I always try to visit hidden gems during our trips and when Jeff included the name of “Bohemian Switzerland National Park” (BSNP) in his recommendations for day trips from Prague, I got really interested for both its intriguing name and the beautiful pics I found on the net!
And this was definitely a very good decision to go for this day trip as it gave us a view of a beautiful place plus took us away from the heat & hustle-bustle of Prague! During my research on BSNP I found out about Northern Hikes which is a team of people who grew up in the BSNP region and have spent many years hiking through the park. The website was extremely well made and my multiple e-mail conversations with the owner Vit were very enjoyable too! He had assigned himself for our tour so I was really excited to meet him in person and explore the BSNP in detail with him!
The name of this park was inspired by 2 Swiss artists Adrian Zingg and Anton Graff, who were reminded of their homeland by the geography of northern Bohemia. It is spread over 30.5 sq. miles (79 sq. kms) and is the youngest of the Czech Republic’s four national parks. It is home to the heart of a very ancient mountain realm, carved by canyons and marked by soaring sandstone rock “cities” standing out above the forested landscape. The Czech Name of this NP is České Švýcarsko.
Monday 20-July-2015 ||| 20 kms of hiking fun in Bohemian Switzerland National Park with Northern Hikes
On 19-July I received an e-mail from a gentleman named “Marek” informing me that Vit won’t be able to come for our hike and Marek would be replacing him; this was quite a bummer for me as I was really excited to meet Vit but then could not do much about it. He also confirmed the meet-up time of 8:15 AM at our Prague Hotel. We were ready at 8 AM itself after our breakfast and started our drive towards the BSNP which was supposed to take some 2-2.5 hours. The weather forecast for was a clear & moderately sunny day with a high temperature of 24 degrees C which was definitely a welcome change from the early-30s of Prague!
Abhay was not having a very good time stuck to his child seat as he had got used to monkey around a lot in the last few days! He was quite distressed for most part of the journey infact.
At around 11 AM we stopped at a small town named Decin which was the hometown of Marek for a short break and also to pick up some food for our hike. The shopping mall where we stopped was a huge one and had a lot of shops across categories. I bought a wine case as a gift for my brother from a wine shop named Predikátní Wine. We had a coffee-croissant session as well bought from a supermarket oddly named “Billa”!
I also asked Marek to drive through the town so that we could get a glimpse of where he grew up and it was a beautiful town indeed. A very small town centre and gorgeous old building dotted the landscape.
We reached the parking spot from where we had to begin our hike at 12 and started the longest hike of our lives till date! I had taken over the responsibility of carrying Abhay in his baby carrier while hiking uphill so that was another challenge! Marek explained us the places we were to cover and the route of the hike to us so we were quite ready for what was in store for us. It was going to be a long and tiring day for all of us and were determined to enjoy it completely!
The hike started with quite an uphill climb but to make things better with a gorges and we made frequent stops to rest and catch our breath; this was definitely needed as we rarely walk on such a terrain.
Abhay all this while was enamored by the greenery around him and kept staring at all those tall trees surrounding him!
We took our first long break at 1:30 PM where we had our early lunch plus lots to drink to keep us adequately hydrated. I exchanged travel tales with Marek and got to know about his Northern Hikes stint too. He had worked for many years at shipping lines in the hospitality segment and after staying away from his home and family for so many years decided to come back to Czech Republic and join this new profession.
After a long and tiring walk we finally reached the topmost point of this hike named Pravcicka Gate which is the symbol of BSNP and is the biggest natural rock bridge in Europe standing 27 metres wide and 16 metres high. The view was absolutely breathtaking plus the pleasant weather & cool breeze made our time even more memorable.
After getting multiple pics clicked we went down a bit and had a relaxing session where I picked up Blackberries from a shrub while Abhay played with a dog named Romeo & became quite friendly with him!
Abhay was having a rollicking time exploring a completely new terrain while Bandita gave her company!
The walk downhill was as expected quite an easy & quick one and we reached the parking spot in literally no time.
The next plan of action was hiking to a village named Hrensko, where we boarded on a small gondola style boat and we did a short sail through one of the most scenic parts of the national park named Edmund Gorge.
I even spotted KTM Bicycles; never knew KTM manufactures bicycles as well!
This is the only place in Czech Republic to experience a sail in a national park and was quite a fun experience thanks to our boatman who kept talking non-stop and even though we didn’t understand a single word he was speaking in Czech but nonetheless we enjoyed his blabber! I mean this guy was relentless and I am not exaggerating when I say that he could talk non-stop much more than me!
The boat journey also had lot of fun moments thanks to an artificial waterfall which suddenly comes to life when the boat passes thanks to a rope pulled by the boatman plus we also saw lots of amazing natural rock formations.
We had another break at the Edmond Gorge where we had sandwiches and our favourite beverage of this trip – Birell “Non Alcoholic” beer which can easily be mistaken for beer and it was great reliving my beer glory days which I have left far behind (4+ years and counting!).
Abhay was in no mood to sit down having been stuck in his baby carrier for so long so he decided to do what he loves the most – run behind a dog and the dog very kindly obliged giving him quite an exercise! This place was quite a chilled out one giving us ample rest after all the hiking we had done through the day and we just sat down soaking the river scene!
We took the return boat journey with another blabbering session towards our parking spot and had a very late lunch at “Restaurace Lucerna”. I ordered fresh trout fish for me which was below average in taste plus it was fried which I didn’t like at all. Bandita had ordered Chicken Pretzel for herself which were quite decent. Definitely the most underwhelming meals of our trip by far!
I also spotted a BMW Motorcycle in the parking lot; one which I had never seen before. It was quite a refreshing sight and the look was pretty vintage!
We started our drive back and reached our hotel at 8:30 PM; we bid goodbye to Marek and thanked him for the good time and his company. Reached our room and just crashed! I had booked a restaurant for dinner but we just didn’t have any strength to even move an inch, leave alone go out for a meal! We had a Haldiram Dinner and slept off blissfully.
It was a day very well spent and to sound cliché “spent in the lap of nature”! Big Thumbs up to Abhay for being such a sport through the entire day and never getting cranky. Bandita also came through in flying colours walking for those 20 kms! My shoulders pained a bit as I was carrying Abhay but the beauty we experienced was worth all the sweat and pain.
Hope people visiting Prague can take their time out to get away from the artistic & crowded Prague and enjoy raw natural beauty of the Bohemian Switzerland National Park; believe me this trip is absolutely worth it. I strongly recommend using Northern Hikes for this trip as they arranged a perfect trip for us without any glitches! Marek was a great company and we wish him the best of luck!
So till the time we meet again…
Cheers to life…
Till then ride safe and have safe sex…
Hasta la Victoria Siempre…