Short backpacking trek in mountains of the Slovensky Raj (Slovak Paradise) NP, Slovenske Rudohorie, and Slovensky Kras (Slovak Karst) NP (together with my wife and teenage son)
TERM: 30.6. - 8.7. 2007
ROUTE: Letanovce -- Slovensky Raj NP (Klastorisko - Dedinky - Stratena) -- Slovenske Rudohorie (Trstenik - Slavosovce - Hradok - Stitnik) -- Slovensky Kras NP (Plesivec - Silica) -- Roznava
trek was making use of that excellent network of marked trails covering
whole Slovakia (and Czechia as well). This network was created at the
beginning of the last century in former Czechoslovakia and is totally
unique in the world. I can highly recommend to all hikers to take
advantage of this network which is kept by devoted enthusiasts mostly for nothing. Let me express here my deepest gratitude to them for their admirable work.
Slovensky Raj (Slovak Paradise) National Park: Small, rather popular, and nice area full of moist narrow gorges usually overgrown with trees.
There are many trails available - all are well marked and in difficult parts fitted with wooden bridges and/or ladders (rather slippery when wet). Water suitable for drinking is available in many springs, there are many streams everywhere.
A very good area for romantic hikes.
Slovenske Rudohorie (Slovak Ore Mountains): Rather sparsely populated and heavily forested mountain range between the Slovensky Raj and Slovensky Kras national parks. It is rarely visited and offers a possibility to hike for days without meeting other tourists.
The trail network is not so dense, the trails lead mostly along the ridges or valleys. Marking of the trails is usually quite new and those doing the marking have usually done their best (yet, there are significant exceptions like the trails from Slavosovce to the near ridge and from Hradok to Stitnik). Unfortunately, the trails beyond the areas suitable for day trips from some tourist centers are very rarely used and therefore has become heavily overgrown with stinging nettles, raspberry shrublet, and other vegetation sometimes chest high; sometimes they are also blocked by fallen trees - allow plenty of time to negotiate these trails. Water suitable for drinking is available in some springs, there are many streams everywhere.
A good area to enjoy mountain solitude.
Slovensky Kras (Slovak Karst) National Park: Rather unknown and rarely visited scenic area with many karstic phenomena in display; it features many real nice and some truly magnificent parts. It consists of several rather dry flat plateaus separated by deep wide valleys cut by small rivers. Some plateaus are used to graze the cattle or sheep.
Notably scenic is especially the northern part of the Plesivska Planina (Plesivec Plateau), which features some large grassy openings sporadically overgrown with solitary juniper trees. The area was recently (2002) upgraded to the national park status and the hikers are required to stay on the marked trails only - however, to my horror, the plateau openings are crisscrossed by jeep trails and there are quite a few newly built game hides and fireplaces with seating around (obviously, there must be some "more equal" Slovaks playing at African safari trips there; what a shame !!!).
There is just a few trails crossing the plateaus - all are quite well marked (considering the difficulties to mark a trail through a meadow). Beware that there is almost no water available on the plateaus as water is quickly disappearing underground.
A very nice area with unique features and special atmosphere - I cannot recommend it more.
Food: There are pubs available in almost all villages along the route and you can get a beer or some soft drinks there - yet, be warned that it is very difficult to find an eating-place. Do not count on getting prepared meal in local villages outside few existing tourist locations.
We have visited the mentioned areas during a week long backpacking
trek, i.e. we have been staying out overnight carrying all what needed
to survive (like tent, sleeping bags, camping stove, and all food) on
our backs and returning to civilization just to resupply with bread).
This kind of hiking used to be quite popular, esp. in Eastern Europe,
some twenty, thirty years ago but seems to be dying out especially in
Europe - people now seems to prefer day trips to these somehow
less comfortable overnight trips. Well, I still like this kind of
travel, this free wandering with minimum human devices and
conveniences. It allows one to enjoy freedom of not knowing when and
how one will be spending next night, feel power of nature, and also
appreciate all comforts of one's friendly home when returning to
civilization. I would like to recommend to all to try it some time.