Tatras National Park – Slovakia

By Alifiya Calcuttawala

Alifiya Calcuttawala, Regional Director, The Wanderers Kolkata writes about her experience at the High Tatras National Park which she visited in December 2013.

The way Tatras are today is a remnant  from the last glacial period. The first travellers who visited High Tatras came only about 200 years ago and believed that the Tatras were full of gold, silver and other gemstones.
The Tatra is the oldest and the most visited national park in Slovakia and is in the list of UNESCO biosphere reserve. Every year the park is visited by approximately 5 million people and it offers 600 kilometers of hiking trails. The High Tatras are spread over 341 sq kms, 260 sq kms of which are on the Slovak side and is rich with mountain lakes (approx. 190).

We drove from Krakow to The High Tatras National park and stayed in a ski village of ‘Stary Smokovec’ for two nights. This was a good break between seeing cities. In the 2-3 days that we were there we rode snow mobiles, did dog sledging and also took a horse carriage ride. The weather was kind, it was -7 degrees, but the two hours of bright sunshine in the morning gave us the courage to go all out and experience the outdoors.

By 03.30 pm it starts getting dark and obviously very cold. The Grand hotel where we stayed, was a delight since it had an indoor  pool, sauna and jacuzzi,  giving an ample opportunity in the evenings to thaw out. 🙂

Interestingly, it was their peak season – after 2-3 days almost all the hotels were sold out for the New Year; and apparently Russians have their New Year after a week, so this is place is almost booked out till January 15!

This region is a playground for the affluent Russians who like to spend and have a luxurious stay complete with skiing activities, spa etc. (there aren’t many  luxurious and high end accommodation  option available in their country hence most of them come to the Tatra National Park and stay in Zakopane, Smokovec and Pleso etc.
High Tatras offer 22kms of well kept downhill courses – the skiing centres are among the top winter centres in Europe.


Winter activities..
Dog sledging, skiing, hikes with snowshoes, snow mobile excursions,  climbing the icefalls, avalanche courses, snow rafting, sledding and skating.

There is a winter fun park situated in Pleso where one can do snow tubing, air boarding, snow bags and zorbing.
And of course, you can also do sky adventures (sky diving, scenic flights, balloon flights and paragliding). These can be done throughout the year!

In December 2013, Alifiya Calcuttawala travelled on a 12 days journey to Eastern Europe with a small group who wanted to see the Christmas markets. Her itinerary started in Munich, ended with Budapest and included Salzburg, Český Krumlov, Prague, Krakow and the high Tatras!

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