Adventures in paradise…

In east Slovakia lies a little piece of heaven known as Paradise National Park. We stayed at a campsite within the park that gave us immediate access to all the trails and gorges the park has to offer. We were really looking forward to doing some hiking here.

The staff at the information centre spoke impressive English and were fantastic in helping us. A big attraction of the Paradise National Park is the gorges which have been made accessible by a series of ladders, bridges and walkways. Most of these weren’t suitable for Chief and the staff took time to explain which routes would be ok for us to take Chief on and even walked us to the signposts to make sure we set off on the right path.

We had a great day hiking in the forest, the trails were well marked and we chose a route that ascended through the woodland and then down through a village and along a riverbank where Chief of course had a dip and cooled off.

We did come across some bridges towards the end of our walk, some were passable for Chief and he took these in his stride, if they weren’t suitable for his paws he found an alternative route, swimming through the river or scrambling over rocks.

Not only is the park a paradise for hikers it’s also home to some pretty impressive wildlife. Wolves, bears, lynx and wild boar all call the forest home, our wildlife spotting extended only as far as frogs, lizards and a slow worm, I can’t say we were entirely disappointed.

The longest and most popular gorge walk is Sucha Bella, a series of walkways, bridges, ladders and chains leading through the gorge and alongside waterfalls, it offers a unique experience of the gorge itself. Unbelievably the route is completely free, open 24 hours a day and the only recommended safety advice is to wear sensible footwear. Chief was going to have to sit this one out and with temperatures easily reaching mid 30’s every day we would need to complete the walk before the temperature started to rise. So at dawn the following day while Chief was still in bed sleeping off the previous days hiking we snuck out of the quiet campsite and made our way to the start of the Sucha Bella gorge.

We were really excited to get going and feeling quietly confident, we consider ourselves fairly gutsy by most standards and are no strangers to tackling some obstacles, in fact, throw in some mud and a medal at the end and we’ll do pretty much anything in the name of fun. As we set off and entered the gorge a signpost indicated an emergency number to call for rescue, this might have been helpful had either of us had any phone signal. It all started off very tamely with a nice walk along the dry riverbed and across wooden slatted bridges. As we progressed further into the gorge our nerve was tested as we climbed steep vertical metal ladders and traversed raised wooden slatted walkways and more horizontal metal ladders. In places there was 150m of rock above us on either side. It’s also worth noting that smooth flat metal doesn’t make for the grippiest ladder rungs regardless of the sensible footwear! There were a few white knuckle moments! The video says it all really, it was mental! But of course as always with these things once we had completed it and confirmed we had survived we deemed it a huge success and brilliant fun!

Because we had set off so early we didn’t see a single soul along the way and had made it to the top in 2 hours. The path down was a comparatively civilised stroll and 3 and a half hours after setting off we got back to a bleary eyed Chief and enjoyed a well earned breakfast.

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