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Mazovian Water Tourism

Mazovian Water Tourism Mazovian Water Tourism

The water is at hand

Stuck in the office with the wind outside bringing up the image of a yacht in full sail? Counting down the days to the summer holidays, you dream of a wild river and an authentic canoe challenge? There’s no need to wait for your next holiday or seek adventure hundreds of kilometres away from home. One weekend is enough for a thrilling canoe trip: you will catch the draft even in a few hours. The voivodeship of Mazovia has lots in store for amateurs water adventures, from the ever untamed Vistula, where it is easier to stumble upon a beaver than a human, to the bustling harbours of the Zegrze Reservoir.

That Mazovia has waters aplenty is clearly visible from the map. The Vistula valley is its central axis. Numerous tributaries direct their flow to the largest Polish river: Pilica, Świder, Jeziorka and Bzura from the south, and Wkra from the north. Two of the largest rivers of the country head in the direction of the Vistula from the east. The Narew gathers waters from the rivers which traverse the interesting regions of Puszcza Zielona, including Omulew, the canoer’s favourite. Liwiec, the current of which is lined by the most popular lazy holiday resorts of Mazovia, flows into the Bug from the south. Within the limits of Mazovia also lies part of the Gostynin-Włocławek lakeland, the scenery of which recalls the typical terrains of northern Poland. Several dozens of lakes hidden among fields and forests wait to be discovered by fans of aquatic sports. The largest is Lake Zdworskie. The water, stretching over an area of more than 350 ha, glistens gorgeously among post-glacial elevations. Since the depth of this shallow reservoir barely reaches 5 m, its waters easily heat to ideal bathing temperature. If you want to dive deeper, you have to travel to Lake Białe, which is over 33 m deep. The swim is bound to be pleasant, as it is one of the cleanest lakes of Mazovia. Lake Lucieńskie and Lake Łąckie Duże are also popular recreational destinations.

The aquatic scenery of Mazovia would not be complete without the artificial reservoirs. The Włocławek Reservoir occupies the largest area, yet Zegrze, located on the outskirts of the capital, is more vibrant with life. Three smaller reservoirs, Soczewka near Płock, Ruda close to Mława and Nowe Miasto in the Płońsk district, attract chiefly weekend beachgoers and anglers.

The green heart of nature

The Mazovian river valleys are very attractive from the naturalist’s point of view. They have preserved a lot of their natural qualities and constitute genuine oases of wilderness in the landscape of the region. The untamed meandering riverbeds tend to change their course each time the water rises. The typical riverbank vegetation consists of riparian forests of many plant species, which are compared to the jungle due to their rich diversity. High slopes of the river valleys are a characteristic feature of the Mazovian landscape. Rising as high as several dozen metres above the river level, they offer far-reaching views. The panoramas of the Vistula valley close to Góra Kalwaria and near Zakroczym are especially beautiful.

The Mazovian river valleys give shelter to many bird species. Swallows and kingfishers nest on embankments, while ringed plovers, terns and gulls prefer the sandbanks. Late in spring the riverside woods echo the warbling of nightingales.

For the past ten years or more the ambient water quality in Mazovia has progressively been improving. The Narew and its right bank tributaries are definitely the cleanest. Yet the outlook for an improvement of the state of rivers flowing through cities leaves much to be desired.

For beachgoers and explorers

The Mazovian water areas are attractive weekend destinations for the townsfolk. The banks of the Zalew Zegrzyński, Narew, Bug, Liwiec, Świder and lakes close to Płock are concentrations of allotment gardens and recreational resorts. The standard of the latter has been improving year to year. Most are available to the general public, offer access to the beach and rent water sports equipment.

The Zegrze and Włocławek Reservoirs appeal to sailors. The first one is bound to make sailor’s heart thump: numerous marinas, water equipment rentals, clubs offering courses (which enable to get a sailing degree), as well as shanty taverns are all equally tempting.

Most of the rivers of Mazovia are fit for a canoe trip. The Vistula, the Bug and the Narew give us a chance to taste the journey down great rivers. Their affluences, such as the Omulew, the Świder, the Wkra and the Pilica do not require as much skill. However, the apparently humble Jeziorka close to Warsaw may prove a challenge for experienced canoeist. Regardless of the difficulty of the itinerary, the tourist infrastructure remains very modest. Some companies specialise in organising canoe trips upon customers’ request on any of the Mazovian rivers. They provide not only equipment, but also arrange picnics, field kitchens and additional attractions.

The water sports year

The water sports season begins with the May weekend long, almost immediately achieving its full blossom, to calm down during the summer holiday season, when yachts and canoes head off to more remote destinations. The most determined amateurs sail and canoe in Mazovia until November. And if the winter is favourable and the surface of Zegrze freezes, you can check out the thrill of ice-sailing.

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