Slovakia's High Tatrus
Days 10-12: Jess is a Wanderer spent three days hiking in Slovakia's Tatrus mountain range. Here's why you should too!
48 hours before arriving in High Tatrus, I'd never heard of the place. To be honest, I'm not entirely sure how I did hear about it but once I had, I was adamant about visiting. With a range of peaks to conquer, there's something for every ability of hiker. There are lakes to walk around, trails to waterfalls and forests galore.
We stayed in the most wonderful Airbnb - a private apartment set in a beautiful garden and only £22 a night. The owners - Dana and Jan gifted us with homegrown plums and tomatoes and even did our washing! They were like our temporary parents during our stay! If you're thinking of visiting High Tatrus, here's the link to their perfect place. You won't be disappointed.
The day we arrived, we headed over to Poprad - the heart of the Tatrus region. Many walks start from that spot so we decided to get stuck in. Our first journey took us to Velické Pleso which is about 1680m above sea level. I have to admit, we did cheat and drive to the top but that was because we'd slept in the car the night before and were so tired. Funny story... the hire company gave us the biggest ever car, suitable for a family, dog, golf set and IKEA flatpack kit all at the same time. I was taking it slowly up the narrow mountain roads due to cyclists, walkers and families with strollers lurking around each and every corner. At one point there was even a heavily pregnant lady just sitting in the road! The journey probably took 45 minutes and when we arrived at the top, the man in the car behind me got out and shouted about me going so slowly. My first taste of Slovakian road rage! Couldn't have wanted it to happen in a more serene location to be honest.
Day two had a perfect weather forecast so we decided to spend the entire day hiking. A quick Google search led us to Kirváñ peak - 2495m above sea level and classed as a 'moderate' hike. This is our third mountain of 2017 so it'll be a doddle, we are definitely moderate climbers... well, that was all well and good for the first hour. Fast forward to two hours in when we were climbing the almost vertical dried up riverbed and it was quite a different story. 'I'll just stop to take this photo,' I panted almost on the floor from exhaustion, every 90 seconds!
After stopping for lunch, we could see the peak being smothered by the approaching ominous clouds. It wasn't long before the path sort of 'disappeared' and we were left to scramble our way up the mountain. The last hour was just ahead and there was literally no clear route. The clouds were coming in thick and fast, visibility was practically at 0 and I was scrambling my way on the edge of a very nasty drop.
It was at 2226m that I decided to call it a day. I wasn't comfortable with continuing the 200m for the sake of saying 'I reached the summit' but potentially didn't make it back down again. I've always been one for the dramatics so perhaps I could have survived but as I was slipping and sliding my way back down the (unnavigable) path, I was happy with my decision to turn back. I managed to get some good pics and I got close enough - the visibility from the top was pants anyway. Of course, I have to say that!
After climbing Kirváñ (of course this took place afterwards) I did some research and it's actually the second highest peak of the High Tatrus range. It's also not recommended as a climb for first-time visitors to the area. Ha! Nothing like starting with a bang, eh.
Day 3 had terrible weather but that didn't stop us heading out in search of an adventure. There are a couple of caves nearby that cost less than €10 entry so we were on our way to see those when the weather changed. The rain stopped and the mist started to clear so we decided to attempt the two hour trail to Slovakia's highest waterfall: Kmet'ov Vodopád. It was worth the walk and at an impressive 80m we couldn't even see the top due to the fog!
DID YOU KNOW?
Slovakia is one of the only European countries where BEARS and WOLVES roam freely? There haven't been any bear-related deaths for 100+ years, however there are several 'bite incidents' each year. We did not know there were bears in the wood UNTIL we found some poop, took a photo, googled it and it turns out that this FRESH poop we were hanging around looking at was from a giant grizzly!! Lucky to be alive this evening!!!
All in all, High Tatrus did not disappoint. Whether you're visiting for summertime hiking or skiing in the winter, you'll be blown away by the spectacular scenery. The lakes, the mountains, the forests... it's got it all. Next stop, Romania. Travelling aaaaallll day tomorrow. Fingers crossed everything works out and we manage to get tickets on the trains we haven't yet booked tickets for otherwise it'll be a night on the floor in Budapest's train station! Woop.