High Tatras are the highest mountain range of Carpathian Mountains. The mountain range is completely stretched from the West to the East entrance to the Slovak-Polish border with the highest peak being Gerlachovsky Štit (2655 m). The High Tatras with its natural beauty are truly remarkable. In addition to beautiful mountains and relatively easily accessible peaks we come across a wealth of lakes, well-marked hiking trails and secret Tatras Sherpas. The cabins in the Tatras are supplied by the Sherpas, who still till this day compete who will transfer the most cargo. It’s a unique subculture and movement personified by Števo Bačkor – Pišta, your guide to the world of Tatra Sherpa culture. Although they are not as known as their namesakes from Himalaya, the meeting with them is exotic and full life teachings.
It’s not difficult to find accommodation in Horný Smokovec. There is everything from first-class hotels to private boarding houses. Grand Hotel Bellevue is the largest and most functional convention hotel in the Tatras with a comprehensive range which offers even bowling. Grand Hotel Stary Smokovec is an institution in which many celebrities staid. Moreover, during 1945 the hotel was also the office of the President of Czechoslovakia. In addition to the diverse hotel offer there is an option to stay at different villas, private boarding houses or in the hotels in nearby cities. To the most demanding guests we recommend the iconic Grand Hotel Kempinski High Tatras that is considered to be one of the best European hotels.
MEET IN STYLE
Števo Bačkor will in a picturesque Swiss chalet first introduce the culture of Sherpa in Tatras. In the “developed” Europe the mountain cabins are supplied by helicopters and the same practice is used also in Tatras. However, the Sherpa culture that is admired by many survived and proved that it is a way of life which in Europe is unparalleled. It is a kind of dependence and endemic specialty in the Tatras. Special is also the Swiss chalet which is the centre of all Sherpas. The picturesque building belongs to the times of the beginnings of tourism at the turn of the century. In addition to the legendary house we suggest you get to know the Sherpa culture on the roads they use. In Slovakia they are well marked with signs and signposts. The effort will ultimately pay off with genuine experience in one of the mountain chalets (Chata). For starters, we recommend the path to the oldest Rainer’s Chalet at an altitude of 1,295 m.
1. Sherpa Caffe – Do you know what is the maximum weight that a Sherpa can carry? In average 50 – 80 kg but through the enlightening experience in the museum you will learn about the various record holders.
2. Sherpa Rally – How much cargo can you carry to the top? Put a heavy load on your back just like the sherpas and test your strength and skills in the Tatra valleys. Compete at the annual Sherpa rally.
3. Tatratea at 2.634 m – There is also a more elegant way to the peaks of the Tatras. The gondola will take you to Lomnický Štit where spectacular views of the surrounding mountains will take your breath away. Since there is only one gondola that carries 15 people, the time to enjoy the view is limited to 50 minutes. In the meantime we recommend you try the local herbal potion “Tatratea” which will give you wings. But you can also arrange to reserve the entire pleasantly decorated cafe at 2,634 m.
OFF THE BEATEN MICE TRACK
Various mountain chalets offer congress guests overnight stay and invite them to visit authentic local restaurants. For more demanding diners, we recommend a visit Culinarium in Horný Smokovc where celebrity chef Gabriel (Gabo) Kocák prepares traditional dishes in a modern way. But not to worry, you can also try the Slovak national dish “bryndzové halušky”. These are dumplings made of potato dough, coated with a mixture of sheep’s ricotta and cream and dressed with cracklings.
Charismatic Gabriel (Gabo) Kocák is a Slovak celebrity chef from Tatras who places great emphasis on local and seasonal ingredients. A visit to the restaurant Culinarium is thus an ultra culinary experience. If the inside of the restaurant will not impress you, Gabriel’s creations that he draws from the Scandinavian cuisine will impress you for sure. He studied under the best masters in restaurants with Michelin stars and cooked for celebrities such as Tom Cruise, Cameron Diaz and George Michael.
Travelling between places in the Tatras is easy due to Tatras Mountain Railway, which connects the center of the region Poprad with Tatra tourist destinations. The scenic railway is nostalgic as well as a sustainable way to travel between places. Road links are also excellent and most of the way to Bratislava or Kosice there is a highway, with the exception of short sections, of course. An option is also to fly. The airport in Poprad is well connected with other destinations through Wizz Air, the largest low-cost airline in Central and Eastern Europe, that has recently opened a connection to London. There is also Air Baltic flying from Riga (some connections via Warsaw) during winter season, and Kosice Airport with many connections, including Turkish Airlines, starting 16 June 2016 is only 90 minutes away.
The average age of the Sherpa is between 20-30 years. Most of them work as freelancers. A record for the heaviest cargo that was carried up the mountain by the Sherpa goes to Laco Kulanga, who carried 211 kg to the Skalnatá chata cabin.
Švajčiarsky dom Starý Smokovec č.7062 01 STARÝ SMOKOVEC, Slovakia
T: +421 903 319 591