The Tatras National Park is the oldest national park in Slovakia. It was founded in 1949 and covers a 741-square-kilometer area of the Slovak part of the Zapadne Tatry and Vysoke Tatry (West and High Tatras), also including the entire Belianske Tatras.
The boundaries of the Tatras National Park (TANAP), clearly marked on all approach routes, are: the Slovak-Polish border to the north, the Zdiar-Tatranska Kotlina road to the east, a line approximating the forest line to the south, and to the west through the valley Sucha dolina to Biela skala, towards Oravice and through the valley Ticha dolina up to the Polish border.
TANAP's charge is to preserve the original condition of the natural envir onment through comprehensive protection and guidance for the mountains' usage for recreation, therapy and sport.
TANAP's administration, the state forestry offices, the Tatras botanical exhibition, research institute and TANAP museum are located in Tatranska Lomnica.
The Tatras Mountain Rescue Service, a branch of the state forestry administration, is based in Stary Smokovec. Please visit also Nizke Tatry (The Low Tatras National Park) . The densely forested hills of the Low Tatras (Nizke Tatry) run parallel to the High Tatras.
The High Tatra Mountains
The mountain range is divided into eastern and western sections. The West Tatras consist of six geomorphic units (Osobita, Sivy vrch, Rohace, Liptovske hole, Cervene vrchy and Liptovske kopy). The East Tatras include the High Tatras and Belianske Tatras.
The tallest and best-known part of this range are the High Tatras, the tallest peak being Gerlach, spiking to a summit at 2655 meters above sea level (m a.s.l.). These mountains, the only of alpine character in Slovakia, stretch their 32 valleys over a mere 26 kilometers, making the range one of the smallest of its kind. The sharp, stony peaks owe their shape to glaciers, which shaped the High Tatras many thousands of years ago.
Having fulfilled their task, the glaciers then disappeared; and therefore glaciers do not present barriers here, as they sometimes do in the Alps or the Caucasus. Nature's work has been supplemented by man's, rendering the area uniquely accessible -- well-maintained trails lead through valleys and passes, and even to the summits of 10 mountains.
Transportation and building has also attained remarkable heights:
† Ë? the settlement of Strbske Pleso (1355 m a.s.l.) is easily accessible by road or rail
† Ë? an inclined plane reaches the Hrebienok ridge (1285 m)
† Ë? Skalnate Pleso (1751 m) is attainable via cable cars..
† Ë? .. and from there another cable car will take you to the peak of Lomnicky Stit (2632 m)
† Ë? other aerial trams goes to Solisko (1815 m)..
† Ë? .. and up to the col Lomnicke sedlo (2200 m)
† Ë? a mountain hotel sits next to the tarn Velicke Pleso (1670 m)
† Ë? a hiker's chalet, Chata pod Rysmi (2250 m), offers the highest lodgings in the Tatras
Only a short distance separates these points from the High Tatras summits, often stretching to heights above 2500 m. This puts even an average hiker within reach of many spectacular sights.
The High Tatras - Wildlife
The chamois "mountain goats" (which appears on the TANAP logo) bears, boars, marmots and various deer species are only some of the many animals which help give the Tatras their character. Birds of prey, too, are found here in a unique combination.
The chamois, the symbol of the Tatras National Park, lives in the Western, High and Belianske Tatras, a separate subspecies: the Tatra Mountain Chamois (Rupicapra rupicapra tatrica). The adult size of this mountain antelope, sometimes called a mountain "goat", is 75-85 cm long and 70-90 cm high, with weight of 24-36 kg. Both sexes have curved, hooked horns. The habitat of this chamois is in alpine meadows in steep rocky terrain above 1700 m a.s.l. Up to the tree line (as distinct from other alpine chamois) it is seen only exceptionally, for short periods of time in the winter. It is active during the day, and particularly in the summer can be seen near hiking trails. Older males live alone, while females and their young form small herds. The mating season is in November, and in May and June single young are born. The most serious predators of the chamois include the lynx and occasionally the wolf.
Despite year-round protection measures, the number of chamois within TANAP never tops 500 -- a critical state, with constantly decreasing tendency. Scientists carefully observe the behavior and health conditions of the chamois.
Several wolf (Canis lupus) packs prowl TANAP territory. The wolf is the main predator of large hoofed animals such as deer and other wild ungulates. They are year-round residents, and also raise their young here.
The lynx (Lynx lynx) is the largest feline found in TANAP, and an active predator of roe deer as well as chamois. Tatra marmot (Marmota marmota latirostius), with the chamois, is the most typical of the Tatras' alpine mammals. Some 1200 individuals live within TANAP.
Red deer (Cervus elaphus) are the most numerous of large ungulates within TANAP.
Wild boar (Sus scrofa) is common wild animal, both in TANAP and throughout the Carpathian Mountains.
The buzzard (Buteo buteo) is a permanent nester in subalpine parts of TANAP. It's the most numerous of all birds of prey throughout Slovakia. It often shares an ecosystem with the Lesser Spotted Eagle.
Common viper (Vipera berus) is poisonous, and the most numberous snake found in TANAP.
The flora of the High Tatras is typical of the mountains and alpine regions. Varieties unique to the region, as well as species which have adapted themselves to local conditions, join more common plants. These mountains are home to some 900 species of Algae, 1.000 species of lichens and 1300 species of plants, about 40 of which are unexampled elsewhere (endemites). Many of these are on the list of endangered species. Some of the mountainous species are relicts from the glacial period.
The character of the Tatras flora is determined by specific geological conditions, the climate and altitude. The flowering season, though short, is spectacular. With increasing altitude the temperature becomes colder and vegetation time is shortened. The area of the High Tatras has been classified by altitude into the several zones of vegetation:
Submountainous zone reaches ap to altitude 900 m above sea level and it serves as buffer protection area of national park.
Mountainous zone is formed by conifer forests at altitude 900 - 1.550 m. Subalpine or dwarf-tree zone begins above upper border of the forest at an altitude 1.550 -1.850 m a.s.l. by a covering of Mountain Pine. They help retain a large amount of rain in the soil, preventing floods.
Alpine zone denotes the area of the alpine grasslands and low bushes at an altitude approximately 1.850 -2.300 m above sea level.
Subnival (treeless alpine or tundra) zone extends to the highest levels below snowline at an altitude of 2.300 - 2.655 m above sea level.
Vegetation mostly consists of lichens and more than 130 of vascular plants. 40 of them also grow at an altitude of more than 2.600 m.
Please note that all plant life in TANAP is protected!