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Saturday, 01 July 2017

Slovakia: Mountains, Lakes & Caves - Page 2

Written by Prachi Kagzi
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The 90 minute hike to Popradske Pleso was of low to medium intensity offering pleasant vistas to choose from. This is a rocky trail and you do need to concentrate. If you wish to admire the view you must make stops during the hikes. I chanced upon some blueberries on the way, and soon discovered they were a popular snack for the other hikers, too. Slovaks are hikers at heart and I saw umpteen kids with parents in tow as young as two years olds and even babies on backpack carriers.

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We finished the hike in the stipulated time and Popradske Pleso amazed us with its serene beauty. The mountain lake of glacial origin is situated right on the path of Tatranská magistrála, at an altitude of 4,901 ft (1,494 m). Popradské Pleso is a starting point for many popular hikes including to Rysy and Kôprovský štít.

There is mountain hotel located by the lake which, besides accommodation, offers infrared and Finnish saunas, a Slovak pub, restaurant, lounge and a small cafeteria outside (mostly Slovak dishes so look for a young person to translate the dishes). We saw many hikers taking the zig zag path ahead to Sedlo pod Ostrvou. We didn't plan this hike so we turned back downhill as it looked like a daunting uphill path.

After our hike, we relaxed in the hotel spa which has natural thermal water pools offering unmatched views of the forests and beyond. For dinner, we met a local over Pirogi (sheep cheese dumplings) and Kofola (Czech coca cola) in Koliba Patria restaurant nearby. Over dinner he informed us about the amazing views we could see from the further 90 minute hike to an actual low lying summit today. We missed a beautiful climb and it left us wanting more.

The next day, we drove to Dobinska Ice Cave, which is amongst the most important ice caves in the world. It is located near the mining town of Dobšiná in the Slovak Paradise. Since 2000 it is inscribed on the world heritage list by UNESCO. We parked in the parking lot and made the easy 15 minute trek to make in time for the 11 am tour (check timings before you go). However, due to lack of English speaking tourists the tour was only offered in Slovak or Hungarian that day.

We enjoyed the cool temperatures inside the ice cave and were geared up for it. The ice structures were gigantic. The cave has several magnificent parts – Great and Small Halls, Ruffiny’s Corridor and Collapsed Dome. The visitors descend only several meters underground and find themselves in an ice kingdom of cold where perfect products of mother nature await them.

After being spell bound by the cave visit we left for a quick lunch to Starý Smokovec.
It is a popular resort for skiing and hiking. Amongst the more important buildings here are the sanatorium and the Grand Hotel (established in 1904). Here you can take the funicular to the small ski resort of Hrebienok at 1285 m to do many picturesque hikes.

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Last modified on Friday, 30 June 2017

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