Last summer, we travelled from Norway all the way down through Europe to Croatia. We visited Sweden, Denmark, Germany, Poland and Hungary on the way. One of our very favourite parts of the whole, epic trip was spending a week in the Slokian High Tatras, hiking from hut to hut.
You may have already read about our favourite Mountain Huts in the Slovakian High Tatras, however, in this little article, I’m going to write about and share photos of some of the great things we got up to in the High Tatra mountains themselves.
Keep an Eye Out for Incredible Wildlife
There are lots of amazing wildlife in this incredible mountain range. In fact, it is one of the few places in Europe where brown bears still roam wild (although you still have to be very lucky to spot one). We weren’t fortunate enough to spot one (or probably quiet enough) but here are a few of my snaps of the cool animals we did see.
We saw this very cool Chamois and his friends when we were up high in the mountains one day. Chamois are a sort mountain goat-antelope animal that loves to bound around the rocks high up in the tippity-tops of the mountains; they are super agile and just love run around the place!
I was really stoked when we first saw these wild red squirrels running around. We’ve visited the Lake District and Cumbria which is one of the best places to spot them in England but to no avail. So I was really chuffed to see them in Slovakia. We caught sight of several, however they moved very quickly so I was lucky to get even one decent photo of them!
Swim in Slovakia’s Highest Lake
Velke Hincovo pleso is the largest and deepest glacial mountain lake in the High Tatras. In fact it’s the highest up mountain in the whole of Slovakia. At its deepest it is 53 metres (174 ft) down. Another interesting fact is that, it is named after a shepherd who was the first to enter the valley where the lake is located.
This isn’t somewhere for a tropical dip though. Due to the high altitude of this lake, its surface stays frozen for around 270 days of the year. This means when you’re brave enough to take a plunge in the water, even in the middle of August – the water is a bit nippy!
It is still an incredible place to wild swim and I went for a dip three times during the day. Twice on our first arrival at the lake and a second time after we returned hot and sweaty from climbing the 2,363m or 7753 foot Kôprovský štít which stands tall behind the lake.
What makes this lake so unique is that the water is so crystal clear that you can see almost 12 meters deep. From the waters edge you can see the many fish that are swimming around. Dunk a GoPro into the water and you get photos like mine below! These fish are literally the highest fish in the whole of Slovakia.
Climb Some Awesome Mountains
There are lots of incredible mountains to climb in the High Tatras. We climbed several when we were out there and enjoyed every moment of it. I especially loved the ones with most exposure and the ones like in the photo below which had chains and ladders to climb.
One of our favourite was Kôprovský štít which sits behind the awesome lake Velke Hincovo pleso which I just wrote about. It’s an awesome day out to walk up to the lake and then continue up to summit the mountain.
From the top of this mountain you have an awesome view down back down into Slovakia and across into Poland. The summit is pretty quiet and it’s a great place to be!
My other favourite mountain in the High Tatras is Rysy, the highest peak in Slovakia! It sits at a magestic 2,503m or 8,212 ft almost double the height of Ben Nevis. This mountain sits perfectly on the Polish/Slovakian border so when you’re at the top you’re can step between the countries.
Standing at the top of the mountain and being able to stare down into valleys in Poland and Slovakia is such a wonderful experience. If you wanted to you could actually stay at the mountain hut Chata pod Rysmi which is the highest hut in the High Tatras.
Enjoy The Many Incredible Mountain Paths
If you’re after something a little less intense, there are loads of awesome scenic walks you can do in the High Tatras. All of the trails are well marked with colour coded stripes which are painted on posts, trees and rocks along the route. These correspond to the maps so it makes all of the navigation very leisurely and you can easily put together some awesome hut to hut or circular walks.
We did lots of hut to hut trekking but we met loads of people doing circular walks. At each of the mountain huts people were enjoying a half way lunch or drink before completing the remainder of their walk. I really liked the variety of scenery, you can be walking high up in the stoney mountains with epic views for miles away one minute and in thick green forest the next.
If you are the sort of person that enjoys trail walking, the Slovakian High Tatras definitely have a lot to offer. I’d also recommend getting off the beaten track. When on the popular circular walks you will bump into people fairly often but if you go hut to hut trekking further into the mountain, you can literally go hours without even seeing a soul.
Row, Row, Row A Boat
If you start longing for a little bit more civilisation you can go to the popular small mountain town of Štrbské Pleso. The best thing you can do here is hire a boat and go for a little row across the huge mountain lake. The views are incredible and you can even see a huge ski jump in the distance!
Go on the Tatra Bob
Tatranská Lomnica was the starting point of our walk. It’s easily accessible from Zakopane which is probably where you will arrive when visiting the High Tatras. There are some nice bars and restaurants in Tatranská Lomnica to visit.
Apart from that the other thing to do when in Tatranská Lomnica is to have a go at the Tatra Bob. A cheap and cool ride which is a great way of spending a few minutes.
The Tatra Bob is basically a gravity powered roller coaster! The one man bobsleds are cranked up the side of the mountain and are then let go and you wind your way back down to the bottom. If you’re not a fan of speed, you can use the brake on the side of the bob to slow you down – but why would you!