“One has very mixed feelings when standing at the airport and after a brief introduction is boarding a plane,” said Martin Hépal, architect from Trnava, of his skydive.
UPDATE OF THE ARTICLE PUBLISHED ON SEPTEMBER 28, 2015
Attached to his instructor, he jumped from 4,000 metres, did a somersault, and then fell at 200 kilometres per hour for some 60 seconds. After Hépal’s parachute opened, he enjoyed the view and after a smooth landing, he asked himself: “Why haven’t I tried this earlier?”
For those up for such adventure, there are several ways to see Slovakia from above. Though no previous experience is necessary, it does require a good instructor and plenty of courage. “The height of the jump and length of the free fall is substantial,” said Marek Daráš, skydiving instructor from the Slávnica airport, near Dubnica nad Váhom.
Simulate the fall
Altitude adventure in Slovakia
For those not willing to jump 4,000 metres, it is still possible to experience some of the same sensations in a free jump simulator near Liptovský Mikuláš. “Compared to skydiving, the simulator is much easier,” said Ivan Farbák, an instructor at the so-called SuperFly unit. The simulation takes place in a tunnel with the air blowing at up to 190 kilometres per hour. After getting short instructions about the basic communication signals and posture, Grzegorz Rabszak, a skydiver from Katovice, Poland took the plunge. He called it “fantastic entertainment”. Zuzana Wrobelová, another instructor, suggested that even people who tried skydiving before doing the simulator often found they knew very little about how to behave in the air.
“On the other hand, what you learn in a tunnel can be easily transposed to the air,” she said.
There are also options for those who are brave enough to jump from a high, albeit land-based, structure. This offers a somewhat different experience. “I thought I was about to find myself in the Danube River,” said Peter Kováč, a student from Žiar nad Hronom, who bungee jumped from Bratislava’s Lafranconi Bridge, a 25-metre-high plummet towards the water. “In a split second of a free-fall, I saw the oncoming water and my heart squeezed with fear.” Bungee jumping is accessible to a pretty wide group of people while the only restrictions are that they weigh less than 110kg and pay around €28 for the experience. The experience is offered at several sites in Slovakia.
The jet set
However, those who want to aim even higher can take the opportunity at the Sliač airport in central Slovakia to get the taste of piloting a genuine jet.
There are no specific requirements except that any pilot wannabe must be at least 18. The €700 to €750 price tag for a 15-minute experience may be prohibitive for some.
Flights take place in a L-29 Delfín (L-29 Dolphin), a single-engined military jet training aircraft, which were widely used by the Warsaw Pact armies in the 1960s. Flights are supervised by experienced former military pilots. The L-29 Delfín was the first jet developed in the former Czechoslovakia.
“The dream of every man is to experience speed, force, freedom and adrenaline,” said Milan Bohuš, who has already experienced flying a jet. “You are getting into the plane with great respect and suddenly you are turning into a little boy who is enjoying it with all the senses. It is hard to describe with words; one has to experience it.”
Peaks on the sleeve
Visitors who prefer ascending to, rather than descending from, heights can opt for the High Tatras mountains. One such prospect is offered by the Lomnický štít (peak), the second highest peak in the whole range, where visitors can comfortably get a cableway starting from Tatranská Lomnica and end up near the observatory at the top. It is advisable to make a call before the trip to be sure that the cableway operates on the day of your trip. Booking is recommended.
Strong hikers might reach mountain tops on their own. Some summits, however, are not accessible without a guide, including the Gerlachovský štít (2,655 m), the highest peak in Slovakia. Groups wishing to reach the top usually involve three people, plus a guide, secured by rope.
Lucia Cencerová from Banská Bystrica admitted that she “felt respect” after climbing the Gerlachovský štít and said that after the first few metres she started to feel the surge of adrenaline which stayed with her during the whole climb and culminated as she looked down from the summit.
Though the climb to the Gerlachovský štít is not the most difficult climb, people should not underestimate it, warns guide Tomáš Vaverčák, noting that suitable boots, warm clothes and good physical condition are essential as climbers will reach heights well over 1,000 metres above sea level.
Guides charge around €240 per group for the climb and visitors should be sure that their guide is certified by the International Federation of Mountain Guides Associations (UIAGM). A list of certified mountain guides is available at Nahvsr.sk, guide Tibor Hromádka said.
By Radka Minarechová and Karina Miartanová
Flying with fighter jet
C Sliač, www.letstihackou.sk
Free fall simulator
N Liptovský Mikuláš, www.hurricanefactory.com
Skydiving & tourist flights
Tourist Flights (Flights)
B Kráľová pri Senci: Flights: www.pilotclub.sk, SKY: www.verticaljump.sk
W Trenčín: Flights: www.airman.sk, www.tandemovyzoskok.sk
W Prievidza: Flights: www.aeroklub-prievidza.sk, SKY: www.zoskok.sk, www.tandemovy-zoskok.sk
W Nitra: Flights: www.aeroslovakia.sk, SKY: www.airportnitra.sk
W Slávnica (Dubnica nad Váhom): Flights: www.akdubnica.sk, SKY: www.volnypad.sk, www.tandemovezoskoky.sk, www.tandemovy-zoskok.sk, www.tandemovyzoskok.sk
C Očová: Flights: www.aerokulb-ocova.sk, SKY: www.padaj.sk, www.tandemovy-zoskok.sk
N Spišská Nová Ves: Flights: www.ombre.sk, SKY: www.compact.sk
N Ružomberok: Flights+SKY: www.rkair.sk
E Košice: Flights+SKY: www.aeroklubkosice.sk
E Kamenica nad Cirochou: Flights+SKY: www.aeroklubkamenica.lietame.sk
B Bratislava – Vajnory: www.tandemovezoskoky.sk
C Lučenec – Boľkovce: www.paraklubkosice.szm.com
N Martin: www.aeroklubmartin.sk
E Prešov: www.aeroklubpresov.sk
E Rožňany (Sabinov): www.paraklubkosice.szm.com
Tourist flights (only)
W Malé Bielce (Partizánske): www.partizanske.aeroklub.sk
B Bratislava: Balony.sk, www.balony.sk
B Vištuk: Daruj Let Balónom, www.darujletbalonom.sk
W Trenčín: Crazy Club, www.vzduchoplavba.sk; Lety balónom, www.letybalonom.sk
N Žilina: Matej Hruštinec - balonom.sk, www.balonom.sk
E Košice: ADS ballooning
N Tvrdošín: www.oravaaction.com
B Bratislava: Jump from Lafranconi Bridge
B Pezinok: Action tower