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Wandering dunes
Gdansk (Poland), June 28th 2013

The Slowinski National Park on the Baltic Coast in North Poland is a special park. It does not only has vast forests, beautiful lakes and some deer and wild boar on offer, but also wandering dunes. I hear you think: wandering dunes? Yes, dunes that ‘walk’ slowly land inwards from the beach. And they walk slowly; about 2 to 10 meters per year. And that is an interesting experience. A sort of Sahara-on-the-sea.

This phenomena of Mother Nature is caused by the waves of the sea that throw up sand on the beach. This sand grains are dried by the wind and sun, and are then blown away land inwards to form the huge dunes. This process is already going on for at least 5000 years and resulted in the fact that more than 6 square kilometers of forest is ‘eaten’ by the sand. The highest dune is more than 40 meters high. And that this is a serious piece of desert is proven by the fact that Rommel’s Africa Korps trained here before they were sent to fight in the northern part of Africa.

Dak clouds gather above the 'sahara'

The best base for a visit to Slowinski National Park is the small beach resort town called Leba. The whole village can live from the many tourists that visit the park and the nearby beaches every year again. There is no shortage on restaurants, bars, souvenir shops and places to sleep. The entrance of the national park is approximately 2 kilometers from the village. But if you want to see the dunes, you have to add another 5 kilometers for the hike or bike ride to the dunes. And if this is too tiring for you, you can always opt for a seat on one of the many electric ‘golf-cart-like’ vehicles that ship people to and from the dunes on a frequent basis.

The park is popular; very popular. So don’t expect to have the sand dunes all by yourself, unless you decide to come in the middle of the winter. But the huge number of visitors is not really a problem. Only a part of the sand dunes are open to visitors, which means that you still have good views on a piece of virgin desert landscape. When you are on the dune, you do not only see the soft yellow hills, but you can also see what destructive impact the wandering dunes have on the adjoining forest. Tree by tree is swallowed by the immense power of the yellow beach sand. On the day we visited the park, the weather was wet, windy and cold. But the advantage was that the dark clouds contrasted perfectly with the yellow colors of the sand. It was an amazing view.

The crazier the better

It is fun to see how the crowds are enjoying the national park. The older people entertain themselves with a walk and taking pictures, while the kids and teenagers have the feeling that they just entered the biggest beach in the world. Huge groups of little kids, under guidance of their teachers and armed with little plastic spades and buckets, conquer the huge sand dunes (how big must they be for them), to fill their little buckets. Teenagers on the other hand, have no interest in the great views, but are only showing off their courage by throwing themselves from the dunes in the most spectacular way. It is a great national park … almost with amusement park spirits.

With the help of god and some walking sticks ...
Cheeeesssse !
Dust in the wind
The forest is swallowed by the sand
Wind, rain and cold

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