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Person of the week: Łukasz Długowski – a traveller

Łukasz Długowski, Mikrowyprawy

A person who inspires. A journalist, blogger, traveler, author of the book entitled “Microtrips in the big city”. He takes us on trips to track wolves in Beskid Żywiecki, shows us bears in Bieszczady, guides us through swamps to admire deer mating. But he often travels just within the city limits. This weekend (24th-25th November) he organises the first Microfest titled “How to make a living from travels?”. Location – Staw Otwarty – the next incredible place in the city. Are you familiar with it?

How did your micro-trips start?
– I have always wanted to be a great traveler just like Amundsen, Kamiński.

So it all started rather from macro-trips?
– Definitely, because I thought that in Poland there was nothing interesting. In 2012 I tried to go across Norway on skies, from Bergen to Oslo. I was convinced that if I hadn’t succeeded it would have been the biggest failure in my whole life. After a few days of my trip, I suddenly stopped. No sign of any human being, mountains on every side. And I realised that it wasn’t worth all the effort.

What do you mean? Fatigue?
– There is always a risk you could jeopardise your health, life, family. There was the avalanche danger rating 3, a storm was coming. I decided to come back. And that seemingly “the biggest failure of my life” turned out to be the most important failure. It completely changed my way of thinking about what is important and how I want to travel. I decided to stop being an egoist, started thinking about other people, not only about myself.

But the need to travel doesn’t disappear just like that. 
– Of course, it doesn’t. But I wanted to do it the way so that I could live a normal life, meet with my friends, have time for my son, for myself. I was searching for some solutions. I wanted to eat a cake and have a cake. 

I came across a blog by a British traveler Alastair Humphreys who after a four-year bicycle journey around the world came back home with the same question. He invented something he called “microadventures”. I call it “micro-trips”.

What is it about?
– These are the trips which you can make even within an hour, a day or two. Simple things, which turn you from a frustrated person, who sits at work every day and is tired of his mundane life, into a man who lives a colourful life, worth living. Most of us will not climb Mount Everest. The question is why would we do it? We can climb Górka Szczęśliwicka or Rysy.

So you need to get a fresh perspective?
– A sense of humour is very important. Often these are just absurd adventures which seen from a completely different perspective might be fun. 

Just like my favourite anniversary project “Polska Nieodległa” which is completely deprived of all pompousness and pathos associated with celebrating 100 years of Poland regaining independence.
– You’re right. It is like being a child again – you play because it gives you pleasure. You set up a bonfire by the Vistula, watch birds at dawn in Skaryszewski Park. 

My personal mission is to take people outside because you can’t encourage them to take care of nature unless they experience it themselves. If you don’t spend a night in the woods, swim in the river, climb a tree, see a wild animal, you will be indifferent to logging in Białowieska Forest.

Have you seen such transformations when a total urban dweller went to the woods for the first time?
– Many times. I often take only women to let them rest a bit among other females, or men with kids, to show them some quality time with a family and that they are quite good at it. There was once a girl who used to take care of a house and nothing special was going on in her life. She didn’t know whether she would manage, in the woods, in a sleeping bag. However, she went with me once, twice and now she goes to the Tatra Mountains with her best friend once a month. On Friday, they both leave their homes and head to Zakopane. And I see they have a lot of fun.

There is so much left to see in Poland! We often underestimate our country. 
– Around Warsaw, I can show you quite a few excellent places. The Pulwy swamps, the lower Bug valley, swamps in the Masovian Landscape Park, Puszcza Biała. Entire Warsaw is surrounded by tracks, almost 200 kilometre long. I often use sup. I start from the south, somewhere near Kępa Zawadowska, and head to the centre of Warsaw. And that’s also quite a nice adventure.

Mikrofest – how to make a living from travels – 24th-25th November

Interview by Agnieszka Kowalska
Portrait photos by Filip Marek Klimaszewski

Łukasz Długowski, Mikrowyprawy
Łukasz Długowski, Mokrowyprawy

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