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Czarna Hańcza – kayaks and kayaking trips.

Kayaking trip down Czarna Hańcza and the Augustów Canal:

Czarna Hańcza is a left-bank tributary of the Nemunas. It is 141.7 km long, 107.80 km of which is in Poland. It flows out of the moraine hills north of Lake Hańcza and joins the Augustów Canal near the village of Rygol.

The Czarna Hańcza kayaking route starts on the Lake Wigry. In order to complete the entire route, from the Lake Wigry to the Augustów Canal by Rygol, you need 3–5 days. The river flows peacefully here, and the only obstacles in the forest sections are created by the trees fallen due to the wind or beavers.

You may combine the Czarna Hańcza route with the route down the Augustów Canal. Heading west towards Augustów, the route prolongs to approx. 90 km. If you choose to head east, you will need to cover 10 km to the lock in Kurzyniec, where a crossing border with Belarus is.

The Augustów Canal is a monument of nineteenth-century construction technology that connects Vistula and Nemunas. It uses the post glacial range of Augustów lakes and the valleys of the Biebrza, Netta, Czarna Hańcza and Nemunas rivers. Natural reservoirs and watercourses connected by hydrotechnical devices, including eighteen locks, formed a 103.60 km long waterway.

From Rygol to Augustów you go through seven locks: Sosnówek (level difference of 2.98 m), Mikaszówka (level difference of 2.44 m), Perkuć (level difference of 2.91 m), Paniewo –– a double chamber lock (level difference of 6.29 m), Gorczyca (level difference of 2.81 m), Swoboda (level difference of 1.70 m) and Przewięź (level difference of 0.86 m). On this route, the Augustów Canal connects several lakes: Lake Mikaszówek, Lake Mikaszewo, Lake Krzywe, Lake Paniewo, Lake Orle, Lake Gorczyckie, Lake Studzieniczne and Lake Białe.

Practical information:

Persons staying within the Wigry National Park are required to have entry cards. Entry cards to the Wigry National Park cost PLN 5.00 / person and are available at our kayak rental.
Campsites: there are many spots down the river where you can pitch a tent and have a meal. Various pastries and beverages are sold from the footbridges on the river, and there are shops in the villages.

There is a fee, if you want to go through the lock on the Augustów Canal: PLN 4.04 until 4.00 p.m. and PLN 7.80 after 4.00 p.m.

The Wigry Lake is considered to be the beginning of the Czarna Hańcza kayaking route, where the trip begins at the monastery in Wigry. You can also start in Gawrych Ruda, however, you need to cross the entire lake then. You can complete the 20 km long section from Gawrych Ruda to Stary Folwark in one day or you can use the campsite, e.g. in Jastrzęby.

Czarna Hańcza –– example route sections of 10–15 km, which take 3–4 hours of rowing:

  1. The monastery by Lake Wigry - Maćkowa Ruda / Buda Ruska or Wysoki Most: the kayaking trip begins on the lake situated in the Wigry National Park. Next you head to a small Lake Postaw. Having crossed the lake, you reach the Czarna Hańczariver meandering among the tall reeds. You go past small villages on the way. There are also numerous river forks and small isles covered with grass.
    Practical information: there are campsites in Maćkowa Ruda, Buda Ruska and Wysoki Most. Grocery stores are located in Wigry and Maćkowa Ruda.
    The post-Camaldolese ensemble in Wigry is the biggest attraction on the route. The Camaldolese Monastery is the most famous monument of the region. Founded in the 17th century by John II Casimir Vasa, the monastery is currently the seat of the Wigierski Areopag Nowej Ewangelizacji.
  2. Maćkowa Ruda / Buda Ruska or Wysoki Most–Frącki - a very interesting section of the river with high, steep and wooded banks. At first, the current is fast but safe. It gets slower along the way. You can see numerous meandres, river forks ans backwaters with reeds on the route. The route that crosses the forest is considered to be one of the most interesting sections.
    Practical information: the section to Studziany Las is located within the Wigry National Park so you are required to buy an entry pass. A grocery store is available in the village of Frącki, approx. one kilometre from the hostel.
  3. Frącki–Dworczysko / Łośki - the current of Czarna Hańcza is very fast in this section. The river meandres among fields and meadows. You won’t get bored as you need to constantly pay attention and manoeuvre with your kayak.
    Practical information: in Dworczysko there are several campsites; stores are open in high season only. More experienced kayakers may prolong this section and go straight to Rygol.
  4. Łośki / Dworczysko–Rygol / Mikaszówka - at first, the route will take you through the Augustów Forest. This section is considered to be quite difficult as the river meanders strongly and the water flow is interrupted by fallen trees in many places. In Rygol, where you can stay for the night by the bridge, the Czarna Hańcza river forks. Szlamica is one branch and it flows towards Belarus. It supplies a small hydropower plant, then it flows through Lake Głębokie and Szlamy. Behind the second road bridge in Rygol, though, the river connects with the Augustów Canal. If you head west, you’ll reach the first lock in Sosnówek. Several hundred metres further there is a second one, in Mikaszówka.
    Practical information: campsites are available in Rygol and Mikaszówka. There are some shops and bars in Mikaszówka as well. Fees for passing locks: PLN 4.04 until 4.00 p.m. and PLN 8.08 after 4.00 p.m.
  5. Mikaszówka–Płaska - this section covers the Augustów Canal. Go through three mid-forest lakes, the Perkuć lock and the double chamber Paniewo lock.
    Practical information:there are campsites and agritourism farms in Płaska and Gorczyca villages. In Płaska, there are bars, a shop and a post office as well. PTTK hostel.
  6. Płaska–Swoboda or Przewięź - a peaceful section of the route down the Augustów Canal. Initially, you can see coves with lush vegetation that makes them a paradise for waterfowl and beavers. On the right, you can see how Cicha river flows into the Lake Serwy. You enter the longest straight section of the canal, the Czarny Bród Canal, embraced with green forests. There are two locks on this route.
    Practical information:numerous campsites are available by Lake Studziennicze. There is also a large and nice campsite in Przewięź. Przewięź offers a bar and a shop as well.
  7. Swoboda / Przewięź–Augustów - the last section of the trip along picturesque lakes: first, Lake Studzieniczne, the Przewięź lock along the way, and then Lake Białe and Lake Necko. The shores offer many beaches and convenient spots go for a swim, but beware of yachts and motorboats. The kayaking trip ends on Lake Rospuda Augustowska, on the “Goła Zośka” campsite.
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