A walking trek in the High Tatras Mountains in Slovakia – 1 Biela Voda to Zamkovskeho Chata

This was a 6 day self-guided trek offered by Travelslovakia and booked and paid for direct from UK. I originally offered it to several friends but for one reason or another it ended up being just me and my partner. In retrospect I am pleased that this was the result because the total trip was much more demanding than I had envisaged and I would not have liked to have taken the responsibility for others. The High Tatras is a wonderful and beautifully wild place with spectacular scenery, but paths are almost all stones and boulders and there are several quite exposed places with ladders and chains that are impossible to avoid. In my opinion this is definitely an area for experienced, fit mountain walkers. When considering the tour I was lured into a false sense of security by simply looking at the distances and heights involved. The killer detail I had not accounted for was the terrain. With paths over large stones and boulders it is not possible to walk and look around and extra time is needed because such terrain is more tiring than less rugged mountain tracks. Nevertheless, we had a great time and really appreciated the very special area of the High Tatras National Park.

We reached Slovakia by flying from Luton to Poprad-Tatry with Wizz air. The tiny airport of Poprad-Tatry is only about 5km from the town of Poprad and we were met by a Rep from Travelslovakia and given a lift to our Pension in Poprad, where we stayed for one night. On our return we took a taxi and the fare was only 6 Euros, which seemed ridiculously cheap. At our Pension, in the village centre of Spišská Sobota,our-hotel-in-poprad we were given a 1 in 25000 map of the area and vouchers for our different overnight stays, a briefing of the route and logistics, and our mountain recovery insurance cards. The Rep also explained that you are forbidden to walk in areas other than the well signed footpaths without a mountain guide. The paths are colour coded but there is no link between the colour and the path difficulty. After our briefing we went to our room and watched the rain fall in the large attractive square outside the window.

church-in-spisska-sobota-poprad

Church in Spisska Sobota a local area in Poprad, once visited by our Queen

Later the rain eased off and we walked into town. There was not a great deal to see but we stopped and had a coffee and cake and were shocked to find it cost only 1.90 Euros.

Next day we took a taxi to the bus station (it was about 1 mile away and the fare was 2 Euros!) and a bus headed for Tatranska Kotlina and alighted at Biela Voda. The day was cloudy and we were in waterproofs but we were lucky and it stayed dry and the cloud slowly lifted. The walk was up the Biela river valley called Dolina Kezmarskej Bielej Vody.

Track up from Biela Voda

Track up from Biela Voda

Views slowly opened out as we climbed but, with the mist and the trees, this was not the best day for views. The walk crossed the stream a few times and finally we had a view of our destination Chata pri Zelenom Pleso. We had walked for just over 4 hours.

Approaching Refuge with lake outfall

Approaching Refuge with lake outfall

This was one of the best equipped of our refuge stops. We had a dorm room with four beds for the two of us. The refuge offered a selection of 5 draft beers! and had space for 56 people. There was a 4×4 track to the refuge that eased their supply problem. After we cleaned up, the cloud lifted further and we took a walk around the lake.

Mountain cirque appearing as clouds lift

Mountain cirque appearing as clouds lift

clear-evening-view-of-zelenon-pleso

It was a spectacular setting and a very popular hut with people coming and going all the time, but of course the number of transient visitors diminished rapidly as night drew on. Dinner, we were told, was 7 to 9 but “best to be here at 7”. We had half board in all our accommodation so there was no choice but supper here was ample and good tomato soup with aniseed and cheese, pork with sauerkraut and bread dumplings followed by red fruit coulee. Beers were 2.20 Euros per half litre and I really enjoyed the Saris beer. There were crossbills and redpolls around the refuge.

Next day breakfast was a self-service buffet with cha, a herbal tea apparently made in each hut. We left at 8 for what was the first proper mountain day of the tour. We set off on a red marked track. It was a perfectly clear sunny morning showing the lake and the surrounding mountains off perfectly.

Morning sun over Zelenon Pleso

Morning sun over Zelenom Pleso

fixed-chains-after-zel-pleso

Looking back to stream bed with chains

There was a long climb, gentle at first then much steeper, of about 500 m. After about 1 km we arrived at an eroding stream bed with chains going up about 30 to 50 m after that the rocky path zig-zagged through dwarf pines giving better and better views around about and back to the refuge.path-through-typical-dwarf-pine

Distant Refuge and lake

Distant Refuge and lake

There were also excellent views to the mountains across the valley we had walked up the previous day, lost in the low cloud that day.across-zeleny-river-valley

At the top, a small col at about 2000m, there were some wisps of cloud

Nearly at col Sedo pod Svist'ovka

Nearly at col Sedlo pod Svist’ovka

The col was only a few metres down from the summit of Velka Svist’ovka and I couldn’t resist those few extra steps and went up to take some photos. The small clouds had cleared and the views were brilliant.

View towards Kezmarsky Stit

View towards Kezmarsky Stit

View of the col from the summit

View of the col from the summit

From the col there was a descent of around 300m to a cable car station Skalnate. The path is rocky all the way and crosses several scree slopes.

One of the scree slopes on way to Skalnate

One of the scree slopes on way to Skalnate

It starts with some zig-zags then straightens out giving distant views of the station

Cable car station and observatory in the distance

Cable car station and observatory in the distance

Closer still there are views of the lakeskalnate-pleso-lake-and-cable-car-station

We stopped for a late lunch at the station and gazed up at Lomnicky Stit (2634m), the top station of the cable car. Had we had more time we would have taken a ride to the top but we still had a way to go to our refuge. We had to be satisfied with gazing and taking pictures.

Lomnicky Stit

Lomnicky Stit

Our path then followed a belvedere ending with a descent through trees to Zamkovsheho Chata our refuge for that night. On the path we heard red deer rutting in the forest below us and a squirrel jumped onto our path before he saw us and scrammed. We arrived at the refuge at about 4.30.

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