“ Country: Poland / World Region: Europe „
Wolkowyja is only a small village with approximately 450 residents, situated in the south-east of Poland; a region full of fascinating sights and contrasts. Unspoilt nature, solitude and wilderness alternate with some outstanding old towns full of historic architecture.
This tiny village can specifically be found 7 kilometres south east of Solina and 17 kilometres south of Lesko which is the beginning (or end) of the Bieszczady loop road, a 160 kilometre route through the beautiful scenery of this south eastern tip of the country.
The village of Wolkowyja and its surrounding area was once a wilderness where wolves roamed freely and howled amongst the beech trees hence its name. The formation of Lake Solena which was created by damming the two rivers; San and Solenka introduced tourists to the area and made the wilderness a touch more friendlier.
The centre of the village is indeed very small consisting of one sklep (shop) selling basic foodstuffs, alcohol, bread, fresh fruit, cooked meats and cheese; a post office, kiosk with an outside beer garden, two restaurants - one serving pizza and some traditional Polish dishes, the other, a restaurant and bar built in a former blacksmith's shop, serving traditional meals only. Both restaurants are very reasonably priced, the food was home-cooked, hearty and delicious and the staff very friendly.
Although there isn't a great deal to do in the village itself, it is the gateway to some unspoilt scenery and the outer edge of the Polish Carpathian mountain range. The only bus stop is in the centre of the village opposite the shop and kiosk. From here buses go to towns/villages situated along all shores of Lake Solina. Daily buses also leave for Warsaw, Krakow and Wroclaw. Obviously you have to be in Poland to reach this village and my son and I took the overnight bus from Warsaw which took 10 hours stopping at every town and village on the way. The rest of the family came by car and this journey took around seven hours.
Wolkowyja is very popular with tourists especially Polish visitors from Warsaw and Krakow as well as people visiting the popular resorts of nearby Solina and Polanczyk. Both these resorts are busy and quite touristic so the picturesque village of Wolkowyja is an ideal get away with its solitary walks, rambling river and beautiful conifer and beech woods which are still inhabited by wolves, lynxes and brown bears. If you are lucky you will also spot the odd fox, eagle and stork.
Accommodation wise there are a lot of self catering wooden chalets to choose from. Some are very basic with bedrooms, kitchen consisting of a two ring gas stove, fridge and sink, and a shower and toilet. Other chalets are very luxurious with all mod cons and swimming pools. Our chalet was pretty basic but seeing we were out most days it was adequate. The outside decking with large wooden tables are great to seat all the family when it comes round to barbecue time. Around the sides of the lake are various campsites; some with swimming pools supervised by lifeguards.Not many hotels, if any, but there are several guest houses which are similar to the English B&B. These are very large wooden houses with pretty gardens.
Most of the accommodation can be found about 10 minutes away from the centre situated in a pleasant valley next to a quick flowing river and a very large modern church which later we discovered that the bells are rung three times a day when visitors and residents go to Mass. The modern design of the church which was built in the years 1973-75 is interesting in the way it has been constructed - reminding me of sails on a boat. The design is certainly eye catching and you definitely won't miss the cream coloured exterior of the church of St Maximilan Kolbe.
Fishing seems a popular activity in the village and there are several fish stocking ponds organised by the Polish Angling Society. I assume the fish are taken from these ponds and then introduced into the lake.
Other activities available are horse riding, trekking, paint balling, sailing and safari trips in 4 wheel drives through the forest. Having trekked up a couple of the mountain paths I would say they are a lot more difficult than the maps suggest. The weather wasn't too good when we first arrived and the area had already had several days of heavy rain making the paths very slippery and difficult to climb.Consequently, I fell badly and sustained a couple of serious injuries. I made matters worse by insisting on carrying on with the walk not realising that I had another 15 kilometres to walk.The next day I was unable to move at all let alone walk, so my advice is always to wear good strong boots and take a mobile phone in case you get into difficulty. The free emergency number to call is 112.
So there you have the low down on a very small town in the Bieszczady Mountains. It's very pretty and serene and a great place to sit back and relax if you want to or if you are a very active person then there are numerous activities available. The weather can be a bit hit and miss but the good thing is - is that the rain doesn't last for long and when the sun does come out it is very bright and scorching hot.
The local country people are very friendly - much nicer than city folks. Not a lot of English is spoken so it is useful to take a dictionary or Polish phrase book if you don't know any Polish. Prices for food and drink in bars and restaurants are much cheaper than Warsaw. For a main meal you are looking at around £2 per person and a pint of ale is about 70p. Definitely cheap and cheerful.