The Dunajec River Gorge is a famous place among tourists thanks to amazing views and possibility of rafting on traditional boats. A great way to admire the stunning scenery of Poland’s Dunajec Valley is a trip to the Dunajec river gorge. It is a full day trip to the Pieniny Mountains (50 km from Zakopane) that includes a few of the most popular attractions in the area. We booked this excursion upon arrival at the Aries Hotel & Spa which was one another hotel of our choice in Zakopane.
- A two hour drive along the most picturesque route in Poland that runs from Krakow towards the southern border with Slovakia.
- Stopover at the historical wooden church in Dębno after the rafting and our return to Zakopane Stop by the Niedzica Castle.
Dunajec River Gorge Rafting Experience
The nearly three hours’ raft trip down the meandering river was a nice opportunity to admire the picturesque scenery of the Pieniny Mountains, the limestone rock formations, and the towering cliffs, however quite monotonous from a point onwards.
The formation of the gorge took place in stages, referring to tectonic movements in the Pieniny Mountains.The gorge is so deep and winding and owes its present appearance to the tectonic movement, petrographic composition and, proportion of rocks and geological structure. Especially the last one – the presence of large tectonic faults, is responsible for the creation of deeply indented meanders.The formation of the gorge took place in stages, referring to tectonic movements in the Pieniny Mountains.
To avoid an unpleasant surprise like the one I experienced, assure that on the raft you are with a group that speaks a language you understand. I was accompanied by a Polish friend who arranged that we join a Polish group so we did. The result was that I could not understand a thing on the tour, even if I had some sentences explained once in a while, I still felt very uncomfortable.
A Chatty Guide
The guide on the raft was a babbler, giving information once in a while but most of the time he was telling jokes trying to bring some smiles on the already bored faces of tourists, not to mention that we were among the last boats to come ashore leaving all other rafts and boats overpass us.
Dunajec River Gorge Rafting Experience
When the raft was over we hurried back to meet the rest of our group. To our surprise, we were the last to arrive and the whole group was waiting for our raft to come ashore. On the whole, although it was an interesting ride, I would not have done it a second time even if I had the ticket for free. After an hour it becomes monotonous, not to mention the uncomfortable seats on the raft for all these hours!
- Rafting season lasts from 1 April till 31 October every day except for two church holidays: Corpus Christi and the first day of Easter.
- You can choose between four options: 12 km (1h 15min), 17 and 18 km (2h 15min) and 23 km (2h 45min).
- Ticket price: adults 12-15 EUR, children half-price (depends on an exchange rate and it may change)
The bridge painting in Niedzica is a three-dimensional image called the Power of Elements. It shows a sunken structure with exposed molded waterfalls in the depths of turbines and silhouettes of people. It can be viewed from a distance of 50 meters, and indeed is an exceptional work of art!
Here was the last stop we had, to visit Archangel Michael’s Church. Located in Dębno, the church dates back to the middle of the 15th century, but the first church at this place was built the 13th century and has been entered on the List as a UNESCO Heritage Monument. Its interior uniquely combines Gothic art and traditional highlander style.
Archangel Michael’s Church was built using the horizontal log technique, common in eastern and northern Europe since the Middle-Ages and is a splendid testimony of Polish culture. It was built of larch wood, and its joinery employs splines but no nails.
The local legend has it that the church was built by highland robbers, to whom St. Michael Archangel revealed himself on the oak tree. Cameras are prohibited but I managed to get one quick shot without being noticed.