The Slovakian High Tatras

For a change, I thought I’d try the Tatras Mountains on the border between Slovakia and Poland. My first visit to a post-communist society (Slovenia) was an enjoyable success so Iwanted to try another. I bought the obvious guide-book (“Walking in the High Tatras” by Colin Saunders and Renata Narozna, Cicerone, 4th Edition, 2017 – hereafter referred to as “S & N”) and planned my trip from there and the best map I could find at Stanford’s (Kompass, “Tatra”, 1: 25,000, 2019). I chose the Slovakian side of the Tatras because it sounded more varied and looked more beautiful in the pictures in S & N.

My trip was in September 2020, at the end of the first wave of the Covid 19 pandemic. Trips to Scotland and Ireland had already been cancelled earlier in the year but this trip was possible as Slovakia had been doing better than Britain in combating the virus.

A few general points: don’t be put off by the apparently complicated format of S & N – it’s very useful once you get the hang of it; a mountain hut in Slovakia is called a “chata”, which I shall use; proper names of landscape features are not routinely capitalised, e.g. lake or peak, but the distinguishing name is – hence “chata pri Zelenom plese” is “Mountain Hut at Zelenom Lake”; the Slovakian High Tatras is crossed by the “Tatranska magistrala” long-distance path, off which paths shoot north into high valleys (“dolinas”) and south down to the plains; lastly, the food in the chatas is pretty lousy- usually a choice between goulash, dumplings and frankfurters, none of which I like, with few vegetables – however, the soups are good and do contain vegetables.

Click to enlarge the map.

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