Winter fades gradually into spring, the days get longer and I spent once more a short holiday in my second home Slovakia.
This time I visited the Slovak Paradise and Košice in eastern Slovakia.
The Slovak Paradise (Slovenský raj) is a jagged limestone plateau without a dominating mountain ridge.
The Slovak Paradise National Park, the northern edge located around ten kilometers southwards of Poprad-Tatry (and hence not far off from the High Tatras) and the southern border touching the town Dobšiná, stretches over a total area of around two hundred square kilometers. Small in comparison with the Low Tatras national park, the largest national park in Slovakia (which is almost ten times larger).
Yet very similar to the Low Tatras mountain range is the presence of several vast cave systems (jaskyne in Slovak). Also quite numerous are ravines (or gorges), water-sources, streams and reservoirs. Generally, the hydrological balance in the Slovak Paradise is intricate and provides a broad spectrum of material for various scientific studies.
A convenient starting point for hiking or for doing other outdoor activities in the Slovak Paradise is Spišská Nová Ves, fifteen railway minutes away from Poprad.
Spišská Nová Ves
Like many other cities in Central Slovakia, Spišská Nová Ves has a colorful mining history (mostly copper mining). In contrast to many other former mining towns though, the transition to a modern industrial site was a comparative success.
This day the town benefits measurably from tourism in the adjacent Slovak Paradise National Park.
Most of the more interesting architecture and sights are to be found on the lens-shaped square in the town center, like the main churches and bronze works in front of the Radnica Mestský úrad (administration building).
Hiking tour to Klauzy (and back)
My hiking tour was circular, so starting and finishing point were identical: the train station in Spišská Nová Ves.
I set off eastwards towards the Slovak Paradise around 11 o’clock quite optimistic to finish my tour before dawn, though this February 28 was unusually cold and snowy.
My first destination was Berezinec around ten kilometers north-east of Dobšina, that I reached after a four hours hike.
The actual trailhead of the blue marked path is in Košiarny Briežok on the eastern border of the national park, where there is the opportunity to replenish one’s food supplies.
Because of the thick layer of freshly fallen snow, orientation was difficult at times on the first stage of my rather comfortable march. I hadn’t expected that much snow at this height (around 800 meters above sea level) at this time of the year actually.
Two deer crossed my way as I was a few hundred meters short of Berezinec, emerging all of a sudden from the underbrush.
And that was all I saw or heard on living creatures during the entire day. I did not see a bird, nor heard the chirp of any to disturb the somewhat gloomy silence on one of my loneliest tours ever as it turned out.
In Klauzy, the finishing point of the blue marked trail twenty minutes away from Berezinec, identifying the path got easier and I spotted more and more fresh footsteps on the now green marked trail.
Klauzy is a small water reservoir, and here the stream Biely Potok (“White Stream”) gushes out towards the north.
The green trail runs alongside the stream, so orientation was pretty easy. But I had to step carefully because many of the attached wooden planks (some of them already rotten or missing completely) had been quite slippery due to the melting snow.
I reached the starting point of the next and technically last stage of my tour, Čingov, after about five hours (so the whole tour summed up to over nine hours).
On my way back to Spišská Nová Ves I made a short stop in restaurant near Lesnica with excellent Bryndzové halušky, a typical Slovak dish.
Meanwhile it was getting dark, so I set off quickly to my hotel after this break.
I visited only a small part of the Slovak Paradise in the east of the national park, but as you may have guessed there is of course much more to see: the Suchá Belá ravine in the north of the national park with its numerous cascades might be the most worthwhile target for a visitor.
Yet instead of a further hiking tour, I spent the better half of my holiday in Košice, the second largest city in Slovakia.
Featured image: Slovak Paradise, near Košiarny Briežok