GB No. 9, autumn 1992


At the extreme south-east of Poland, straddling both the Slovakian and the Ukrainian borders, there is a thickly forested area of yet unspoilt, almost primeval beauty, dubbed, not without reason, the Polish "Wild West". Ci-vilisation is already creeping in slowly, though there is still plenty to enjoy for everyone going down there.

A virtual paradise for all nature lovers: the forests teeming with deer, foxes and wild boars; bisons and bears can also be encountered, though like wolves and lynxes, they tend to keep well away from human trails. They somehow managed to survive the ravages of communist economy, and the now legendary hunting excesses of all sorts of party VIPs, periodically descending in droves upon their comfortable rest-house in Myczne.

Nowadays, most of them enjoy the full protection of the law, within the borders of the Bieszczady National Park. Established in 1973, initially covered the area of merely 5,5 thousand ha, presently it encompasses the impressive 27.000 km .

The list of protected species comprises now 200 vertebrates, 700 plants, 300 lychens and over 200 mosses, let alone a number of fungi. Botanists will be pleased to come across a number of strictly endemic plants, and also some Alpean and sub-Alpean vegetation. The place has long been recognized for the rich diversity of its fauna and flora by the natural scientists, who are only too happy to carry out their research there.

Bieszczady seem the ideal place to go to, looking for peace and tranquility, especially when one is tired of the hectic pace of life in the bustling cities.

During the summer holidays, however, the picturesque ranges of Tarnica, Wielka Rawka and the great rolling hillsides of the Połoninas, are swarming with crowds of backpackers, so one has to resign oneself to the solitude of the slighlty less picturesque, though far more primeval in character, remote reaches of the Hyrlata, Rosocha, Chryszczate, Wołosate, Łopiennik and Korbania ranges.

To savour the unspoilt and rugged beauty of this area, one should preferably go off the trail and, keeping one's wits about oneself and a reliable compass in hand, proceed to explore at leisure, always prepared to spend the night under the sheltering sky, by the blazing campfire.

The area is still crisscrossed by the overgrown trenches, some of them dating back to World War I, now and again one can encounter the piles of blackened stones, marking the sites of burnt-down houses, sometimes a wooden, onion-domed, structure of an Orthodox Church can suddenly come into view. These are very few and far between. The remaining ones must have either miraculously escaped the ravages of the last war or had indeed refused to succumb to the rulings of the subsequent, nationalist policies, blatantly pursued here by the Polish communist regime, keen to rid the whole area of all remnants of its once great Christian-Orthodox tradition.

The lovers of water sports should feel in their element, co ming down to the reservoirs of Solina and Myczków. If not for the decidedly unappealing architecture of the surrounding resi- dential and hotel housing, and the increasing influx of the motorised and disco-happy visitors, this would have been yet another great place to stay at for longer. The really quiet and secluded spots with crystal-clear water are more and more difficult to come by in the area.

Apart from the picturesque little lakes at the foot of the Chryszczata and in Zawój, near Wetlina, or the peat bogs in the Upper San Valley, one can still get a ride on the narrow-gauge railway between the villages of RzepedĽ and Majdan. Not so long ago, one could still have a good look round the local railway museum. Now all rolling stock is undergoing renovation, and it is hard to tell, how soon can it be expected back on display. [...]

Krzysztof Dulinski
"Czas Krakowski" 28.7.92
transl. by Sigillum Ltd.

GB No. 9, autumn 1992 | Contents