The English translation of Slovensky raj National Park is "Slovak Paradise"
. The park won its name in 1921- a teacher in nearby village came up with this name. The name stuck, and hordes of tourists have since flocked to this beautiful destination in eastern Slovakia.
The northern slopes of the park are home to a series of deep clefts carved into the limestone hills. Water flows down deepening valleys, transforming serene streams into a series of crashing waterfalls. These rugged canyons would be impassable but for the ladders and chains that have been installed to carry hikers along dizzying heights over cascades and boulder-filled stream beds.
The ladders and waterfalls in this stunning gorge are what grace most Slovensky raj postcards. Start is in Podlesok. Green trail sign marks the Sucha Bela path. For over an hour you scale ladders, walk through the river, and climb wooden steps up the steep, winding cleft. At the top of the valley is Sucha Bela peak (968 metres). For safety reasons, hikers are only allowed to go up the canyon, going down the ladders is dangerous (one way traffic).
Hornad river valley
Again, start in Podlesok (plenty of accommodations there), and follow the trail along the river. The park has installed metal steps into the stone walls, leaving hikers directly above the cold water below. They say that this section can get crowded. We were lucky to be there in the middle of the week and it was also raining on and off. We found this section very empty.
A nice overlook over Slovak Paradise accessed from the Hornad river valley trail. You can even see High Tatra mountains if the weather is clear enough. And if you have climbing gear with you there are several sport climbing routes right below the overlook.
Sokolia Dolina is more remove and wild part of the park. Some the ladders in this section reach 100 metres in height. I loved this part, beautiful cascading waterfalls, very uncrowded.
And you can also explore old ruins of the Cartesian Monastery inside the park. So, you get it all - history, beautiful surroundings, sense of an adventure.
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