These articles were published in the Spectacular Slovakia travel guide, published annually by The Slovak Spectator since 1996. The latest editions can be obtained from our online shop.

Veľká Fatra

Hiking in the

By Spectator Staff

 photo: Ján Svrček

The Veľká (Great) Fatra mountain range, at the western edge of the Liptov region, offers plenty of sights in a compact area, stretching south from Ružomberok to Horný Harmanec (near Banská Bystrica). Among the wildest ranges in Slovakia, the chain sports a mixture of evergreen and deciduous forests, flowery sub-alpine meadows and grassy uplands. Scruffy mutts drive jangling herds of sheep or cattle along sloping ridges, where shepherds run tiny dairies. But most satisfying is the solitude you enjoy while never being more than a few hours hike from the next chata or charming village.

The mountain range is ideal for well-prepared, responsible hikers in search of a challenging trip through rough country. According to the sign-posts, the route from Ružomberok to Horný Harmanec takes about 24 hours, which makes for three normal days or two brutal ones. Trails wind through deep forest and tall grass, up impossibly steep, flinty ascents and down charming corridors of scrub pine.

Three mountain chalets offer accommodation on the way: Chata SCP near Malá Smrekovica in the north, Chata pod Borišovom in the centre and Horský Hotel Kráľova studňa in the south. The last of these is an unusually fine edifice, offering 80 beds at a minimum of 300 Sk per night, every meal included. As camping is forbidden in the Veľká Fatra, these three chalets make a long hike both possible and comfortable.

Be sure and stop along the way at a salaš, or sheep dairy farm. Several lie along, or a short detour from, the main trail and are indicated on trail maps. Mountain men (bačovia) who live in these mountain huts serve up fresh sheep cheese and milk (žinčica) to visitors.

These articles and related information were published in Spectacular Slovakia 2001.

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