kind of a one-time experience. But still – a nice experience!

Stage 16 is complicated both logistically and physically. Between Paczk贸w and G艂ucho艂azy there are hardly any options for an overnight stay, not to mention long kilometres of walking on the asphalt roads.

Route planning

Total distance from Z艂oty Ztok to G艂ucho艂azy is 58,5 km, which is clearly out of range for regular hikers. You may want to split it as follows:

Option 1: Z艂oty Stok – Paczk贸w (13 km) and then Paczk贸w – G艂ucho艂azy (45,5 km)

Option 2: Z艂oty Stok – Piotrowice Nyskie (30.5 km) and then Piotrowice Nyskie – G艂ucho艂azy (28 km)

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Option 2 sounds more reasonable, though it involves overnight stay at Piotrowice Nyskie Palace, which isn’t particularly cheap. As it’s nearly the end of the hike, you can simply tell yourself that you deserve a little bit of a luxury 馃檪

First kilometres towards Paczk贸w

I hit the road in Z艂oty Stok following the main road passing through the town. Soon, on the right side, I noticed old lime kilns. If you want to learn more about their history, plan your first break here and have a look at the information board.

Finally the red track turn left leaving the main road and continues towards B艂otnica and further to Kozielno and Paczk贸w. Kozielno reservoir on your left is another nice place for a short break.

Zbiornik Kozielno, G艂贸wny Szlak Sudecki
Kozielno Reservoir

What to do in Paczk贸w?

Paczk贸w was founded in 1254 and shortly after defensive walls were erected. Remains of them can still be noticed today. Besides that, several other places are worth seeing: City Hall, Church of St. John the Evangelist, Gas Museum and city towers: Z膮bkowicka, Wroc艂awska and K艂odzka.

City Hall

A beautiful building with the tower that retained its original renaissance character until today. It can be climbed and the panorama of the entire city fully rewards the effort.

Paczk贸w, G艂贸wny Szlak Sudecki
City Hall in Paczk贸w

Church of St. John the Evangelist

The temple is really huge and towers over the city so you can’t miss it. The construction began in 1350 and lasted about 30 years. The current shape of the building is the result of reconstructions in the Renaissance, Baroque and Neo-Gothic styles. An interesting fact is that in the 16th century, fearing the invasions of the Turks, the temple was rebuilt and fortified. A round stone well was set up in the southern aisle, the only one in Europe that was located inside the church.

Paczk贸w, G艂贸wny Szlak Sudecki
Church of St. John the Evangelist in Paczk贸w

Gas Museum

The gasworks in Paczk贸w was built in the years 1898 – 1901 and shortly after started providing permanent gas supply. Over 90 years later, the place was turned into a museum, being the only facility in Poland where all the municipal gas production facilities have been preserved. You can see a huge collection of gas lamps, meters, cookers, heating stoves, irons but also more weird objects such as refrigerator or curling iron. Unfortunately, it was closed on the day of my visit in town due to COVID-19 pandemic, but it must be an interesting and unique place to visit.

City Gates: Z膮bkowicka, Wroc艂awska, Nyska and K艂odzka

System of medieval town fortifications in Paczk贸w is one of the best-preserved examples of its kind in Poland. Initially, three city gates led to the ring of defensive walls and in the 15th century, a fourth was built. Currently, Wroc艂awka Gate can be climbed for panoramic views and at the Nysa Gate, there is a wooden, roofed walking gallery with viewing platforms open to the public free of charge.

Paczk贸w, G艂贸wny Szlak Sudecki
K艂odzka Gate in Paczk贸w

The Main Sudetes Trail used to end in Paczk贸w but a couple of years ago, it was extended to Prudnik. Therefore, I had to postpone celebration and continue my hiking adventure for a little bit longer. I turned left just after Nyska Gate and followed the main road all the way to the turn leading to Unikowice. Asphalt road passes through the village, goes further to Lisie K膮ty and then to Uje藕dziec. It was only 8 kilometres from Paczk贸w but the road seemed to be incredibly long and just boring with no mountains views at all.

G艂贸wny Szlak Sudecki
Small chapel with the indication of red track

There was still 10 kilometres between me and my bed for tonight. The boring path continued for 4 kilometres to Trzeboszowice. After passing it, the track turned right and took me to Ratnowice. Both are just another small villages en route without anything particularly interesting. For remaining distance, the landscape was quite monotonous. The only highlight was a young deer roaming the fields. Finally, I arrived at Piotrowice Nyskie and had the whole afternoon for relaxation after that difficult day. The distance was just fine, but walking on asphalt roads is usually much more tiring for the feet. Together with the monotonous landscape, it can be tiring for the mind too.

G艂贸wny Szlak Sudecki
The Main Sudetes Trail enters small village of Ratnowice

The following day started with 3 km to Ka艂k贸w, unfortunately again on an asphalt road. I wondered if the trail would look like this until the end and if so, why was it extended. Luckily, after passing 艁膮ka, it was finally the time to take a bit wilder path and cross the farmlands to reach Jarno艂t贸w.

G艂贸wny Szlak Sudecki
Crossing the farmlands
G艂ucho艂azy, G艂贸wny Szlak Sudecki
Storks are very common on a trail

Next targets were S艂awniowice and Giera艂cice, from where Polish-Czech border is a stone’s throw away. The track continues along on an asphalt road (yeah, again) until it finally separates and continues through the fields to G艂ucho艂azy, passing Bia艂a G艂ucho艂aska river.

In G艂ucho艂azy, I stayed in Guesthouse Iwona. Clean and spacious room with a nice yard in front of the house. There is not much to do in town but a short walk around the old market square and the Catholic Church of St. Lawrence is a good idea. And if you still have too much energy, wonderful Beech Forest Nature Reserve can be explored on foot.

G艂ucho艂azy, G艂贸wny Szlak Sudecki
City centre of G艂ucho艂azy
G艂ucho艂azy, G艂贸wny Szlak Sudecki
In some places it seems like the time stopped

I was really happy to finally reach the town. Last two days were probably the worst ones during the entire hike. But I also had high hopes for the next day as I knew that mountains will be back for the last time. Biskupia Kopa (890m a.s.l.) is the highest peak in the Opawskie Mountains. So, the plan was easy. Climb it and then finish my adventure on the Main Sudetes Trail in Prudnik.

After the night near Stronie Village, I had to retreat my steps towards Bia艂a Woda and join Main Sudetes Trail there. Luckily, the same as the day before, I managed to catch a ride quite quickly and save my legs from walking on a boring asphalt road.

The good news was that the distance to L膮dek Zdr贸j (12 km) is rather easy and without significant elevation gains. A mostly downhill path through the forest is especially nice in hot weather and with sore muscles after getting to the top of 艢nie偶nik on the previous day.

I made a short break at K膮ty Bystrzyckie. Next, the track goes gently uphill to the pass where you can see a small chapel. The legend says that it was built on the site of the death of 3 Swedish generals during the Thirty Years War.

The track follows the wide and comfortable road through the farmlands and forest until the first buildings of L膮dek Zdr贸j pop up on the horizon. I could hear thunders becoming louder and louder, therefore I quickened my pace and shortly after arrived at the market square in the city centre.

The town is considered to be the oldest health resort in Poland, because according to historical sources, as early as 1241 there were bathing facilities here destroyed by Mongols returning from the battlefield near Legnica.

The area of old market square with the town hall, old tenement houses and restaurants is nice for a longer break and hot meal. Other than that, I recommend checking out the building of Wojciech Spa, Protestant church ruins as well as two picturesque bridges: the one of St. John of Nepomuk which is close to the old market square and the covered bridge which is more in the spa part of the city (still within walkable distance).

Wojciech Spa – a historic building from the 17th century, rebuilt two hundred years later. It houses a marble swimming pool designed in the style of a Turkish bath, stylish stone bathtubs for pearl baths and a pump room for waters from local springs.

L膮dek Zdr贸j, Dolny 艢l膮sk
Historic building of Wojciech Spa
L膮dek Zdr贸j, Dolny 艢l膮sk
Wojciech Spa seen from the sky

Bridge of St. John of Nepomuk – It was erected in 1565. The author of the sculpture took inspiration from the figure of the patron saint of Bohemia on the Charles Bridge in Prague.

L膮dek Zdr贸j, Dolny 艢l膮sk
Bridge of St. John of Nepomuk

Covered Bridge – one of the most original and beautiful monuments in L膮dek. It was built in the 1930s in order to connect two spa facilities.

L膮dek Zdr贸j, Dolny 艢l膮sk
Covered bridge in L膮dek Zdr贸j

Protestant church ruins – built in 1846, the temple was destroyed in the fire in 1999.

L膮dek Zdr贸j, Dolny 艢l膮sk
Ruins of Protestant church

The second part of the day from L膮dek Zdr贸j to Z艂oty Stok is longer (16 km) and much more difficult due to elevation differences, especially ascent to the Great Jawornik (Jawornik Wielki, 872 m n.p.m.).

I left L膮dek Zdr贸j crossing the bridge over Bia艂a L膮decka and followed the red track towards Pass Under the Konik (Prze艂臋cz Pod Konikiem) and further to Or艂owiec village. There, it was time to take a turn from the main road and start tiring ascent to Jaworowa Pass (Prze艂臋cz Jaworowa).

It’s over 3 kilometres to the top of the Great Jawornik. The views are limited because of the trees but there is a viewing platform within 150 metres of a detour from red track. Unfortunately, clouds were hanging very low and I could see absolutely nothing anyway.

There are 6 more kilometres to Z艂oty Stok but all the way downhill so it didn’t take long to reach historic villa Z艂oty Jar and shortly after I saw first tourists hanging around in rope park and gold mine museum. Sightseeing was on my list too but first I wanted to drop my heavy backpack at Gold Stok Hotel. The room was simple but comfortable. Moreover, a bed and a private bathroom was everything I needed at that time.

It was getting late and there is quite a lot to see in Z艂oty Stok, therefore I simply went out for the walk and dinner, leaving tourist attractions for the morning of the next day.

This medieval mining settlement was established in connection with the mining of gold (traces from as early as the 10th century were discovered). Z艂oty Stok is the oldest mining and metallurgical centre in Poland. The last mine (arsenic ores) was closed in 1961. Today, it’s a popular tourist destination with all attractions being related to its past.

Gold Mine Museum – A specially prepared tourist route with a museum exhibition covering two adits. The first one is called “Gertrude” (500 m) and presents a unique collection of geological maps, ancient mining instruments and rich collection of rocks, ores and minerals from around the world.

The second one, called “Czarna” (700 m), is located in the upper part. This adit leads visitors through the 16th-century, hand-forged workings. You can learn about mining techniques used over the centuries and admire the only underground waterfall in Poland. The tour ends with an underground tram ride in the direction of a daylight 馃檪

Z艂oty Stok, Dolny 艢l膮sk
Entrance to Gertrude adit
Z艂oty Stok, Dolny 艢l膮sk
The only underground waterfall in Poland

Medieval Technology Park – A replica of a medieval settlement with a lot of real size devices. All of them still work and knowledgable guide presents their usage and let tourists try them themselves. 1-hour tour is concluded with the visit in Executioner Hut. He played an important role in punishing criminals and thieves.

Ochre Adit – It was opened in 2017 and the underground part includes 130 meters of the pavement that is opened for visitors. Sightseeing possible only with a guide.

Combined ticket for all three attractions costs 59 PLN per adult and you should count at least 3.5 hours for sightseeing.

The track leaves D艂ugopole Zdr贸j climbing above railway tracks into the forest. Going at its edge, I could see a nice panorama with farmlands and mountains on the horizon. Shortly after, I left the forest and entered meadows. It seems that whoever planned Main Sudetes Trail, didn’t bother to mark in anyhow in case there were no trees to pain on. Therefore, it was a good couple of kilometres with barely any signs. Luckily, having access to free maps on mapa-turystyczna.pl on the phone, I was able to track my position very precisely and avoid getting lost. I suggest you to do the same!

G艂贸wny Szlak Sudecki
Farmlands seen from a drone
G艂贸wny Szlak Sudecki
Wide path leading through farmlands
G艂贸wny Szlak Sudecki
Scenic farmlands
G艂贸wny Szlak Sudecki
it’s worth looking at your feet
G艂贸wny Szlak Sudecki
Which way to go?
G艂贸wny Szlak Sudecki
From Wilkan贸w, the track heads towards mountains

After reaching and crossing road 33, I continued towards Wilkan贸w where I had my first rest break (around 7 km from the starting point). I knew that the next 6 km will be mostly uphill, so it was a good time to refill calories. First half was rather gentle but the second one leading to Sanctuary of Holy Mary slightly more challenging.

I had a quick look at the church and mountain hut nearby. Views all around the place were super nice! Next, I made a detour to the top of Igliczna (845 m a.s.l.) and came back the same way to rejoin the red track.

Igliczna, G艂贸wny Szlak Sudecki
Wonderful landscape around Igliczna
Igliczna, G艂贸wny Szlak Sudecki
Igliczna seen from a drone
Igliczna, G艂贸wny Szlak Sudecki
Sanctuary of Holy Mary

It was nice and quick downhill 3 kilometres bringing me to the second-highest waterfall in the entire Sudetes. Wilczki Falls was created on the line of a tectonic fault, where the Wilczka River falls from a height of 22 meters to the cauldron and continues along a narrow gorge known as the American canyon.

Wodospad Wilczki, G艂贸wny Szlak Sudecki
Wilczki Falls in Mi臋dzyg贸rze

From there, the red track goes into Mi臋dzyg贸rze. In 1840 the town and the vicinity of the 艢nie偶nik Massif were purchased by Princess Marianna Ora艅ska, wife of the Prussian prince Albrecht Hohenzollern. She initiated the development project, transforming it into a popular summer resort. Walking through the town I could still admire unique 19th century Norwegian and Tyrolean guesthouse buildings.

Mi臋dzyg贸rze, G艂贸wny Szlak Sudecki
Architecture of Mi臋dzyg贸rze which was once a very popular resort

There is another 5-6 km to PTTK Hut on 艢nie偶nik (1218 m a.s.l.). Its nickname “Swiss” comes from both the style in which the facility was built and the Swiss administrator. Being a very popular destination for day walkers, the path leading to it through the forest is wide and easy to follow. This section is the most challenging part of the day with the highest elevation gain. Pay attention to the nice viewpoint called Goat Rocks (Kozie Ska艂y) on the slope of 艢redniak.

艢nie偶nik, G艂贸wny Szlak Sudecki
PTTK Hut on 艢nie偶nik
艢nie偶nik, G艂贸wny Szlak Sudecki
Several tracks meet around PTTK Hut on 艢nie偶nik

The red track doesn’t go to the summit of 艢nie偶nik but come on – it’s only half an hour away. The decision couldn’t be different and even though I hesitated for a while due to louder and lauder thunders, shortly after I enjoyed spectacular views from the top.

艢nie偶nik (1425 m a.s.l.) is the highest peak in the Eastern part of Polish Sudetes. Due to the significant height difference between 艢nie偶nik and the surrounding peaks, it can be clearly seen from the distance.

艢nie偶nik, G艂贸wny Szlak Sudecki
Green track to the top of 艢nie偶nik
艢nie偶nik, G艂贸wny Szlak Sudecki
Panorama from the peak

I descended the same way and rejoined the red track leading down 艢nie偶nicka Pass (Prze艂臋cz 艢nie偶nicka) and further to Snake Glade (呕mijowa Polana) from where there is the last short ascent of the day to Black Mountain (Czarna G贸ra). Don’t forget to turn around from time to time to have a glimpse at 艢nie偶nik.

艢nie偶nik, G艂贸wny Szlak Sudecki
Don’t forget to look behind your back
艢nie偶nik, G艂贸wny Szlak Sudecki
Views from the ascent to Black Mountain

At the top, there is an observation tower but unfortunately closed for tourists. Remaining distance (2 km) to Puchacz贸wka Pass is quite a steep downhill walk. Best for you would be to find accommodation somewhere in Sienna village. I wasn’t so lucky and had to spend the night a bit further in Villa Diana near Stronie village. Luckily I managed to hitchhike and save my legs from walking on asphalt road. The villa was very nice, with a beautiful garden and breakfast included. It was also the most expensive accommodation during the entire hike, but well. I felt I deserved it 馃檪

If you read the previous post, you know that my plans for stage 12 had to be adjusted due to the rain and I decided to stay overnight in Duszniki Zdr贸j. It didn’t seem to be a problem at first, but I totally forgot that on the next day the long weekend starts and it could be more difficult to book accommodation on the way, especially mountains huts. And this was exactly where I wanted to stay 馃檪 When I called PTTK Jagodna Hut in the morning asking for bed, they only started to laugh as everything was booked out weeks before. Sleeping on the floor was also not an option due to COVID-19 restrictions.

Route: Duszniki Zdr贸j to D艂ugopole Zdr贸j
Distance: ~ 39 km

At that point, it was clear that I have to hike all the way to D艂ugopole Zdr贸j. I made a few phone calls trying to book a room and in the end, find one free at Aleksander Resort. Way overpriced, same as all the other places on that weekend. Seems like Polish people were so sick of spending time at home due to COVID-19 that once restrictions were loosened and bank holiday came, everyone set off for short city break.

Starting at Duszniki Zdr贸j market square, I passed the spa part of town and started the ascent towards Zieleniec, which is located 11 kilometres from the start point. The path goes very gently until Podg贸rze and from there it’s a bit more challenging but nothing extraordinary.

Duszniki Zdr贸j, G艂贸wny Szlak Sudecki
Panorama of Duszniki Zdr贸j
Duszniki Zdr贸j, G艂贸wny Szlak Sudecki
Hills surrounding Duszniki Zdr贸j

I heard the noise of cars coming from the top of the hill and unfortunately, shortly after I saw an asphalt road. It’s the Sudetes Highway. The only thing that road has in common with real highways is the name. Luckily, it’s an advantage for hikers as the red track follows it all the way to Zieleniec. Traffic is minimal so just keep to the left edge of the road and it should be fine.

G艂贸wny Szlak Sudecki
Track joining the Sudetes Highway
Zieleniec, G艂贸wny Szlak Sudecki
PTTK Orlica Hut

With all that ski lifts around, Zieleniec must be a busy place in winter. Without snow though, it was a rather dead place and I only made a short stop at PTTK Orlica Hut to have a drink and snack.

The tracks descents 4 kilometres towards Nature Reserve Pod Ziele艅cem. It’s the area with peat bogs, not very visible from the main trail but you could easily make a short detour and get closer following one of the local paths.

Torfowisko pod Ziele艅cem, G艂贸wny Szlak Sudecki
Nature Reserve pod Ziele艅em
Torfowisko pod Ziele艅cem, G艂贸wny Szlak Sudecki
Peat bogs seen from a drone

From here to Spalona and PTTK Jagodna Hut is around 15 kilometres without any significant elevation differences. I passed the village of Las贸wka with a picturesque church. Great place for short picnic lunch. After that was a bit monotonous section through the forest until I popped out close to the ski lift at Spalona. Following it all the way to the top of the hill, I reached extremely busy at that time PTTK Jagodna Hut. Long weekend, lunchtime, mountain hut accessible by cars. All of these means one thing – crowds.

G艂贸wny Szlak Sudecki
Muddy forest trail
G艂贸wny Szlak Sudecki
Ski lift around PTTK Jagodna Hut

If you have time or you stay for the night in the hut, there is an easy trail blue going to the highest peak of Bystrzyckie Mountains – Jagodna (977 m n.p.m.). It’s around 4 kilometres, taking 1 hour one way. The views are particularly nice from the newly build viewing tower.

Main Sudetes Trail (red) continues from PTTK Jagodna Hut on the Sudetes Highway for 4 kilometres when it turns left and descents to Ponikwa. Be careful not to miss the sign. Before Ponikwa, it passes through the grasslands with the walking track being barely visible. The easiest is to just follow the grass crushed by other walkers and head in the direction of the buildings.

G艂贸wny Szlak Sudecki
Red track continues on The Sudetes Highway until it turns left…
G艂贸wny Szlak Sudecki
…and goes through the meadows…
G艂贸wny Szlak Sudecki
…all the way to Ponikwa

Shortly after leaving Ponikwa, the trail turns left and continues on the gravel road to my final destination. Luckily, that time I left the forest just in front of my hotel, so no more extra kilometres. It was a long day and sightseeing had to wait for the next day in the morning.

D艂ugopole Zdr贸j is the smallest and probably least popular spa town along Main Sudetes Trail. The water flowing out of the excavation area of the old mine was taken for tests and proved to be healthy enough. The spa town was established in 1802 as Bad Langenau and therapeutic baths started shortly after. It’s worth to have a look at the pump house and try mineral waters. Other than that, there is nothing else to do.

G艂贸wny Szlak Sudecki
Panorama of Ponikwa and D艂ugopole Zdr贸j
D艂ugopole Zdr贸j
Pump house with mineral waters in D艂ugopole Zdr贸j

The plan for that stage was more ambitious at first, but weather conditions verified it quickly. Hitting the road in Kudowa Zdr贸j, I turned into S艂oneczna Street passing Ecocentre of Table Mountains National Park, crossing the road leading to Da艅cz贸w and in the end, arriving at Lewi艅ska Pass (535 m a.s.l.) about 6 kilometres from starting point.

Route: Kudowa Zdr贸j to Duszniki Zdr贸j
Distance: ~ 15 km

The views until now were quite nice, despite gloomy and foggy atmosphere. The track took me through the fields and in one place there was even the gate for cattle with little wooden steps allowing hikers to pass. Something similar to what I experienced before in the Alps or New Zealand.

G艂贸wny Szlak Sudecki
Countryside views after leaving Kudowa Zdr贸j
G艂贸wny Szlak Sudecki
Following the road in the middle of grasslands
G艂贸wny Szlak Sudecki
Gate and wooden stairs on the left side

It’s another 3 kilometres of the gentle uphill walk towards Grodziec (803 m a.s.l.). Here I need to stop to wear rainjacket and put a rain cover on my backpack as what was initially a small shower, turned into heavy rain. There is not too much joy in such a walk and for the first time came through my mind the idea of shortening the walk for today and staying for the night in Duszniki Zdr贸j.

After 2 kilometres of descent from Grodziec, I arrived at the crossroad with the blue trail leading towards the ruins of Homole Castle from XIII-XIV century. As it’s only 10-15 minutes detour, I decided to check it out. The route was an easy one. First wooden boardwalk and then steps leading to the top of the castle hill. I was really happy to see the bench there as I could take off my backpack, make a sandwich and enjoy the moment without rain. I was the only person there and the fog made the atmosphere very unique.

When it comes to the ruins, there is not much left to explore and I simply walked around something that used to be the tower.

At the top of castle hill
G艂贸wny Szlak Sudecki
Ruins of Homole Castle – not much left

All the remaining way to Duszniki Zdr贸j is on a slightly downhill route, the only difficulty being mud. After around 4 kilometres, I was already in the office of tourist information, asking for their recommendation of an overnight stay. My preference was PTTK Hut Under the Muflon, however, they were fully booked. In COVID-19 times it’s better to always call and ask in advance for availability. I ended up in Agrotourism at Baltazar which happened to be quite far from the centre.

G艂贸wny Szlak Sudecki
The track leading towards Duszniki Zdr贸j

It was only around noon, so having the rest of the day free, I decided to visit the Museum of Papermaking. The ticket costs 22 PLN and it’s an interesting place to kill an hour or two. Their permanent exhibition is about the history of paper and the way it is made in the world as well as more specifically in the Silesia region of Poland. The interesting part is that you can observe the whole process live and even take part in the workshops.

Duszniki Zdr贸j
Museum of Papermaking in Duszniki Zdr贸j

Other than that, Duszniki Zdr贸j is another spa town en route Main Sudetes Trail and according to me, one of the most charming ones. Spa treatments began in 1751 and in 1822 pump room with mineral waters was built. During next years, development continued and many famous people visited the town, such as Frederic Chopin, who gave two charity concerts in 1826 and Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy, German composer. Frederic Chopin Theatre, established in the place where Chopin gave his concerts, as well as market square are worth to have a look too.

Murals nearby market square in Duszniki Zdr贸j
Murals nearby market square
Murals nearby market square in Duszniki Zdr贸j
Murals nearby market square
Duszniki Zdr贸j
One of the streets in the centre of Duszniki Zdr贸j
Duszniki Zdr贸j
Pump room with mineral waters

That was it for that day. I walked all the way back to the accommodation where I stayed for the remaining part of day, simply resting and eating tons of fruits that I bought in local supermarket!

Wambierzyce town is located at around 204th kilometre of the Main Sudetes Trail and Kudowa Zdr贸j at 232nd. It means that somewhere between these two, I should celebrate half-way of my adventure! I was looking forward to that day also because of another reason. The track leads through the scenic Table Mountains and from what I saw online, I had all the reasons to believe that it’s gonna be awesome!

Route: Wambierzyce to Kudowa Zdr贸j
Distance: ~28-30km

The beginning of the day was quite miserable due to boring terrain, asphalt roads and light rain. It started to look better after 4th kilometre when I passed Studzienno and entered the Table Mountains National Park. The path was going up towards Rogacz (707 m a.s.l.). More and more weird rock formations looked at me from behind the trees. Exactly what I had been waiting for!

The terrain here is totally unbelievable and it looked even more unbelievable in cloudy and a bit foggy weather conditions. The shapes of some rocks resemble huge mushrooms, hence its name – Mushroom Rocks (Skalne Grzyby). They owe it to erosion progress of sandstone, which is way faster in the lower parts of the rocks. I admit I spent a lot of time photographing everything but it’s always a learning process to become a better photographer. Honestly, it doesn’t matter how much time I take for my shots, I am never fully satisfied with the end result. Maybe it’s lack of talent or maybe endless pursuit for perfection.

Anyway, from Rogacz it’s around 5,5 kilometres to the parking lot at Stormy Meadow (Burzowa 艁膮ka). As always, parking lots mean that there could be more people around and the rule proved to be right also that time. I mean more people for the Main Sudetes Trail standards because usually, it was rather no people at all. Even here it wasn’t as busy as one could expect. Tourism in COVID-19 times hasn’t come back to shape yet.

Park Narodowy G贸r Sto艂owych
Crossing the road near Stormy Meadow parking lot

The track continues of the mostly flat path called The Road Over The Cliff for further 5 kilometres. At some point, there is a small path going right (5 minutes detour). Walk it till the end and you will understand the meaning of that name. Then, the next major landmark is the Great Szczeliniec (Szczeliniec Wielki, 919m a.s.l.).

Szczeliniec Wielki w G贸rach Sto艂owych
Track leading to Szczeliniec Wielki
Szczeliniec Wielki w G贸rach Sto艂owych
Path and stony stairs enroute to Szczeliniec Wielki
Szczeliniec Wielki w G贸rach Sto艂owych
The view from the top of Szczeliniec Wielki
Szczeliniec Wielki w G贸rach Sto艂owych
Mountain hut at Szczeliniec Wielki

Even though the red track doesn’t lead to the top, it’s hard to resist a detour. It’s a tiring way up on the stony stairs but the place was definitely one of the biggest highlights of the day and should not be missed. There is a mountain hut at the top, in case you are in need of a hot meal or drink. The way down is even better and I recommend taking the paid alternative. It’s only 12 PLN and hiking through the amazing maze of rocks takes about 1 hour. The formations are incredible! Some parts may be very narrow and tricky with a big backpack, but it’s doable.

After the descent, I reached Kar艂贸w which is a midpoint of GSS. I felt big satisfaction of what I achieved so far and maybe it made me lose concentration and as a result, I took a wrong turn following red track but for ski runners, not hikers. Honestly, I find it very misleading to use the same colours and it took me a long time to realize that something is wrong. The signage could definitely be improved. Mapa-turystyczna.pl helped me to find my way but the whole situation cost me at least 1 hour and a few useless kilometres in my legs. Just pay attention here and don’t turn right too early. The track follows an asphalt road leading to the Errant Rocks (B艂臋dne Ska艂y) which is around 5 kilometres from Kar艂贸w. I had to speed up as the place was closing at 5 pm. The advantage of late arrival (4:10 pm) was that there were only a few other tourists.

The whole attraction is very similar to the Great Szczeliniec and doesn’t make such a big impression if you have already visited the other one. Crossing with the backpack was really difficult and I had to take it off in many places, struggling to push it through. I suggest to leave the luggage at the ticket office and simply come back to collect it afterwards. By doing that, your walkthrough should be much more enjoyable.

B艂臋dne Ska艂y, G贸ry Sto艂owe
Unique rock formations in the Errant Rocks
B艂臋dne Ska艂y, G贸ry Sto艂owe
Wooden walking platform at the Errant Rocks
Passing through the Errant Rocks with backpack isn’t easy

Last part of the day was made by a long (~7km) descent to Kudowa Zdr贸j. I was really, really tired and still had to walk to the other side of the town as I didn’t pay too much attention to the localization of my guesthouse when booking it. Don’t get me wrong, the localization was awesome, but at that moment every 100 meters mattered. In the end, the day was finished with 38 kilometres on my Endomondo training.

I can fully recommend Guest Rooms Under Lions (Pokoje Go艣cinne pod Lwami). Super friendly owner and very close to the main attractions of the towns in case you want to do some sightseeing. And obviously, you should do that!

What to see in Kudowa Zdr贸j?

The history of the spa town dates back to the beginning of the 17th century when information about the positive effects on the health of the mineral waters from Kudowa springs appeared for the first time. Only a hundred years later, bottles filled with them were regularly sent to the royal court in Berlin.

Skull Chapel

In the small building located in Czermna (one of the districts of Kudowa Zdr贸j) there are about 23 thousands of human skulls all over the walls and ceiling. Father Tomaszek, collected human remains that remained in the surrounding fields after the Thirty Years ‘War in 1618-1648, the Seven Years’ War (1756-1763) and the great plague of 1680. As no one was able to provide the deceased with a proper burial, and the dogs were digging up bones from the ground, the priest decided to take care of them by moving to the chapel and crypt. It is believed that he got the idea during his trip to Rome, after visiting the local catacombs.

Kudowa Zdr贸j
Skull Chapel in Kudowa Zdr贸j

Spa Park

It was established in the 18th century on the model of English parks and significantly expanded in the 19th century. Nice place to walk around! There is a small lake, fountains as well as a forested hill for those looking for a more challenging stroll. Mineral waters are available in drinking room.

Kudowa Zdr贸j
Spa Park in Kudowa Zdr贸j
Kudowa Zdr贸j
Spa Park in Kudowa Zdr贸j
Kudowa Zdr贸j
Spa Park in Kudowa Zdr贸j

Trail of Vanishing Trades

A time spend here is like a journey back to the past, to learn about the jobs our ancestors did, such as blacksmithing, baking bread, pottery or knitting. There is also a mini ZOO which should entertain the children for a while. Overall it’s a pretty small open-air museum, so unless you have the time to kill or you are really interested in the topic, give it a miss.

Kudowa Zdr贸j
Following the Trail of Vanishing Trails
Kudowa Zdr贸j
Small kind of a ZOO also here
Sleepy animals enjoying the day
Kudowa Zdr贸j
Windmill at the Trail of Vanishing Trails

Other less impressive sights in town include: Museum of Minerals, Museum of Toys or Museum of Folk Culture of the Sudety Foothills.

I was quite optimistic about that day. The distance seemed to be just fine and there was not too much of the elevation difference. I set off from the accommodation at Silver Mountain as usual, at around 8 am and 20 minutes later I was at Silver Pass, joining the red track and heading to the Bardzkie Mountains.

A gentle walk for 4 kilometres took me to Czech Forest (Czeski Las, 621 m a.s.l.) from where it was easy descent for another 3 kilometres to Czerwie艅czyce. Nothing too spectacular here. Typical Polish countryside, which would seem to be totally dead if not some chickens running around.

G艂贸wny Szlak Sudecki
Czeski Forest (621 m a.s.l.)

Route: Silver Mountain to Wambierzyce
Distance: ~ 25-26 km

My next target was S艂upiec. First, the path leads in the forest but in the end, I got out of it and continued on through farmlands with the blocks of flats in the town visible on the horizon.

S艂upiec was connected with Nowa Ruda in 1973. It’s an industrial city with a history strongly connected to mining, therefore from a touristic point of view it isn’t very attractive. However, I made a short break here, mainly to fly a drone around colourful blocks of flats built for miners and the mine itself.

Nowa Ruda S艂upiec
View over the mine in S艂upiec
Nowa Ruda S艂upiec
Miners’ monument in S艂upiec

After S艂upiec is the most challenging part of the day – 2 kilometres ascent to Ko艣cielec (647 m a.s.l.) where you can find a viewing tower (really nice panorama) and a church a little bit further.

Viewing tower at Ko艣cielec
G艂贸wny Szlak Sudecki
Church at Ko艣cielec

It’s around 5 km from Ko艣cielec to 艢cinawka 艢rednia and here the track starts to get really muddy after last days of rain. Hiking poles are useful to navigate through the difficult terrain and no to fell down in the mud with a heavy backpack. Asphalt road starts around 2 kilometres before the village so my pace increases. Unfortunately, it also starts to rain.

G艂贸wny Szlak Sudecki
Water on the track!
G艂贸wny Szlak Sudecki
Wet and muddy path through the forest
G艂贸wny Szlak Sudecki
Railroad in 艢cinawka 艢rednia

The last section of the day (around 5.5 km) leads mostly through the meadows with the beautiful Table Mountains visible on my right side. I could only imagine how nice it would be to fly a drone here, but electronics and rains don’t like each other. Finally, I reached the Christian monument or something that looks like one and turned right, having huge Basilica of the Visitation of Our Lady in Wambierzyce in front of me.

Christian monuments are the sign that Wambierzyce town is close
G艂贸wny Szlak Sudecki
Last section to Wambierzyce
Farmlands, red tulip and the Table Mountains

This town is soooo weird. I can understand the huge church in the centre, as it is in many cities, towns and villages. Poland is ultra catholic. But in Wambierzyce literally everything has a biblical name and is somehow put in a biblical context. On the other hand, there is a local grocery shop just in front of the basilica, with local old guys standing with beers in their hands the whole day doing nothing. That’s it about religiousness.

If that wasn’t enough, the cheapest option for the night happened to be at the Pilgrim’s House. It felt a little bit weird to stay there as non-catholic but who cares. They serve good schnitzel which let all my doubts go away 馃檪