Nysa Lake – Kayaking Fun & Camping Hell

Last weekend was a 3-day weekend in Poland due to a Chruch holiday, Poland has plenty of those, and we spent it at the Nysa Lake 70 miles south-east of Wrocław so close to the Chech Republic my cell phone was already on their roaming plan.

Our trip was organized by a friend of ours Cichy (Cheehy – “The Silent One”) nicknamed so not after his quiet and mellow personality but because of that word’s close relationship to his last name. I sometimes wish I had a cool nickname people could call me; all my life I’ve been Slav, Slavo, Slave… not at all as cool as Cichy, but I digress.

The Lake

Nysa Lake is a man made reservoir built in 1971 on the river Nysa Kłodzka. Wikipedia calls it the “Nyskie Lake” but I believe conjugating the word Nyskie is wrong when translating it into English and I’m not gonna do it. The dam creating the reservoir is 2km long (1.2miles) and 20 meters tall (65 feet), the lake itself covers an area of 20 square kilometers (12 miles). I took my kayak along for the trip and Karolina and I paddled 15km round trip discovering wildlife and nature all around us.

We found the source of the lake, a small river between the Nysa Lake and another reservoir, the Otmuchów Lake, but about half way through the pass the current against us was so strong we were literally paddling in place. We did however paddle through a bunch of small islands within the lake, at time bottoming out which was actually pretty fun considering jetskis around looked at us in envy; I didn’t have to worry about getting sand in my water jet engine!

The weather was perfect and we caught a lot sun while paddling around; Karolina got her usual raccoon eyes sun burn that we all promptly made fun of, but all in good humor of course. I let Cichy and his girlfriend Julita (Youlita) borrow my boat, it was Julita’s first time ever in a kayak and considering she doesn’t know how to swim and was terrified at first she did a great job warming up to the idea of paddling.

The Campground

We arrived at the campground on Saturday afternoon and it was already pretty packed. Cichy found a nice place near what was supposed to be a volley ball field and we set up camp there, a short distance away from hundreds of tents and campers just like us. But not for long. Shortly after, three cars full of teenagers arrived and ruined our perfectly quiet spot. Here are a few things that really bothered me when comparing a Polish campground to those I have visited in California:

  1. You pay for everything. We paid a fee per person, per tent, and per car. In the States I only remember paying per the actual campsite itself. If you want to use the campsite ramp to lower your boat into the lake, you’re gonna pay for that, too. I somehow lowered my kayak into the water before anyone actually collected money for entering the ramp, but holy crap, you’re gonna charge for going up and down the ramp, really?
  2. You pay for entry to the campground but a campsite is not guaranteed. In the States I paid for a campsite and was given a direct campsite number to go to. Not here. By Saturday afternoon the campsite was packed. Hundreds of cars parked right next to each other with tents put up somewhere in between. If you’re lucky you find a nice, leveled spot. If not, you’re stuck sleeping on a slope, angled, sliding down every chance you nod off.
  3. Absolute zero courtesy towards your campground neighbors. Imagine hundreds of tents, each next to a car playing their own music as loud as the car speakers will let ’em. From Polish disco polo to hip hop, trance, folk music, and some disco shit that should have been long forgotten, we’ve heard it all…at 3am! The term “night time silence” does not apply and if you value your health don’t even bother trying to quiet down your neighbor; there are more of them, all drunk, and they’ll probably kick your ass just for interrupting their favorite song. It was absolute hell trying to fall asleep and then waking up throughout the night. The music finally stopped at 5am, but at 6am others woke up and started playing their own beats. The lack of respect towards others is really unbelievable.
  4. Cold water and stinky bathrooms. As I mentioned, we paid for our few square feet of grass to set camp. Included in that price were showers and bathrooms. None of which I would ever consider using again. The bathrooms stank of urine and sweat, some truly nostril opening stuff, and the cold-water-only showers woke you up like nothing else on this planet. With hundreds of people at the site, and thousands of złoty’s collected in revenue, I have to ask “where the hell is all this money going?” Surely it’s not put back into the camp infrastructure.

I think I will leave it at that not wanting to give off a totally negative vibe. Don’t get me wrong, the weekend was a lot of fun spent with great people over some good food, interesting conversations, and tasty beer. But next time we’ll do it while camping somewhere more humane, like, in the wild!

3 thoughts on “Nysa Lake – Kayaking Fun & Camping Hell

  1. Here in the UK, we have some of the same problems with campsites. They vary quite a lot, and often the description you see in guidebooks or on the Net doesn’t quite tell all the story. And if you go to some of the music festivals here, you can often get the same sort of problems with inconsiderate neighbours. In a way, it can be even worse, because at folk music festivals you get people who think they can sing, or play an instrument, but it’s quite clear to everyone else that they can’t. But they will insist on coming back after the bands finish and starting singing or playing guitar badly at midnight and carrying on until 3am.

    Then, just when you despair of your fellow campers, someone does you a big favour without expecting anything in return.

    We were at a music festival last weekend, and the portable toilets in our field were badly misplaced – out of range of the temporary floodlighting and not enough of them as well!

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