“It might be dangerous, but all these icefalls and ice flowers are unbelievable,” said Juraj Mezö about the winter hike on the Prielom Hornádu route in Slovenský raj (Slovak Paradise).
If the weather is consistently cold enough, visitors may even take to the frozen surface of the river itself. Though such ideal conditions occur only rarely, more traditional routes on the hiking trail are also worthwhile in the cold winter months. In fact, the marked trail hike is quite a bit more challenging than a stroll on the frozen river and is suitable only for people with winter hiking experience.
Hiking the Prielom Hornádu starts in Podlesok-Hrabušice and ends in Čingov, and goes both directions. The hike is almost 12 kilometres long and blue markers show the way. Warm, light and weatherproof clothes, hiking shoes, ice axes, crampons and telescopic canes are the best equipment to master these trails, which include climbing irons, and chains covered with ice. The equipment can be bought in specialised shops in Spišská Nová Ves, Poprad, or rented in Slovenský raj.
An alternative to hiking is cross-country skiing on several trails in Slovenský raj. Cross-country skiing in southern Slovenský raj can be combined with a ride on skimobiles or horse-drawn sleigh. For downhill skiing, the biggest ski resort in Slovenský raj, Gugeľ, offers two ski lifts and six slopes. There is ski-service, restaurants, a bar, free parking, ski-paragliding, an ice rink for skating, and ski mountaineering possibilities. In the nearby ski resort of Mlynky, Castle Festivities (Hradné slávnosti) take place each January, where snow castles and snow sculptures are constructed.
One of the biggest ski resorts in eastern Slovakia is Plejsy. Its 10 kilometres of ski slopes welcome around 50,000 skiers annually. The ski resort Jahodná, 17 kilometres outside Košice, has a suburban character. There are three ski slopes of mild or medium difficulty. The ski resorts in the southeast are often used by Hungarian tourists from the border region.
Less dependent on the whims of weather is skating on indoor ice rinks. The national sport of Slovaks is undoubtedly ice hockey, and there are winter sports arenas in Košice, Spišská Nová Ves and Michalovce. Ice hockey personalities famous from the National Hockey League, like Peter Bondra or Marek Svatoš, grew up in the Košice Ice Hockey Club, among the country’s most successful.
17. Sep 2014 at 20:00 | Monika Kacejová