With its Jagged mountains, emerald green lakes and rugged hiking trails, the High Tatras of Slovakia is an outdoor paradise and culminates to form the perfect playground for the adventurers amongst you.
From picturesque, gentle lakeside alpine walks to its steeper summit hikes, the High Tatras has something for everyone.
The high Tatra is located in the Carpathian Mountains; the second largest mountain range in Europe – Stretching from the Czech Republic, Poland, and Slovakia to Serbia, Romania, and Moldova, you will find the High Tatras in the midst of the Carpathian Mountain range, Europe’s second-largest.
You will be sure to spot some of the most incredible wildlife this planet has to offer here, including lynx, brown bears, and even the highly endangered Tatra Chamois.
The High Tatras boasts some of the most stunning vistas imaginable, and with its twinkling glacial mountain lakes and waterfalls, one of a kind flora and fauna, exceptionally rare wildlife, crisp and fresh mountain air, this area is the ideal destination to clear your mind… and your lungs!
There are three main parts of High Tatras:
- The Western Tatras
- The (central) High Tatras
- The Belianske Tatras
Despite being in different geographical locations, The ‘Road to Freedom’ host’s settlements of the High Tatras’ inhabitants, and interweaves the Western, High and Belianske Tatras together.
Full Route Breakdown:
With so many spectacular routes in the Tatras mountains, it is impossible to list out favourites – even the locals disagree on which reigns supreme!
As such, we have listed a number of different routes that range from peak climbs, scrambles, and easy day hikes so you gain a better understanding of what this amazing region is all about:
Length: 21 km │ Level: Difficult │ Est. time: 8 hrs
Slap bang in the middle of the Tatra mountains, you simply cannot beat Peak Koprovsky’s panoramic views at the top. Look West, and you will see the West Tatras, whereas a look to the East will give you a glimpse of the High Tatras peaks.
Lake Hincovo pleso, the deepest and largest lake in the area, is an ideal spot on your trail to have a lunch break before you reach the summit. It is so beautiful that many trekkers even settle on it as their final destination!
Your starting point will be Strbske Pleso, which is reachable by tram. With the vast lake and village adopting the name moniker, Strbske pleso is a fascinating stop on your way to the top.
With it’s similar vistas and close proximity, Peak Koprovsky is often viewed as an alternative hike to the better known Peak Rysy. Due to its location on the borders of Poland and Slovakia, Peak Rysy can get very crowded, with hikers arriving from both nations. Our advice is to head to Peak Koprovsky for a similarly stunning view, with fewer people to contend with.
Length: 16,5 km │ Level: Moderate │ Est. time: 6 hrs
A firm favourite of ours, this hike boasts a twinkling emerald lake, Zelene pleso, surrounded by majestic peaks, towering at 2500m. Make sure to take a cable car to Skalnate pleso from Tatranska Lomnica before you get there, however, and then walk up to the Velka Svistovka peak, where you will more than likely spot a herd of Chamois on the way. From the peak, walk all the way back, past the beautiful lake, to the village of Tatranska Lomnica.
If you have a taste for adventure, it is possible to make this hike longer and more challenging. Make sure to hike past Zelene pleso, to the equally stunning Velke Biele pleso, which is situated between the High and Belianske Tatras. Turn right, and follow the blue trail in the direction of Tatranska Lomnica, to give you that extra bit of time and distance.
Please keep in mind for the less experienced hikers that the descent from the Velka Svistovka into the Valley of the Green Lake is covered in chains. In order to avoid getting to the end of the hike and having to turn around to complete the route back the way you came, please assess your skill level and adjust your plans accordingly. Not a route for those with a fear of heights – and watch out for those mountain goats!
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Length: 15,9 km │ Level: Difficult │ Est. time: 6:30 hrs
This trail starts again at Strbske Pleso, similar to the first hike, but instead goes in a circle. You will pass through the Mlynica and Furkotska valleys, along the crystal clear lakes of the Skok waterfall, and through the Bystra Lavka mountain pass. The mountain pass is secured with chains and involves little bit of scrambling over some rough terrain.
Please note that this trail is designed to be anticlockwise. Make sure to start at Mlynica, and finish your journey at the Furkotka valley. Easy to forget, but important to remember!
In the summer, during the months of June and July, the ice enveloping the Skok waterfall during the winter will start to melt, and cause the thundering descent to swell in size. Standing at around 30m in height, Skok is undoubtedly the most impressive waterfall in Slovakia, and an absolute must see.
For the less enthusiastic hikers amongst you, there is a little known shortcut as you pass back through the Furkotka valley. When you come to the sign post for Skutnasta Polana, turn left, and after about 15 mins you will reach a handy chair lift that is settled below the Predne Solisko peak. There, you will have the option to take the weight of your feet, and enjoy a stunning view as you glide back down to the village of Strbske Pleso.
For the hikers amongst you looking for a challenge, the same location offers the trail all the way to the summit of Predne Solisko’s peak. Just ask your mates in the chairlift to get you a drink in for when you descend back down!
Length: 23,5 km │ Level: Very Difficult │ Est. time: 9:30 hrs
With its entrance secured with chains and highly exposed and rugged terrain, the Priecne Sedlo mountain pass is without doubt the most gruelling trek in the area, and not to be underestimated. We would never recommend this route to children or people with aversion to heights, due it’s dangerous nature and unpredictable turf.
However, for an experienced hiker, it could be the challenge you have been searching for. The general rule is that hikers should walk from the smaller Mala Studená Dolina to the larger Veľká Studená Dolina from Small to Big Cold valley, and not in the opposite direction.
Weaving your way through majestic peaks, along an array of glittering lakes and even passing some mountain huts, this hike is without a doubt spectacular. Make sure to look out for the friendly foxes known for their relaxed demeanour with hikers, and the mountain goats situated in the higher altitude of the valleys.
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Length: 20 km │ Level: Medium │ Est. time: 6 hrs
Easily completed in just a day, the dolomite covered Belianske Tatras is the easternmost part of the Tatra mountains. With its rich selection of flora and fauna, herds of the Chamois mountain goat and colonies of marmots, this area is certainly home to some interesting wildlife that will more than likely cross your path.
We recommend to start your journey in Tatranska Javorina, then make your way through the Zadné Meďodoly valley to your destination of Tatranska Kotlina. Passing by the distinctive grassy saddle Kopske sedlo, you will find a quaint and cozy mountain hut called Plesnivec, or Edelweiss; named after the Edelweiss flower that is native to the Belianske Tatras.
Please note that this hike will not be reachable by foot. Make sure to drive to the car park in Tatranska Kotlina, or catch the bus in the direction of Lysa Polana and get off at the hike’s starting point in Tatranska Javorina.
The logistics of this hike are definitely more complicated, but the ever changing landscapes and the terrain being clear of difficult to navigate rocks and stones make it a pleasant and popular route in the High Tatras.
High Tatra Mountains FAQ's Debunked...
Now we have to give you a breakdown of some of the more popular trekking routes within the High Tatra, we are going to quickly answer some frequently asked questions with as much honesty and transparency as possible:
1. Which route is best for me and why? – All trekking routes within the Tatra region are magnificent in their own right – all offering an abundance of climates, landscapes and wildlife – including foxes, Martens, wild cats, polecats, badger, lynxes and even bears.
As such, the “best” route normally boils down to personal preference, especially considering each route offers a difference in scenery, difficulty, popularity and time.
It is important that you are conscious of your priorities and what you intend to get out of your trip from the start. For some, they have a great interest in photography, prefer a specific terrain and climatic zone, or simply have the sole aim of reaching the highest peak successfully.
2. How fit do I need to be and do I need to train? – A basic level of fitness and good health is needed and training is highly recommended.
However, you do not need to be a professional athlete or a marathon runner. What is going to get you to the end of your challenge is a mental and emotional commitment to the cause. As long as you set time aside to prepare for the challenge ahead, success will be on your side!
Simply reach out and ask, and GoKo will provide you with full fitness training notes and recommendations on how you can best build up your stamina in the last few months before the trek.
3. What are the accommodation options? – While on any trek within the High Tatra region with GoKo Travels, you will spend your evenings in cosy guest-houses or mountain huts run by local village people. These traditional accommodations en route are ideal for meeting others hikers from around the world and discuss your incredible adventures with.
4. What time of year is best to climb? – Despite being able to climb in this region all year round, it is clear that some months are MUCH better (and more advisable) than others.
When deciding when is best to hike in this region, there are several things you much take into consideration – such as temperatures, rainfall, visibility and crowds.
As you’d expect, July and August are the busiest times to visit this stunning country (simply because the weather is at its best).
However, if you are looking for empty mountain trails and perfect cycling conditions, April-May and September-October are right for you. During these months, you will also have a better chance of seeing some of the incredible wildlife mentioned above (especially including lynk and bears).
5. What is altitude sickness? – Altitude sickness is an illness that can affect anyone at any time, despite their level of fitness or how many times they have trekked in a specific region. Altitude sickness can range from a mild headache and weariness to a life-threatening build-up of fluid in the lungs or brain at high altitudes.
Symptoms occur when the rate of ascent into higher altitudes is too quickly that the body doesn’t get time to acclimatise. Altitude sickness generally develops at elevations higher than 8,000 feet (about 2,400 meters) above sea level and when the rate of ascent exceeds 1,000 feet (300 meters) per day.
The following actions can trigger altitude sickness:
- Ascending too quickly (rapidly)
- Overexertion within 24 hours of ascent
- Inadequate fluid intake
- Consumption of alcohol or other sedatives
One way to avoid altitude sickness is allowing the body to get used to the altitude slowly (Acclimatisation). Acclimatisation is the process by which the body adjusts to high altitudes. The goal of acclimatisation is to increase ventilation (breathing) to compensate for lower oxygen content in the air. To compensate for this extra ventilation, blood needs to have a lower pH. In response, the kidneys excrete bicarbonate into the urine, which in turn lowers the body’s pH to accommodate for this extra respiratory effort.
During a GoKo trek, we take all the necessarily persuasions to ensure your safety and go out of our way to check in on how you are feeling to avoid altitude sickness affecting you in a severe way. The rule here is to be completely honest with your guides and group, and if you feel any of the below symptoms – speak up:
- feeling and being sick.
- serious tiredness.
- loss of appetite (you will be walking for 5-8 hours per day – it is so important to eat enough food to maintain your energy – if you feel like not eating at any point during your trip, speak to your guides immediately).
- shortness of breath.
TOP TIPS: Although Trekking has been long established in Slovakia, trekking can be difficult in parts, with a lot of uphill and downhill climbing. Regardless, any healthy person with an established level of walking fitness can complete these climbs. However, stubbornness NEVER helps.
GO SLOWLY: Plod on at a steady pace, pause, standing to rest – and you should be fine. Don’t care about whether others are ahead! There is plenty of time, so walk at YOUR pace regardless of how far behind you may think you are.