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Stunning Beauty of the Koscieliska Valley

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The nearly nine-kilometre long Koscieliska Valley is one of the most beautiful and well-known valleys of the Polish part of the Western Tatra Mountains. In the past the valley belonged to Koscielisko, the nearby village, hence its name. It used to be visited by treasure hunters and ore miners. Nowadays, it is the beauty of the Koscieliska Valley that attracts throngs of tourists every year, especially on warm days. In the lower and the middle parts of the Koscieliska Valley one can admire a lot of picturesque rock gates and limestone, whereas the upper part formed by the glacier differs in its shape and geological features.

Top Attractions on the Way
The leisurely walk in the Koscieliska Valley has its charm. One can hear the sprinkling and shimmering waters of the Koscieliski Potok (the Koscieliski Brook) all along the route and admire the narrowing rocks, forming the so- called Lower, Middle and Upper Koscieliskie Gates (Bramy Koscieliskie) on both sides of the track .
The Koscieliska Valley also abounds in lovely spacious clearings (polany) where the sheep graze. One of the representative examples is the Wyzna Kira Mietusia Clearing which attracts visitors with crocuses covering it in the spring. It is here that tourists can take an opportunity of tasting (and buying, of course) the local highlanders' sheep delicacies: ''oscypki'' (the traditional highlanders' cheese),  ''zetyca'' (the sheep milk whey) and ''bundz'' (delicious cottage cheese made from sheep's milk). Going on, upon crossing the wooden bridge following the black trail to Jaskinia Mrozna (the Frosty Cave), there is the viewing platform of the Icy Spring (Lodowe Zrodlo) with the constant temperature of about 4.5 degrees Centigrade. It is worth having a look at as the Icy Spring is regarded as one of the most beautiful springs in the Tatra Mountains.
After about an-hour-walk from Kiry one gets to Hala Pisana (1015 m) which is mostly renowned for magnificent views.
The other attractions of the upper part of the Koscieliska Valley include such caves as ''Jaskinia Mrozna'' (the Frosty Cave) visited by hundreds of tourists throughout the year, Jaskinia Mylna (the False Cave) and Jaskinia Raptawicka (the Raptawicka Cave). All of them are open to the public.
Further up, in Mala Polana Ornaczanska, there is the Ornak Mountain Hut (Schronisko PTTK na Hali Ornak), where one can relax after a pleasant, though long-distance, walk.
If not tired, you can follow the black trail in the forest to get, after a 30-minute-walk, to Smreczynski Staw - (the Smreczynski Tarn) situated at the altitude of 1227 m. It is worth seeing as, though small (0.8 ha; 5-m deep),  Smreczynski Staw is one of the very few tarns in the Polish part of the Western Tatra Mountains.
From here – back to the Ornak Mountain Hut – 20 minutes; from the Hut back to Kiry- 1 h 15 minutes.

Tips for travellers

As the valley is considered the most charming corner of the Polish Tatra Mountains, Kiry - the village where the tourists set off on their tour of the Koscieliska Valley – is totally packed with visitors in July and August. Thus, if planning to see the Koscieliska Valley, the best idea is to arrive in Kiry in the early morning.
The traffic (even bikes) is banned from the Koscieliska Valley, except for the privileged vehicles and horse-drawn carriages (sleighs in winter). Bear in mind that both the sleighs and the carriages go as far as Hala Pisana ONLY!


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