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Traditional Rafting

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The traditional River Rafting on the Dunajec is a great opportunity for a closer look at the natural beauty of The Pieniny National Park. Every year, the river rafting on the Dunajec River attracts thousands of tourists from all over the world. In the peak of the season, there are more than 250 rafts running, which are in turn able to carry from 4000 to 5000 tourists down the river every day. The tradition of the river rafting began in 1832, and its initiator was Joseph Szalay. Initially, the rafting was an attraction for people that came to stay in the thriving spa town, which became Szczawnica. Szczawnica is still one of the two final destinations for the rafts and also the one that is most often used. The starting point for the rafts was for many years in Czorsztyn, but after the completion of the dam in Niedzica, it was moved to Sromowce Kąty where the main starting point still is located. In 1934 the "Association of Raft's man" in Pieniny was founded, which brought together about 900 members into the organized rafting association that today runs and controls the traditional river rafting on the Dunajec River. The profession of being a rafts man is passed down from father to son, and contrary to appearances, requires long-term and solid preparation taking normally about eight years to become a qualified raft's man.

Rafting on the Dunajec

The Pieniny gorge where the Dunajec River runs has been cut out completely naturally by the flow of the Dunajec river. This limestone gorge, which cuts its way across the Pieniny mountain rage, the distance being less than 2.8 km in a straight line (the Red Monastery to Szczawnica) but by following the rivers rout is about 8 km, creating a large loop with seven sharp turns. In places, you can see on both sides of the river steep rock faces rising up too about 300 meters above the river and tapering to just over 100 meters in width.

Location and Other Attractions in the Area

Map to the River Rafting on the Dunajec - Lesser Poland
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The River rafting runs through the Pieniny National Park, starting in the small village of Sromowce Kąty and ending up in Szczawnica.

Distances to the Rafting in the Pieniny National Park from:

Krakow:120km
Zakopane:40km
Oświęcim:135km

Other Attractions in the area:

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The Pieniny National Park is a beautiful mountain area located between Czorsztyn and Szczawnica. 

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Szczawnica is a little spa town located just a short walk away from the end station of the river rafting. Szczawnica has won the tourist town of the year award twice. 

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The rope park in Kroscienko is located just outside this little village, the village itself is a charming little mountaineer village, and the rope park is one of the best in the region. 

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The Niedzica Castle is located by the Czorsztynski lake close to the starting point of the river rafting. This is a 14th century castle that once was a border castle. 

Practical Information

The Traditional Rafting on the Dunajec river starts in Sromowce Kąty (Initial Starting Point) or at the foot of the trail descending from the Three Crowns into Sromowce Niżnych (Here you will join the raft on route from Sromowce Kąty. Tickets can be bought from the small ticket office by the walk bridge across the river.)

 River Rafting on the Dunajec - Lesser Poland Dunajca 2 Dunajca 3

There are two end stations:

  • Szczawnica - distance on the raft:about 18 km, time to complete the journey -about 2 hours 15 minutes.
  • Distance if joining the  raft in Sromowiec Niżnych about 12 km, time to complete the journey 1 hour 45 minutes
  • Krościenko - distance on the raft:about 23 km, time to complete the journey -about 2 hours 45 minutes.
  • Distance if joining the  raft in Sromowiec Niżnych about 17 km time to complete the journey 2 hours 15 minutes

Ticket Prices:

Sromowiec-Szczawnica:

  • Normal Tickets: 42.00zł + 4.00zł (Fee to enter the Pieniny National park)
  • Reduced Tickets 21.00zł + 2.00zł (Fee to enter the Pieniny National park)

Sromowiec-Krościenka:

  • Normal Tickets 51.00zł + 4.00zł (Fee to enter the Pieniny National park)
  • Reduced Tickets 25.50zł + 2.00zł (Fee to enter the Pieniny National park)

Tickets are sold in the following hours:

  • April: 9.00-16.00
  • May-August: 8.30 - 17.00
  • September: 8.30 - 16.00
  • October: 9.00 - 15.00

The raft will depart after the minimum of 10 people has bought tickets, this is normally not a problem and will only take a few minutes. However, if you do arrive there and there are not enough people for the raft to leave, then there is an option of paying a basic fee and then the raft can leave without waiting for a complete set. This is a good option if there are a few people waiting, but not enough to make up a set.

The main disadvantage for foreign tourists is the lack of English speaking raft's man. This of course does not make the views less breathtaking, but you do miss out on some of the jokes and local legends that they share with you on the way down the river. You can ask when you buy the ticket if there is anyone available that can speak a little English.

It is recommended that you take something soft to sit on as the journey normally takes a couple of hours, and you will be seated on wooden benches.

 

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