Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Polana Mountains - the geological curio

Did you know that the biggest extinct vulcano is located in Slovakia? For me it was a great surprise, that there is something so unusual and interesting close to my home. Nowadays the name of this vulcano is Polana.

Slopes of the Polana Mountains, Slovakia
The Polana are medium-high mountains with forests, clearings, fields and lovely hamlets. The highest peak is Polana at 1458 m ASL. We named this place Slovak Tuscany ;) You can hike here (lot's of marked trails!), do some cycling trips or simply stay in one place and enjoy tranquility. Maps of the region you can buy in bigger towns or cities like Banska Bystrica.

The Polana Mountains are a geological curiosity. They used to be over 2500 m ASL high stratovulcano which finaly exploded and destroyed thyself. Nowadays we can find there interesting rocks (andesite or tuff - consolidated volcanic ash) and extraordinary rock formations. The mountain range is protected by Polana Protected Landscape Area. 

Waterfall Bystre
At the foothills of the Polana lies a town of Detva known for its folklore. Detva is a manufacturing center of famous Slovak music instrument fujara - shepherd's overtone fipple flute. It has really unique shape. You can see it in Detva museum or during one of the folk festivals which are held here. Some of them are even the international events. 

Detva is also known for its carved and painted wooden crosses which are the decoration of tombstones at local cemetery. They also stand as a roadside chapels. 

Man playing the fujara at folk festival in Detva.
There is (at least!) one more interesting place situated in the vincinity of the Polana. It is the wooden Protestant church from 1726 located in village Hronsek. Its wooden construction with severe interior can hold up 1100 worshippers. The site was enetered onto the UNESCO World Cultural and Natural Heritage List.

I highly recommend this lovely and little known region!

Farm stay, Slovakia, The Polana Mountains

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Mountain insurance in Poland and Slovakia

The mountain rescue in Poland and Slovakia is provided by the Mountain Rescue Service organizations:

1. In Poland there are the Mountain Volunteer Search and Rescue (Górskie Ochotnicze Pogotowie Ratunkowe - GOPR) and the Tatra Mountains Volunteer Search and Rescue (Tatrzańskie Ochotnicze Pogotowie Ratunkowe – TOPR).

EMERGENCY NUMBER: +48 601 100 300

2. In Slovakia it is The Mountain Rescue Service (Horská záchranná služba – HZS).



Poland: You don't have to buy any special insurance at the moment.

Slovakia: You are obliged to buy special mountain insurance policy. Otherwise you will have to cover the costs of your rescue while accident.

Where to buy the policy?

1. Alpenverein, Euro26 Sport are honoured.
2. Some commercial insurances offer the insurance. You may buy it in the office, online or via sms.
3. At the branches of the Mountain Rescue Service. The main office is located in the center of Stary Smokovec (opening hours from 7 AM).
4. Some hotels and Tourist Information Centers provide assistance in buying the policy.
5. At the ticket offices for example to the Slovak Paradise. It is not included in the ticket price, you buy it additionally.

Friday, July 4, 2014

The Tatra Mountains guide

This time I will write something private. Probably I want to boast a bit ;) So... Finally, after an almost 3-year course, I passed exams and became the Tatra Mountains guide. I am so happy, because now I can use all the hiking experience and geography knowledge I have, to show others the small part of the world which are the Tatras.

Who is the Tatra Mountains guide? It is a person who loves mountains, has vast experience and knowledge about the region and is entitled to lead private and organised tours. There are several levels of guidance – the first one allowes to lead tours along the marked trails, the others have permission for the climbing routes.

Course. During the course we learned not only the topography of the Tatras, but also about the nature, history and etnography of the region and surrounding area both in Poland and Slovakia. We had lots of lectures, coach trips, hiking tours, climbing and first aid trainings. But it was not enough – the most important thing was our own work.

I am very lucky because my husband is a guide too (the Tatra Mountains guide and UIMLA guide) so we could talk about the mountains for hours ;) He also comes from the highlanders family so I had a chance to learn about the local culture and traditions from the inside.

Peolple. During the course I met wonderful people! We all are in different age, come from different parts of Poland, have different jobs and hobbys. But the thing that links us together is the passion for mountains. I am really greateful for the time we spent together.

Future. Maybe we will go for a trip together? ;)


P.S. Don't hesitate to ask any questions about the Tatra Mountains and surrounding area!

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

The Black Stork

The black stork is a real treat for the birdwatching lovers. Why? This bird is one of the rarest representatives of the quite popular in Europe stork family. Unlike his brother – the white stork, it keeps off human settlements.

The black stork
Its name comes from the colour of plumage which is mainly black with a green and violet sheen, except for the white 'bottom'. Legs and bill has strong red colour.  

The stork inhabits wetlands – it builds nests on strong and big trees in the vicinity of lakes and swamps. The nest can weight even 1000 kilograms! 

The picture above was taken in the Podhale region, next to our house;) Around the Tatras, on both the Polish and Slovak side you can watch these beautiful and rare birds. There are some places where you can meet them regulary.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Caves in Slovakia

There is over a dozen of caves in Slovakia open to visitors. They are placed in different mountain ranges all over Slovakia. Most of them are typical karst caves but there are few quite unusual like aragonite cave or ice caves. We had a great chance to visit some of them. You can read about our impressions below. We also put general information about the cave.

Stanišovská cave

It is a karst cave located north of the Janska Valley on the southern slopes of the Low Tatras, 15 km from Liptovský Mikuláš. What is really special about this cave is that there is no lights inside - you visit it only with headlamp (which guide gives to you at the entrance). Thanks to that you feel like a real explorer. If all visitors turn off the light for a moment you can experience the true darkness. Other attractions in the cave are tiny creatures that live in the water, small lake or dripstone (but not so spectacular like in other caves).