A – Copernicus in Olsztyn (city exploration and a short kayak trip) 

If you want to get to know the city where Nicolaus Copernicus determined when spring begins and see the only preserved to present times astronomical device of this outstanding astronomer, we invite you to Olsztyn – the capital of Warmia and Masuria. The city’s history dates back to the end of the Middle Ages. It boasts numerous landmarks, including the Gothic Castle of Warmian Cathedral Chapter, the Old Town with the characteristic silhouette of the Wysoka Brama (High Gate) at the entrance, and the Cathedral of St. James the Great.

Modern Olsztyn is home to over 170 thousand residents and serves as the administrative, cultural, and academic center of the region. The beautifully situated University of Warmia and Mazury, with its campus in Kortowo, will be the venue for the sprint race during EFOL 2024. Industry, including one of the world’s largest car tire factories, plays here also a significant role. Olsztyn is surrounded by nature, with large forests around the city. There are as many as 11 lakes and river Łyna within its borders. Therefore, our adventure will begin with a short kayak trip that will end at Olsztyn Castle. This fortress was the place where Copernicus lived, not only fulfilling his role as a scientist but also organizing the defense of the city against the invasion of the Teutonic Knights in 1520. 

Marian Jurak will be leading you on a journey through the Old Town of Olsztyn in the footsteps of Copernicus. He is the most experienced guide and long-time president of the Olsztyn branch of the Polish Tourist and Sightseeing Society.

The price is 45 € (including lunch at a restaurant in the Old Town, kayak rental and return by bus to the University Campus in Kortowo).

B – Ship on the grass (a boat cruise on the Elbląg Canal and a forest walk)

“I entered the dry waters of an open sea; 

My carriage like a canoe plunges in the green”

That was the way, Adam Mickiewicz, the famous Polish poet, described his journey by carriage through the Ukrainian steppes. But what if a real ship boats through a meadow? On our trip, you will have the opportunity to see for yourself if it is possible! The unique Elbląg Canal, unparalleled in Europe, is a waterway over 150 km long, a masterpiece created by 19th-century engineers and builders. This canal is a technical monument and a historical landmark, with locks and inclined planes built into it, allowing navigation despite a water level difference of over 100 meters. The duration of the cruise is approximately 2 hours.

Afterward, we will take you to the forest to admire nature monuments – the Larches near Dobrocinek. These trees remember the times when the Elbląg Canal was still under construction. Their age is estimated at around 170 years, and the tallest and most impressive majestic among them reach an impressive size and height of almost 47 meters. Marek Wójtowicz, a local forester from the Dobrocin Forest District will be leading you through this extraordinary natural sanctuary.

The price is 80 € (including cruise ticket, bus transportation and lunch at the pavilion near the Tailor Hotel in Morąg).

C – Święta Lipka and Wolf’s Lair (bus tour)

In the Mrągowo Lake District, on the border of Warmia and Masuria, lies Święta Lipka (Holy Linden) – the most beautiful pilgrimage site and sanctuary in northern Poland, dedicated to the Virgin Mary. Participants of the tour will have a unique opportunity to learn about the history of the Marian apparition and explore the basilica – one of the best examples of Baroque architecture in Poland and in the world. It is also famous for its moving pipe organ, possibly the finest church instrument ever constructed. For the EFOL 2024 participants exclusively a pipe organ concert will be performed. 

Afterward, we will visit Reszel – a small, charming town dating back to 1241 when the Teutonic Knights established a wooden outpost. Reszel received Town privileges in 1337. Visitors can see the Gothic Episcopal castle from the mid-13th century, with a fascinating history, dominated by a mighty tower. Nicolaus Copernicus was a frequent guest at the castle. It is also the place where Barbara Zdunk, known as the „last witch,” was imprisoned and executed in 1811. The castle houses an exhibition dedicated to sophisticated torture devices used in ancient times.

The cherry on the cake will be one of the “must-see” attractions of the region – i.e. Wolf’s Lair – the wartime headquarters of the leader of the Third Reich. It is a city hidden in the forest, that could accommodate 2000 residents. It had its own airport and nearly 200 buildings. Adolf Hitler has spent 836 days here, shaping the world’s history and deciding about the lives of millions of people. It was also the site of the most famous and closest-to-successful assassination attempt on the Führer, carried out on July 20, 1944, by Colonel Claus von Stauffenberg. This historical monument is currently managed by State Forests. Jadwiga Korowaj, a licensed guide of the Polish Tourist and Sightseeing Society, will take you on this extraordinary journey.

The price is 45 € (including bus transportation, entrance tickets and lunch at the historical and natural education center „Wolf’s Lair”).

D – Forestry in Poland (hiking tour)

Is horse logging still used in Poland or is everything logged by robots now? Why was a single Mazurian pine tree once worth 1.5 kilograms of gold, equivalent to 1.5 years of a worker’s labor in Paris? Answers to these and all other questions regarding forestry will be provided by the employees of the Spychowo Forest District – Maciej Ligocki and Urszula Dyl-Nadolna. We will present the achievements, challenges, and daily issues of forestry in Poland, using the pine stands in the Puszcza Piska Forest as an example. During a walk through the forest, we will boast about natural regeneration and present the program for combating Black cherry (Prunus serotina). The total distance to cover will be approximately 8 km. We will also visit the Spychowo Forest District headquarters and a small forestry museum. The second part of the hike will follow the fortifications from World War I and II. We will finish our adventure by the lake, so feel free to bring swimwear and a towel.

Price – 35 € (including bus transportation and lunch at the ecological education center at the Spychowo Forest District).