Ride through the northern Slovakia is always a positive thing for us, because it offers smooth, forest and pleasantly undulating roads with the view of the Tatras emerging from time to time. And when our goal is a paradise, Slovak Paradise, it’s hard to imagine a better destination! In the heart of the National Park a charming cottage awaited us, out of which every trail leaded to the natural places – not only through the picturesque paths – but also through winding stairs or ladders chained to the rocks just above the rushing river. The romance of the place is thus intertwined with raising adrenaline, but all fears can be tamed in the face of soothing colors, scents and sounds of the most beautiful rock town in Slovakia.
The Grandfather rulez
Setting out from Lower Silesia to Slovakia, we did everything in our power to keep us close to the mountains. Because then you know – the scenic views, good air and everything simply goes better. First, we headed to the Czech Republic, where we could not fail to visit Praděd (The Grandfather). The Grandfather reigns in the East Sudetenland at 1 492 m.a.s.l. Even from a distance you can see a protruding tower, which reminds a little of the Czech spike Jested, but in there a different story awaited us. On the top of the mountain, instead of bare Martian, a statue of a gray-haired old man greeted us. It was the Grandfather himself, the Mountain Spirit, the creator of this summit, a guard of the skyward space, and the ruling judge of local residents and tourists. A lot of legends revolves around the mountain named after him. Like the one about the old Jacob, his dog and sheep.
You cannot ride a motorcycle to the top, so about 20 minutes from the top you can park by the restaurant in the foothills. Earlier, you have to buy an entry ticket that costs KC 50 (KC 100 for the car). In the hotel or in the bar, you can ask for safekeeping the helmet. Unless you arrive at dusk, just as it happened to us. Then, at most, they will offer you to hide helmets in the restaurant hall behind the crates of beer and brooms… So, while climbing up the hill, I wondered how did we ended up doing just that. Especially since we recently equipped ourselves with the new helmets from Caberg. Having no helmets after returning from the summit would be quite devastating for our trip, but our fate was rested in the hands of the Grandfather, who was supposed to watch over. ;)
On a clear day, from the observation deck you can see Śnieżka in the West and the Tatra Mountains in the East, and also the Massif Schneeberg of Austrian Alps in the South.
The Grandfather was kind to us. After all, our colleague Radek gave tribute to him at the top, and we did not make mess nor flush out animals. The helmets politely waited for us in the corner. We could safely return to the Czech camp and move on at dawn, back to Poland to get our friends from Bielsko-Biala.
Lunch in the bunker
One of the most appreciated aspects of our motorcycle travels is the ability to stop at any place we want to eat a breakfast or have a cup of tea from a thermos. We love to eat outdoors. However, contrary to appearances, finding the right spot is not always easy. The roads in this part of Europe (for now) rarely go on by a nice parking. So when a hunger presses and the road is not enchanting, we slide into some field gravel roads or smaller alleys. And then – sometimes – we accidentally get to unusual, mysterious and historic places.
The presence of bunkers on the Czech fields, shown below, revealed itself to us only after a long time of picnicking. Apparently, those type of places in the Czech Republic occur quite often. After all, the Czechs were firmly arming themselves against the Germans.
A sweet road to Paradise…
On the third day of the trip we set out from Bielsko-Biala, along with our extended crew. Marcin aka Ozeh once again did not disappoint us with regard to the road-trip plan from the Beskidy Mountains through Slovakia. It leaded us through the charming villages, then – as we were already used to that – through the most winding and high mountain roads. Thus, our route contained townships such as Porąbka, Targanice, Kocierz Moszczanicki, Łękawica, Rychwałd, after Korbielow across the border and to Oravská Polhora, Żubrochwała, Namestovo, Szczepanów over Orava, etc… You can trace everything in the map at the end of the post.
The closer to Paradise, in the midst of theater space along the river, a nudity of liberated hikers, as well as bikers, began to palely shimmer, as they took a bath in a stream with joyous whizzing. Just like the photo bomber you can look up below.. :)
Hut in the heart of the forest
We rented a house in the Slovak Paradise itself – something wonderful. Away from the city, the stench and noise, while only 5-10 minutes from the park tourist information, bars and restaurants. The source of drinking water was under the house. With convenient focal spot, which is the only legal flame to excite in the National Park. A wooden hut itself is equipped with everything you need to comfortably operate. You can pamper yourself with such a pleasure at quite a reasonable price from a private owner through Airbnb service. The larger the group, the cheaper.
We have to remember that through the National Park we cannot ride all the way to the cottage. We have to settle for a place in the parking lot at the entrance to the park. It is located about 10 minutes from the cabin, but still the idea of parking your motorcycle there is not recommended by the locals, it would not be safe. Motorcycle needs to be safely parked in the village Smižany, which has Tesco for the shopping. From there for approx. 5 euro you can get to the gates of the Slovak Paradise by taxi. We got along with the owner of the cottage and he took the motorcycles and equipment onto his private yard. Admission to the Slovak Paradise costs EUR 1.5 euros, a 3-day pass is priced at EUR 3.5 (EUR 1 declining), and 5-day 6 euros (a discount of 1.5 euro). Babies up to 6 years of age enter for free, young people up to 15 years and a person over 62 years pay EUR 0.50.
From the hut, after a while of hiking we plunged into a paradise, forest land of the Straceńskie Mountains, traversed by ribbons of streams and rivers. It is the water that gives the place an extraordinary character and dictates trails. Over the canyons, under the manes of waterfalls, we wandered on footbridges, vacillating bridges and ladders chained to a rock. Bucolic environment cannot serve as a distraction, for here each step can be fatal, especially if the ground is still wet after the rain. They warn everywhere that individuals with a fear of heights should twice reconsider strolling through the rock ladder-park, but we can reassure that our colleague Martyn, famous for her tightly closed eyes to all the attractions of the Italian Mirabilandia (apparently her first and last amusement park), in Slovak Park beautifully defeated the most adrenaline (and thus interesting) routes. Step by step, she overcame her fears, or perhaps simply did not look down; we are glad she made it!
The route over Hornád Breakthrough is one of the flagship, most beautiful in the park. It stretches for several kilometers along the gorge and can surprise at every bend in the river. Forget the monotonous, flattened down path. What awaits us here is crossing of the stream of vacillating bridges (up to several meters above the water), footbridges, or metal shelves attached into steep canyon walls. You can guess, that the younger the age of the traveler, the greater joy of such rope-park! Only here without nets – the only protection are the chains, so hold on tight!
Apparently Tomášovský výhľad is a symbol of the Slovak Paradise, the most famous vantage point from which you can see the mountains on a clear day. I immediately associated the place with the ledge of the Lion King, but here instead of Savannah, our gaze embraces the waves of green trees gently fading on the horizon.
On Tomášovský výhľad you can climb from Čingov (1 hour), from Spišskie Tomášovcowy (45 min) or from the bottom of the valley Hornád (At the crossroads under Tomášovsk výhľad, 50 min).
Suchá Belá (trans.: dry white), according to our friends, should be renamed the Wet Bela. At a length of about 4 km trail runs a narrow, rocky gorge along the unruly stream, running over the bed of limestone cliffs and spectacular waterfalls, often blessing us with a shower and wet surfaces for climbing.
Kláštorisko Valley is a beautiful landscape, where the main trails in the Slovak Paradise intersect and you can stay overnight or visit the ruins of fourteenth-century Carthusian monastery, which is currently under the supervision of archaeologists.
Three days in the Slovak Paradise are enough to enjoy some walking and tasting the beauty of wildlife, overcoming fears by hanging over a waterfall on metal ladders, enjoying a night fire among the scent of the forest, trying Czech specialties in shelters and restaurants, but this is definitely not enough to discover all the treasures of this land.
Other attractions in the area of the Slovak Paradise:
- Falcon Valley (Sokolia dolina) – another picturesque and exciting, sometimes dangerous route through the limestone gorge Ksytel. Crossing the gorge is one-way, you can only go against the current stream!
- Havrania Rock (Havrania skala) – vertical rock, one of the highest elevations of the Park (1,156 m.a.s.l.) is a popular vantage point of the surrounding countryside, where you can visit the caves on the way. The summit is easily accessible from Stratený.
- Great Falcon (Sokol Vel’Ký) – some find it the most beautiful karst valley in the Slovak Paradise. It takes a form of a long, steep gorge ended with ravine. This natural wonder is located on the north-western edge of the park.
- Ovens (Piecky) – limestone gorge located above the Great Falcon, the transition is only one-way, up the creek, along the way you can admire the magnificent waterfalls, where the turbulent water created depressions in the form of the oven, which is the source of the name of the gorge.
- Dobšinská Ice Cave (Dobšinská l’adová jaskyňa) –
unique on a global scale, from the year 2000 a UNESCO world natural heritage site. It is located on the south-western end of the National Park Slovak Paradise in the valley of the river Hnilec. Walking inside costs 8 euros and 4 euros for children.
Palcmanská Maša – a lake in the southern part of the Park caused by damming of the river Hnilec, in the picturesque surroundings, the place of fishing and water sports at the resort Dedlinky.
The return route was pitched for two days, so that it continued slowly, curiously, even with a tourist pearl on the way. So we couldn’t ignore the Castle Spiš, actually the whole of the historic castle complex from the turn of the eleventh and twelfth centuries. It is the largest of its kind in Central Europe, after all it has more than 4 hectares.
Manínska Gorge in Slovakia
Returning through Slovakia, we couldn’t deny ourselves one of the most interesting routes in the country. Remnants of battery in our camera perpetuated the ride down the famous Manińska Gorge (Manínska Tiesňava), which has a length of 4 km. It’s not a lot, it is swallowed quickly, so the joy is short, but since the Alps are far, the morsel is quite enjoyable. The valley of the Manińska Stream is surrounded by steep limestone walls, reaching 400 m high. The narrowest isthmus barely is fit for the bus. The area is rich in fanciful rock formations. In winter, the slopes can run down the avalanche, thus cutting off for a few days the situated above villages from the world.
Manínska Gorge is a famous tourist destination in Slovakia, attracts enthusiasts of climbing, hiking and cycling. And motorcyclists who for those four kilometers will even pave a route that goes through the Sulovske Mountains. Our map makes things easier!
Map to Paradise
If just like us, you like to intersperse motorcycle ride with decent march in beautiful surroundings or simply want to relax by the fire among the singing birds and greenery, Slovak Paradise is the direction for you. And even if the heavenly state only riding can provide you, the routes in northern Slovakia will rather not fail you. We disclose the map to Paradise below, it would be a sin not to take advantage of it! ;)