Опасная зона

Опасная зона

Friday, June 13, 2014

Tripoint Borders IV: Poland, Slovakia and Ukraine

During my two-month stay in Kraków, Leszek Grzanka helped me to make it to the south-eastern tripoint of Poland, Slovakia and Ukraine.

(And if you do not feel like reading all this, you might watch this little video instead, basically conveying the same information. :)

So, first things first, let's take a look at the map where it is:

View Larger Map

If you zoom in on google maps, you might notice that the borders are not really matching the overlays.

Uhh... nope... lines all messed up, the tripoint is where the green arrow is.
Yes, I've checked it.

Normally I try to reach these points by public transportation, this time however, Leszek drove us from Krakow by car. He reserved a sleeping place in a small hut for hikers, where the border control also stops by for coffee.

The hostel is also at the shortest hiking path to the tripoint. Coming from the Slovakian side is harder technically, but possible. Naturally I would not even try to reach it from the Ukrainian side.

Closest hostel located 2 hour walk north from the tripoint. http://www.rawki.pl
And the border police parking, probably having coffee.
This is the first tripoint of this series which is to a non-EU country, so I expected all kinds of border control and fences. However that turned out to be a "disappointment" in the end...

First views of Ukraine to the left. The border between Poland and Ukraine is clearly visible as a line with a little kink. The remote hills at the horizon are partially Slovakia.
After around 300 meters up (at 1270 meters), you reach a very nice plateau, terrific landscape.

Leszek and first signs of the Polish-Ukrainian border at the end of the road.
Leszek mentioned a story where the Ukrainian border guards hid in the bushes, waiting for trespassers. They cached some poor fellow who wanted to take pictures from the Ukrainian side: "This picture will cost you 100 €!"

Stay on the path, don't cross the railings.
Signs warn you to stay on the path and not cross the border. In order to reach the tripoint you follow the Polish-Ukrainian border for another few kilometers.

I was surprised to see some of the border stones ... displaced...?

The closer you get to the tripoint, the less organized it gets. You encounter displaced border stones and the path takes you quite a few times on Ukrainian territory, at least technically.

Stay on the paths, right. But when the path crosses the border, what can you do?
During the the way to the tripoint we did not encounter any other hikers and did not see any border patrol anywhere. Finally we arrived. A nice monolith marks the tripoint:

And already after a few minutes, we could hear border guards coming on power bikes from the path going along the Polish-Slovakian border. The guards were Polish, and passed us first without stopping, continuing along the Polish-Ukrainian border where we came from. Some 5-10 minutes later they came back and stopped for a chat, asking Leszek, whether he has seen any foreigners. (Not sure why they did not count me as a foreigner.)

Friendly people, they let me take pictures of their quads. I didn't dare to ask whether I could also take pictures of them - after two weeks in Ukraine with Gilbére (some posts are coming up), I somehow became more reluctant in these matters, unfortunately.

Anyway, their power bikes were sponsored by Norwegian funds. Found that puzzling, after all it is a EU border, and Norway is not a member of the EU.

Norway grants?!
The Slovakian side is also interesting because it also marks the most eastern point of Slovakia (and former Czechoslovakia).

The most eastern point of Slovakia!

From the tripoint there was a small path following the Polish-Slovakian border:

Leszek doing genuine efforts for Polish-Slovakian friendship.
Polish-Slovakian border, facing in the direction of the tripoint which is some 30 meters ahead from here.

And another path followed the Ukrainian-Slovakian border. Was really tempting to continue that direction.

Ukraine - Slovakia
Nonetheless, very peaceful area, and the landscape is very beautiful. So far it was clearly the most beautiful of the four tripoints I have covered in this blog.


Don't be fooled by the voidness. It got quite crowded at the end of the day, large groups of hikers (all ages) passed by. I am quite happy we left early from the hostel that day, so we could get those undisturbed photos of the tripoint.

Most astonishingly, I did not see any surveillance equipment anywhere, no cameras, no photocells, no infrared lamps. There were also no fences, nothing at all. However, the vegetation looked very dense on the Ukrainian side, not easy to walk off the paths.

Thanks to Leszek for taking me here, and special greetings to Gio Ve and his community... (Hey Gio, feel free to draw the lines or use any of these pics. Full album here. :-)

And here is the aforementioned little video covering the trip, in its embedded version.

Not sure which tripoint I will do next, there still plenty of them. :-)