Slovak Karst is a picturesque mountain range in Eastern Slovakia, which is famous for its unique forms of karst topography, beautiful canyons and clear mountain rivers. The natural territory began to be protected in 1973, and in 2002, a national park was created here that has the status of a biosphere reserve. Since the mid-1990s, karst caves are included in the UNESCO World Heritage List.
The local mountains are composed of limestones and dolomites and consist of spacious karst plateaus and valleys. The highest point of the Slovak Karst rises almost 1000 meters above sea level. For thousands of years, soft rocks have undergone natural erosion, so there are many craters in the mountains, deep dips, winding caves, small lakes and karst hollows. The most famous of them were the Chertovaya Dyra (–186 m), Brazda (–181 m), Mala Zhelezna (–142 m) and Divyacha (–122 m).
Travelers come here to climb the peaks, go through scenic routes along the river valleys and visit the caves. Mountaineering, cycling, horse riding, skiing and canyoning are popular in the Slovak Karst National Park. Many tourists go on excursions to the ancient castle Krasna Guorka (XIV century) and the historic estate Betliar (XVIII century).
One of the most popular routes is a trip along the most beautiful mountain gorge – Zadielsky canyon. On a site of 3 km, one can see various karst formations and the largest Slovak rock, Cukrová homoľa, with a height of 105 m.
Slovak Karst National Park
The territory of protected lands covers 34.6 thousand hectares. On the slopes of the Slovak Karst, forests of oaks, beeches and hornbeams abound in abundance, in which several species of endemic plants are found. There are many animals and birds; Of particular value are rare species – burial eagles, steppe kestrel, variegated stone thrushes, snake eagles, common black-breeders, lesser spotted eagles and long-tailed owls.
The richness of the local fauna is evidenced by the fact that about 1,500 species of beetles and more than 1,000 species of butterflies inhabit the mountains. Brown bears, lynxes and forest cats live freely among large animals in protected lands.
For visitors the Slovak Karst National Park is open: from June to August, from Tuesday to Sunday – from 9.00 to 16.00; from September to December, and also from February to May – from 9.30 to 14.00. It should be borne in mind that the park is closed during the month – from December 24 to January 26. Log in here is paid. Tickets for adults cost € 6, for children € 3, and for pensioners and students € 5.
The largest in the Slovak Karst, as well as throughout the country, is the Domica Cave, which stretches for 24 km. The entrance to it is located near the village of Kechov, near Roznava. There is a parking lot in front of the entrance. Tourists have the opportunity to explore the cave to a depth of 1600 m.
Underground world looks fascinating. Scientists working in Domice found evidence of primitive people here and proved that a person began to settle in a cave about 5,000 years ago. Nowadays there are two routes in Domice – short and long. During the one-hour excursion, travelers sail in boats on the underground river Styx.
In the Okhta aragonite cave descend to see the curved white needles of the natural mineral aragonite. Jasov Cave gained fame because it was opened for tourists first in the country – back in 1846. It has a length of 2.8 km and height of the halls up to 55 m. 18 species of bats live here, and the walls and ceilings adorn fancy drip formations. Silitskaya Ice, Krasnogorsk and Gombasetsky caves are also very popular among tourists.
When visiting the natural caves of the Slovak Karst, it should be borne in mind that the temperature below even on a hot day is within +10 … + 12 ° C, so you should take a sweater or jacket with you.
How to get there
The Slovak Karst is located in the east of the Slovak Ore Mountains, in the Košice and Rož иava administrative districts. To get here, you need to come by bus to Roznava, Janitors or Jovice. Most of the tourists get to the national park in private or rented cars, or as part of excursion groups.