I would like to tell you more about one of the most beautiful mountain valleys in Polish Tatra mountains – Dolina Chocholowska. I have already written about it in part one of this article here. Dolina Chocholowska (Chocholowska Valley) is the largest Polish Tatra’s valley and it is located furthest West in this mountain ridge. The name of the valley comes form a village called “Chocholow”, which is located close to the valley.
Dolina Chocholowska and particularity the clearing located at its end, Polana Chocholowska, is one of my favorite places in Tatra mountains and I always like to visit it when I am in this region.
I will continue my story here from the point I have stopped in the previous article about this place. I was just about to arrive to the beautiful Dolina Chocholowska clearing called Polana Chocholowska. Here I am just reaching to this clearing.
Polana Chocholowska is located at 1090–1150 m above sea level and it is the biggest clearing in Polish Tatra mountains and one of the biggest in the whole Tatra. It is also one of the most beautiful. It was one of the main centers of sheep keeping in Tatra mountains and even today there are many sheep still grazing on its grass and wild flowers.
On Polana Chocholowska there are many wooden huts. Most of them were, or still are, used for gathering and protecting sheep, usually at night. In some of them people taking care of the sheep could be temporary living while in this area.
As I have already mentioned in my previous article, bikes are allowed in this valley, as you can see in the picture below.
Horse carriages operated by local highlanders (gorale) are also allowed and if you are lucky to find one at the entrance to the valley and can afford to hire it, you might arrive to this clearing by such means of transportation. Private cars are not allowed and I am not sure how the car in this picture actually was able to drive up to Polana Chocholowska. Maybe it had a special permission, or it is a service car belonging to the mountain lodge, which is located at the end of the valley, after you pass through the clearing.
While going through Polana Chocholowska, I have noticed a group of artist painting landscapes. Perhaps it was a painting workshop.
Here is one more member of this group – an older lady painter. I think it is indeed a wonderful place to take such workshop and to paint landscapes. It would be interesting to see the final pictures, which were created by these artists.
The weather continued to be cloudy and overcast, which I think, in this case, has added to the beauty and mystery of the valley and the surrounding mountains.
Tatra mountains (Tatry) have inspired numerous artists over the centuries, and not only painters, but also sculptors, architects, writers, poets, musicians and many others.
The culture and folclor of “Gorale” – people living in this mountain region of Poland, is also very unique and often inspired by the mountains and their fauna and flora. You will be able to find beautiful artworks, as well as many more locally created souvenirs in shops in the biggest city at the foot of Tatra mountains – Zakopane.
I think the huts add to the uniqueness and beauty of this place. Some beautiful wildflowers were growing along the clearing and you can see one of them in the below picture.
I also encourage you to come here at the beginning of the Spring when thousands or millions of crocuses are coming out trough the snow. I have seen in once and it is not a view to forget. I think I was there then in May, but the time when the crocuses are coming out in Chocholowska Valley could vary, depending on the weather.
While going on the main trail through Polana Chocholowska clearing you will pass on the right side a trail climbing up the hill. It is a direct and shorter way to a small wooden chapel I will tell you more about later. Here you can also see signs directing you to visit other trails. Some of them are leading to high mountains and if you climb them, you can then descend to other valleys, for example Dolina Koscieliska (Koscieliska Valley), I have written about in a few other articles. Here is a link to the first one of them.
I have noticed a coupe of caws grazing on the grass beside the road in Polana Chocholowska. They didn’t seem to be bothered by numerous people passing by. There were also many sheep on the pasture further up the clearing.
The mountain lodge – “Schronisko PTTK na Polanie Chocholowskiej” in Dolina Chocholowska.
Here I am finally reaching the big mountain lodge – “Schronisko PTTK na Polanie Chocholowskiej“. It was build in 1953 and presently can provide sleeping place for about 120 people. It is located at 1146m above sea level. This very popular mountain lodge is often a base for people going into Western Tatras (Tatry Zachodnie). During the winter it is also a ski resort and place to stay or relax for people skiing on the nearby mountains.
On the way to the lodge, I have passed this interesting water feature.
I have visited the lodge (schronisko), but it was very crowded with people and there was a big line-up to buy food or drinks. Also there was a pretty long line to use the washrooms. Definitely this mountain lodge seems to be now too small for the number of people visiting this place. It will certainly benefit greatly from adding additional food facilities, as well as building extra washroom and maybe also providing more rooms for people to stay overnight. I have brought with me some sandwiches and other food and water, so I was OK to just sit at the tables outside the lodge and eat there enjoying beautiful views. Fortunately it was not raining.
The Trail to the Nearby Chapel.
After a short rest there, I have walked further up the trail towards the right. There is a trail leading to the small wooden chapel I have mentioned to you before.
Here I am walking on the path towards the chapel. There were many beautiful, perfectly shaped trees on the way and I have admired splendid views on the near-by mountains. This little trail is certainly worth taking since you will have a higher advantage point to see Polana Chocholowska and the mountains. Of course you will also be able to see the historic chapel, which was visited by the pope John Paul the Second.
I have admired many beautiful spruce trees growing beside the path to the chapel. The view was very picturesque and peaceful.
The Chapel in Dolina Chocholowska.
The catholic chapel (kaplica) dedicated to St. John the Baptist (Jan Chrzciciel) is only a short walk from the lodge along an easy trail. It was build in 1958 for the ocal highlander people (gorale) who are often very religious. They didn’t want to miss Sunday’s mass while staying in the valley and looking after the sheep gazing on Dolina Chocholowska pasture. Beside the chapel, there is a cross erected in 2003 and commemorating the visit by pope John Paul II (Jan Pawel II) to Dolina Chocholowska and to this chapel . John Paul II was here in 1983. Dolina Chocholowska was one of his favorite places and he has visited it many times before becoming the pope. His name before he become the pope was Karol Wojtyla and he is originally from Poland.
During the time when many tourist come to the Chocholowska Valley from June to October, at this chapel there is a Sunday mass at 1 pm.
The Sheep Grazing in Polana Chocholowska.
While walking on the trail towards the chapel, and later when going down the hill, back to the main trail leading through Chocholowska clearing, I have noticed many sheep grazing on the pasture on Chocholowska Polana. There are hard to see here, but they are in the middle of the field. Even if it is a Tatra National Park, the pastures now belong to local people “gorale”, as they used in the distance past, so they are allowed to bring sheep here. I have mentioned it already in my first article about this valley, so you can read more about it if you wish.
Another view at the beautiful Chocholowska Clearing (Polana Chocholowska). Maybe you can see the sheep a bit better in this picture.
As I have mentioned, you don’t have to just arrive to the lodge (schronisko) or chapel and then turn back, but you can also take many side trails from Dolina Chocholowska going to the higher mountains. Since it was rather overcast and pretty late in the day, I have descended a few kilometers back along the valley to catch the small train taking people to the entrance to Dolina Chocholowska. How and when it is operating, I have mentioned it in my previous post about Chocholowska Valley.
On the way, I have noticed some beautiful fireweed. These strong plants grow very abundantly in Polish Tatra mountains during most of the Summer.
For moore information about Dolina Chocholowska please check out this link.
Also I encourage you to read my previous article about Dolina Chocholowska, when I have written more about the location, history of this place and how to get there. I this previous article I have described the trail from the gate to Dolina Chocholowska till the point close to Dolina Chocholowska clearing.
The WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge – “Favorite Place”.
This post is part of the WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge and this is my interpretation of this week’s prompt “Favorite Place“ since Dolina Chocholowska and Polana Chocholowska are some of my favorite places I like to return to whenever I can.
The Copyright Info and Subscribing to this Blog.
All photographs presented on this blog are copyrighted by me, Renata Ratajczyk. If you would like to use any of them in your publications or on your website please contact me. I will be adding some of the pictures posted here to my Light Vision website, where you can license images or buy them as prints. I will be posting more articles soon, so please subscribe to my blog to be notified about future updates. Thank you.
My Other Blog – Vibrant Garden.
I also invite you to visit my other blog – Vibrant Garden where I write about gardening, the most beautiful and interesting gardens I have visited, as well as I highlight some special plants and occasionally essential oils. You can visit my Vibrant Garden blog here.
You May Also Like to Read:
- Dolina Chocholowska, Polish Tatra mountains, part 1.
- Walking the Trail from Kuznice to Hala Gasienicowa – Part 1 – Tatra Mountains, Poland.
- Visiting Beautifully Located Sacro Monte of Varallo, Italy.
- Serene Moment in Time – Koscieliska Valley part 3, Tatra Mountains, Poland.
- Koscieliska Valley – Part 1, Tatra Mountains, Poland.
- Koscieliska Valley – Part 2 – Hala Pisana, Tatra Mountains, Poland. T
- Bird Kingdom – an Aviary in Niagara Falls, Canada.
- Visiting Parco Civico Villa Ciani, Lugano, Switzerland – on my Vibrant Garden blog.
- Lake Garda, Italy.
- Gardens of Versailles, France.
- Gadens of Spiazzi village – an article on my Vibrant Garden blog.
- Giardino Sigurtà” in Northern Italy – on my Vibrant Garden blog.
- Niagara Parks Botanical Garden – part 1 – on my Vibrant Garden blog.