In 2015, we explored the High Tatras and some other places nearby and now we’ll be sharing our experience with you. We’ll be talking about our equipment, how we planned the jaunt, the places we visited, and the obstacles we were facing during this exciting journey.
The High Tatra Mountains are situated in the northern region of Slovakia and the southern part of Poland and they are a range of the Tatra Mountains. Their peaks are outstanding that may rise above 2500 meters. Here can be found a cross-border national park giving place to a number of rare and endemic animals and plant species.
In November, the weather here is more like winter than autumn so we have to prepare for the cold, snow, and ice. On the day, it’s about 0 – 15 celsius. At night, it’s about -10 – +3 celsius this time.
As for clothes, a raincoat is a must and it’s a good idea to pack some more warm layers, since having a rest, can come in handy. In the higher areas, the terrain can be really hard so a pair of comfortable boots with firmer soles are absolutely worth it. You may happen to get to zones where the ground is very icy and snowy so I suggest you use crampons.
Furthermore, it’s really important to have a sufficient amount of water and nutrition. Avoiding dehydration is crucial on a long trip and to have enough energy, pack some chocolate as well.
- Flashlight / headlight
- Walking sticks
- Map / GPS
For a camera gear checklist, click here.
Planning the trip
Planning is really important. If it’s done well, it could be a tremendous leg-up so you will have neatness in your head.
Prior to our journey, we had to explore the places online to put ourselves in the picture of what we can expect from the tour. My friend, Gabor is really good at these kinds of activities and, he was likely to do it. He did a precise and thorough job of making a kind of presentation about it marking all the places that were worth visiting.
Places in the High Tatras
When it comes to going on a photo trip, we try to organize everything in a way not to waste any time. So we set off in the middle of the night to get to our first station by dawn.
Our first locale was this gorgeous mountain lake providing a nice place not only for photographers but for skiers, trekkers, hikers, and tourists who would just like to enjoy the calmness and the beauty of nature.
According to the plans, we got there in time before the sun came up. The weather was really cold and foggy with fast-moving clouds and it was rapidly changing. We perceived something I had never seen before. The fog fully covered the lake in seconds and in 20 seconds it got fully clear again and then covered again and so it went on. It was providing us opportunities to catch some unique moments.
Ždiar, this cute and tranquil village near the mountains provided us the accommodation for our 3 days trip and it has some locales suitable for nature and travel photographers.
One of these places is a splendid pond in the outskirts of the village. There are numerous nature photography subjects here from landscapes to flower closeups. If you are into taking landscape photos, this lake is perfectly situated, since in the background there is a huge mountain chain that can be reflected in the water. It’s true that this background is the only attractive background here, however, numerous foregrounds can be found around so we can play with them for a while.
So on our first morning, we’d got up really early before the sun came up and started out to explore this beautiful area around this artificial lake.
The road to Dolina Pięciu Stawów Polskich
The longest and the most enchanting route of this weekend started and ended in a parking place almost right on the Poland – Slovakia border. At this point, we packed up ourselves and after paying the fee (a couple of euros) to go into the national park area we began our hiking.
For a while, you normally go on a concrete road, however, we noticed a tiny junction so got off and continued our way in the woods even though it was probably forbidden. Thanks to this decision, we got on a fabled forest road with wonderful clears without any people. Unfortunately, we didn’t take many images here, since we had to hurry, to reach the summit in time.
Going up to the mountain lakes was really tough sometimes, yet, the environment was stunning. Awe-inspiring trees, vaporous forests, marvelous flora, snowy, icy, steep, and endless tracks beset with trickling streams. In addition to all these, the sounds of mother nature were really nice and calming.
Dolina Pięciu Stawów Polskich
This valley was originated in the ice-age. It’s bounded by the Zawrat-pass (2159 m), the Świnica (2300 m), the Szpiglasowy Wierch (the main ridge of the Tatras, 2171 m), the Walentkowa Grań, the Kotelnica, the Liptowskie Mury and the Miedziane ridge.
So after surprisingly long hiking, we arrived here, our first station. The eatery was open here so we could drink hot tea and we could eat our late dinner, had a short rest, and gained some energy back. Our original and main destination was Morskie Oko what was by the other side of a high mountain ridge we had to climb over. Because of this, we didn’t have time to go around and take photos even though the place was beautiful. So we headed for our next stop in a hurry since the sun was going down and we wanted to get there before the night fell.
When we got up to the ridge, the sun had already gone down and we were a bit disappointed. However, we just thought it had gone. Looking around, we saw outstanding mountain peaks in the distance swimming in the orange colors of the rays of the hiding sun. Having taken some images, we realized that we couldn’t have been there at that moment if had kept our plan and got everywhere in time. So it all happened for reason.
After a 3 hours trip from the last stop, we finally reached Morskie Oko in pitch-black. Its name literally means “Eye of the Ocean” and this is the largest and fourth deepest lake in the Tatra Mountains. It is one of the most popular destinations for hikers and tourists. There is an eatery here as well so you can drink and eat something to recharge yourself.
We have taken several images here, however, the results differed a bit from what we had expected. I, personally, did not find any strong composition enough to compensate for the lack of sunlight. Moreover, we didn’t have any chance to take some shot of the Milkyway for instance, since the moon was too bright so it illuminated the sky and fewer stars could be seen than usual. Apart from these, this place was wonderful and full of opportunities for photographers.
Obstacles we faced
Usually, on a journey, we have to overcome some difficulties. It can be physical, mental, or technical issues as well.
From these categories, in our case, the most typical part was physical hardships. The routes were longer and steeper than we had thought and we got really exhausted sometimes. In addition, the terrain was really hard in certain areas and we were struggling with ice and snow since we didn’t have crampons to prevent our shoes from sliding. Furthermore, in the last 3 hours of the trip, we were hiking in complete darkness on icy and snowy paths and although the moonlight brightened up the ground a bit, we were really helpful with the flashlights and headlights.
Moreover, it might be trivial, however, I feel it’s worth mentioning that when you go on a photo trip to a cold place, always have gloves with you. In other cases, you will struggle with handling the camera for a longer time and with setting up your gear. So, guys, I suggest you prepare for unexpected incidences and take the essential gadgets with you to overcome the problems.
As for mental difficulties, luckily, we haven’t got into situations when our mental toughness was put to a test.
Of course, we have faced some technical issues as well. We had just started photography a bit more seriously and we were not so experienced.
Fortunately, the biggest and most hilarious hitch was realizing the effect of the polarizer filter when using a wide-angle lens. As you might already know, the impact is the strongest when your camera is perpendicular to the sunlight. Consequently, due to the really wide angle what the lens comprises, this angle is changing on the sides of the image. Then, we didn’t know what causes the problem and we were being challenged for a while to find the reason 🙂
Last few words
So this was our first trip to the High Tatras and we really enjoyed it so we will definitely visit there again sometime. Who knows, it can happen that we meet somewhere in the mountains.
Have a nice time and if you have any questions or feedback, let me know in a comment below or drop me an email here.