Slovakia backpacking adventure: nature, SOTA, and me.

A short write-up from a recent 4-day backpacking adventure in Slovakia’s Low Tatras.

Day 1:

Humans encountered: 1
Bears encountered: 0
Summits activated : 1

After a very early 4am start from home, I make my way to Telgart. There is a single attraction in this plain village: the nearby train tracks are arranged in a loop up a bridge and under a tunnel; this allows the train to loose a considerable amount of elevation in a short amount of time!

After a 1h train ride, I arrive in Benus and start walking up; I pass a first snow patch, a couple of crocuses (it turns this is an sneak peak of what’s waiting for me during my trip!).

I reach a hut with full equipment, stove, cutlery etc! While I was not initially planning to stay overnight here after my SOTA activation, I seriously re-consider after checking out the place!

In any case, I continue to Beňuška OM/BB-005 which is the main goal for the day. At the top I realize there’s actually quite a lot of snow up there and this is the lowest planned summit… I wonder what the conditions will be like on the next ones…

After a short activation on 30m, I walk back a couple of minutes to the clearing I passed on the way up to observe the hut; a couple making a fire in front of the hut. I decide to try my chance in the next one which I know is less than one hour walk further. I plan to make a stop at a water spring on the way, so not all it lost.

Arrived at the saddle, surprise! The hut is much better than I expected; it’s new and clean; here’s a lockable door, benches long enough to sleep. Bingo!

Day 2:

Humans encountered: 0
Bears encountered: 0
Summits activated : 2

SOTA is calling! After an event-less night, I wake up at 6am and eat a quick breakfast. I set off after admiring the beautiful sunrise. There’s indeed huge amounts of snow on when reaching higher altitude (the pictures don’t do justice to this). There are not visible traces is the snow, and I often fall well above the knee into it… this is going to be tiring!

I eventually reach Homôľka OM/ZA-082. The views are magnificent. I have another summit for today so decide to wrap-up after the pile-up on 30m dries up.

After another couple of hours walk, I reach Veľký Bok OM/ZA-010. This is the SOTA summit. The air is warm, there is no wind, there is nobody around (I actually have met nobody at all on this day!)… the views on High Tatras are breathtaking. I could spend hours here.

I know my timing is right so take my time, after a successful activation on 30m, I move to 20m and make another 10 contacts or so.

All in all I spend more than an hour on this incredible summit,. I reticently come almost run down to the hut I passed on my way up. I knew it was closed and locked, but was hoping to be shielded from the elements during the night and indeed, there is a recess at the back of the hut, big enough to lay a sleeping bag and even a very low bench. After a quick dinner and a few shots of the sunset, I get to sleep, exhausted…

Day 3:

Humans encountered: 2
Bears encountered: 0
Summits activated : 1

SOTA is calling again; there is a long way to the next summit, but only one so I take it easy today… after a quick breakfast, I manage to pack and set-off before 7am. The day is similar to the previous one, up and down, loads of deep into snow and navigation issues… in some places it probably takes me more than 15 minutes to cover 100m. I know I have a lot of extra time today but I am worried about tomorrow? Will I manage to get to the highest planned summit of the trip at this pace?

After struggling for several hours, I finally get to Veľká Vápenica. I know I have plenty of time to get down to the place I plan to stay overnight; I enjoy a long break and manage to activate 30m, 40m and 20m this time.

After an hour I get down to the hut with a fantastic view on High Tatras. I drop my bag and sit for a while and ponder if front of the panorama… I eventually knock on the door? Nobody… the door is unlocked, I enter… the hut is fantastic, tables, benches, stove, BEER! I’m standing in the hut, speechless.

After the obligatory beer and dinner with the view, I get inside as it gets chilly… After a while a Slovak couple join me… they speak excellent English; We chat about nature and the recently elected Slovak president. I leave them downstairs and take my sleeping bag upstairs.

Day 4:

Humans encountered: 0 beside the couple from the hut
Bears encountered: 0
Summits activated : 0 :frowning:

I actually had made the decision on Day 3. I will not climb the last summit, Kráľova hoľa OM/BB-003. Day 4 is meant to be as tough as Day 3, so if I go head with my plan I will be home very late at night; this doesn’t appeal to me. So I wake-up a later, have a lazy breakfast and enjoy the view. Short after 8am, I run down the mountain to Porohela where I quickly catch-up a bus to where I parked.

A few final thoughts:
1- 30m works
2- The MTR-3B is my favorite rig ever
3- There’s nothing like SOTA overnighters on this earth - you should try!
4- There can still be plenty of snow left in spring at high altitude…
5- Kráľova hoľa is back on my ToDo list!


Nice report and pictures!
Cabin? Looks more like a castle!
Yes, overnight SOTA activations are nice.


Hi, Romain, a great report and nice photos.

Yes, the Tatra range is very beautiful, and quiet, and is a great place to hike. Back in 2000, before I got my license, my girlfriend lived in Liptovsky Mikulas in the north of Slovakia, and we would hike regularly in the range. One thing to note is to make regular noises as you walk in those high woods, to alert the bears - especially those with young - of your presence, so they don’t think you’re trying to creep up on them. We carried little bells, and sounded them regularly as we walked, we also would “whoop!” and whistle and tap our sticks loudly against trees or rocks we passed.

Overnighting, the wolves would come very close to camp… but they won’t trouble you. The bears, however, can be really dangerous.


Hello Romain

what a beautiful journey. Thanks a lot for your report and the nice pictures.
Yes, SOTA overnighters are fine. My last was some years ago, first day to the remote chamanna jenatsch (HB9) and on the second, on the way back, activated Piz Surgonda with phantastic views.

73 Ludwig

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Hello Romain @SP6SUD. Thank you for this really wonderful report. The one or other photo is beautiful and really captures the flair of the moment.

I can see a beer can in the picture 20240408-_DSC0622. A beer keg in the background. What was your after-work drink? :wink:

Too bad I couldn’t work you. But I’m glad you didn’t have any bear contacts.

73 Marcel DM3FAM

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Yes indeed, I know of the issues with bears in Slovakia. Every attack is reported on Polish news; actually, a few people where injured by a bear a few weeks ago in the Liptovský Mikuláš you mentionned!

My take is that the hike is much safer than the drive but I admit I haven’t looked at statistics!

I was on my own, so spoke out loud as much as I could; it was a bit uneasy at first but got used to it quickly :sweat_smile: I also carry a bear spray; this is the last resort and need very careful usage in what can be a stressful situation. And of course I leave my food well away from my camp.

I’ve just read that Slovakia is now proposing a law allowing bears to be shot near villages


Yes, it does seem at first strange or even silly to make noises or speak loudly as you walk but, as you say, one gets used to it. My girlfriend would carry some kind of spray, I think pepper spray - I just trusted to luck and a sharp walking stick!

So sad to hear of the Belorussian lady who died in March of this year in the Low Tatra mountains in Slovakia trying to escape a bear chasing her. She apparently fell after being chased to the edge of a ravine, while her male companion ran in the opposite direction.

Bears can be very dangerous!

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That was absolutely amazing Romain!! How did you manage to get water? This is generally the first question that comes up to my mind when I see people staying in the wild more than few hours :grin:


A basic rule in case of encounter with a bear is not to run away even if they charge; bears tend chase moving things and tend to stop charging at the last second. Of course this is EASIER SAID THAN DONE!

Staying safe around bears

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There are typically water sources on the way, and there were many on this particular trip. They are well marked on which I use for planning. So it’s just a matter of carrying enough water based on the distance to the next water source. On the 2nd night I walked for long time without access to water but knew I could melt some snow and did so. It tastes awful but is safe after boiling and OK for dehydrated meals.

Romain. Great pictures of a beautiful area. Looks like you had some nice solitude and a nice hut at the end. It’s always nice to get a cold beer and a warm place to sleep. We have bears where I live, but I rarely see or hear them. In some areas, I carry bear spray. I some areas I just make noise. I some areas I do both. To make noise, I often play Kurt Zolgmann CW call sign recordings on my phone on full volume. It gets my brain warmed up for the CW pileup at the summit and it makes a lot of strange human noise that I hope scares the bears off. Congratulations on your big adventure.

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eastern part of Low Tatra are nice, quiet, not very attended. In all mountains in Slovakia we have many spring, good water.
Bears are mostly political problem. Not with relevant information in official news.

73 OM1ALT Michal


Hello Romain,

I just came back from a short stay in OM. I activated 3 summits on a 2 days trip.
There is a beautiful landscape but your report is amazing. You must be brave do to this along.
Chapeau 73 Olaf dl7cx