If you have already arrived to Sromowce / Červený Klaštor and are wondering if it’s worth it… YES! It was worth pedaling 55 km just to see this. Dunajec River cuts a 12 km long canyon through Pieniny Mountains, being also a border between PL and SK, Spiš and Poland. A narrow valley limited by steep hills and walls up to 300m, and the Dunajec River waters on the bottom - unforgettable views. Let Wikipedia speak some interesting facts: “The landscape distinguishes it from surrounding mountains due to interaction of natural factors such as geological ground, relief, water, soil, climate, flora and fauna, and their evolutionary relationships. All these elements contribute to the complexity of the natural beauty of the whole area”.
The conditions for the development of unique flora and fauna are closely related to the limestone and dolomite rock strata. Literally, the rock is the foundation for this one-of-a-kind environment. There is the occurrence of the Carpathians’ plant and animal species, in many cases endemic.
From a botanical standpoint the Dunajec River Gorge serves as an example of area-specific vegetation dating back to the glacial age, even though the Pieniny Mountains were not glaciated. From a geographical standpoint it exists apart from the West Carpathians flora (Carpaticum occidentale) with their endemics and subendemics. From a zoological standpoint the valleys cut in Mesozoic rocks have an extraordinary importance for preservation of many species and fauna of the Carpathians. Enormous segmentation of the terrain results in high concentration of biodiversity in a relatively small area.”
At the end of the canyon section we turn right, to Lesnica and… up to Lesnické Sedlo Pass. Until 1870 when the road along Dunajec was constructed, Lesnica didn’t have any road connection with the world (and it was founded as early as 13th century!). All the transport had to be done on foot.
Find it on Day 4/5: The Great Valleys.