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Hiking the Peaks of Slovakia

Cozy “chatas,” snowy mountains, and wild views tempt travelers to the High Tatras.

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Bratislava, Slovakia, has become an urban hub for art and design, but even the region’s most forward-thinking innovators feel the urge to escape the hustle and head into the mountains from time to time. Tomáš Žáček, creator of the Ecocapsule, walked the High Tatras to experience undisturbed views as well as some of the many chatas, or mountain cabins, that line the trails.

For anyone looking to embrace their outdoorsy side, walk into Rainerova Chata and ask for Peter Petras. Peter got his start as a sherpa carrying equipment on his back in the Tatras in the 1960s, but he has owned Rainerova Chata (the oldest hikers’ cabin in the Tatras) for 20 years. Petras’ son now works alongside him and together they harvest summer herbs for homemade teas that they serve to hikers in the winter. Visiting Rainerova Chata at any time of year promises nostalgia and the ambiance of old lanterns, black and white photographs of mountain treks, and wooden skis leaned against uneven stone walls.

Staying in a chata enables a level of simplicity that is hard to find in the modern age of travel: Hikers of all levels of experience can enjoy the wonders of the Slovakian mountains by day before hunkering down in an alpine hut for the night. The experience is a unique one — full of colorful characters and early 1900s charm with a hint of utopian community vision.

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