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Slovakian Snow Adventure

Minimum age: 5 years

Slovakia is one of Europe’s most mountainous countries, with lofty summits and deep-cut valleys making up almost a third of its area. The Tatra is perhaps the best-known mountain range but even here the snow-clad peaks are a far cry from the ski ‘factories’ of the Alps. Most visitors will be Slovaks and many local traditions and cultural activities remain at the heart of daily life. After arriving in Krakow, you’ll cross the Polish/Slovakian border near Zakopane, before arriving in the small mountain village of Zuberec/Habovka.

Over the next seven days you and your children will be able to enjoy an exciting mix of winter sports and traditional activities, including sledding, a meal with a Slovak family, an expedition on snowshoes and even swimming in a hot thermal pool. The week climaxes with a dog-sledding trip and – if you’ve any energy left – there’s even the chance to try night skiing!

The snow-clad mountains of the Tatras are the perfect place for an invigorating week of winter activities.

Activities:

After arriving in Vienna you’ll travel across the Austrian/Slovakian border to reach the small mountain village of Zuberec/Habovka and your comfortable pension. Amongst the snow-covered mountains you’ll enjoy many fun activities. A meal with a Slovak family, an expedition on snowshoes, sledging and swimming in a thermal pool. If you’ve any energy left, you can try night skiing!

Skiing or Snowboarding

Around the village there are three slopes equipped with lifts and downhill pistes. These are the ideal places for either learning to ski or snowboard, or simply developing your skills.

Dog Sledding

There is no more exciting way to get around the snow than following your own team of dogs across the mountains. You have a chance here to lead your own dog sled, expertly guided by a local guide, and with a supply of hot drinks to keep you warm in the cold.

Responsible Travel

By staying in locally-owned accommodation and using only local leaders, your tourist spend directly benefits the local economy. The museum of village life at Brestova is made up of over 50 dwellings, barns and workshops dating back as far as the 15th century. A visit here offers a great insight into traditions and customs, whilst sharing a meal with local people is a great way to find out about everyday life in modern Slovakia.

Children’s ages – minimum age 5 years

Itinerary Summary

Note: in the event of some activities not being possible due to weather conditions e.g. lack of snow, we reserve the right to substitute other activities and/or change the location of the trip in order to try and provide those activities. Depending on numbers, on some departures it may also be necessary to change the order of activities, or divide into smaller groups, so that different activities can take place simultaneously. Your Group Leader will co-ordinate this. On most days there is a choice of café/bar/restaurants for meals and refreshments near the areas where the activities take place. Your leader will advise accordingly.

Slovakian Snow Adventure

Day 1. Fly to Vienna

After your flight to Vienna, you transfer by charter bus (approx. 4 hours drive) to your pension in the small mountain village of Zuberec where you check in. Situated on the western edge of the High Tatra, Zuberec was originally an agricultural settlement. Today the village lies at the centre of three downhill skiing areas and has developed to offer a range of facilities for tourists. There are a number of small guesthouses, pensions and hotels, and a growing range of organised activities on offer to visitors in both the winter and summer months. Most accommodation in this area is built in chalet style, with wooden furniture, offering simple but clean and comfortable quarters. Breakfast is served in your accommodation each morning and you’ll be able to choose from a selection of mountain restaurants and village cafes for your lunches and dinners.

Pension Pribisko – 7 nights – Breakfast included.

Day 2. Skiing or Snowboarding

After breakfast you head into the Rohace mountains for a day’s skiing or snowboarding.

Downhill skiing has long been the most popular form of skiing; in fact it was first taken up as a leisure activity by the British in Victorian times. However in recent years snowboarding has become the fastest growing winter sport. Both of these activities require different equipment so your first stop will be to get kitted out with the correct boots and then either skis or a board. As well as experienced ski technicians, your leader will be on hand to make sure everything fits properly and to show you how it all works. Then it’s off to the slopes.

The village offers tracks (pistes) for all categories of skiers or snowboarders. Shorter slopes of 400m and 860m are for beginners. On the other hand a longer slope of 1490m is for more competent skiers. The main ski area is situated in the Pod Salatinmi Valley, 1090m above sea level. Here you’ll find a self-service restaurant and artificial snow-making machines to ensure good skiing. If you’re a beginner, you can join a three hour lesson, aimed at your level of ability/experience (additional charge), while proficient skiers are free to ski! For the remainder of the day you’re free to practice your new skills or explore the area before returning to your pension. (B)

Day 3. Downhill skiing and thermal pools

This morning you return to the slopes for more skiing and snowboarding (optional, at additional cost). Beginners will be amazed at how quickly they can develop their balance and technique, whilst for more experienced skiers and boarders there’s the chance to try more demanding pistes. After lunch, you make the short transfer to Oravice.  Oravice is known mainly for its rich thermal waters. This water has healing and restorative effects which helps people with mobility, respiratory, circulatory and nervous system problems.  It also has good cosmetic effects.  It is excellent for the recovery of tired muscles after skiing! (B)

Day 4. Dog-Sledding

After a good breakfast to set you up for the day, you’ll leave the pension to meet up with the dog team handlers and their dogs – the dogs come from the Lower Tatra to meet you, and you’ll get to know them in the fields around the village. Upon arrival the handlers will show you how to handle the sled and brief you before setting off. The dogs always get really excited as soon as they see the sleds coming out and it’s often a struggle to hold them back, so the sleds have a snow anchor just for that purpose. Each sled carries two people – a driver (or musher) and a passenger – pulled by a team of 2-6 huskies.

It takes a while to get everything ready but eventually you’ll set off in crocodile file, with the dogs tugging hard at their harnesses before they break into a smooth rhythm. All you can hear are the runners of the sled fizzing over the frozen snow and the odd bark or yelp from the dogs. Don’t forget the magic words which the dogs listen to for their direction: “Ho” and “Dži”. While you’re waiting your turn, there’ll be hot drinks and your leader and dog handlers will make a warming fire (if possible). There’s also likely to be the offer to try some of the traditional home-made Slovakian spirit called Slivovica, which will definitely warm you up! It depends on the group, how long the activity lasts, so it should be an enjoyable activity for all! (B)

Day 5. Lunch with a local family, Sledding & Cultural Evening

This morning you’re free to relax in the pension, explore the village or take an optional visit to a local school to interact with Slovak school children during their lessons before joining up with your leader for lunch with a local family. The main dish will be a specially prepared Halusky. This is a traditional mountain dish of hot potato dumplings served with melted cheese and sprinkled with bacon. Over lunch you’ll discover more about Slovakian life and see how families live today. After lunch you’ll take to the slopes around the village again for a sledding excursion. This is great fun for both adults and children as you whiz downhill on small plastic sleds!

In the evening you visit the museum of Orava village accompanied by traditional music and romantic lanterns which is one of the biggest attractions of the region.  A magical atmosphere is created as you walk along the snowy paths of a wooden village, without electricity, where your only light is a pair of illuminated lanterns.  At the end of the evening you can dance to the traditional music. (BL)

Note:

The morning on day five is suggested for those wishing to visit a local Slovak school however the date is flexible depending on the group’s wishes. The visit is only available on February and March departures as the school is closed over Christmas. See ‘Responsible Travel’ for more information.

Day 6. Snowshoeing

Today you head back to the Rohace forest for a day’s snowshoeing. Your Group Leader will give a quick lesson on how to put on your snowshoes and how to use them with a pair of poles to move around. It really isn’t difficult at all and, although you might feel a little ungainly at first, you’ll soon discover that you can climb even a fairly steep slope with ease. With snowshoes you can go almost anywhere – which means you can get to places that skiers cannot. You may set off along a prepared forest trail but if a glorious view or interesting diversion presents itself you have the freedom to get off the beaten track –literally! The group’s ability will dictate how far you go but it may be possible to climb to one of the highest peaks in the Western Tatra, Brestova, at a height of 1902 metres. As you’re likely to be away from the main skiing areas it’s a good idea to take a vacuum flask and provisions for a picnic.

After lunch you’ll meet up with your leader and make the short drive to the neighbouring mountain village of Oravice (11km), to visit one of the area’s open-air, thermal pools (optional, at additional cost). Such pools are found in many parts of Slovakia and are popular for their restorative properties. As well as offering general health benefits, the waters of Oravice are reputed to have beneficial cosmetic properties – but they also make a great place to relax weary ski-legs. (BL).

Day 7. Free Day

Today is free for you to choose from the many activities on offer in and around the village. You may wish to head back to the slopes for more downhill skiing or snow boarding (in which case you’ll need to purchase a lift pass). You may decide to try cross-country skiing, along one of the specially prepared circuits on the edge of the village. Alternatively why not strap on some snowshoes and walk amongst the snow covered forests, or even have a go at sledging! Your leader will of course be on hand for advice, should you decide to explore further afield and to help arrange a celebration meal on everyone’s last night together.

Day 8. Trip Ends, Fly home

This morning, you transfer by bus (2½ – 3 hours) to Vienna for your flight home. (B)

Useful Information:

Approximate Local Costs

7 breakfasts and 2 lunches are included. You must pay for all other meals yourself. Approximate costs are given for guidance only, and may vary widely according to location and type of establishment.

Coffee/tea £1.00

Soft drink £1.00

Medium beer £1.25

Wine £2.00

Local snack lunch £5.00

3-course dinner* £10.00

*reasonable mid-range tourist class restaurant.

Below is a suggestion of what you might find useful to take on this trip. It is not an exhaustive packing list. If you need further advice, please call us or consult your nearest specialist outdoor clothing and equipment store.

Clothing and Footwear

  • Wind & waterproof jacket (ski jacket or equivalent) in breathable fabric
  • Wind & waterproof trousers (ski trousers or equivalent) in breathable fabric
  • Thermal mid layer (warm fleece)
  • Thermal base layer (long-sleeved thermal vest)
  • Thermal leggings (long-johns or fleece trousers)
  • Warm hat that covers the ears – to prevent frostbite
  • Warm scarf
  • Warm & waterproof gloves/mitts (ski gloves or equivalent) & thermal liners
  • Warm socks & thermal liners
  • Comfortable, well-broken-in, waterproof, walking boots
  • Gaiters – extremely useful to prevent snow entering your boots
  • Trainers – to wear inside accommodation
  • Swimming costume (for thermal pools)

Equipment

  • Vacuum flask
  • Towel (for thermal pools)
  • Ski Goggles/sun glasses
  • Day pack

Your holiday includes:

Flights, transfers, 7 nights Pension/Hotel accommodation, 7 breakfasts, 2 lunches, activities as per the itinerary, skis, snowshoes, snowboard, sledge, dog-sled.

Booking Deposit: £250.00 per person. The final balance will be due 9 weeks prior to departure.

Flights: Flights are from London. Flight supplements may apply depending on flight prices at the time of booking. Book early to avoid supplements

Also available as a land only package if you prefer to make your own flight arrangements.

Slovakian Snow Adventure Dates and Prices

Travel Dates Nights Adult Child 5-17 Notes
Wed 27 Dec 2017 – Wed 3 Jan 2018 7 £1,655 £1,489 There are 2 single parent families booked on this trip. Ages of the children booked so far are girls aged 9 & 13; boys aged 6, 10, 15, and 16.

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Flights are with Austrian airlines

27 December London Heathrow 09.05 arrive Vienna 12.20

3 January Vienna 17.15 arrive Heathrow 18.40