Saturday, 19 September 2009

Destinations: The High Tatras, Slovakia

The High Tatras (Vysoke Tatry) are Slovakia's highest mountain range. They lie in the north on the border with Poland. The city of Poprad just to the south is the gateway. Most of the area is a National Park. These are serious, rugged mountains with several peaks over 2000 m. The highest peaks can be accessed in season by chair-lift or gondola. Much of the lower elevations were blanketed in conifer and mixed forests until a "hurricane" felled large areas a few years ago. At high levels there are tarns, scree, 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. Truth is, this a tough area to bird, and weather can be very changable, so the High Tatras are only suitable for those with plenty of time, energy and patience.

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