The national park systems of Poland and Slovakia are making trails in the Tatra and Pieniny mountains wheelchair-accessible. “The Tatras Without Barriers” project involves adaptations of existing trails. Slovakia has already prepared a wheelchair-accessible trail and Poland’s first was opened last weekend. The two countries are making the changes in the Tatra and Pieniny national parks. Each route they convert to wheelchair-accessibility will be marked with the international accessibility symbol.
Slovakia opened its first wheelchair-accessible route July 2 in the High Tatras. It goes from the Stary Smokovec spa 4.2 kilometers to the Rainerowa Chata mountain hut, 1,295 meters high. Slovakia is preparing two more accessible routes in the Tatras and one in the Pieninys. The first in the Tatras will lead from the border at Lysa Polana to Biala Woda Valley. The second will go from Tatrzanska Jaworzyna to Jaworowa Valley. The one in Pieniny National Park will go from Czerwony Klasztor to Lesnica. The combined length of the four routes will be about 17 kilometers.
Poland’s first wheelchair-accessible trail runs through Biala Woda Valley, a nature reserve in the Little Pieniny Mountains. Stones and vegetation were cleared from it and the ground was leveled. The 2.4-kilometer route takes visitors along a picturesque mountain stream flowing through a limestone ravine. Four footbridges allow them to cross the river.
Western European countries are doing more for visitors with disabilitiex, an effort known as accessible tourism. A number of organizations regularly update information about trails, tourist routes, historical places and monuments that are wheelchair-accessible. And they publish guidebooks dedicated to the disabled. Central European countries are just beginning to get into accessible tourism.