An active experience exploring the extraordinary natural beauty of the Spis region of Northern Slovakia with focus on trekking and wildlife observations in three national parks Slovak Paradise (Slovensky raj), Tatra Mountains and Pieniny. In the first, you will hike through canyons and ravines accessible only by a system of metal ladders and wooden bridges, and explore meadows with uniquely rich plant diversity (about 70 species recorded per one square metre). The second offers unforgettable mountain hiking along the highest peaks of the Carpathians. Even the third park is the smallest, but is not less rich in wildlife diversity and allows for special wood-boat rafting experience in the breath-taking Dunajec river gorge. In addition, you get an opportunity to see one of the largest castles in Europe, an extraordinary ice cave, medieval town of Levoca (all three UNESCO world heritage sites) and to walk in the footsteps of a neanderthal.
The tour is led and developed by a conservation ecologist, offering a unique insight into the spectacular nature of three national parks (the heart of the Western Carpathians) and the rich region of Spis. The tour ecologist is the founder of Machaon International, a Slovak NGO promoting nature conservation and preservation of cultural heritage, an official partner of the Slovak Paradise National Park and one of the organisers of land-art festivals in Ganovce.
£899 per person
4 people minimum. 7 maximum
Summer and autumn 2018 / 2019
Day 1: Arrival Krakow, Poprad or Kosice - Ganovce
The group or individuals will be met on the day of arrival at the preferred time and point (usually at the airport of Krakow, Poprad or Kosice) and transferred by a mini bus to village Ganovce where the group will stay during the trip. This picturesque village near Poprad witnessed life of a Neadertal man (being the most northeastern archeological site of this kind in Europe) as well as is famous for its healing thermal waters (already hosted a popular spa resort in Austrian-Hungarian empire times). Based on the time of arrival, specific programme will be arranged in Ganovce including opportunity to relax and bath in the local spa resort. The day ends with a welcome dinner and presentation of the upcoming programme.
Day 2: Dobsina Ice Cave - Slovak Paradise National Park
After breakfast, we depart on exploration of the Dobsina Ice Cave (35 minutes drive from Ganovce). It is one of the largest ice caves in Europe nestled at the southern edge of the Slovensky Raj (Slovak Paradise) National Park. It is included on the UNESCO world heritage list for its uniqueness and beauty. After the cave visit, we explore its surroundings and have lunch in a nearby restaurant. In the afternoon, we explore the southern part of the national park, especially spectacular meadows with one of the richest plant biodiversity in Europe. After return – festive dinner in Ganovce (possibility to relax in spa).
Day 3: Sucha Bela Canyon - Klastorisko (old ruined monastery site)
After breakfast and transfer to Podlesok at the northern rim of the Slovak Paradise National Park, you set out with a guide along the enchanting and romantic Sucha Bela Canyon for an exciting hike with ladders and metal walkways. At the top, we hike through forest to a secluded place Klastorisko where we will have a picnic and time to explore. The site of a former monastery where people sought refuge in during the Tartar invasion of Europe is now a popular spot in the park. Later in the afternoon, we take a leisurely walk through the Carpathian mixed forest back to Podlesok where we get more information in the park’s visitor centre. There is an option for horse riding tour (separate charge) or a stroll in the Podlesok area enjoying the view of the majestic Tatra Mountains as your backdrop. In the evening, we will have special dinner with Slovak culinary specialties there before returning back to Ganovce.
Day 4: Spis Castle - Spike Podhradie
After breakfast, we will leave Ganovce for a day trip with a guide to explore some of impressive cultural sites in the region of Spis as this part of Slovakia used to be called in the past. First we head for the mighty Spis Castle (UNESCO world heritage site) – one of the largest castles in Europe, unfortunately now in ruins. Still it impresses all visitors by its high walls and towers and its beautiful surroundings. After the visit of the castle, we head for short exploration of a little historic town of Spisske Podhradie (translated as the town under the Spis castle) with a stroll in the bishop’s quarters. Then, we head to Levoca – a well-preserved fortified medieval town inscribed on the UNESCO list. There we have lunch and then we do sightseeing exploring the city architectural and cultural treasures. It is a place of one of the major annual religious pilgrimages in Slovakia, also visited by John Paul II in 1995. After a few hours there, we go to back to Ganovce for dinner and overnight.
Day 5: Tatra Mountains Trek
We go to the Tatra Mountains which include the highest peaks of the entire Carpathian mountain range. We select a suitable trail to suit the group ability and preferences. The hike will go above the tree line to the level of alpine meadows with mountain lakes reaching a selected mountain chalet for refreshment. Lunch will be picnic-style with beautiful views. If the group will be willing there is a possibility to hike up to one of the peaks (strenuous endeavor), but rewarded by spectacular view. In the late afternoon, we return to Ganovce for dinner and overnight (possibility to relax in spa).
Day 6: Ganovce - Spisska Sobota - Poprad
In the morning, we will explore Ganovce (which once saw Neaderthals), its local land-art park at the site of some unique archeological finds; as well as a village gallery. After this, a 15 min bus ride brings us to Spisska Sobota – now suburb of Poprad, it was originally a market town with well-preserved medieval architecture. We will visit unique church (seen by Queen Elizabeth II on her 2008 visit) then on to lunch in a traditional restaurant. The rest of the day we have free time to explore Poprad – the major city in the Spis region. We return back to Ganovce for farewell dinner and stay overnight (possibility to relax in spa).
Day 7: Pieniny National Park with rafting on Dunajec River
A day of adventure in another great national park – Pieniny bisected by the Dunajec river making the natural border of Slovakia and Poland. We start our visit by a rafting trip on the Dunajec river (2 hours). Afterwards we go for a lunch in a restaurant. The afternoon we will explore park’s unique wilderness and historical monuments (Cisterian monastery) with a national park ranger. At the end, we go back to Ganovce for farewell dinner and overnight.
Day 8: Departure
You will be transferred from Ganovce to the place of your flight departure in accordance with your flight schedule. Breakfast provided.
Optional Extensions: Dragonflies & Hiking
A) Dragonflies of Spis: One day trip with a specialist to several sites in the region with high presence of dragonflies and water fauna and flora. Transfers by mini bus, or, B) Hiking in one of a national park of Spis: One day trip with a guide to the selected national park in the area (Slovensky Raj, Nizke Tatry, etc). May include high mountain trekking or wildlife trekking on request. Transfers by mini bus.
All local taxes and site entrance fees mentioned in the itinerary
Private transfers from/to airport and during the stay in Slovakia
English speaking guides at all sites
7 nights standard (double or twin) in Ganovce (private guesthouse or spa hotel)
7 times breakfast, 7 times full dinner, 2 picnic and 1 full lunch
2 guided day hikes, 1 botanical excursion, 1 rafting trip and park excursion with a ranger
Complete tour 24 hour assistance
Expenses of personal nature like laundry, telephone/fax calls, medical bills,
Personal travel insurance
Any other services not mentioned in the inclusions (e.g. lunches based on personal selection)
Extras not specified
Optional add-on extension (£115 per person)
Single room supplement (£115) and extra room service, extra services in the spa hotel