Babiogórski National Park
Babiogórski National Park
The half-wild and lofty Queen of the Beskids, as Babia Góra is often called, became protected as a national park in 1954. This not too vast but high mountain range (the highest in the Eastern Beskids) catches your eye from afar. The north faces, marked with gullies and rock debris, drop steeply down while the more flattened southern ones slope gently into valleys. Diablak (1725 m asl) is Babia Góra’s highest peak. The European watershed runs through the Babia Góra ridge, meaning that the waters flowing down the massif’s north slopes empty into the Baltic Sea whereas those on the south slopes end up in the Black Sea basin. The well-preserved alpine flora, complete with all the natural altudinal vegetation zones, was the reason to include the Babiogórski National Park to the Natura 2000 network and to inscribe it among the UNESCO biosphere reserves in 1977. Only areas unique on the world scale and unspoiled by human activity are ranked as biosphere reserves.
Flora and fauna
The high altitude of the Babia Góra massif and the consequent diversity of the climatic conditions allowed the formation of vegetation zones similar to those in the high mountains, such as the Tatras. The majestic forests growing in the lower parts of the range (the lower subalpine zone) are a remnant of the ancient natural Carpathian Forest. There, a lot of rare and protected plants can be found in the undergrowth. In the upper subalpine zone, dominated by spruce, a natural curiosity is the Polish Laserpitium archangelica, a plant which occurs only in the Babia Góra massif and has become the park’s symbol. Here, a strip of dwarf pine is a kingdom of bushes while the highest alpine zone is dominated by small green plants clinging to the ground or rocks. The alpine chickweed, an inconspicuous plant decorated with white flowers, is another endemic (found only in particular areas) species living here. Rising higher still, the very peak of Diablak is covered with rock debris.
This unspoiled flora is a haven to many animals. Apart from the common fauna, representatives of already rare species still inhabit the park, such as the lynx, wolf and brown bear in the mountains. Also, approximately 100 bird species, such as the western capercaillie, and the black and hazel grouse, have their breeding nests here.
Babiogórski National Park, trail admission fee: May-Oct, 1-day pass: PLN 5, concessions: PLN 2.50, free admission for children under 7 years old, www.bgpn.pl.
PTTK (Polish Tourist and Sightseeing Society) Hostel in Markowe Szczawiny, located just shy of the central point of the park.
Diablak, the highest peak of the park, can be reached by two trails: the yellow trail, called Perć Akademików (Academics' Path), and the red trail.
Zawoja, a holiday resort where, situated along the Wooden Architecture Route, you can see a church built in1888 as well as the Garden of Babia Góra Plants.