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One thing that you may not like about Mazury is the abundance of various insects, some quite harmless and a pleasure to watch, like the colourful dragonflies or ladybugs, others stinging or biting or even, like mosquitoes, feeding on your blood, following their natural instinct. The worst though are ticks, which may be the cause of some serious health problems, including meningitis. Using a repellent is only one way of fighting them and I have read that some repellents against mosquitoes can be used for ticks as well but for them they are effective for a much shorter time as ticks have a much poorer sense of smell. Ticks like to reside at the edge of the forest and along dirt tracks. They keep not far from the ground so can be found in the grass and on shrubs and tree branches no higher than 1 m above the ground. To be on the safe side, you had better wear some headgear, a long-sleeved shirt or blouse, trousers and socks, and certainly not sandals if you are going to walk in the forest. And remember that your dog (on a leash there of course) is in danger too.
Mosquitoes can be quite a plague near still waters, like shallow lakes or bog. They won't pester you much if you go kayaking on the Krutynia - the fish and birds will take care of that. But be careful when your kayak approaches an area with grazing cows or horses and, if you don't want to be bitten by the horrible gadflies, pass it as quickly as you can.
Insects can be a special nuisance on hot humid days, just before rain. It is then that you will encounter whole swarms of aggressive flies in the forest, very persistent if you have been sweating. And if you want to sleep peacefully at night, don't leave the door or the windows of your house open when the light is on, inviting not only flies but also midges. I'm not sure if it is the same kind of midges that can be found in northern countries but we were once shocked to discover masses of the tiny black creatures in our beds and all over the room when my friend and I were staying at a forester's house and had left the light on to go to the loo at night. There was no need to spend the rest of the night sitting on the stairs though as we did. :) It was enough to turn off the light and wait till they were gone.
Updated Jul 8, 2009
The road from Szczytno to Piecki cuts across the Krutynia Kayak Trail at one end of Babieta. The watermill there blocks the waterway and the kayaks have to be carried across the road. At that point, however, you cannot see the road ahead as there are two bends close to the place. And the drivers are often young inexperienced people coming back to Warsaw from their holidays and .. speeding up. Those who have never driven there before are suddenly faced with a kayak in the middle of the road and might not be able to stop the car in time.
Updated Mar 19, 2005
Lake Sniardwy has a bad reputation among kayakers. Even in good weather the waves on it can reach 1.5 metres and more, which may develop in a matter of minutes. If you see such waves coming, look for a sheltered place near the bank to wait till the water becomes quiet again.
Many boulders, none of them signalled in any way, on the bottom of the lake are another problem - some come as close as 20 cm to the surface of the water.
Updated Mar 16, 2005
You may come across some trees lying right across the Krutynia. Some of them, like the one in the Krutynia Nature Reserve, have supports to hold them in place. Others have to be negotiated either by travelling in the kayak under them or pulling the kayak underneath without the passengers. We did get through under such trees a few times, but I would call foolhardy what a kayaker we saw did - reach up for the tree and hang on it for a moment just before passing underneath. Instead, one should probably check if the tree is stable enough.
There are lots of fallen trees or remains of old piers on the bottom of the river as well. These may damage the kayak, so pick your way carefully.
Written Mar 4, 2005
Swans can be aggressive when they are still looking after their young, or if they have lost a partner. This big and heavy bird can easily overturn a kayak with its passengers, which can be particularly dangerous in the middle of a lake. If you see a swan approaching with a hissing sound and its wings outstretched, try to move the kayak as close as you can to the bank. Don't let the bird gather momentum and attack you from behind. And remember, hitting the bird with your oar may make it more aggressive. Click on the picture to see the second swan making the hissing sound, and their offspring at the back.
Updated Feb 26, 2005