Go jump off a cliff - or climb one

On any given day in this bizarre summer, the weather may or may not be warm, but either way, it is midsummer. Which means there just isn't that much time left to go out and play. There is, however, plenty of action-packed things to do. How about paragliding over Slovakia's forests? Crashing down the Váh on a raft? Or sailing off of a 2,000-meter peak in a two-seater plane? With prices for custom-made adventures low in Slovakia, this might be the time to take the plunge. Most adventure sport agencies have a specialty and can help you figure out what you want to do. For example, Rosi Fun Sport, a sailboard and snowboard shop in Bratislava, organizes paragliding lessons at Donovaly, one of the ski resorts in the Low Tatras.

On any given day in this bizarre summer, the weather may or may not be warm, but either way, it is midsummer. Which means there just isn't that much time left to go out and play.

There is, however, plenty of action-packed things to do. How about paragliding over Slovakia's forests? Crashing down the Váh on a raft? Or sailing off of a 2,000-meter peak in a two-seater plane? With prices for custom-made adventures low in Slovakia, this might be the time to take the plunge.

Most adventure sport agencies have a specialty and can help you figure out what you want to do. For example, Rosi Fun Sport, a sailboard and snowboard shop in Bratislava, organizes paragliding lessons at Donovaly, one of the ski resorts in the Low Tatras. The six-day course, which includes meals, housing, lessons, equipment and insurance, will get you off the ground and paragliding on your own.

For rock climbing, try Kancelária horských vodcov, or the Office of Mountain Guides in Starý Smokovec. Their guides will lead groups for full-day climbs and treks in the High Tatras; an ascent of Gerlachovský Štít costs 2,500 Sk for five people.

If heights are not your thing, there's always spelunking, or caving: if the standard public caves are too tame, take off on an all-day private tour of an unexplored cavern, run by the Liptovský Mikuláš Information Center. They also run white water rafting trips down the Orava and Váh rivers, paragliding, and horseback rides.

If you just don't know what you want, a couple of companies do cover the gamut. Crystal Ski, which has offices in Štrbské Pleso in the High and Jasná in the Low Tatras, will organize horseback riding, paragliding, hiking, climbing, or rafting trips.

They are a good place to go for mountain biking, as they offer full-day treks in the Low Tatras with a guide (and bike rental) for 580 Sk. For a quick thrill, there's always bungee jumping from the ski jump in Štrbské Pleso, which Crystal Ski organizes.

Both Crystal Ski and JuroŠpor, also based in the Low Tatras in Závažná Poruba, will put together multiple-day packages, with a new adventure every day of the week, and transportation between your hotel and each activity. JuroŠpor has rafting, climbing, paragliding, hiking, biking, spelunking, and more. They even offer sightseeing flights in a biplane with an instructor. The trips take off from the top of Chopok, the highest mountain in the Low Tatras. The groups listed are by no means all there is, but should be enough to get you started. Enjoy the adventure.


A bird's eye view of the Tatras and Spiš

For travellers to east Slovakia, TLS Air offers sightseeing flights from the Poprad-Tatry Airport. They offer three loop routes: a 30-minute loop over the High Tatras costs 2,200 Sk per plane (three passengers); a 45-minute tour over the High Tatras and the Spiš region costs 3,100 Sk per plane; and an hour loop encompassing the Low Tatras costs 3,900 Sk per plane. For more information, call the Poprad-Tatry Airport at 092/638-75.

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