The trip starts today in the Tatras resort town of Smokovec popular for skiing and hiking. *Hotel Villa Siesta*
After breakfast we have a short transfer to the Goral village of Zdiar. Starting at the Strednica ski centre we follow the ridge of Spisska Magura Mountain all the way to the Bachledova valley. On the way there are some lovely views over the ridges of the Belianske Tatras. The terrain will be relatively easy. Some of these routes were used long ago by local smugglers to bring goods either from Poland to Slovakia or the other way around. *Hotel Villa Siesta*
Today begins with a trip on the local Tatra train up to Strbske Pleso Lake (1361m) framed by the white peaks of the surrounding mountains. This is one of the most popular areas in the whole of the Tatras for winter sports and we will receive instruction from the leader before heading out across the frozen lake to try our skills (located close to a stadium and groomed tracks). As a sport, cross-country skiing is one of the most complete workouts, as its motions use every major muscle group. The skis are long and thin, the toe of the skier's footwear is attached to the ski with a binding, while the heel remains free. This area is great for beginner and intermediate cross-country skiers, and lunch can be taken at one of the restaurants on the bank. *Hotel Villa Siesta*
After a transfer of about 1 hour across the border to the Polish town of Zakopane we have a morning to try our hand at dogsledding. Mushers will instruct the group on how to control and drive a sled. You will have turns driving your own single sled, usually pulled by 3 dogs around a beginner's circuit, then a trip as a passenger in a two-person sled with a larger team. If there is time we may take a tour of the town known as the ‘capital’ of the Polish Tatras. After a hearty lunch in one of the local restaurants we will transfer to the nearby village Bukowina Tatranska for a relaxing afternoon in the recently built thermal pool resort which offers a number of different pools, slides, jacuzzis and saunas, a great way to while away an afternoon. *Hotel Villa Siesta*
A short trip on the local train takes us to Tatranska Lomnica, one of the best areas for downhill skiing in the country. Here you will find a number of slopes to choose from. Our first stop is the rental shop to pick up skis or a board. The day is then ours to enjoy. For those looking for a relaxing break there is the option to take the cable car to the second highest peak in the whole of Slovakia, the Lomnicky Peak and enjoy the amazing views from the highest Slovakian bar at 2634 m. *Hotel Villa Siesta*
We have a free day to choose from the many activities available in the Tatra Mountains region. These include all of the activities we have tried during the week, as well as snow tubing, and ice skating. There is also the beautiful Belianska Cave near Zdiar with waterfalls, pagoda-shaped stalagmites and numerous little lakes. The Tatra town of Poprad is also reachable in a day. Your leader will of course be on hand for advice. *Hotel Villa Siesta*
Today we hop on the cable car up to Hrebienok above Smokovec to see some winter ice sculptures and take a short walk to Rainerova hut. And of course the view from the cable car on the way up gives us the opportunity for a bird’s eye view of our base.We then will visit a local museum in Zdiar to learn about the traditional weddings of the Goral people with the option to wear 'KROJ' traditional local costume that people used to wear at weddings. In the afternoon we will jump on the sleigh pulled by a hardy pair of horses and go on a tour around the village, offering views of the surrounding mountain peaks and folk architecture of the village of Zdiar along the way. Horse keepers will make a warming picnic lunch, grilling sausages on an open fire in the Slovak style, as well as hot tea and hot wine and some snacks for us at their shelter in the nearby forest. *Hotel Villa Siesta*
The trip ends today in Smokovec, Tatras Mountains. *Hotel Villa Siesta*
* 7 nights accommodation at Hotel Villa Siesta * 5 days of mixed activities * Group normally 4 to 16, plus local leader. Min age 16 yrs (12 years for family departures) * No previous experience necessary but reasonable fitness required * Family departures available
All breakfasts, 2 lunches and 1 dinner are included during the trip. Due to the late arrival of the group flight on Day 1, a late cold buffet dinner will be offered by the hotel. Hotel Villa Siesta has a hotel on site serving a set menu of local specialties and international cuisines. The group will also have the choice to eat evening meals in the local restaurants in Smokovec which we highly recommended. Slovak cuisine is hearty and heavy on meat, potatoes, dumplings, soups, thick sauces and cheeses. Vegetables such as cabbage and wild mushrooms are also popular in dishes. Slovak cuisine is typical of a country with strong rural roots. Vegetarians can be catered for, however, choices across Central Europe for vegetarians can be limited. Please advise us at time of booking if you have any special dietary requirements.
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