Tuesday, 18 March 2008

Destinations: Low Tatras - Slovakia

The Low Tatras are one of Slovakia's impressive Alpine-like mountain ranges. They lie in the centre of the country, south of the High Tatras and stretch for some 80 km in an east-west direction between the Váh and Hron river valleys. Banska Bystrica lies to the south-west and Poprad to the north-east. Most of the area is a National Park (Národný park Nízke Tatry). Nizke means "Low" but there is nothing "Low" about these mountains, there are several peaks over 2000 m. Several of the highest peaks, like Chopok (2024 m), are accessible in season by chair-lift or gondola. Much of the lower elevations are blanketed in forest, higher up there are tarns, deep valleys, limestone cliffs and impressive rock formations. The high-altitude zone has Ring Ouzel, Rock Pipit, Alpine Accentor and Wallcreeper. Coniferous forests have Hazel Grouse, Capercaillie, Pygmy and Tengmalm's Owls, Three-toed Woodpecker, Common Crossbill, Siskin and Nutcracker. Lower down still beech dominates and there are Grey-headed and White-backed Woodpeckers, Red-breasted Flycatcher and Hawfinch. Open areas of pasture and forest edges have Black Grouse, Corncrake, Woodlark and Redwing. Lesser Spotted Eagle is the most likely large raptor. Expanses of old-growth forest lie in the east between the Certovica ridge and the Králova hola peak (1948 m).

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