Shifting Dunes

Dunes in Słowiński National Park

The most unusual feature of the national park is the shifting dunes (wydmy ruchome), which create a genuine desert landscape. They’re on the sandbar separating the sea from Lake Łebsko, about 8km west of Łeba. Rommel’s Afrika Korps trained in this desert during WWII, and the site was also a secret missile testing ground from 1940 to 1945.

The dunes are easily reached from Łeba: take the road west to the hamlet of Rąbka (2.5km), where there’s a car park and the gate to the national park. Private minibuses, open-sided electric cars and motorised trains (15zł) ply this road in summer, from a stop on Al Wojska Polskiego, north of the canal. It’s also an easy walk.

The sealed road continues into the park for another 3.5km to the site of the rocket launcher, now an outdoor museum. From here a wide path goes on through the forest for another 2km to the southern foot of the dunes, where half-buried trees jut out of the sand. As you walk round the bend from the woods, it’s quite a sight – the pale, immense dunes open up in front of you like a desert dropped into the middle of a forest, with a striking contrast at the line where the trees meet the sand. Continue up the vast dunes for a sweeping view of desert, lake, beach, sea and forest.

No cars or buses are allowed beyond the car park. You can walk to the dunes (45 minutes), buy a ticket on one of the small electric cars or rent a bicycle (per hour/day 10/40zł). Coming back, you can either retrace your steps or walk to Łeba along the beach (8km), perhaps stopping for a swim – something you certainly can’t do in the Sahara.

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