Walking with Bears in Slovakia

I’ve written about similar trips before so was excited to hear that the UK’s leading trekking holidays company, Walks Worldwide, is now working closely with conservation group, Projekt Medved, and has created a unique trip called ‘Walking with Bears’ in the High Tatras mountains of Slovakia.

The High Tatras are the highest mountains in the Carpathian Arc which stretch from Romania to the Czech Republic.  The range is small in area but they are very steep and provide the only High Alpine environment in Europe north of the Alps.  There are a number of well-marked tourist trails but the highlight of this new trip are the days spent off the trail, following animal tracks and ancient smuggling paths in the company of guides who know the region and wildlife inside out.

Bear

This trekking holiday with a big difference, provides the chance to walk not only in a spectacular mountain area populated by bears, but with the intention of seeking the mighty beasts on foot!  The tour actually begins in Poland and initially follows recognised way-marked trails across the High Tatras, descending into Slovakia.  On reaching the Ticha, the group will be joined by a Park Ranger who will take the group ‘off piste’ and walk among the mountains and valleys in an area where tourists are normally forbidden.  This unique opportunity is restricted to a maximum group size of eight people in order to minimise disturbance.  Walking is graded as demanding, hiking at altitude in mountainous terrain for up to 9 hours per day.

The one-off trip departs on Sunday 14 August and costs from £985 pp (land only). This includes ground transportation, 7 nights’ accommodation, most meals and the services of and expert walking and wildlife guide. Call 0845 301 4737 or visit www.walksworldwide.com

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If You Go Down to the Woods Today…

just-slovenia-logoJust Slovenia has launched a bear watching excursion in Slovenia.  The trip gives visitors to this stunning central European country the opportunity to go in search of brown bears in the south of the country.  Together with a local guide, guests travel by 4 x 4 vehicle to an observation deck located in the heart of a densely forested karst plateau in the Sneznik area, in order to see the beautiful brown bears in their natural habitat.  Slovenia has a stable population of around 600 brown bears, and there’s a very good chance of seeing them between dusk and dawn from April until August.

Female Bear in Slovenia
Female Bear in Slovenia

When not going back to nature in search of wild creatures, guests stay at the newly-introduced Villa Lavanda, a traditional Slovene property perched on the outskirts of Fijeroga, an unspoilt hilltop hamlet just a short drive from the historic coastal towns of Koper, Izola and Piran, close to Croatia.

Read more…

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Holiday Offer of the Week

slovakia-bear

Mountain Paradise is currently offering £200 off new wildlife watching tours in the Slovakian Tatras meaning you only need spend £995 for a week or £699 for a short break in a spectacular region with incredible wildlife.  The High Tatras are unspoilt and one of the smallest mountain ranges in the world.  They are situated in the northern part of the Slovak republic on the border with Poland.  The region is rich with flora featuring almost 1400 species of plants.  However, the real ornament of the Tatras is the Cedar pine.  It is an alpine species of pine tree, which grows on the steepest parts of hillsides.  Wildlife is also in abundance; above the rocky relief of the Tatras you can often see a Golden Eagle and Chamois and Marmots are both endemic to the area.  Wolves and brown bears can also be found in the Tatra’s forests.

Mountain Paradise, (www.mountainparadise.co.uk 0161 408 8988) is offering exhilarating wildlife tours in Slovakia’s Tatra Mountains for the first time this summer with a special introductory discount of £200 off of a week’s stay and £100 off a short break if booked by 30 June.  Packages start at £995 for a seven night holiday and £699 for a three night break.
Packages comprise: return flights from London, Luton or Manchester, airport transfers, full board accommodation in private rangers’ cottages and in chalets, transport to wildlife locations, two days of wildlife watching on the short break and five on the week stay.

These unique tours, led by expert guides and mountain rangers, take participants to areas of the Western and Belianske Tatra National Park previously inaccessible to tourists.  They offer the chance to see a selection of Slovakia’s abundant and diverse wildlife including: brown bears, wolves, roe and red deer, the elusive lynx and the endangered Tatra chamois.  Pine martins and many birds of prey including golden eagles and falcons also inhabit the area.  The tours run on selected dates between June and October.

slovakia-cat

Mountain Paradise does not use animal hides or bait the wildlife instead they rely of the expertise of the rangers to track animals ensuring that clients see them in their natural habitat. The company also restricts numbers to six per guided group.  The tours are part of the bear research programme being carried out by Tatra foundation, a not-for-profit organisation that provides funding for conservation initiatives throughout Tatra Mountains National Park. Clients will be able to see the results of some of the bear research while on these tours. Mountain Paradise will also donates £100 to the Tatra Foundation for every booking made.

The wildlife tours require a moderate level of fitness as they feature walks of approximately three hours around the valleys of the Tatra National Park with ascents and descents during wildlife watching.  The holidays are not suitable for children under the age of 14.

Despite being in the Euro zone, Slovakia represents excellent value for money with a pint of beer, a vodka, soft drink or large sandwich costing only €1, a main course in a restaurant around €3 and an ice cream just €0.50.  Slovakia is just 2-hours by air from the UK (flights from London, Luton or Manchester) and the short transfer to the mountains means that holidaymakers spend the maximum amount of time on location.

Mountain Paradise’s 2009 wildlife tours are running on the following dates:
27 June to 4 July, 7 nights, ppp £995 if booked before 30/6, £1200 after
14-17 August, 3 nights, ppp £699 if booked before 30/6, £799 after
22-29 August, 7 nights, ppp £995 if booked before 30/6, £1200 after
29 Aug-5 Sept, 7 nights, ppp £995 if booked before 30/6, £1200 after
5-12 September, 7 nights, ppp £995 if booked before 30/6, £1200 after
12-19 September, 7 nights, ppp £995 if booked before 30/6 £1200 after
25-28 September, 3 nights, ppp £699 if booked before 30/6, £799 after
2-5 October, 3 nights, ppp £699 if booked before 30/6, £799 after
9-12 October, 3 nights, ppp £699 if booked before 30/6, £799 after
17-24 October, 7 nights, ppp £995 if booked before 30/6, £1200 after
24-31 October, 7 nights, ppp £995 if booked before 30/6, £1200 after

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