Last November I paid an unexpected visit to Slovak Paradise, or Slovenský Raj, if you will, with a pretty cool collection of people from The Ginger Monkey Hostel. The hike, which took us past one of the most spectacular lookout points in Slovakia, alongside and occasionally right over the edge of the Hornad River and up a waterfall-filled gorge, is definitely a contender for the top spot on my Slovak highlight list.
However, ever since I took that hike, I’d been a little bummed out that Chris, who I’ve been traveling with the majority of my time in Slovakia, hadn’t been there. As a fellow hiking enthusiast and one of the biggest waterfall lovers I know, I felt he completely missed out on one of the best experiences an outdoor lover can have in Slovakia. And so, when we were passing by Spišská Nová Ves, just a stone’s throw from the park, I was ecstatic to be able to give the loop another go with Chris and our friend Jack.
My maiden journey through Slovensky Raj had been guided by someone familiar with the park, so I was basically on autopilot, gaping at scenery the whole time. Since I would be the veteran this time, I took it upon myself to find the route we took before, worried that any other path might not live up to the hype I’d been creating.
Information about the trail wasn’t hard to find. Although we barely saw another soul during our mid-November hike, it is allegedly the most popular trail in the park and is packed beyond belief in the high season of July and August. (We were lucky enough to bypass the only other large group early on this time around.)
For anyone looking to try the hike for themselves (and if your ever in or near Slovakia, you should!), if you begin in Čingov you can follow the yellow path to a deservedly renowned view point at Tomášovský Výhľad. From there follow the yellow and turn left on the green at the first fork to Letanovský Mlyn and the Hornad River. From there you can enter what is perhaps the most impressive part of the whole loop. A technically aided section of Klastorska Gorge scales waterfalls with the help of ladders and chains until you reach Klastorisko Chata where you can opt into an overpriced mountain meal at the restaurant or snap some pictures of the entire Tatra range before catching the blue path along a ridge back to Čingov.
A lot of times I am so overwhelmed by the sheer volume of places I want to see and experience that I am hesitant to do the same thing twice. In this case, with two different groups of great people and two uniquely beautiful seasons and days, each visit had its own distinct character I would have regretted missing out on.
This weekend I’m hoping to check out the substantially flatter, yet substantially rockier Český Ráj. I’m eager to see if it lives up to it’s counterparts high standards.